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Many children begin Kindergarten at age 5. At this age, they are able to follow a simple set of rules and take turns. That skill may need more reinforcement especially with younger 5-year-olds. Attention spans tend to still be short, with 5-10 minutes of focus being typical. As they grow and get closer to age 6 that begins to get even longer. Attention is also easier to sustain when there is high interest. Children in this age benefit from games that help with memory and attention by practicing the skills. Games should have little to no reading for this age, as they often are just at a early reader or prereader stage. Lots of words could be overwhelming.

Stomp the Plank

  • Ravensburger
  • Players: 2-4

Elephant pirates are on an adventure, and want the treasure. The elephants are trying to get treasure from Captain Giraffe. Players can draw as many treasure cards as they wish, but for each repeated card they draw their elephant moves forward on the plank. Who will be the last one remaining on the pirate ship?

Buy Stomp the Plank here on Amazon

Exit Kids Jungle of Riddles

  • Kosmos
  • Players: 1-4

In the jungle you have found nine treasure chests, can you solve the puzzles to open all of them? The popular Exit Games now have a version for kids. Unlike the standard Exit games these games are re-playable and none of the components are destroyed. The puzzles are designed without any reading, and the game contains escape room style puzzles and brainteasers.

Buy Exit Kids: Jungle of Riddles here on Amazon

Dog Man The Hot Dog Card Game

  • University Games
  • 2-4 Players

The Dog Man books are very popular with kids, and Dog Man the Hot Dog Card Game taps into the popular aspects of the books. The rules are very simple, players put all the cards faced down (mixed up of course). Players flip over one card on their turn. If they flip a hot dog card it stays face up. However if Petey (the cat) is revealed all the cards are flipped back face down. If Dog Man is revealed, players us only one hand to gather as many hot dog cards as possible. The game comes in a tin making it very portable and convenient to take to places.

Buy Dog Man the Hot Dog Card Game here on Amazon.


  • Blue Orange
  • 2-4 Players

The game Kingdomino took the boardgame world by storm winning the Spiel De Jahres in 2017. Now there is a My First version that is for players ages five and up, with a dragon theme. Dragonmino takes the same tile drafting and placement mechanism, and simplified it further for younger players. With each match with the tiles players earn a dragon egg and are trying to collect eggs with baby dragons inside. 

Buy Dragomino here on Amazon.


  • Gamewright
  • 2-4 Players

Outfoxed! is a cooperative game deduction game where the players are…chickens. Chickens chasing clues to catch a fox that has absconded with a prized pot pie.  What family can resist working together to solve such a heinous crime? The game includes a special evidence scanner to rule out the different fox suspects by showing if the thief is wearing a particular object. On each players turn they declare if they will Search for Clues or Reveal Suspects. They then have three chances to roll the dice to get all three dice icons to match their choice. If they success they complete the stated action, but if not the culprit moves closer to escaping with the pie. 

Buy Outfoxed here on Amazon.


  • Monkey Bear Games
  • 2-5 Players

Hoagie is a fast paced game where each player is trying to build the perfect sandwich without any part getting spoiled by three oogies (pictured on the spoiled food and special action cards). Hoagie’s gameplay is very easy and takes just minutes to learn.  Each player is dealt a hand if 6 cards to start the game.  On each players turn they play a card from their hand on their sandwich or an opponent’s. Several actions with the cards can occur, but only one can occur per turn. In order to win, a player must begin their turn with a perfect sandwich, which consists of bread, meat, cheese, lettuce, and bread.

 Buy Hoagie here on Amazon.

Rush-hour Jr.

  • Thinkfun
  • Single Player

Rush-hour Jr. is one player, portable, colorful, and mentally wonderful for ages 5 and up. The board is small and packed with vehicles which have set directions that they can move. The goal is to move the vehicles in a particular order to get the little red car out of the traffic jam. A negative is that every piece is important. Don’t lose them! This game is great for waiting rooms or car trips as it comes with its own board and it small enough to hold in a child’s hand or lap. The junior version has 40 challenges and 15 blocking pieces. 

Buy Rush Hour Jr. here on Amazon.

Rhino Hero

  • Haba
  • 2-5 Players

Rhino Hero is a competitive  3-D stacking game where players are building a tower of cards and moving Rhino Hero up the tower.  This dexterity game directs players were the wall cards need to go on each turn.  Players have wall and ceiling tiles.  On their turn, the player first builds the wall in the place indicated on the ceiling tile and then place their ceiling tile.  Actions indicated on some of the ceiling tiles and those benefit the player, such as skipping the next player.  The game ends when the tower fall, a player places their last roof card, or all the walls are built.  

Buy Rhino Hero here on Amazon.

Rhino Hero- Super Battle

  • Haba
  • 2-4 Players

Rhino Hero- Super Battle is the sequel to Rhino Hero.  The game is for ages 5 and up and plays two to four players. This game adds three more superheros:  Giraffe Boy, Big E. and Batguin.  The walls now come in two sizes; tall and short and there is a superhero medal.  Additionally there are spider monkeys which attack. 

