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The holidays are approaching quickly and some amazing new games have come out this year. There are so many more games than we can fit into one article, so if you need more ideas check out the links at the bottom to our Essential Board Games that may inspire your gift shopping.

Games for the Whole Family

These games are easy to learn, and perhaps hard to master games that can be enjoyed by a wide range of players. These games are great for multi age game play and a range of gaming experience.

Here to Slay

  • Age 10+
  • 2-6 Players
  • Playtime 30-60 Minutes

Table top roleplay game meets a simple and quick family card game. Players choose a champion at the beginning of the game and gather a party of heroes to defeat monsters. In this competitive game, you can also thwart your opponents by playing certain cards. To win, players need to gather a full party of six heroes, or defeat three monsters. For those who love Dungeons and Dragons or high fantasy, this gives you the flavor without the time investment.

Happy City

  • Age 10+
  • 2-5 Players
  • Playtime 30 Minutes

Happy City! is a building strategy city building card game. Players buy buildings so they can attract residents and earn income to expand. But watch out for the happiness of your residents, because that is what your final score is based on!

Super Mega Lucky Box

  • Age 8+
  • 1-6 Players
  • Playtime 20 Minutes

Super Mega Lucky Box takes some of the elements of Bingo and adds all kinds of twists and special powers. Players are trying to cross off the numbers on their boards each round and get bonuses. These are unlocked for completing row, and include moons, lightning bolts, stars, and numbers, each with a special ability After four rounds points are tallied to determine the winner.

Yokai- The Game of Mystical Spirits

  • Age 8+
  • 2-8 Players
  • Playtime 20 Minutes

Challenge your memory as you try to reunite the spirits. In Yokai- The Game of Mystical Spirits. Reunite the sprits correctly before the game ends, then reveal if you have succeeded or not!

BlockNess

  • Age 8+
  • 2-4 Players
  • Playtime 15 Minutes

The Loch is only so big and the monsters are battling for space. This strategy game from Blue Orange games players add to their monster segment by segment with the goal to add the most segments onto their monsters.

The Key: Sabotage at Lucky Llama Land

  • Age 8+
  • 1-4 Players
  • Playtime 20 Minutes

Lucky Llama Land Amusement park has been the victim of sabotage, but thankfully crisis was averted at the last minute. Now the saboteurs need to be found. Players need to examine the clues; such as witness statements, forensics, and investigation file to generate a number code and use the key to capture the saboteurs.

If You Like…

There are some old favorites that publishers re-imagine, add a new theme, or add a next chapter to the story. Many times these games can become our new favorites.

Kingdomino Origins

  • Age 8+
  • 2-4 Players
  • Playtime 25 Minutes

The award winning game Kingdomino has gone even further back in time to prehistoric days! Kingdomino Origins introduces new components and three game modes: fire and volcanoes, wooden resources, and cavemen. Points are earned by collecting resources, players earn additional points when they have the majority of a resources.

The Crew Mission Deep Sea

  • Age 10+
  • 2-5 Players
  • Playtime 20 Minutes (per mission)

Search for the lost city of Mu beneath the ocean depth with in this sequel to the award winning game. Using a unique, and easy to learn cooperative trick-taking gameplay the players take on different missions to tell the story. Completing each hand under certain conditions completes each mission and advances you through the story on your search for Mu.

Lost Cities Roll and Write

  • Age 8+
  • 2-5 Players
  • Playtime 30 Minutes

Journey on an expedition in this roll and write game, in the next chapter of Lost Cities. Each turn, roll the dice and decide if you are starting a new expedition or continuing one. Carful that your expedition does not get stuck or you will loose points.

Exploding Minions

  • Age 7
  • +2-5 Players
  • Playtime 15 Minutes

The silliness of Exploding Kittens, but only with Minions. Just like in Exploding Kittens, players keep drawing cards and get eliminated as the Exploding Minion is drawn. A new twist is added to this version with a Clone card.

