This year, for reasons that elude me – nostalgia for my own childhood? getting fed up with video games? – I decided to give my kids a bunch of board games for Hanukkah. And, as the story goes, I’m enjoying them more than they are.
If you’re in the same boat – or have simply forgotten how much fun board games can be – here are five that are worth your while:
1. Monopoly – Yes, it’s nothing more than unadulterated, crass capitalism. And why – in this day and age – would we want to teach our children that? But it’s loads of fun. And particularly for a child who has outgrown Chutes/Snakes and Ladders but isn’t quite ready for the strategy entailed in something like Risk, it’s a great introduction to what a real board game is, replete as it is with choices, consequences and a fun, colorful board. Best of all: kids love it and will happily play for hours.
2. Scrabble – OK, this is another old chestnut. But once your kids have a decent-sized vocabulary, it gets no better than this. I hadn’t played Scrabble in years, but when some friends showed up this summer, we played in teams (with our kids) and stayed up half the night. Plus, a great excuse to use the word poi. (I know I’m always looking for one.)
3. Scrambled States of America – On to the more obscure. Someone gave my son this game as a birthday present a few years back and I filed it under “random.” But then we opened the box and we’ve been playing ever since. It’s basically a really fun way to learn both the geography of the American states, as well as their capitols and nicknames. (Quick Test: What’s the nickname for Nebraska? Answer: The Cornhusker State. See! Aren’t you glad I reminded you?) Perfect for the 7-9 crowd.
4. Once Upon A Time – My mother gave us this one, so I knew it would be a gem. If you have a child who likes telling stories, this is a must. You hand each player 10 cards and they have to come up with a story that links the different people, places and events on their cards. But the other players can interrupt the story – based on their own cards – and take it in an entirely new direction, which you then riff off of when you interrupt them. Together, you jointly make your way to an ending. It’s loads of good, old-fashioned fun. (Remember that?)
5. Settlers of Catan – I can’t say much about this game yet – which we just bought for my about-to-be 9 year old son – other than to note that one of my husband’s colleagues said it was – and I quote – the best game “ever.” Based on this write up in Wired Magazine, I think I’d have to agree. The story behind the game’s invention (as told in Wired) was enough to make me buy it on the spot. Plus, it’s German. So it has to be good, right?