The gameplay has additional steps they includes: 1. Build!, 2. Spider monkey attack (place a spider monkey hanging from the floor if there is a spider monkey symbol and see if it makes the tower fall), 3. Climb the skyscraper! by using a die to determine how many floors to climb, 4. Super battle if two superheros are on the same level, 5. Superhero medal goes to the players if their super hero is the furthest up at this phase in their turn, 6. Draw another floor card.  The game ends when all or part of the tower collapses or all the floors that are playable have been used.

Buy Rhino Hero Super Battle here on Amazon.


  • Haba
  • 2-6 Players

Monza is a racing game for ages 5 and up and plays two to six players. Movement of your race car in this game is based on rolling six color dice.  Players must utilize strategic thinking to use the colors you roll to plan the path for your car. Players can only move to a forward space and may not enter a space with an obstacle.

This game is more thoughtful than a straight roll and move because you need to plan your path based on the colors you roll. With a luck roll and good planning a player can move six spaces. Any die that do not correspond to a color ahead of the player on the board are discarded for that turn. The first player to the finish line is the winner. 

Buy Monza here on Amazon.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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By the age of four children have a lot of skills and abilities which impacts what they can play for board games. Most children have better fine motor skills and can do more precise stacking. Their hands typically can hold a pencil or a crayon with the traditional grip. An important cognitive development for four-year-olds, is they can understand the difference between fantasy and reality, so games can take on more fanciful themes. This skill also means children begin to pretend to be someone else (such as a chef) as they play. Another skill that can be key to certain games, is they are beginning to understand time. Helpful skills to develop and reinforce include using their imagination, counting simple things up to and beyond 10, and problem solving. Playing developmentally appropriate games can help with language development, sharing, and taking turns too.

Dinosaur Escape

  • Peaceable Kingdom
  • 2-4 Players

Players work together and need to save three dinosaurs before the volcano erupts. They roll the dice to move around the board and turn over tokens. If it is a fern it gets flipped back over, so there is a memory component to the game. If it is a matching dinosaur to one they are trying to rescue they get to go to the safety of dinosaur island. However, watch out for the T-Rex it will scare the dinosaurs back to their starting point. The volcano gets built each time the volcano icon is rolled on the dice. The 5th time the volcano “erupts”.

Buy Dinosaur Escape Game here on Amazon.

Spidey and His Amazing Friends Labyrinth Junior and  PAW Patrol Labyrinth Junior

  • Ravensburger
  • 2-4 Players

Labyrinth is a classic every changing maze game. Ravensburger has come out with two junior versions with less moving parts and simpler rules. Plus they included themes that are well loved by this age group. Players need to navigate the maze to find the shortest route and collect the most round tokens, which match pictures within the maze, to win.

Buy Spidey and His Amazing Friends Labyrinth Junior here on Amazon.

Buy  PAW Patrol Labyrinth Junior here on Amazon.

Monkey See Monkey Poo

  • Spin Master Games
  • 2-4 Players

Kids and adults alike find endless humor in poo. Monkey See Monkey Poo has taken that and made a hilariously ridiculous game. The plastic monkey figure had a spot to load in banana scented dough in the main body, which is then pushed out the back end to form the poo to fling. Players use the launching mechanism to fling the poo at targets on the three dimensional tree and move their monkey up the vines, trying to be the first to the top.

Buy Monkey See Monkey Poo here on Amazon.

My First Castle Panic

  • Fireside Games
  • 1-4 Players

In My First Castle Panic players work together to defend their castle during this cooperative game. The game is for one to four players ages four and up. This is a much simpler version from the original. My First Castle Panic takes away the reading and instead incorporates the early skills of identifying colors and shapes, simple problem solving, and turn taking. The path to the castle is a single path protected by one wall. To defeat a monster a card must be played matching the location of the monster. If the players can defeat all the monster before the castle is destroyed they win.

Buy My First Castle Panic here on Amazon.

Animal Upon Animal

  • Haba
  • 2-4 Players

Animal Upon Animal has slightly smaller pieces than the First Game version. This game is for ages 4 and up. Players are asked to roll to determine how many animals they are stacking or they may be asked to add a piece to the base adjacent to the crocodile. The dexterity involved is harder than it looks and can be a challenge even for the adults playing too.

Buy Animal Upon Animal here on Amazon.

Spot It! Animals Jr

  • Asmodee
  • 2-6 Players

Spot It! Animals Jr is simple, inexpensive, and portable. Oh! And your Preschooler has a decent shot at beating you in it. This is a matching game with multiple variables of play.  There is one matching animal on every card so you are trying to be the first to find the matching animal.  This is great for even the youngest gamers and helps to develop their observational skills.

Buy Spot it! Animals Jr. here on Amazon.

There are multiple variations of Spot It. Some of them are recommended for ages 4+ and some are recommending for 6+. Other Spot it versions that are for ages 4+ include:

Kitty Bitty

  • Blue Orange
  • 2-4 Players

“Kitty Bitty is a remake of the beloved Blue Orange classic, Froggy Boogie. This adorable wooden game has little minds use memory and color recognition to help their kitten make it around the yarn balls and back to the basket. Each turn, players need to find the correct mommy cat. Then pick up one of her eyes; if it’s blank they can move on to the next yarn ball. If there’s a kitten printed on the bottom they stay put and it’s the next players turn. The first kitten that makes it around all the yarn balls and back to the basket wins!”

