By Michelle Mady
I happen to be a bit competitive. I am one of those people that give Monopoly a bad rep. Growing up, my sister quickly became impatient with my winning attitude. Although I love board games, for a while, I had no one that was brave enough to engage in games with me.
Then I had children.
Determined to support them, in winning and losing with grace, I brought back my love of board games. I wanted to expose them to all of the wonderful learning experiences that board games can hold. At the same time, I worried about their competitive streak and if it would mimic my own.
So I did my research and found some amazing games to support my children’s learning, as well as supporting those winning (and losing) feelings. The games on this list have been played so much at my house. Check out these games and the reasons I love them!
Hoot Owl Hoot!
Hoot Owl Hoot! is a game made by Peaceable Kingdom. It is a cooperative game, meaning all players are working together toward a common goal. You either achieve it, or don’t, together. You have to move baby owls around the board, moving them according to colored cards. Getting the babies back into the nest before the sun rises is the goal. This game is great for children as young as 2 with adult support. Peaceable Kingdom makes a few other games with a similar structure. (See here via Amazon)
Outfoxed! is another cooperative game, with an investigative twist. It is made by Gamewright and is a sort of kid friendly fun twist on the classic game Clue. In this game, a fox has stolen the chicken’s award winning pie. Players have to uncover clues, identify suspects and eliminate them until the thief is uncovered. But, they have to work together before the fox hides in his den! There is a bit more strategy to this game, so it is great for children 4 and up! Cooperative games are great to ease younger children into the world of board games. (See here via Gamewright)
CATAN is a game that took the gaming world by storm a few years ago. We have CATAN Family, which is great for elementary schools, as well as CATAN Junior. The junior edition is a fun strategy game. There are “recipes” for boats and docks that players have to collect ingredients to build. Watch out for the Ghost Captain who can block your way! This is a competitive game, where players “win,” but there are so many small “wins” within the game, it can be really fun for younger children to learn winning (and losing) gracefully. (See here via CATAN)
Zingo! is probably my family’s favorite game. Ours was purchased when my 16 year old was younger, and it really stands the test of time. It is basically a picture bingo, where two pictures are shown at a time. Players need to look at their board and grab their matches. The device that shows the pictures is super fun to use, making it truly a preschool game. Children can set up, engage in, and clean up the game independently. I have played Zingo! with my children as young as two years old. There are also editions of this game that include sight words and numbers to support academic skills for older children. (See here via Thinkfun)
Board games are great for children’s learning and development, but they have also been great ways to connect with my children. Putting everything else aside for 20 minutes to focus on playing a game together can be such a great experience. Board games incorporate bonding time, educational experiences, and the development of good sportsmanship. They are great fun for both parents and children!
About the author: Michelle is a mom of 5 children ranging in age from 5 to 15. As a toddler and preschool teacher, she shares experiences, activities and guidance to other parents, as both a parent and as a professional early childhood educator, at any stage of their parenting journey.