Is the heat getting to you this summer? Now that the weather around here has cooled down into the 90′s, our swamp cooler is keeping things reasonably cool. The little girls have been doing some swimming to stay cool. Another hot-weather thing we’ve been doing, though, is to play games indoors. I really love to play games with my kids. Besides being a fun way to spend time together, games teach kids reasoning and strategy, and (I think) stretch their brains in a good way. This summer we’ve had games out at least every couple days. But not just any game will do. Our favorites are ones that allow lots of players while being truly interesting to all players, including mom. (Sorry, this rules out Candyland and Monopoly in my book.)
Currently we’re on a Rummikub kick. This was a fairly recent addition to our game collection, and it is a lot of fun. It contains numbered tiles that you arrange in sets and runs. For additional fun, you can rearrange any set or run to form different sets and runs. This hugely increases your playing options on any given turn, and it really lets you think creatively. Sometimes the girls and I try to rearrange so much that we get stuck, forget how we began, and then can’t put things back the way they were before a turn. Good fun. This game is suggested for up to 4 players age 8 and up, but I would suspect that most 6 year old children could play with a bit of coaching. A whole game takes half an hour or so.
Another game that has been a favorite of ours for quite a few years is Ticket To Ride. This game is played on a US map, with the goal of building train lines from city to city. Up to five players can play together, and the more people on the map, the more crowded things become. Part of the fun of the game is blocking other players from reaching their goals, sometimes causing opponents ridiculously long detours to go short distances. This game often takes an hour or more to play, and is done when one person uses up all their trains.
I’ve told you before about Dutch Blitz, Unlike the previous two games I mentioned, there’s no turn-taking in this game. It is a wild card-stacking free-for-all. A standard deck allows four players to play at once. If that’s not crazy enough for you, mark a second deck, and play with up to 8 players for utter craziness. I have to be in the right mood to do well at this game. It is truly lightning-fast with a big group, and if you’re a little sleepy while playing a bunch of teens, you will be left in the dust wondering what just happened. This game can easily be learned by any child who recognizes numbers, but younger siblings sometimes get frustrated trying to complete with speedy older siblings. We occasionally handicap speedy older kids (by giving them more cards on their Blitz pile) to give younger ones a fighting chance. But mostly we let the cards fall how they may, and gradually the younger ones get quicker. A game can often take 5 minutes or less, so this is a great choice for some fun when you have just a bit of game time.
Spot It consists of 55 cards that create a free-for-all matching game. (Is it only kid-at-heart me who adores games where you don’t have to wait for your turn??) There are four ways to play, and you can play with 2-8 players. This is definitely a game most interesting to younger kids. The instructions put the minimum age at 7, but I’d say it is more like 4, especially once kids learn the names of the various shapes and pictures used for matching. There are multiple pictures in varying sizes on each card, and I’ve found that my kids are often better at this game than I am– something they enjoy greatly. Each game is done quickly– usually in 5 minutes or less– perfect for young ones with short attention spans.
No game list would be complete in my book without a mention of Phase 10. This game consists of ten different ‘phases’ with a different goal in each phase. It takes about an hour to run through completely, though if we have limited time we sometimes just play to phase 3 or phase 5. It works well for kids who are age 8 or older.
What games do you like to play with your kids? I’d love some more suggestions.