Buy Kitty Bitty here on Amazon.

Hoot Owl Hoot

  • Peaceable Kingdom
  • 2-4 Players

Hoot Owl Hoot! is a cooperative game to bring the owls back to the nest.  The goal is to get all the owls back before the sun comes up.  Each player has three cards dealt in front of them.  Players choose a color card to play, and draws a card to refill at the end of their turn.  With a color card, the player selects an owl and move it to the next corresponding space of that color. If a player has a sun card they must play it, and the sun moves one space on the tracker. The difficulty can be increased by adding more owls to put back in the nest.

Buy Hoot Owl Hoot! here on Amazon.


  • Thinkfun
  • 2-6 Players

Zingo is a bingo game with a few twists by Thinkfun.  The game is for players ages four and up and can play two to six players, and game play is quick and a game take 15-20 minutes. Zingo is a great game to have for young players.  Thinkfun has also created  multiple versions of Zingo published by Thinkfun. They include: Zingo 1-2-3, Zingo Sight Words, and Zingo Word Builder.  These can be great ways to develop beginning reading and math skills, and for preschool and primary students the Zingo variations are a great fit.  The random nature of the game allow for play with the whole family.

 Buy Zingo here on Amazon.

 Build or Boom

  • Goliath 
  • 2 Players

Buy Build or Boom here on Amazon

Build or BOOM is a block stacking dexterity game designed to be played by even the youngest member of your family. Check out our review here. Your goal is to race your opponent to complete a tower out of uniquely shaped blocks. Then BOOM their tower to keep them from winning. This game is absolutely playable by everyone in the family. It is designed for kids 4 years old and over, but is still fun and playable by the more mature members of the family. The concepts are simple to understand and no reading is required. The plastic pieces are big enough for tiny hands to manipulate and the towers are challenging for  for all ages. 

Buy Build or Boom here on Amazon.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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Young children grow and change so much from year to year. Each year there are developmental milestones that parents can encourage and support by choosing board games that are suited to their blossoming skills. Children at the age of three have skills that are well suited to some beginning game skills. Their play skills have advanced and they are more likely to join children playing rather than playing alongside. Three-year-olds are able to follow two to three-step directions, and can begin to share and take turns.

Games that Support Motor Skills

Motor skills in three-year-olds have developed to the point where they can stack ten blocks. To continue to develop gross motor skills, games with stacking and balance are a great fit. Fine motor skills also are developing and any game where they can grasp or pick up small items is beneficial to their developing hands. With so many touch screens available to children, the need to develop fine motor skills has increased significantly, impacting writing, drawing, and cutting skills well into school age.

Feed the Woozle

  • Peaceable Kingdom
  • 2-5 Players

With a silly name and adorable art, Feed the Woozle is engaging for three-year-olds. Players roll the dice to see how many snacks to feed the Woozle, but they have to walk them across a distance of a recommended 8-10 feet (which of course can be scaled down at first if that is too challenging). The goal is to get 12 of the 24 snacks to the Woozle. The game also has levels of play, including a spinner that adds movement to the walk across with the snacks, such as March or Bunny Hop. 

Buy Feed the Woozle here on Amazon

2. Boom Boom

  • Blue Orange
  • 1-6 Players

Dexterity and fine motor are at the center of Boom Boom The Balancing Panda. Players need to place different size cylinders only Boom Boom without any falling off. To make it even more challenging the cylinders are different sizes and shapes, plus players pick the next piece for their neighbor to place.

Buy Boom Boom The Balancing Panda here on Amazon.

The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game

  • Educational Insights
  • 2-4 Players

The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game is where you are collecting acorns to feed your hungry squirrel.  At the beginning of each turn, you spin the spinner and that dictates the color acorn you can take or if another event occurs. The first person to fill their log with acorns wins. Buy The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game here on Amazon.

Educational Insights has developed a line of games with a squeezer that also includes: Hoppy Floppy Happy Hunt, Frankie’s Food Truck Fiasco Game, Shelby’s Snack Shack Game, and Sophie’s Seashell Scramble.

The tweezer features of this series are amazing for developing fine motor skills by having resistance on their hands.

Big City Builders

  • Ravensburger
  • 1-2 Players

Build your roads and transport materials to the construction site. Building and trucks are a perennial favorite of three-year-old kids. Big City Builders taps into the early skills of this age and incorporates turn-taking, decision-making, and color matching.

This also can be included with other toys to expand its play.

Buy Big City Builders here on Amazon.

Games that Support Memory and Sorting/Classifying

Games geared for this age can help develop skills with opposites, matching, and problem-solving. Many games for this age tap into their beginning skills and can foster strengthening those skills.

Language skills typically have developed to the point where they can answer questions that include what, when, why, and where. By the age of 3 they are beginning to be able to name their emotions and can tell you if they are sad, happy, etc. Three-year-olds can understand the difference in sizes (bigger/smaller), and prepositions (on, under, behind).

