Jake has an outrageous amount of board games, mostly because I get tired of playing the same thing over and over again, so I need a lot of variety. We have an eclectic mix of classics, new takes on old games, and just plain new games, as well as educational versus just plain fun. Here are a few of our favorite board games, and by “our,” I mean “mine,” because Jake will tell you they’re all his favorite. When I say “young” school age kids, I’m thinking 5-7.
Awesome Board Games for Younger School-Age Kids
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Puppy-Opoly-While Jake feels he’s ready for Monopoly, I feel otherwise. I don’t have the patience for a six hour game, plus I have strange memories of my dear friend first trying to buy my properties with real money, and then threatening my life if I didn’t accept her offer. She was a little on the competitive side, but she still rocks. In any case, I wanted Jake to have the whole “real-estate mogul” experience without the super-long game play and confusing housing rules, so I picked this up for him last Christmas. Instead of places, each player buys different dog breeds. It’s like a humane pet store. To speed things along, each player starts out with a set number of “properties.” I let Jake be the banker because it really helps him learn about money.
Sorry Spongebob Squarepants Edition– This is one that Jake had been begging for off and on, so when I saw it on sale, I grabbed it. The box says it’s for ages 6 and up, and it does involve some reading, but it’s very easy to adapt the game for non-readers. Most kids will recognize the word “Sorry” after a few tries, especially because it means sending mom back to the beginning. Only a few of the cards actually require much reading, and once you explain them, kids tend to remember what they are anyway. We start out playing by our own modified rules with a lot of games. As Jake learns more, we add in more of the regular rules. While gameplay for Spongebob Sorry is the same as the regular game, it’s more appealing to my little Nickelodeon fan.
ThinkFun What’s Gnu– I’ve reviewed this one in the past, but it is such an awesome board game for young school-age kids that my list wouldn’t be complete without it. This is definitely an educational game and has really helped Jake develop more confidence in sounding out words. Now that he’s starting to read a little better, he’s able to play on the “harder” mode, where he needs to fill in two letters rather than just one. He likes to challenge me quite a bit, insisting that my words are not “real” words. He’s going to be fun when he starts playing Scrabble! Think Fun makes some of the best games for all ages. For younger kids, I also recommended their Zingo games.
Perfection– Alright, so this one is supposed to be educational because it teaches shape recognition, but I think what we all really love about Perection is the crazy popping when times runs out. At least that’s why I bought it. Well, that and the nostalgia factor. In the beginning, Jake got frustrated because I kept beating him, so we worked together as a team to see how many we could get in. Now, he’s doing just fine on his own.
Guess Who Extra– Another classic game with a fun new spin, Guess Who Extra has six different themes with a total of 120 new character. The great thing about this game is that, aside from being fun, it teaches kids deductive reasoning and how to categorize things based on several different types of criteria. Another nice thing about this version- everything fits into the game board, so you can just grab it and go.
I’d love to hear some of your favorites. Christmas is coming soon and I need to start working on my list. I’m sneaky, I make a list of things I want to get Jake, then when helping him make HIS list I say “hey, what about xyz? Didn’t you say you always wanted that?” How much longer do you think I can get away with that?
2016 Update: in answer to my last question, turns out I only got away with that for about one more year. 🙂