One of the cherished memories I have as a kid, are the times we spent as a family playing board games together.
Setting up the pieces, dishing out the money, and picking up just the right card to say “Sorry” to the person in your way (such a polite, Canadian game), thrusting them back to their start. Then there’s the joy you felt as you discovered the last clue to who really killed Colonel Mustard.
We got older and began playing games with our friends, which led to giant games of “Prez” and “Risk” (where there may be some grudges still held over a certain black team who tried to take over the world). We were introduced to new, strategy games that took hours to finish, but hey, we were university and didn’t have anywhere to be the next day anyway.
With young kids, we’ve not always been able to get into a game without giving our attention away, but now that they’re getting older, it becomes easier and fun to play with them in a family setting, and to play as parents, when we’re all together.
If you’re playing games with a young family, there’s always some chaos. Choosing the game, choosing your color, cards flying off the table, dice rolling onto the floor...you get the picture. But we make it happen, we learn to work together, and somewhere in there, you hope that memories are built.
So, I’ve been starting to think about Christmas gifts, and one of our family traditions is asking for new games. I like the investment in our family time together, and it’s a fun dynamic to add to our hospitality.
Our kids are 8,5 and 3. Most of the games we play as a family are simple, but we have begun to play a few more now that require some strategy and thinking. We can usually cope with a game that’s 30min, the three year old plays together with one of us and when she’s bored she takes off, or plays a game by herself.
So, beginning with the easier games and ending with the more difficult, here are 12 of our family’s favourite games:
What can I say, it's a classic. We have the Paw Patrol version, so that's been especially fun for the littles.
They can hardly contain themselves as the tower starts to tip and fall. Lots of drama, and crashing, but always fun.
This was a game I played a lot with my grandparents...and still play with them.
Another classic card game, practicing numbers and learning some strategy.
A little easier than the regular version, and simple for the kids to understand and interact with. Plus they always love holding a little bundle of money.
I've not played the original version of Carcassonne, but this was a neat game to learn strategy of placing the pieces together to get as many of your people on the board as you can. The kids enjoy it!
This has been a particular favourite of our son, not sure if it's the turtles, or the lasers, or reaching the gem, but he likes it. It's a game that models the basic ideas of co
This is the first cooperative game that we've played. You have to find all the matching pairs before the clock strikes midnight. It's fun for the younger ones because we are all working together.
Qwirkle is a fun tile game, where you match tiles of matching shapes and colors to get points and try to finish all the tiles in your hand.
I think I forgot that this game is a murder mystery...? So we pulled it out to play with the kids, and there's this awkwardness of explaining what we're trying to figure out...so we pulled out the generic word "crime" and we leave it at that. The kids really enjoy being investigators.
This is a new game we picked up last year. It would rank as my 8 year old daughter's current favourite. You pull a handful of dice out of the bag and take turns picking dice to put onto the grid of your stained glass window, to get the most points. There are easy grids and hard grids, so you can pick the level you want to play at.
Here's another fun cooperative game. The island is sinking, and you have to get all the treasures before it sinks. My kids find it so intense, it makes for fun...and anxiety at times. You can choose the speed that the island begins to sink, so it's good for older kids too!
I think this is just a classic! We have a lot of fun with this one. The kids like building their trains and reaching their destination. We have some of the other editions, India and Africa, and it's really nice that they offer new challenges, or new dynamics to the play of the game, to make it unique and interesting.
So, there's the bunch of our family favourites. I'm on the hunt for ideas for this year, so I want to hear from you! :)
What are your family favourites?