Bandit’s Memory Mix-Up

  • Peaceable Kingdom
  • 2-4 Players

Bandits Memory Mix Up is a game for two to four players ages three and up which challenges memory. This game has players take the spyglass and place five garden tiles inside then shake it up. Then one player removes One garden tile secretly. The challenge: remembering the removed tile. The first player to identify the missing tile wins. There are also variants that support solo and large group play. Play reinforces the skills of turn-taking, visual discrimination, and memory.

Buy Bandit’s Memory Mix Up here on Amazon.

Smoosh and Seek Treehouse

  • Peaceable Kingdom
  • 2-4 Players

Smoosh and Seek Treehouse is a cooperative game for 2 to 4 players ages 3 and up. In this game, players are working together to find all the different Woodland animals playing hide and seek in the tree before Mr. Prickles climbs the ladder. Players worked together to remember the location of the different seekers when they think they have located a seeker they state who they think it is pick up the disk and smash it into the smash to to reveal who’s hiding. If they successfully find a hider they place a token to show that the seeker has been found. Gameplay reinforces memory, simple strategy, cooperation, and fine motor skills.

Buy Smoosh and Seek Treehouse here on Amazon.

Count Your Chickens

  • Peaceable Kingdom
  • 2-4 Players

Count Your Chickens is a cooperative game where you are trying to get all 40 chicks back to the coop before the hen reaches it.  On each turn, the player spins the spinner that has various pictures that correspond to pictures on the path.  The player moves the mother hen to the next space with that picture and counts the number of spaces they travel.  The number of spaces is how many chicks they put in the coop. If the spinner lands on the fox one chick is taken out of the coop and put back in the farmyard.

Buy Count Your Chickens! here on Amazon.

Unicorn Glitterluck

Unicorn Glitterluck is a roll-and-move game with some added components for ages 3 and up.  Players move their unicorns along the path and collect crystals.  If they land on a crystal image they have to roll a special die to find out how many crystals to take.  The player who reaches the sun first ends the game and players count their crystals.  The player with the most crystals wins.  The back of the game board also has a counter track so players can lay out their crystals by the player and visually see who has the most.

Buy Unicorn Glitterluck here on Amazon.

Happy Bunny

  • Blue Orange
  • 1-4 Players

Harvest carrots for the bunny and the farmer in Happy Bunny. Players need to work together to pick carrots out of the garden. If a carrot has a bite taken out of it, it goes to the bunny, but unbitten carrots go to the farmers. There are also three different size carrots. The bunny moves along the path as players roll the dice. Once the bunny reaches the end of the path, the carrots are counted for both the bunny and the farmer. If the bunny has more the players win, while if the farmer has more the game wins.

Buy Happy Bunny here on Amazon.

  1. Snug as a Bug in a Rug

Snug as a Bug in a Rug is a cooperative game for players ages 3 and up.  The game is also designed with three levels of play to increase difficulty as players get older. The bugs in the game have multiple features.  They are different colors, have shapes, have different numbers of shapes, and have large or small eyes.

The basic gameplay has the players roll the specialized die to determine the attribute they are looking for in their bug and then spin the spinner to specify the attribute.  For example, if they roll the color attribute on the die, the spinner would tell them to find the blue bug.  Once they find a bug with that attribute it goes under the rug (the game board). If there are no bugs that match that feature a stink bug is placed on the rug.  The game ends when all the bugs are under the run, which means players win, or there are three stink bugs on the rug.

Buy Snug as a Bug in a Rug here on Amazon.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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Families are always looking for fun and engaging way to spend quality time kids. Board games are a wonderful family activity. They provide so much more than just an activity to occupy some time. There are many skills which can be developed and strengthened through playing board games. Knowing the additional benefits of board games allow families, teachers and caregivers to optimize the time spent at the table.

Boost Critical Thinking Skills

There are a significant number of games that require a great amount of thought. Many games require decision making, strategic thinking, and problem solving. All these tasks develop critical thinking skills in children. One ways to support their critical thinking is to asking them questions about their strategy. This shows you are letting them take point on the strategy rather than telling them what to do, which can help foster creativity and encourage your kids to think outside the box. That said, if they are really stuck on what to do suggestions can be offered, and they can choose the strategy they think is best.

Some examples of games

  • Sushi Go (decisions on cards to pick)
  • Ticket to Ride (section of cards and planing routes)
  • Planted (choices about which resources to take/use)

Improve Communication Skills

Board games whether they are cooperative or competitive provide lots of opportunities to develop communication skills. In competitive games, there can be communication about rules and turns. In those instances there needs to be active listening as well as clear communication.

With cooperative games the communication is even more critical since all players are working towards the same objective. It really encourages players to express themselves in effectively so their ideas are conveyed clearly. Ideas need to be shared and all players need to listen and respond to the ideas. This support the ability to understand others’ perspectives both around the table, and communicating outside the gaming setting.

The greatest communication skill cooperative game support is learning how to work together effectively. It is really easy for one player to take over the game a direct the other players on what they need to do on their turn. Working together, all players contribute to the strategy. Seeing more experienced gamers listening to their thoughts on the the strategy and being encouraged to collaborate, rather than just following the directions of the player that has taken the lead, will really support their development of communications skills.

