My children have recently become enthralled in the world of board games. I was never a board game player. Sure, I remember long summer hours (days? it seemed like it..) spent around a Monopoly board, but I was never one to suggest to get out the cards, or a game. As my children have grown and they are now able to do activities with me, I started noticing that they really took to puzzles (when done all together) and the one or two board games I happened to have kept in the storage room. They were always asking to play Candy Land and so I figured I should branch off a bit.
Over the course of the last year, I have found GREAT games, even ones that I love to play alongside them. The amount of 'teaching' they have gotten through games is jaw-dropping. Counting, team-playing, math related patterning, are just some of the skills I've watched develop. I asked before Christmas on facebook what my friends and their own kids loved and I was thrilled with the response.
We have found over 2 TUBS of games and like new puzzles for our family, most of them for only $1-$2. Did you know that Goodwills and thrift stores are THE BEST places to find practically, or fully new games? Well, let's just say I rarely walk out of one without spending about $10 on 3-4 games...many of which are on my "Amazon wish list" for later gifts. You know I love a good deal....and now for the games we love!
Qwirkle is a fun pattern game that only involves the black tiles you see above. It's a challenging math game that my daughter got for her 3rd birthday per my request. Both of my children seem to have a strength in math, and although this game says it's for children ages 8-12 years, my (much) smaller children can easily get the hang of this game after a few examples. Of course, it's not always 'perfect' but that's why we play. We're having fun. This game has won a lot of awards, and is from the company Mindware, which I knew of from a previous "good buy" for my son's last birthday (more on that later). This game is not really discounted as it's fairly recent, and I have not seen it at any of the thrift stores I haunt. I really do think it's worth the price tag, though, if you have a child interested in math and patterning.
The next game, Ravensburger's Rivers, Roads, and Rails is also a family favorite, even my husband enjoyed the time we played it. Beware, this game can last a long time, too! This was a game I had never seen nor heard of until a friend of mine mentioned it on facebook and after I looked it up, I loved the idea of it. The premise of the game is that each tile has a double side and on each side will be a river, a rail, or a road, or any combination of 2-3 of those things, and you have to 'build' a town until it ends. It's a really interesting game that many ages could enjoy. My daughter, at 3, was getting a bit bored after 25 minutes or so, but my son (4 1/2) was completely enthralled. Stefan and I also found it challenging since you can only have so many tiles at a time and have to use them creatively. I also think this is worth the price tag, but since it's higher, I would only suggest this as a birthday or Christmas gift. I also haven't seen this one in the thrift stores.
Sequence is a game that we did happen upon at the thrift store for $1! It looked brand new and although, to me, it looked a bit outdated, a recent trip to Target proved that wrong--it's in the same box. This is a 2-4 player game, ages 3-7, and builds on the strategy of '4 in a row'. There are free spaces, and each player has a color that when an animal card is drawn, s/he can choose which spot to put down their chip, trying to reach the squence of 4 any which way. This is also a game that takes minimal time (15 minutes, tops) but has been known to be a 'dead end' after all the pieces were played and still no winner. Definitely worth the $1-3 dollar price range, though I don't know that I would buy it for the Target $15.
I first saw this game on this post and was intrigued by the simple idea and the nice design. I also know that anything German-made is worth looking into :) Orchard is a game involving two to four players and is a cooperative game--everyone wins or everyone looses. The object is to get all of the fruit out of the orchard and into your baskets before the crow eats it all up. This is a simple game but the pieces are really durable (wooden) and HABA stands by its products--you can ask for a piece shipped to you if you're missing one! This is a great entry level game for learning colors and shapes and I would say it's great for ages 3-6. It's also a very quick game ending in, usually, less than 15 minutes.
Busy Town is a Richard Scarry game that I became aware of when searching for a Christmas gift for my son. I decided to buy this one because he loves Richard Scarry and because it's a cooperative game (everyone wins or everyone looses) and that appealed to me not being very aware of how my children would react at their ages to winning or loosing games. It seems that it's no big deal to my kids, as usually the person/people who loose choose to continue playing until everyone has 'won'. This is a concept I wouldn't have given any child credit for had I not seen it. I remember being pretty apathetic to most board games (read: trying to loose if I lost interest) so I just didn't know how they would act.
This game is a race to 'beat the hungry pigs' with a really fun way to get ahead--a "Gold Bug" which is an investigation of finding objects through the town (and the 5? foot long board). Once everyone is hopped onto the ferry together, you can get to your picnic before the pigs eat all the food (which goes along with the spinner). It's a fun game and a quick one, usually done before the 20 minute mark, so everyone's attention span is still intact. My children often ask to play this numerous times in a row when it's out on the home-school shelf.
I'll do a post next week on Individual Games and Activities that my children have also loved, look for that next Wednesday or Thursday!