Every year we leave our yellow farm-ish house and get on the road to Oregon and go to the beach. While we are at the beach house board games are king! I think I have played 43 games of Candy Land so far and by the time this post is published it will be well past 60.
Board games are packed with lessons and the best part is that they don’t feel like they are so children who resist learning for learning’s sake are less likely to resist and jump in.They give families a chance to play together and for children to test the waters of competition in a safe place. They offer parents a chance to model losing gracefully which is not a skill children are naturally born with. I know that my son especially has been working on this for ages. Some intense children need more time and practice and even though at times the urge to pack up the game and scold them for being a poor sport may trump teaching them anything I encourage you to keep at it. Intense children take board games seriously and in my experience calm modeling goes further than it feels like and will pay off with persistence.
What children are learning while they play depends on the game but some more general skills and benefits of board games include :
- Taking turns.
- Language development. The repetition in games offers parents many options to model proper pronunciation and for children to practice.
- Developing fine motor and hand eye coordination skills while moving small pieces.
- Counting is part of most games.
- Following a static set of directions – the rules don’t change.
- Controlling emotions.
- Connecting with those they play with.
Here are 10 of our favorite games with the main skills children learn while playing. The games are linked to amazon.com with affiliate links. The ages are the ages in which my children have really loved these games.
Cookin’ Cookies Card Game Was the very first game we played as a family. The object of the game is to gather the ingredients you need to make your cookie recipe while avoiding the dreaded rotten eggs. This game works on hand eye coordination as players have to slap the card they want with their spoon. It also works on matching the cards to the images on the recipe which is an early literacy skill that evolves from matching images to letters and then eventually words. My kids both love this game. 3+
Battleship is a great game for school age children and requires players use reason and logic to play. Younger children can make wild guesses but I suggest you play with your child a few times explaining why you make the choices explaining the logic and strategy behind your decisions. It also exposes kids to grids and coordinates. 5+
Connect 4 is a favorite of mine and I like to adapt it ( for spelling here) but just as it is this game teaches patterning and forces players to think strategically looking at all their and well as their opponents possible moves. I love watching children stare at the game you can see their wheels turning! 4+
Candy Land is the perfect preschool game. It teaches color recognition but my favorite thing about it is that it helps teach children that there are blocks in the road sometimes. When a player is sent back that gives you and your child a great ( and not really painful) way to address being disappointed. I know it sounds funny to hear someone say ” Practice losing” but this game is a kind way to work on that. I also like to switch up the language used for the colors calling out ” Rojo” or ” Jaune” etc… to mix it up! 3+
eeboo The Cupcake Game is another baking themed game where players are trying to gather all the ingredients required for making their specific flavor of cupcake. I adore this game because it’s so pretty! What I like about this one is that all the pieces aren’t identical and it requires that children think about which pieces fit! The box says ages 5+ but my daughter played this easily at 3.
My son loved Connect4; actually all 3 of kids like it. Now we play a lot of Blokus, Sleeping Queens and the Scrambled States Game.
Allison McDonald says
Awesome I will jot those down as the next ones for us to check out!
I couldn’t a agree more! A game we love- and I love the language aspect to it- is Guess Who. Filled with language, receptive and expressive, as well as, using deductions / logical thinking skills. My (typical) children all played it by the time they were 4.
Allison McDonald says
I am adding that to my list – we just picked up Game Of Life and while they like it , it’s too long for my 4 year old.
Mihaela Vrban says
Hi Allison! Catching up on reading some posts that were on my list to go through later on, and noticed you have in text, after list of general benefits of playing board games, following line:
“Here are 10 of our favorite games with the main skills children learn while playing.”. You might have started with idea to publish 10 and ended up with 5? 😉 You may delete my comment if you wish but thought it was the fastest way to convey a message. 🙂
Yahtzee was an all-time favorite in our family of three boys! From around three and up, with the littlest counting dots with his fingers or matching the look of the dot with his score card, to the older ones multiplying their same-kid dice and adding up thei scores! Great way to learn math skills without even realizing! Also, Uno, matching numbers and colors and slapping Take Fours on your parents until they can’t possibly hold all their cards!
Race to the Roof is like Candy Land without the sugary sweets, and Rivers, Roads, and Rails is an awesome first strategy game.
Thanks for sharing the list. I am looking out for articles on benefits of board games. I recently came across another blog https://logicroots.com/MathBlog/8-surprising-health-benefits-of-playing-board-games/