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Best Children’s Board Games

By Melissa Summers

I know it’s getting a little heavy on the gift-giving Christmaukkah postings here, so let’s just call this: “Family Bonding Not Gifting!”

I mentioned before I’m not particularly good at general “playing” with my kids. Meaning anything which involves freestyle imagination. My brain shuts down and I’m left wearing lots of beads, a tiara and pink pumps unsure what I’m supposed to say next. It sounds like high school when I put it that way. I’m better at activity based playing, things like playdough, reading books or putting together puzzles. We’re also big fans of games now that we have two children who can *mostly* follow the rules without several tantrums because: “Max just rolled a SIX!!!! AHHHHHH!”
Good times people. Good times.

I was thinking the other day as we played a really nice game with the kids, and Logan and I enjoyed it as well, how different this is than some of the games we’ve played over the last four years. Like, for example, that one time we played ‘Trouble’ for 9 hours because it wouldn’t end and I finally impaled myself on the “PopoMatic die-rolling bubble” just to make it stop. You don’t think it’s possible to impale oneself on a rounded object, but it is, if one is desperate enough.

What games can you play with your kids without attempting to impale yourself or needing to be completely drunk (and so incredibly irresponsible) to enjoy? I have some! We enjoy them at least and no one has ever attempted to hurl themselves into moving traffic while playing these games. Maybe we have a cocktail while playing, but not to endure the game, these games are enjoyable.

cardgames.jpgYou played these games as a child, but I bet you don’t remember the rules. That’s fine, kids love learning with you. This set of classic games includes Old Maid, Rummy, Crazy Eights and Hearts is sturdy and so very 1950’s. These games are easy to learn, quick paced and short. Perfect for small attention spans and parents with a lot of (figurative) pots boiling. Other easy-to-play card games: Uno and Go Fish. Also, for small hands try making your very own card holder.

memorygame.GIFWhen I asked a few moms with smaller kids what their favorite games are, quite a few mentioned Memory in all it’s incarnations. I understand if you have to have the Disney Princess version in your house. I’ve been there, I had the My Little Pony version. I like this wooden version as well, but be warned, there are no trademarked characters in this set. I know, I know, your kids want trademarked characters, but what about candy?

hullabaloo2.jpgHullaballoo is the best game when you have 14 children in your home and you want them to work out their energy in a (reasonably) focused manner. Just turn on the call box, lay out the vinyl markers and let the machine tell them what to do. When we play with the kids, they love watching Logan and I do the ‘Funky Chicken’. I know it makes no sense, just get the game.

greatstates.gifLaid Off Dad mentioned how much his son loves Great States Jr so I asked him what they love about it. “”Love” is such a strong term as far as the adults go, because it does tend to get repetitive after you play it every single night for two weeks.” Yes but do you have to drink a fifth to play it? No? Well then, it’s a good game. He says his 4.5 year old can name the states by looking at them and he can read the cards, “he’ll also be chock-full of arcane trivia, like how The Birthday Song was written in Kentucky. Stuff like that really slays the ladies.”

zingo.jpgZingo is another game that came up in my discussions. It’s a fast paced version of Bingo with two skill levels, so it grows with your child. Kids love pulling the Zinger (wow, I’m glad I got to write that phrase), which dispenses cards. Parents love a couple things (besides pulling the Zinger) (Twice! I got to write that twice!), the fast pace and the early literacy skills word association builds.

connectfour.jpgClassic games from our youth also came up often when asking friends what games they like playing with their kids. Connect Four is simple and fast so I enjoy it. I sound like I have ADD, maybe I do. Another I loved as a kid but haven’t bought for my own children is Perfection. Does anyone remember Superfection? In my house it wasn’t enough to be Perfect, you had to be Superfect!

applestoapples.jpgMaddie got Apples to Apples Jr. for her birthday this year and it’s been a big hit. We played it at a friends house with their 8 and 10 year old sons and it was a great test of the game as it kept the adults and the kids entertained and even kept Max from begging to play the boy’s Xbox for about 35 minutes. The game is simple to learn and holds the interest of kids (our five-year-old plays on a team with a grown up) and adults.

All these games sound like winners given my fast, easy and reasonably engaging for adults and children criteria. Conversely, if I wanted to die a slow painful death at the end of December 2006, before I could see 2007, I would buy Dog-Opoly for my daughter. I’m praying Zingo and Great States Jr. save me from that fate.

What games can you play with your kids without falling asleep?

Related Content:
2006 Melissa’s Anti-Gift Guide
2007 Melissa’s Anti-Gift Guide
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Kids’ Digital Cameras Reviews
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Handmade Holiday Gifts To Make With Kids
Best Children’s Crafts Websites and Resources
Best Personalized and DIY Gifts
Dear Santa Letter Week: children’s stationery & resources
The Best Handmade Holiday Cards For Kids
The Holiday Open House: Five Easy Steps for Hosting

Published December 6, 2006. Last updated August 29, 2018.
Melissa Summers
About the Author

Melissa Summers

Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.


Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.

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