Throw Throw Avocado

  • Age 7+
  • 2-5 Players
  • Playtime 15 Minutes

Dodgeball and card game are a combination we saw in Throw Throw Burrito. Now the nonsense ensues with avocados. Collect sets of card to score points, but watch out for flying avocados. Extra cards are included to combine this with Throw Throw Burrito.

Sticky Cthukhu

  • Age 6+
  • 2-6 Players
  • Playtime 15 Minutes

The crazy chaos of Sticky Chameleon gets a new theme with Sticky Chameleons. In this game players use a long sticky “tentacle” to grab creatures. A roll of the two dice determines the color and creature to capture. But beware the investigators! Gather the most Deep Ones tokens to win the game.

Games for Younger Gamers

Hedgehog Roll

  • Age 4+
  • 1-4 Players
  • Playtime 20 Minutes

Rolling hedgehogs elicit a cute factor beyond measure. In Hedgehog Roll players roll the fuzzy hedgehog ball to collect leaves, pinecones and flowers. They ten move the number of spaces on the board equal to the number of objects picked up. The game can be played cooperatively to outrun a fox or competitively to race each other.Play

Slappy Camper

  • Age 5+
  • 2-4 Players
  • Playtime 5-10 Minutes

Time to pack the camper. Flip the cards to see the next item to pack into your camper, and use the marshmallow stick to smack the right item. First to smack the item can pack it, but be careful smacking the wrong item can cause you to unpack. Win by being the first to fill the camper.

Paco’s Party

  • Age 5+
  • 2-6 Players
  • Playtime 5-15 Minutes

Paco’s birthday party was a blast and tons of pictures were taken, but not everyone was in each picture. Players call out the missing character in each picture to get rid of their cards. If all the characters are there call it out while dancing like Paco, but the last one to dance has to add all the played cards to their hand. First to get rid of their hand of cards wins.

Games for the Littlest Gamers

My Very First Games: Rhino Hero Jr.

  • Age 2+
  • 1-4 Players
  • Playtime 10-20 Minutes

Time for superhero training. In this beginner version of Rhino Hero Jr. children can practice the basic skills of fine motor, memory, and basic understanding of numbers and counting one to five with three mini games. Additional suggestions to support your child’s development of these concepts is included in the rulebook.

My Very First Games: Construction Site

  • Age 2+
  • 1-4 Players
  • Playtime 5-10 Minutes

Time to work together on the construction site. In this beginner game, players work together to build a house by flipping over cardboard chips to determine the next piece to move. The game comes with a Kullerbu-compatible truck players use to move the pieces. Additionally, a read aloud story is included to help support the idea of what they are building.

For More Gift Ideas


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Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you are confused by and we will try to include them in future editions!


The gaming definition this week is a term that is applicable to board and card games: Godzilla the Board/Deck

Godzilla the Board/ Deck is a term used in board and card games to describe the action of knocking the items askew. If a player Godzillas the deck, they have knocked a pile or piles of cards over. To Godzilla the board is to knock over or displace tiles, meeples, cubes, or other game components.

When playing games with kids or clumsy adults (like me) having a player Godzilla the Board or Deck may be a common occurrence. The key feature differentiating a player Godzilla-ing the Board or Deck verses disrupting the game in anger is motivation. Godzilla-ing is an unintended action due to clumsiness, and emotion is not a factor.

Games with more pieces, small pieces or pieces/cards which need to be placed on top of one another are more susceptible to be Godzilla-ed. Tile laying games are also easily to Godzilla the board as players place a tile and knock a bunch out of place.

Strategies to minimize Godzilla-ing the board/deck

  • Keep the pieces and cards within easy reach of players
  • If motor skills are a challenge for one or more players, minimize the number of pieces that they need to interact with
  • Space out components as much as possible.
  • If possible, avoid players having to reach across the board, and instead have the player(s) get up and move around the table.

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

You can also look at our other board game definitions from previous weeks here!

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Quest and Cannons:The Risen Islands takes place in a fanciful world where the characters from one of three nations: Dwunny (Dwarf-bunny), Porcs (Pig-Orcs), or Delves (Duck-Elves) battle for resources. The nations have three characters , each with special traits. Players move their characters around a hexagonal map exploring, collecting, completing quests and battling other nations. Ultimately the goal is to gain Prosperity points. This is the first game from Short Hop Games.

