“I’m boorrrred!” Is that a common refrain in your household? As much as I know how important outdoor play is for young children, let’s be real. Sometimes you just have to give up the fight, especially when you have kids like mine that melt in the sun and arrive back home from an outdoor play session with sniffles from allergies. So what’s a parent to do when another round of video games or YouTube is not an option? Beef up on your board games!
Favorite board games throughout the years
My kids are entering middle and high school this fall, so we’ve discovered a lot of fun board games as they’ve grown…and, well, a lot of duds too. Here are some of our favorites.
Board games for beginners
My suggestion for your tiniest gamers is start small, short, and go with the flow. Simple games like Memory, Go Fish, and Bingo with pictures don’t require a lot of steps and each round is great for short attention spans. Consider introducing a younger sibling to a game session with an older sibling, simply allowing your little one to hold your cards or spin the spinner. And for my fellow Type A parents out there, it’s ok to make a bit of a mess and play outside of the rules. This scene ensued when my boys were young – gotta roll with it sometimes!
Preschool and early elementary board games
For preschoolers, you can’t go wrong with the classics, Candy Land for teaching colors and Chutes and Ladders for teaching counting. As children grow, you can modify games like Sorry and Uno to start with the basics and slowly introduce some of the more complicated rules.
I’m not going to lie – sometimes I just want a game that will entertain the troops but that I can play without leaving the comfort of my couch. Battleship is great for snuggling up under blankets and pillows on rainy days. Beat the Parents has a game board and pieces, but I often let my kids move the pieces while I ask and answer trivia questions.
Games for older elementary kids
We’ve all been there – stuck in an endless game of Monopoly with high tempers and deals gone wrong. However, we stumbled upon some really great shorter variations that keep all of the truly fun elements and cut out all the boring bits, including Monopoly Here and Now and Monopoly Fortnite Edition. (Don’t worry – I know nothing about the Fortnite video game and still found it thoroughly enjoyable!)
A couple more of our favorites include Sushi Go and Exploding Kittens, both of which are fast-paced but wrap up quickly.
Where to find board games
You can generally find any of the board games I mentioned above at your favorite online retailer or local store like Amazon or Target. Our family likes to stay “frugal” by scouring Goodwill and Half-Price Books for great deals or interesting new games. There are a couple of bonuses with these places too. If the game is dud, you haven’t shelled out too much money. Plus, you can always donate or sell back when you’re done with it!
If you’re patient, you can also check out sites like Kickstarter. For a small donation, you can get in on the ground floor of the hottest new game ideas. When the project is fully funded, the creators will often send you a version of their game.
Other “House Rules”
We just bought a new house, and we literally moved four boxes of board games and gave away almost as many. So, you can imagine that choosing a game to play on any given night can be a challenge. In our house, one person starts by suggesting a game to play. If someone nixes that game, they then have to be the next one to come up with a suggestion. We can usually come to an agreement within a few rounds of this back-and-forth.
Our favorite “house rule” is Winner Cleans Up. This often takes the sting out of losing. I wish I could say that it makes us less competitive and eager to win, but there is no stopping a Kahl on the path to victory!