Thursday, December 6, 2012

We are a board game family. My husband was collecting them well before we met. Some of our games are in German, but I am pretty sure we would be able to play a different board or card game every week of the year if we set ourselves this goal. Anna’s collection of games is growing as well through our own purchases and presents from friends and family. Here are the games that are played more often in our house and I am ready to recommend as Christmas presents to elementary school children.


We got Qwuirkle for Anna’s 4th birthday, and it was too early. The recommended age of 6 and up is spot on as the scoring is somewhat complicated and impacts strategy selection quite a bit. Now Anna understands the rules pretty well and can score and sum up the total score (nice exercise in multi-number addition with carryover). I love the beautiful sturdy design of the game and the fact that it works well for 2-4 players, perfect for our family. It’s on a great sale on Amazon now, and I highly recommend it as a Christmas present.


Another game that is popular in our house is Blokus. We received it last year for Christmas and played a few times, but now, when Anna is 6, she is more interested in understanding strategy of the game and doesn’t just place pieces randomly on the field. Our version is Blokus Duo, which works perfectly for our family, but bigger families might appreciate Blokus Classic better.

Shapes Up

Like the other two games profiled so far, Shapes Up has a nice box design, pretty pieces and requires some strategy. We play simplified rules which require less strategy, in more complex rules, the pieces of the same color cannot touch except at the corners. Up to 4 players can play together (each has his own board). Both Anna and I enjoy this game, because it’s faster than Qwirkle and doesn’t require as much thinking as Blokus. It’s also on a nice sale on Amazon in case anyone is interested in getting it for Christmas.

Rivers and Roads

Rivers, Roads and Rails was also gifted to us, but I specifically asked for this game. Since my husband is from Germany, we have a lot of Ravensburger games and puzzles, and appreciate their high quality and attention on design details. This is a cooperative game where players work together to build a complex maze of roads, rails and rivers. The result is visually interesting, but the game is simple enough for children 4+. My only beef with this game that it takes a lot of space, and we have exactly one place in the house to play it on the floor.

Sleeping Grump

I was hesitating to put in Sleeping Grump, which Anna personally bought at the garage sale for $1. The quality of the game is not the same as for the other games we have, and I think that the game objectives are boring. However, Anna likes the co-op aspects of the game, asks to play it often, and it’s mercifully quick. I don’t necessarily recommend it for the kids older than 5, but it could be a good opportunistic buy at Goodwill or garage sale for younger kids.

And while we have a lot of games already, Christmas is bringing more. Our local Barnes & Noble is closing, and we couldn’t pass 40%-50% discounts. Some of the games will fulfill Anna’s Christmas wish for more games, and some we are calling “family presents”.

If you’d like to see what other moms are recommending as holiday gifts, pop on over to one of these blogs, find the Games Guide for Kid Pinterest board or follow the links in the link-up below:
Fun Gifts Beyond Toys by No Twiddle Twaddle, Best Art Supplies for Kids by To Train Up a Child, Gifts to Inspire the Imagination by The Pleasantest Thing, Gifts for Your Backyard Explorer/ Gifts for Your Animal Lover by Blog Me Mom, Educational Games by True Aim Education, Basic/Traditional Toys by Creative Playhouse, Therapeutic and Fun Gift Ideas for Child Development by Creative Learning Fun, Top Toys for Babies by B-InspiredMama, Top Toys for Curious Kids by KC Edventures, Educational/ Headache Free Toys for Christmas and Hanukkah by CAUTION: Twins at Play, 4 Gift Ideas for Everyone: Want, Wear, Need, and Read by Home Learning Journey, Gifts that Inspire Pretend Play by Connecting Family and Seoul, My Favorite Books and Toys for Preschoolers by Mama Miss, Educational Toys for Preschoolers by The Freckled Homeschooler, Montessori Inspired Toys by Smiling Like Sunshine, Gift Ideas for Older Kids (9-12) by Kitchen Counter Chronicles, Toys for the Classroom by Teach Preschool, Gift Ideas for Budding Readers by Mom 2 to Posh Lil Dives, Stocking Stuffers: A Teacher’s Top 10 by Kindergarten & Preschool for Parents & Teachers, Book Ideas for Everyone on Your List by Pragmatic Mom, Toys that Stand the Test of Time by Mamas Like Me, Top Board Games for Kids and Families by Coffee Cups and Crayons, Home Made Gifts Children Can Make by How to Run a Home Daycare



Momand Kiddo said...

I love Qwirkle so much, but sometimes it can be a long game.

Ticia said...

My kids have a few games that they love that I can't stand..... thankfully I can usually distract them from it.

For whatever reason I've never been a huge fan of Blokus. I've come to the conclusion it's partially because I haven't quite got a good handle on the strategy for it, and always lose horribly at it.

Kelly said...

These look like fun games! I did giggle at your "mercifully short" comment. Don't buy Monopoly!
Kelly at Little Wonders' Days

maryanne @ mama smiles said...

Johnny got Rivers, Roads, and Rails for his birthday last year, and the kids enjoy it. I was happy to see Blokus on your list, because Emma's getting that for Christmas this year!

Yelena said...

Thank you so much for this list! We do have Qwirkle! already, but so far M isn't into it. The rules are a bit too hard for him. I've not heard of Rivers, Roads and Rails, but it sounds great! And it seems my son is naturally drawn to anything that takes up all the available floor space.

Julie said...

This is a great list! Thank you! When I have time I'm going to look through the other links too. We got the kids Qwirkle for Christmas so hopefully they'll enjoy it too.