  • Age: 14+
  • Play Time: 20-120 minutes (20 minutes/player)
  • Plays 1-6 players
  • Gameplay mechanics: Pick up and Deliver, variable player powers, hand management

Quests and Cannons has multiple modes of play giving players many options. The game can be played in solo mode, with up to six players in a free for all, as a 2 verses 2 or 3 verses 3. There are also guidelines for map setup, but even within the guidelines there is a significant amount of variability. With so many choices on game play and board set up this game will feel fresh and exciting with each new play.

Quests and Cannons is coming to Kickstarter on September 21, 2021. Click the link to check it out!

Components

  • 6 player ship dashboards
  • 18 sail tokens
  • 6 wooden player ships
  • 50 Resource tokens (10 of each kind)
  • 24 Cannon tokens
  • 6 Traveler’s Dice
  • 24 Cargo slot covers
  • 54 Ammo dice
  • 30 Hull damage tokens
  • 9 Character stands
  • 3 Dwunny Champion Tiles
  • 3 Porc Champion Tiles
  • 3 Delf Champion Tiles
  • 21 Tri-hex Terrain Tiles
  • 15 Single-hex Terrain Tiles
  • 3 Trading post Tiles
  • 3 Starting Kingdom Tiles
  • 3 Outpost Tiles
  • 18 Island Feature Tokens
  • 6 Score trackers
  • 39 Coins
  • 45 Quest cards
  • 18 Map clues cards
  • 45 Loot Cards

Game Play Overview

There are quite a few different elements to game play, actions players can take and choices to consider for players. Without getting into every choice, there are some key features of the game to know. Players are working to gain Prosperity Points to win, and Prosperity Points are earned by completing Quests, following Map Clues, and attacking other ships.

Resources found on the island

Types of Spaces

There are eight different types of spaces you may encounter, different seas affect you movement.

  • Calm sea: one movement  points space
  • Stormy Seas: Two movement points space
  • Treacherous Sea: must roll die, with a roll on 1,2,3 your ship takes hull damage.
  • Impassable Terrain: can not be moved through

Other Spaces include:

  • Outposts: upgrade their ships, or deliver resources for a quest, repair their ship, buy ammo, sell resources
  • Trading Post: trade or sell resources
  • Starting Spaces: return completed map clues, repair their ship, buy ammo, sell resources
  • Islands: explore: gather resources, gain Quest Cards
Sails add one movement

Turns

A player’s turns consists of using three action points. There are different combinations of actions players can take, which give lots of options within three simple choices. On a player’s turn they can:

  • Move one space in any direction (sails add one additional movement per sail), different terrain (noted above) costs different movement points
  • Gather resources from an island
  • Attack, fire your cannons at an enemy player

Free Actions

In addition there are free actions as well. These give players even more options on their turns, though there are limitations since these are dependent on being at certain locations.

  • At a Trading Post players are able to exchange resources for others resources they need or to sell resources for coins.
  • At Outposts players can spend resources and coin to upgrade their ship. Outposts are also a location for players to complete Quests by delivering the resources.
  • Starting spaces are where players can return their Map Clues, and most importantly gain a Prosperity Point when they do so.
  • Both the Outposts are Starting Spaces allow you to also repair your ship, buy ammo, and sell resources, Loot cards, or Map Clues
Player Board keeps everything organized!

Family Game Assessment

Quests and Cannons is a more complicated game both in components to manage and choices per turn, than I am used to playing. Even thought the set up takes some time, and there are quite a lot of components to manage it was totally worth the time at the front end once we began playing. The set up did become easier and a little faster once you know the game. As play begins the turns are easy and move quickly, keeping my whole family engaged. There are quite a few elements to keep tabs on, and the ship dashboard organize many of those elements so well.

