Board games are a great way to have fun as a family, and I’ve been dying for N to be old enough to be interested in playing them. We’re getting there, although he gets easily distracted and needs a lot of reminding of rules…otherwise he’ll make them up for himself, usually not telling anyone else playing.
Board games take me back to my youth. We used to play them a lot – mostly money games – Hotel, Monopoly, Game of Life, plus Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit plus plenty of card games. Having a board game bought each year for the family is a great gift idea and a way to get he whole family involved. As well as when people come over. One of my favourite Christmases as a child was us going to a friend’s house for the evening and we spent hours playing Pictionary.
Unfortunately the OH doesn’t play games – ever. But I’m determined N will enjoy them. They’re good for children learning to win and lose, getting a competitive spirit, and increasing skills in reading, writing, maths, sharing and more.
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This year we’ve had a few games turn up as presents, and sale purchases, and they’ve gone down well so I wanted to share them. So here’s my games ideas for 5-7 year olds (not all strictly board games).
I’ve noticed that recently a lot of games are erring on the revolting or making people look silly. That’s not my cup of tea, but they go down well with children. Seagull Splat* was given to N for Christmas by his godmother. As the name suggests, it involves trying to get the seagull to splat poo on your competitors. Delightful! Not.
The basic rules were really easy for N to grasp. Each player chooses a colour, sets out their ‘colour’ family cards. Each spins the spinner and whichever colour it lands on relates to the players family you have to try to splat. The seagull is easy to fill with the foam solution and it’s easy to make it splat even for smaller children. It’s just hard to get them only to hit the lever once.
N loved the game and the anticipation of whether there would be a splat or not. We’ve since realised that one of the colours on our spinner never gets landed on. So it makes it easier for one person to win here. The foam solution should last a reasonable length of time because we’ve refilled a couple of times so far, and it’s not really made a dent in the tube of solution. There is another game suggestion on the pack, but we stuck to the basic one.
⇒ great for introducing children to taking turns, being patient, understanding basic rules
Game of Life Junior
Game of Life is a game we played as children, but I noticed the Game of Life junior version in the shops for only £6, so couldn’t resist. This version is a different to the one I remember from childhood, having stars to collect throughout.
Each person has a car to drive around the board according to the spinner. You pay to visit attractions, get bonus stars, and do challenges (a bit like charades for the most part). N loved acting out the cards – it turns out he’s quite good at both guessing and acting out.
⇒ great for teaching children about order, taking turns, learning to understand and act out certain ideas and activities, responsibility for paying and earning throughout the game.
UNO is a game we loved as children. We’ve got about 3 packs around the house, and I keep buying them when they’re on offer – they’re great for little gifts or party prizes, and a perfect size for packing to take on holiday.
The cards get divided between the players. There are 4 colours of cards, with numbers, plus wild cards (for changing colours). Each person puts down a card to follow either the colour or number set down before their go. A wildcard is used to change colour, and the aim is to get rid of your cards first.
It does take some concentration, but even though the game says it’s for 7 years +, N’s been playing for a year and understood it from the start. I think it’s an easy way into understanding other normal card games.
⇒ great for counting, preparing for more complex card games, memory of what the other person has, planning, colour and number matching
This took me right back to my youth playing chinese checkers. I found the game in Tiger for a bargain price. N loved lining up the marbles, but he soon got the hang of the game (although like Connect Four, he’s not that great at looking ahead without a clear warning or hint). He wasn’t happy to lose either but I don’t believe in always letting children win. He can quite often do that in other games himself anyway.
With chinese checkers it’s a bit like draughts, where you need to get your marbles in this case, across to your opposite place, trying to capture your opponent’s marbles by jumping them. It’s simple play and with more than 2 players can get a bit manic. So for younger children stick to playing with just 2 of you until they get better at looking out in all directions.
⇒ great for planning, finding solutions, looking ahead, strategy
Other games we’ve reviewed
What games do your children enjoy?