Some examples of cooperative games that require communication include:

  • Last Defense
  • Forbidden Island
  • Indiana Jones Sands of Adventure
  • Zombie Kidz Evolution

Develop Sportsmanship and Resilience

Sportsmanship is so important in all different aspects of life. Board games offer a low investment way to learn how to loose graciously and bounce back from setbacks. If a child needs to develop their sportsmanship and/or resilience, games with a short playtime are the way to go. When the game is short then the time and mental investment in the game is lower and it is easier to reset and play again.

Throughout the game make sure to reinforce the importance of being a gracious winner and loser. Encourage your kids to congratulate the winner and offer encouragement to the losers. This can help them learn how to handle both success and failure with grace and humility.

For more suggestions check out my article Building Sportsmanship with Board Games

Some examples of games that Develop Sportsmanship and Resilience

  • The Fuzzies
  • Happy Salmon
  • Drop It!

Choosing the Right Game

Regardless of the purpose it is so important to choose the right game for the players. You need to consider the age recommendation on the game, the skill level involved, and the theme of the game. What is engaging and best for younger kids is different than older kids. Younger kids do best with simple games with only a few rules. Short playtime is best since their attention wains quickly. In contrast, older kids may enjoy more complex games that require more elaborate strategic thinking. That said, some older kids prefer shorter streamline games. Overall game play can take longer and have more rules than with their younger counterpoints.


Games for younger kids:

  • Unicorn Glitterluck (3+)
  • Count Your Chickens (3+)
  • Hoot Owl Hoot (4+)
  • Dragomino (5+)
  • Ticket to Ride: First Journey (6+)

Games for Older Kids:

  • Kingdomino (8+)
  • Block Ness (8+)
  • Abandon All Artichokes (10+)
  • Forbidden Island (10+)

For more recommendations, check out my other articles:

Board Game Recommendations for Toddlers and Preschoolers Ages 2 to 4

Games for Beginning Readers: Board Games for Ages 5 to 7

EFG Essentials: Great Board Games for Kids

Final Thoughts

Board games and gathering together around the table creates many opportunities to develop critical thinking and communication skills. Like so many things, it is important to match the skill you are looking to develop with a game that supports that skill. Additionally, making sure the game matches the skills and interest of the child is key. Time spent at the table can be so beneficial to modeling, and practicing skills and strategies. Board games are a great way to spend time together, and supporting you child’s skill development is an additional benefit.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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The EFG staff defines gaming terms that are either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you find confusing and we will try to include them in future editions!

Worker Placement


Worker placement is a mechanic found in some popular board games. Mechanics are styles of how the game plays, and once a player is familiar with a mechanic it can make it easier to learn a different game that also employs the same mechanic.

In worker placement games, or games that have the worker placement mechanic, players have a token, most commonly a meeple (see our definition of meeple). The token can also be a figure or acrylic standee. There has also become a huge demand for high quality and unique meeples, figures, and acrylic standees.

These tokens are the “workers”. On their turn, players place their workers on the board. The location of worker determines the resource or benefit the players earn. In many games a token or meeple placement prevents other players from moving to that space. Since players have a finite number of workers, they must be very thoughtful and strategic in their placement choices.

In some games, like Everdell, there are spaces that only one meeple may be placed per round and some spaces that an unlimited number of meeples can be placed. That said, the most valuable spaces limit one meeple at the location per round. With the less valuable spaces open to multiple players.

In Age of Heroes, as in many other worker placement games, the spaces are limited to one token per space. Players need to be very thoughtful and strategic on what space they want to take. Since there may be more than one player going for that location, it helps to have multiple options in mind. By having a plan, it can help keep the game moving, and minimize Analysis Paralysis. (See our definition of Analysis Paralysis here.)

History of Worker Placement

Age of Heroes with Acrylic Standees

Keydom published in 1998 by R&D Games holds the credit with being the first worker placement game. From there other games emerged with worker placement. This has become a popular mechanic that encourages publishers to get creative with meeples and tokens.

Examples of Worker Placement Games:

  • Everdell (2018)
  • Stone Age (2008)
  • Marvel: Age of Heroes (2023)
  • Trails (2021)
  • Agricola (2007)

The Worker Placement mechanic has become ubiquitous to the board game world. While there are many other mechanics you may find in board games, this one has set the imagery and become an icon for the hobby.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) is a tabletop role-playing game that is played with a small group. Players take on the role of that created character. Players, guided by a dungeon master, use their imagination to explore a fantasy world, complete quests, and battle monsters. D&D is a great way to learn teamwork and problem-solving skills.

Here are some tips for how parents can teach their kids to play D&D:

dm screen
DM Screen with Clothes Pins to keep track of combat order

You need a Dungeon Master (DM)

The DM creates and/or runs the game. They build and control the fantasy world the players populate. Even if you have an experienced DM for your game, a short game, with pre-generated characters is a good idea for new and younger players. Character generation is a fun way to engage your players but can take hours away from playtime. If you are taking on the dungeon master role yourself, starter sets come with easier content that you can read ahead and familiarize yourself with ahead of time to help younger or new players with. There are a few starter sets.