Quests and Cannons is recommended for ages 14 and up, but with support, scales down a bit. My boys, ages nine and thirteen were able to play, with support. An experienced gamer as young as 9 or 10 and have success playing, especially with a veteran gamer to guide them. Based on how my children took to the mechanics, this could be used as a “gateway game” into a more complex series of mechanics and managing components.

For a family looking to add a game with more complexity to expand their collection Quests and Cannons is an excellent choice. The complex components and mechanics are organizing them in a way to streamline the gameplay making it a great fit for a range of gaming skills.


A prototype of Quests and Cannons was provided for review, so final production may have some changes.


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Silliness ensues as you pop, snatch and grab your way to victory in Over Under Ostrich by Dolphin Hat Games. This is a hilarious dexterity set collection game for two to eight players ages eight and up. The game is quick, one you get the technique, and games run about five minutes.

Game Components

  • Deck of 54 Ostrich cards containing 6 different ostriches
  • 8 Clipper Cards

Gameplay

Set up for Over Under Ostrich is quite easy, simply spread all the cards face down on a table. Making sure all players can reach the cards is the greatest challenge during set up all players. This gets more challenging with a large group. After the card setup is complete, each player creates their “ostrich head” using one hand and arm. The players bend their hand at the wrist and pinch their fingers together to create an ostrich head. With their body ready, players “pop and snatch”.

The game begins players simultaneously slide one card at a time to the edge of the table near them, then pop the card into the air with the back of their fingers, and snatch if from the air before it lands on the table. If the player does not successfully grab the card, even if it is not one that they need, they must continue to try to successfully pop and snatch this card. A card that is successfully snatched but not needed is tossed back onto the table face up.

The objective is to collect one of each hairstyle into your “Ostrich Sanctuary”, which is the area in front of you. Other players can try and thwart you by playing a Clipper card. If a player collects a Clipper card they can place it on one of the Ostriches in an opponents Ostrich Sanctuary. The forces the player to have to collect that card again.

The first player to collect all six ostriches in their Sanctuary yells “Heads Up!” to win!

Family Game Assessment

Over Under Ostrich is a silly game the whole family can enjoy. The recommendation is ages eight and up, but is simple enough that it can scale down to younger. That said, the dexterity portion might be challenging for children under eight. Some families my find it helpful to practice before beginning the game, and make modifications for players that struggle with the Pop and Snatch technique. We found there was a learning curve for the technique.

When we played it, even with the practice time, my eight year old was struggling to snatch. To address this challenges, we made a “house rule”, and he used two hands to snatch. That little accommodation made a world of difference in reducing his frustration and letting him jump right into the game.

Conclusion

Over Under Ostrich provides families with a quick, simple, silly family game that can be played by up to eight players. It is an inexpensive game, and one that fits in small places and containers making it portable and great for gifting.


FCC disclosure A copy if the game was provided for review.

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Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you are confused by and we will try to include them in future editions!


The gaming definition this week is a term that is applicable to video games: MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena)

MOBA is a strategy game where teams battle in a predetermined lane or area with heroes/allies. Their ultimate goal is to destroy the other team’s structure/tower

League of Legends

This genre that features short, team based, multiplayer matches with computer controlled allies and enemies. Players create teams from a selection of playable characters, with mechanics and character abilities encouraging a balance of playstyles and teamwork. Character abilities and maps are public knowledge, and computer controlled elements operate in a repeated, predictable fashion. With that public knowledge, strategy and optimization are considered an additional layer of play that carries over between the individual fast paced encounters.

Examples:

Skytear
  • League of Legends
  • DOTA (Defense of the Ancients)

The MOBA style exists in a board game

Example:

  • Skytear: A Card driven board game


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

You can also look at our other video game definitions from previous weeks here!

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Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you are confused by and we will try to include them in future editions!


The gaming definition this week is a term that is applicable to both video games and board games: Casual Game

Casual Game: A game designed to be played with little to no game skill or knowledge ahead of time. Qualities of a casual game include a wide range of playability by age, an intuitive and recognizable game play experience, and a steady and slow rate of increasing complexity as the game progresses. Casual games will often develop advanced styles and methods of play among more experienced players, but these developments never impact the initial, approachable game experience.

