My grandmother came to visit two months ago. It was the first time she’d visited us in Madison, and I wanted to plan something special. We went to Olbrich Gardens for their Blooming Butterflies event, and we went out to lunch. Later we all got together for Chinese takeout and games. I brought an assortment of kid-friendly, family-friendly games for the 13 of us, ages 0 to 95. It turns out that we didn’t need any of them, though, because my amazing grandma travels with her own set of dominoes. We played Chicken Scratch Dominoes together, with kids sitting on laps and happy conversation all around. Here’s how to play this domino game that’s great for all ages.Continue reading
We have friends with a son the same age, and we like to schedule regular or semi-regular game nights to just hang out and have fun. Last weekend, we got together and I got to play Agricola, my favorite board game, twice! Then the next day we played with just our family of 3 again. I remembered all of the reasons why Agricola is my favorite board game.Continue reading
Are you good at spatial reasoning? Can you pick a container that exactly fits your leftovers? Do you make things fit in the trunk when you pack for vacation that mere mortals wouldn’t be able to fit? Do you or did you ever spend hours playing Tetris? (Note: According to Tim Ferris, 10 minutes of Tetris before bed will help you sleep.) Here are a few games like Tetris for spatial wizards and wannabes.Continue reading
Playing games with kids isn’t always sunshine and roses. I know I write about a lot of fun family memories, so it may seem that we never fight, argue, or get upset. That is false. Sometimes there are tears, frustration, and sadness. And that’s okay, too.
We try to prevent these situations before they happen (more on how to do that below), but just a few months ago my son flipped the game board for the first time. We were playing Blokus Trigon, and one of us took the space he had planned to play on next. He really, really wanted to take back the last set of moves, and we said no. So he pushed all the pieces off the board in a huff. We put the game away despite his requests for a do-over. It was late, and he was tired, and after a while he calmed down.
Really, it’s amazing that hadn’t happened before. I know I feel angry when my strategy is thwarted or I failed to foresee an opponent’s move. I want to flip the board, too. So, how do we prevent that?Continue reading
We considered naming our son Calvin, and it would have made sense. He is a natural Calvin-ball player. (In Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes, they make up a game called Calvin-ball with ever-changing rules. It’s impossible to understand, but it’s a whole lot of fun.) Sometimes a homemade game is all you need to have a great time.Continue reading
Are you sick of Candyland? Ready to flip the Monopoly Jr. board? Wondering whether you’ll ever be able to play the games you love with your kids? Donate that copy of Chutes and Ladders, and pull out your favorite game instead. Here are five proven strategies for playing games with kids.
Use the pieces, modify the rules.
When my son was 3, he pointed at the Terra Mystica box and asked to play. A logical person would have said, “Well, the box says it’s for ages 13 and up, so let’s play Memory instead.” Instead, my husband pulled out the box and started explaining the game. They did not play with all of the rules, and they didn’t play more than a turn or two. But, they did figure out a game that worked. Over many months they built up to the full rule set.Continue reading
If you’re reading one post on this site, this is it. This is the foundation of my philosophy of board gaming with kids: It’s good for them to win. Until he was about seven, my son “won” most of the games he ever played with me. And yet I never “let” him win (well, almost never).
It’s okay for kids to win when you play board games. Before you post a comment about what’s wrong with entitled kids today, read this to decide whether this makes sense for you.Continue reading