Starter sets:

Pre-generated characters also solves the problem of filling needed rolls. Most successful parties have a tank (a character that can take damage and be on the offensive) , a healer, and a variety or damage dealers.

Distractions will happen.

Plan for breaks in gameplay. New players need time to pick/use powers, will have questions on rules and their roles. Also, don’t take it personally if players lose interest mid-game and wander off. This happens with players of every level, new and experienced.

Start by explaining the basics of the game.

Metal dice in a tray
Metal Dice in a Dice Tray

When starting out in the world of D&D, it’s important to understand the basics of the game. D&D can be complicated. Explain what each player’s role is in the game and what kinds of things they’ll be doing at the table. Some of that will involve teaching them about combat, magic spells, skills, and role-play.

Choose the right age group.

Not all kids are ready to play D&D at the same age. D&D requires hours of focus and sitting. Base gameplay on your players, and work around them.

Teach your child how to roll dice.

In order to play D&D, your child will need to know how to roll dice. This sounds silly. But trust me, teaching your kid how to throw the dice fairly without chucking them across the room will save everyone a lot of time in the long run. Dice trays or bowls can keep dice from accidental rolls across the room and under a couch.

Encourage them to think creatively.

D&D is all about using your imagination. Encourage your child to come up with their character’s backstory to get their imagination going. Try giving them a few prompts to get them started. For example, did your character grow up in a city, a village, a forest? Who taught them to use their skills. Once they start coming up with ideas, they’ll be ready to start role-playing with their new characters.

Then once they begin playing, make sure to have the DM encourage their creative solutions. As they are presented with in-game problems and challenges reward their creativity even if they approached it in an unexpected way.

Make sure everyone is having fun.

D&D is a game, so it should be fun! If someone isn’t having fun, talk to them about what’s not working for them and see if you can help make the game more enjoyable for everyone. Magic spells sound fun, but using them requires experience and access to what they do and when you can use them. Having spells bookmarked or buying spell cards and ready before you start can help stave frustration.

Play together as a family.

Dungeons and Dragons is a lot of fun, but it can be intimidating to learn if you don’t have anyone to show you the ropes. The best way to learn is by playing with friends and family who are already familiar with the game. That way, you can explore the fantasy world together and get everyone’s take on how to play your character. Plus, it’s just more fun to play with people you know and love. So gather up your nearest and dearest and get ready for some serious D&D action. It’ll be a blast!

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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Tabletop role-playing games (RPG) have been around for decades captivating players with unique collaborative storytelling, strategy, and imagination. One very well-known RPG is Dungeons and Dragons, however, there are many more available. These games can serve as a powerful tool for strengthening connections, fostering family bonding, and creating lasting memories. We will explore how playing tabletop RPGs can bring families closer together through gaming.

Encouraging Teamwork and Cooperation

At the heart of any tabletop RPG lies the need for teamwork and cooperation. Players must work together to overcome challenges, strategize, and ultimately achieve their characters’ goals. This collaboration fosters communication and cooperation within the family, as everyone contributes their unique skills and perspectives to the game. By overcoming challenges together, family members build and strengthen their bonds both in and out of the game.

Nurturing Creativity and Imagination

Tabletop RPGs are open-ended by design, offering players the creative freedom to shape their characters, actions, and even the game world itself. This imaginative storytelling encourages family members to think outside the box and develop their creative skills together. As parents and children create new worlds and scenarios, they stimulate their imaginations and nurture a shared love for storytelling, fostering a strong sense of connection.

Developing Problem-Solving and Critical Thinking Skills

Throughout a tabletop RPG session, players face various challenges and dilemmas that require creative problem-solving and critical thinking. By working together to find solutions, family members hone their intellectual skills while also promoting a shared love for learning. This collaborative approach to overcoming obstacles helps families appreciate the value of each member’s contributions. It fosters an environment of support and encouragement.

Creating Lasting Memories Through Shared Experiences

The memorable moments and in-game achievements of tabletop RPGs can become cherished family memories. Whether it’s a narrow escape from danger or a triumphant victory against all odds, these shared experiences become the foundation for inside jokes and stories that bring the family closer together. By recounting and reliving these moments, family members strengthen their bonds and create a shared history that they can treasure for years to come.

Facilitating Open Communication and Emotional Expression

Tabletop RPGs create a safe space for family members to express their emotions and thoughts through their characters. By assuming different roles, players can explore new perspectives and share their feelings in a supportive environment. These games can also open up conversations about real-life issues. These situations encourage family members to discuss their experiences and support one another in their daily lives.

Adapting to Different Age Groups and Interests

One of the great strengths of tabletop RPGs is their adaptability. These games can be tailored to accommodate family members of various age groups and interests. Ensuring that everyone feels included and engaged. Whether you choose a classic fantasy setting, a thrilling sci-fi adventure, or a more family-friendly system RPG system, the versatility of tabletop RPGs makes them ideal for bonding across generations and preferences.

Establishing a Family Tradition

Incorporating tabletop RPGs into regular family gatherings or creating a dedicated family game night can help establish a unique family tradition. This tradition not only brings the family together for regular bonding time but also fosters a strong sense of belonging and togetherness.