Casual board games have very few simple rules and are easy to pick up and play. Often party style games are casual games too, since their rules are streamlined.

Examples of Casual Video Games

  • Tetras
  • Mario Cart 8 Deluxe
  • Many mobile games, such as Candy Crush

Examples of Casual Board Games

  • Codenames
  • What Do You Meme, Family Edition
  • Cinco Linko (formerly known as OK Play)

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

You can also look at our other video game definitions from previous weeks here!

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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Blokk! is a dexterity game coming to Kickstarter in October 2021. The word Blokk is the Norwegian words for Block. In Blokk! you take on the role as the Architect trying to create a perfect cube. Click here to follow their Kickstarter page.

Components

  • 1: 4×4 stencil
  • 1: 5×5 Rotating stand (360 Degree rotation)
  • 33 Blocks
  • 3 Gold Achievement pieces
  • 1 set of 36 playing cards
  • 1 multi-color dice
  • 1 scoring sheet

Blokk! gives players many options for modes of play. They also have the option of which size cube to build. Players can build a 4×4 cube or a 5×5 cube. The game also offers three options for modes of play and three options for construction modes

Modes of play:

  • I, Blokk!: This is a solo mode. The player (Architect) tries to construct their cube with minimal imperfections
  • Blokk! Party: This mode is for two to four players (Architects), players work cooperatively to adding one block per turn to construct a cube
  • Blokk! Off: This mode is for two to four players (Architects), players work competitively by taking turns constructing their cube. Once all architects have completed their Cube and each has been scored the player with the highest score wins.

Construction modes

  • Free Blokk!: (easy) In this mode, the Architect(s) choose one available block on their turn and adds it to the Cube under construction.
  • Dice Blokk!: (intermediate) In this mode, the Architect rolls the six sided color die which determines the color piece they must add to the Cube being constructed. They may choose any one piece in that color on their turn.
  • Card Blokk!: (advanced) In this mode the card deck is used and the Architect must draw one card per turn to determine the block they are to use on that turn.

Gold Blokk! Challenge

The game includes special Gold Blocks, and these unlock as players complete challenges. The prototype has 21 challenges listed in increasing difficulty. Completing three challenged unlocks the first Gold Block. Six challenged unlocks the second. Ten challenges completed unlocks the third Gold Block. Once unlocked these are optional for the player to use in all game modes.

Scoring

The scoring is very straight forward and easy to understand, and uses the same guidelines regardless of the mode or play or the construction mode. The Architect(s) start with 100 points. One point is lost for any imperfections which is a void or space outside the perfect Cube. Five points are lost of a block falls at any point. If three or more blocks fall the game is over and the player must restart.

Family Game Assessment

Blokk! is an easy to learn, easy to play, and hard to master game. The rules are simple and easy to learn in just a matter of minutes. Adults and kids enjoy the challenge of trying to make a perfect cube. The concept is easy and because there is no reading, so the recommended age of five and up is a good fit. This also has the advantage of supporting fine motor development in younger players. The different modes of play allow families to customize the game play to best suit the dynamic of the players.

Blokk! is a huge hit with the family. The Blokk! party mode has been the most popular game mode with my family. They like all the different Construction modes, but Free Blokk! is their favorite. One fun detail we learned was that if you turned the base too quickly, the blocks just perched on top were likely to fall off. It was a great example of centripetal force!

Final Thoughts

We played a protype of Blokk! and once our time was up it needed to be sent along to the next reviewer. Our family was sad to see it go, and are eager for the Kickstarter to launch in October. We would love to get this game as part of our board game collection!


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

You can also look at our other video game definitions from previous weeks here!

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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In preparation for traveling there is the age old question of what games to bring. There are some key factors to consider when selecting games to bring. Travel often gives us much needed down time. It can be the perfect opportunity for quality family game time. Packing the right games helps support fun for all.

