Games to play with your kids

(that don’t make you want to gouge your own eyes out).

I don’t know about you all, but I typically loathe playing board games with my five year old. They’re an excruciating mix of boredom, frustration, and temper tantrum management.

Candyland: coma-inducing
Chutes and Ladders and Sorry: Jesus Christ, will this game ever end?
Operation: nothing more than the prelude to a screaming meltdown when she can’t even get one piece out
Hungry Hungry Hippos: device for seeding white marbles around the entire house
Go Fish (specialty cards with actual fish on them, in a size guaranteed to never, ever fit in a child’s hands or allow shuffling except by Andre the Giant): do you have any sharks, because I want them to kill me now

and so on.

BUT, I have discovered some games that I not only don’t despise, I actually enjoy!

Yahtzee Jr.: not great, but not a total loss. Games are pleasantly brief.
Crazy Eights/Uno: simplistic but not mind-numbing
Puzzles: Surprisingly engaging, and it’s cooperative so no loser
Checkers: believe it or not, I’m just learning how to play. But that means the kids might beat me, which makes it more fun for them!
Doodle Dice: Actually fun, and good for everyone’s spatial relations and planning skills
and the best so far -
*Catan Junior *- retains the fun of the grownup version, but not too complicated or frustrating. Plus it has pirates and a Ghost Captain - what’s not to like?

What games do you like to play with your children? (Alternatively, what are the worst games to play with kids and why?)

I don’t have kids, but I do have a lot of Legos.
Five is a great age to start building things. Buy a tub, see how it goes.

How viable is outdoor fun?
Can you jump rope? That’s hours and hours of entertainment right there.
Are kites an option where you are?

I have a 7yr old daughter, and a 4yr old son who… doesn’t really play.

However, we all get a lot of mileage out of:

By Golly, which is a twist to the standard memory card game

Aquarius, which is a card edge matching type game

Zeus on the Loose, which is a counting game with greek gods in.

Dino Dice, a reskinned version of Zombie Dice.
King of Tokyo
Love Letters
The Resistance
Apples to apples
Survive: escape from Atlantis

All terrific board games that adults and kids can enjoy. Fuck nonsense “games” like candyland that teach terrible habits and lack decision making.

Some substitutes that are actually sort of fun:

Candyland: Cartagena
Chutes and Ladders and Sorry: Max
Operation: Gulo Gulo
Hungry Hungry Hippos: sorry, never played it - can’t help with this one
Go Fish: Love Letter

We also get a fair amount of mileage out of Zeus on the Loose.

The big one at our house right now is Trouble. Games are pretty quick, and you can’t lose the die. The boring part comes when everyone’s trying for a “6” at the same time.

I have a suggestion about the temper tantrum management. When my younger daughter was old enough to play games, at first she would throw a fit if she lost. “Okay,” I said, “Do you want to win?” “Yes!!” So I put both our playing pieces at the starting square. Then I jumped hers to the winner’s spot. “Hooray! You win! Want to play again?” Not sure what that was about, she said yes. Repeat. “But I want to play the game!” “Oh, that’s different. I thought you just wanted to win.”

She got the point very quickly. In games of skill rather than chance, we would give her a slight advantage. For example, in Big Boggle, she could make smaller words, and there was a one-point adjustment on the scoring. After she started to beat the pants off us regularly, we did away with that rule!

Just the other day, I taught my 3 year old granddaughter to play the card game War. I figured it was educational; she had to decide which number was higher. What she liked the best was watching me shuffle the cards.