Getting Started

There are many resources out there to guide your tabletop RPG experience. Below are a few links for some resources that can get you started.

Final Thoughts

Tabletop RPGs offer numerous benefits for family bonding, from encouraging teamwork and cooperation to nurturing creativity and fostering open communication. By exploring the world of tabletop RPGs and creating their own adventures, families can strengthen their connections and make memories that will last for decades to come.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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The Spiel Des Jahres, translated as “Game of the Year,” is not just an award—it’s a seal of quality for families seeking the best in board gaming. Since its establishment in 1978, this prestigious accolade has been guiding parents and caregivers toward games that promise fun and memories that can last a lifetime! In 2022, the coveted award went to Cascadia, a tile-laying game for nature lovers everywhere! As we step into 2023, let’s explore this year’s winners and nominees that are perfect for family game nights.

A Brief History for New Parents

The Spiel Des Jahres was initiated by German game critics with a vision to promote top-tier games in the German market. Today, it’s a global benchmark. Winning or even being nominated can significantly boost a game’s popularity, making it easier for parents worldwide to identify quality games for their children.

Spiel des Jahres 2023 Winner

Dorfromantik – Das Brettspiel (Dorfromantik – The Boardgame) is more than just a game—it’s an experience. Crafted by Michael Palm and Lukas Zach and brought to life by illustrator Paul Riebe, this tile-laying game is perfect for families. Players aged 8 and up can bond over creating serene landscapes. This gorgeous game is actually based on a video game of the same name and helps teach kids about strategy, patience, and the beauty of nature.

Other 2023 Spiel Des Jahres Nominations

  1. Fun Facts by Kaspar Lapp is not just entertaining but also educational. It offers enlightening self-assessment, making learning fun for kids and adults alike.
  2. Next Station London by Matthew Dunstan is a colorful adventure through London’s underground, teaching kids about the city’s history and geography in an engaging manner.

Kinderspiel des Jahres 2023 Winner

Mysterium Kids is a gem for younger members of the family. This acoustic association game is tailored for children aged 6 and over and was designed by Antonin Boccara and Yves Hirschfeld. It encourages listening skills, teamwork, and creativity as kids try to solve mysteries using sound clues.

Other Nominations for the 2023 Kinderspiel des Jahres

  1. Carla Caramel by Sara Zarian lets players take on the role of ice cream parlor owners. It’s a cooperative game that fosters teamwork and decision-making for kids aged 4 and up.
  2. Gigamons by Johann Roussel and Karim Aouidad is a delightful monster-collecting game that builds memory and recognition skills for kids aged 5 and over.

Kennerspiel des Jahres 2023 Winner

Kennerspiel des Jahres 2023 highlights games for older kids and teens. The winner, Challengers!, is a chaotic tournament game suitable for players aged 8 and up. It’s a fantastic choice for families with older kids, promoting strategic thinking and healthy competition.

The 2023 Spiel Des Jahres Awards offer a treasure trove of family-friendly games. Whether you have young children, tweens, or teens, there’s something for everyone. As parents, investing in these games means not only hours of fun but also opportunities for learning and bonding. So, why wait? Dive into the world of board gaming and create cherished family memories!

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There is something undeniably iconic about Indiana Jones. While there is a new movie to enjoy, Funko Games has created a game based on the very first story, Raiders of the Lost Ark. It is hard to believe the movie came out in 1981. For so many of us, we have grown up with this story as part of our culture. Indian Jones Sands of Adventure is a Target exclusive and has the wonderful component quality we have come to expect from Funko Games.

Indiana Jones Sands of Adventure is a cooperative game, (see our definition of a cooperative game here). There is also a timed component that occurs in real-time, using a sand timer.

Game Set Up


  • 7 Double Sided Adventure Tiles
  • 4 Character Mats and Figures
  • 3 Villain Mats
  • 3 Villain Movers (with bases)
  • Health Tracking Cube
  • Sand Timer
  • Round Tracker Tile
  • Ark Mover (with base)
  • Torch Die
  • 2 Threat Die
  • Play Tile
  • 12 Gems (two sizes)
  • 6 Power Tokens
  • 92 Cards (these include Basic Cards, Upgrade Cards, Snake Cards, and Attack Cards)


Just as in the movie, the Third Reich is trying to find the Ark of the Covenant. It is up to Indiana Jones and some of his friends to prevent it from falling into their hands. Players work together over three rounds, and ultimately work to defeat the final villain. Will they succeed or fail?

The Rounds of Play

Indiana Jones Sands of Adventure plays over three rounds with two phases in each round. There is the Exploration Phase and the Timed Phase.

Character Mats and Figured
Exploration Phase

Each turn in the Exploration Phase consists of three steps. First, move to another Adventure Tile. The tile does not need to be adjacent. All players except the one playing Indiana Jones may not move to a space occupied by a villain. Second, once on a new tile, complete the action on the tile. These actions include: drawing an upgrade card, gaining a power token, play two cards to gain a power token. Finally, roll the threat dice. On the bottom corner of the Adventure Tile, there is an icon showing how many dice to roll. If gems are shown, add them to the sand timer. If the villain is activated follow the instructions on his mat and move him one space.