1. Packing Space and Game Portability

Whether you are driving or flying can greatly affect what you pack. Even driving, limited space may require a small boxes. By critically considering the space you have it will help determine the size and number of games to bring. Many of my family vacations are a drivable distance and we have a minivan, so I can bring a tote bag of games. Limited car space or flying may only allow you to pack a few very small games.

2. Who Might Play?

The who is probably the most important of the guiding questions. If you are going away with a bunch of gamers and have planned to dedicate time to a large deep time consuming strategy game that us one thing. Most people, however, are going to have a range of ages and gaming experience which needs to be accounted for. The age, gaming experience, and interest in the game (both game mechanics and theme) are key considerations.

3. Time and Energy for Games

You need to consider how you will be spending you time on vacation.  If you are at Disney, you might only need games to fill time in the airport. My family likes to vacation at the Cape, and even after a leisurely day on the beach we don’t have the mental power for a complex game. In contrast when we knew there would be a snowy day in Vermont, we packed extra games to occupy the down time.

4. Table Space available

Often times, in hotels the table space is quite limited. In contrast,  the space at a rented house may be more generous. Though my experience with rental houses, the tables are often small compared to the number of people staying there. Another thing to consider is wait time at airports or restaurants. Different locations call for different size games.

5. Familiar vs New Games

It can be a high mental demand to learn a new game, some more than others. After a long day enjoying your vacation you may not have the mental bandwidth to learn a new game. Playing a familiar game gives you the quicker time to get the game started, and can be more comfortable for players to dive right in.

One other thing the consider with learning a new game, is that many players rely on how it’s played videos. These may be hard to access if there is limited WIFI/internet access.

Game Suggestions

The following games are games that we enjoy and pack a lot of game into a small size.

The Mind


Sushi Go


This Game Goes to Eleven


Cinco Linko


Bloom


Get the MacGuffin


Hive Pocket Edition

Skyjo


Rory’s Story Cubes

Love Letter

Farkle/Zombie Dice/ Cosmic Whimp Out

Card Games with a Standard Deck of Card

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Students work so hard for gain during the school year. The break for the summer is a great mental reprieve for kids and families, but those school year gains are hard to hold onto. As a parent I groan a little when the summer reading, summer math, packets, etc. come home. So here is the inside information from the teacher side of it, those summer assignments and resources are an attempt to mitigate the “summer slide”. Summer slide is the loss of skills acquired during the previous school year.

Board games can help with some incidental learning and skill reinforcement. The nice thing with using board games for skill reinforcement is that it does not feel like work to the kids.

There are a few key things to help guide the selections of board games to bring to the table.

1. Keep is easy

If the game or skill is too hard your child will get frustrated. This is a case of less can be more. As a parent or caregiver the goal is reinforcing skills, not new learning.

2. High interest

Fun fact, kids have been known to read a book a level or two harder than what they normally can read, if it is a high interest subject. If the game is high interest there is more motivation to persevere through any reading challenges. This happened with my younger son. In second grade he was a struggling and reluctant reader. We played What do you Meme Family Edition, he was so excited to read the silly cards, he took his time and read each card in his hand carefully. This careful reading leads into the the next tip…

3. Wait time

If a child is playing a game with a skill they are not fully proficient in, all players need to allow for wait time (thinking time). Wait timer allows the child time for processing the task and mentally work it out. It is the most valuable time for developing their skills and supporting their previous learning. When my son was reading the What Do You Meme: Family Edition cards, it was tempting to jump in an help him read the words, but that time to go through the decoding process and succeed was critical. It did mean the game took a little longer, and it was worth every extra minute.

4. Celebrate their success in the task

We all like to be recognized for accomplishments, and kids flourish with praise. One thing I have found very powerful with my students is to let them know that you understand that they had to work hard and persevere through. Cheering them on and complimenting their hard work is a powerful tool to support them.

Have fun!

These are intended to be incidental learning experiences that are light and fun. Kids will be much more receptive and eager to play if they find it fun.


Check out some of our articles with specific game recommendations.


