In this year of the never ending winter, board games have become a slight obsession in our house. And can I tell you how happy it makes me now that, “board games” doesn’t mean Candyland, Chutes and Ladders and some mind-numbing version of Memory? Very, very happy.
Here are some of our favorites, ranked by a very scientific post-it star system. More stars=more fun (although even the lowest ranked games have been played for hours without a seven year old losing interest or her mama wanting to poke herself in the eye with a stick).
Blokus—R: 4 stars, me: 4 stars
Such an easy game to learn, but it’s different every time you play, so it doesn’t get boring. I played this with my daughter, my mom, my aunt and my grandma once, and it was enjoyed by all. Sometimes my daughter and I play with one color each. This version makes the game easy to tie and hard to win—which has its advantages. When we are feeling smart, we play with two colors each (much trickier).
Square Up!—R: 3 stars, me: 5 stars
Does anybody else remember getting those tiny puzzles with the sliding squares in Sunday School? This game is like that, but bigger, more colorful, and with really cool pattern-creating dice. When I first bought this game, I could beat my daughter easily (and, true mama confessions: I don’t lose games on purpose. Ever. Even with a seven year old.). That girl is a little bit competitive, though, and she practiced playing solo many, many hours so she could level the playing field. We’re pretty evenly matched now (though she is speedier, so she can make more moves than I can in the same amount of time). Easy to learn, but hard to perfect, this is the perfect one or two player game.
Tipover Crate Game—R: 5 stars, me: 1 star
This is really meant to be a one person game, but my daughter and I sometimes work together to complete the puzzle challenges (although she also plays on her own—a plus). I like the three-dimensional aspect of the puzzles, she likes the noise the crates make when they tip over (and the fact that the game is meant for ages 8 to adult, so she feels like she is breaking the rules). We found the beginner challenges to be too easy, and the intermediate challenges to be pretty hard. Not my favorite, but it’s growing on me.
1-2-3 Oy!—R: 2 stars, me: 3 stars
This one comes with an instruction booklet including 10 different games, each with several variations. We have only played the “Line OY!” game, and after playing it for a while, my daughter invented one of the variations on her own (I swear just for the purpose of beating me… but since it means more mental math, I’ll allow it). This is the most blatantly educational game on the list, so much so that R said one night, “I am practicing my math facts while I’m playing this game.” And yet, she still chooses it. Spoiler alert: you could play the same game with regular playing cards.
9 to 1—R: 1 star, me: 2 stars
Lots of dice rolling, counting, addition and making small numbers (up to 12) in different ways. This game has the perfect degree of challenge for my first grader—stretching her math skills without frustrating her too much. Spoiler alert: you could play the same game with a piece of paper and different colored dice.
The teacher in me wants to mention that all of these games are great for developing different mathematical skills (not to mention turn-taking, communication skills and perseverance). The mama in me wants to invite you over for game night.
What games are you playing with your kids?