So I’ve got a 6 year old. We’ve been playing board games since he was about 2 and it’s always been enjoyable…but I’ve secretly been waiting for him to reach an age where we could start tackling some more advanced stuff. It’s been great. Lately, we’ve been playing several fun games that are fun and great for either helping with basic math skills, stategic problem solving or a blend of the two.
If I’ve learned anything, it’s that the age recommendation on the box is just that: a recommendation. Don’t be scared to introduce your kids to challenging games at an early age. Even if you’ve gotta simplify the rules a little bit, it’s still worth it to try these games out.
Publisher: Learning Resources
Players: 2 – 4
Sum Swamp has been on heavy rotate for a couple of years now. It’s been a great tool for introducing and reinforcing addition and subtraction. The premise is pretty standard: you roll dice and move your character along the path towards the finish line. The cool part is how the dice roll works. You roll three dice; two of them are standard six sided dice with numbers and the third dice has plus and minus symbols. After rolling, you line the three dice up with the bigger number in front and do the equation.
While moving along the path, there are various interactions with the board. For instance, if you land on a segment that says “even”, you must roll an even number (2,4,6…etc) to move on. Sum Swamp has been very beneficial in helping build math skills in a sneaky, fun way. I definitely recommend!
What Am I?
Ages: 4 – 8
Number of Player: 2 – 4
Silly games that make you think in the abstract are great for kids. What Am I? is perfect for getting kids to ask questions and visualize solutions to questions and then put it all into words. The game is simple enough: everyone wears a pair of glasses with a slot in the top that a card can fit into. Players take turns putting a card into their glasses and then asking Yes or No questions to figure out what the image is on the card.
The game is great for testing and building vocabulary as well as creating a connection between images and the words that represent them. The game also uses a timer but I personally don’t use it. This is a game about expanding vocabulary and I don’t think that the process should be rushed. As an aside, there’s other versions of the game like “Who Am I?” and “Where Am I?”. Feel free to check those out as well!
Number of Players: 2 – 4
My Mom gave this game to us a couple of years ago and lately it’s come into heavy rotation. This is a game about memory retention and offers some extra social game mechanics that make it a little more interesting than your standard fare. Players spin a rondel (number wheel) and move their pirates around a board filled with symbols denoting coins, skull-and-cross-bones and keys. There’s also a deck of cards that have different colored keys on them (more on that in a moment).
One thing that’s really cool about this game is that the board is actually set up on top of the game box. Keys with different color combinations are inserted into keyholes in the board and that’s where the memorization comes into play.
When a player’s pirate lands on a key symbol, they have to pull the key that matches the color combo that is on the card. Keeping track of which keys are where on the board requires a fair amount of memory retention and is great for kids. You can also steal treasure from other players if you land on a skull-and-crossbones symbol which makes the game a little more spicy and injects some political elements into the game. The first player to collect six coins and get back to the pirate ship wins!
Sequence For Kids
Publisher: Jax Games
Number of Players: 2 – 4
Sequence For Kids is a game that introduces early elements of forward planning and strategy…it also features a ton of cute animals as well as unicorns and dragons! The goal is to be the first to be the first to get a sequence of four chips in a row. Players start with three cards. Each card matches an animal on the board. By matching cards to the images on the board, players can either build their own sequence…or block someone else’s. Even though this game is slated for kids as young as 3, it’s still fun even for older kids because the competitive element becomes more of a thing.
On top of the regular cards, there are also unicorns and dragons! These cards have special abilities that spike the game in the perfect way. Unicorns allow you to play a chip ANYWHERE on the board while a dragon card allows you to REMOVE a chip that’s in play. I don’t recommend doing this to a 3-year-old though unless everyone is looking to have a bad time. But hey, that’s just me.
Board games are such a great way to nuture children and reinforce early learnings such as math, language and memorization. Board games open so many doors in the mind, enhancing imagination, unlocking new ways to think about things and solving problems. These are just a few of the games I’ve been enjoying playing with my son and if you’re looking for something new and haven’t tried one of these, this selection has my vote!
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