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

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Finding engaging games to play with toddlers and preschoolers that are not excessively tedious for the adults can be a challenge.  Memory, Candy Land, and Chutes and Ladders are classics and likely in any collection with young kids.  I can vouch that they are in my kids’ collection too! There are many more games to choose from that are good for young players.  These games have are appealing, have cute themes, and you will enjoy playing with your preschooler.

Panda’s Picnic

Panda’s Picnic in the Park is a matching game for players age two and up. The game comes in a picnic basket and players take turns pulling items out of the basket and matching them with things on their plate. There are multiple ways to play. Learning skills include: Color and Shape. Pretend play, turn taking, gross and fine motor skills, and vocabulary building.

Bandit’s Memory Mix Up

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 spy glass and placed five garden tiles inside then shake it up. One garden tile is removed secretly. The challenge: remembering the removed tile. The first player to identify the missing tile wins. There are also variants which support solo and large group play. Play reinforces the skills of turn-taking, visual discrimination, and memory.

Smoosh and Seek Treehouse

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 hide or they place a token to show that seekers has been found. Game play reinforces memory, simple strategy, cooperation and fine-motor skills.

My First Castle Panic

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 Casle 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.

First Orchard

First Orchard is a cooperative game where players are trying to collect all the fruit before the raven reaches the end of the path. The game has large brightly colored wooden fruit and a chunky wooden raven.  The path and orchard are easy to set up and reinforces sorting skills. This is a simplified version of Haba’s Orchard game.

Animal Upon Animal

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.

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 to reach 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.

Go Away Monster

Go Away Monster is a re-release of a game for the younger set with new art and prettier components. The main thrust of the game is that you have to fill up your card with different puzzle pieces to make up a child’s bedroom. You do that by reaching into a blind bag and feeling around for the piece that you need. The trick is that there are monsters in the bag. If you pick a monster out of the bag then you lose your turn.

Hiss

Hiss is a competitive game where players draw tiles and try and build the longest snakes.  Each snake has different colors and players need to match the colors for adjacent snake pieces.  To build a complete snake they need to have a head, at least one middle body segment, and a tail. This is a game that easily scales down to youngster players.

The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game

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 dictated the color acorn you can take or if another event occurs.  If a player lands on a storm cloud their acorns get blown back onto the tree. A sad squirrel means you lose a turn.  The thieving squirrel picture allows the player to steal one acorn from another player. The first person to fill their log with acorns wins.

Educational Insights have developed a line of games with a squeezer that also include: Hoppy Floppy Happy Hunt and Sophie’s Seashell Scramble.

Spot it Jr.

Spot it 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.

Happy Bunny

“In this cooperative counting game, players work as a team to help the bunny pick the best carrots from the farmer’s garden. Each turn, one player picks a number of carrots from the garden and sorts them into two piles, one for the bunny and one for the farmer. At the end of the game, everyone helps line up the piles for comparison. If the bunny’s line is longer, the players win! The durable carrot pieces are firmly planted inside the box, so the self-contained game helps little hands develop fine motor skills.”

Where’s Mr. Wolf?

“A cooperative game where everyone pitches in on the farm! Players must work together as a team to help the farm animals get back to their barns before Mr. Wolf arrives. Every time a Mr. Wolf token is found, he creeps one space closer, and every time a farm animal token is found, players must remember which barn they belong to. The cute animal tokens, 3D barns, and shared goal help children work on memory and teamwork at the same time.”

Kitty Bitty

“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 and pick up one of her eyes; if it’s blank they can move on to the next yarn ball, but 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!”

Snug as a Bug in a Rug

Snug as a Bug in a Rug is a cooperative game for player 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.

Count Your Chickens

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 picture 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.

Hoot Owl Hoot

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 pla, and draws a card to refill at the end of their turn.  With a color car,d 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.

Zingo

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 1-2-3Zingo Sight Words, Zingo Time-Telling, 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.  

 Build or Boom

Build or BOOM is a block stacking dexterity game designed to be played by even the youngest member of your family. Your goal is to race your opponent to complete a tower out of uniquely shaped blocks and BOOM their tower to keep them from winning. This game is absolutely playable by everyone in the family. It is designed for kids 4 yrs 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 all ages.


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