Threat Dice

The threat dice have three different outcomes.

  • Add a small gem to the Sand Timer
  • Add a large gem to the Sand Timer
  • Activate the Villain

Adding gems will eventually lead to the Sand Timer flipping and activating the second phase. When the villain is activated, they are moved and any player on the Adventure Tile they move to takes the consequence listed on the villain’s card.

Play in this first phase continues until the sand times flips, and that triggers the Timed Phase.

Sand Timer

Timed Phase

The Timed Phase begins immediately once the sand timer flips over. Players continue to take turns as fast as they can since the Sand Timer gives players just over two minutes to complete this phase. First, each player plays as many cards from their hand as they can or wish to. They then end their turn by drawing an action card. If a player draws a snake they must grab the red Torch die and roll it until they get a torch. Once a torch is rolled, play can continue. During this phase, players can also use the Power Tokens they have acquired to provide advantages.

The round ends when one of three things happens:

  • The Sand Timer runs out
  • The Action Deck is Empty and no further cards can be drawn.
  • The Villain is defeated, but bringing their health to zero.

Winning the Game

At the end of the third round, the players must defeat Rene Belloq to win. If they defeat Belloq they have rescued the Ark. However, if Belloq is not defeated the players lose the game, as he has gotten away with the Ark.

Family Game Assessment

Indiana Jones Sands of Adventure had a level of intensity and excitement that rivals the epic scenes of the movie. With every players turn in the first phase of each round, there was a consequence of either adding gems to the Sand Timer or activating the villain, or sometimes both. The Exploration Phase, while untimed, moved along quickly. The only element that slowed it down was carefully considering each move to try and optimize the turns and minimize the consequences at the end of their turn. In this phase, it could have stalled if any players were struggling with analysis paralysis (see our definitions of analysis paralysis here)

As each gem was added to the Sand Timer our group was collectively holding our breath, to see if it would flip. Once the Timed Phase was triggered the intensity was quite high. Being a cooperative game information was shared freely. It made the collaboration easy, We were able to look at the cards that each player had and strategize on the fly how to get the Attack cards in play as fast as possible.

Adventure Tiles

Insights on the Timed Phase

One challenge that we ran into during the Timed Phase was the tendency to have someone try to manage everyone’s turn. It is very easy with the pressure of being timed, to have one player take control of the action to the detriment of the other players. With that in mind, it is very important to understand the dynamic of the group of players. Before the Timed Phase it triggered it is important to set the expectation of how to manage the communication and turns. Communication is important and it make work for some groups to designate a leader to facilitate the Timed Phase. However, that may take away from the experience for other players. It really depends on personal preference.

Being mindful of overmanaging the Timed Phase is especially important to consider with a mixed age group. When the family is sitting around the table the younger players need to have a chance to contribute themselves, and not be over-managed. This may take some experience and planning ahead of time, but it is an important aspect to consider for a family game night.

Final Thoughts

Indiana Jones Sands of Adventure is a great, quick, and intense family game. The Sand Timer and adding gems almost every turn creates a ton of suspense. The components are quite good, and with the full retail price at just $29.99 it is a great addition to any family game shelf. The Raiders of the Lost Ark story as the foundation of the game only adds to the enjoyment of the game.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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There are plenty of examples of board games gone digital or digital games coming to tabletop. For mechanics-driven video games like Dorfromantik (“Village Romance”), porting over to physical board games is a natural fit. 

This idyllic city-builder puzzle game got its start in early access in 2021 on Steam before a full release in 2022. Alongside the full release, Dorfromantik also released in board game form. And finally, in 2023, Dorfromantik was awarded the Spiel des Jahres (a special tabletop award for family-friendly games) as Game of the Year. 

But what even is Dorfromantik?

Both versions of the game, have the player (or players) work to fulfill the people’s wishes for population concentration, forest composition, fields, and even rivers and tracks. Creating expansive rivers and long tracks is an important piece of succeeding in Dorfromantik. Your tiles will only continue to unlock as long as you’re generating points. If your “Village Romance” stagnates in its point-generation, you’re not going to be able to proceed to unlock the next biome. 


Another important piece of Dorfromantik’s mechanics is to keep “flags” in mind to optimize points. The flags demarcate “enclosed areas” that encourage players to keep closed with tile placement. In the board game version of Dorfromantik, you can replay the campaign and unlock new tiles from “secret” boxes. 

It’s a hexagonal tile-placement game in both its forms, encouraging players to optimize their tiles in relation to the game’s current objectives as well as building out Dorfromantik’s biomes. In digital, Dorfromantik is a single-player experience. In board game form, you can play it alone or with up to six players. 

Final Thoughts

Dorfromantik has a gentle learning curve but gets progressively more difficult depending on how players choose to optimize their tile placements in both versions of the game. 
The video game plays best on handheld. So pick it up on either Nintendo Switch or Steam (if you have a Steam Deck). The board game’s recent Spiel des Jahres win will show up on the new board game versions starting this year, but will mostly be available in brick and mortar stores (as opposed to Amazon). 

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get

Your Family Game On!

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