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Best Board Games for the Witty Kids in 2017

There’s nothing more precious than the time you spend with your kids. But as my kids get older, I’m finding it more difficult to share in their play time. I’m all for encouraging the benefits of independent play, but I also want to play with my kids.

Board games are the answer. Beyond challenging your child’s intellectual capabilities, board games can bring families together to share in play time, while encouraging your child’s independent thinking. Children must rely on their common sense and skills to outwit other players.

Some may tell you that board games are out-of-date. They’ll argue that videogames and tablet computers have replaced them. But I’ve found that my kids love playing board games, as long as I choose games that engage them.

Choosing the Best Kids' Board Games

So, that brings me to my list. I’ve played a bunch of board games with my kids, and spoken to other parents who have tried a few games themselves. The below is a selection of nine board games that I think your children will love.

1. Sequence

Sequence introduces your children to basic card games, while challenging their numeracy skills. You receive a board, two packs of 52 cards, and 135 playing chips.

Like most great board games, Sequence has a simple premise, but it takes practice to master it. You divide the cards as evenly as you can among the players, then everybody takes turns placing cards on the board. The aim is to create sequences of five cards, with the players using their playing chips to mark out their sequences.

Don’t worry if it sounds difficult, as the game comes with a detailed instruction manual. You can even remove the face cards from the decks if your youngsters find them too difficult to play with.

The only stumbling block I found with this game is that kids under the age of seven tend to struggle when playing it on their own. However, there’s nothing stopping you from teaming up with your little one to take on the rest of your family.

What's Great About It: Sequence improves your children’s numeracy skills and introduces them to strategic concepts. It’s simple to play, but combines both luck and strategy. As a result, no two games play out in the same way.

2. Robot Turtles

With the IT industry set for sustained growth in the coming years, this game helps to give your children a head start. Robot Turtles may be one of the best games for helping your youngsters develop important technical skills.

Ideal for kids aged four and up, Robot Turtles comes with a board and a set of cards. Players use these cards to learn the basics of computer programming. The right combinations create functions and little programs to give your kids a base in something they may learn more in-depth later on.

I like this focus on learning, but Robot Turtles keeps things fun too. The game features lots of extra obstacles, such as the Ice Walls, which you can introduce as your child’s skills develop. As a result, it doesn’t get boring after your children figure out the basic coding strategies.

​Having said that, it’s not as challenging as I had hoped. Kids in the five to seven age bracket may tire of the game once they’ve figured out the advanced rules. That may be your cue to introduce them to actual programming.

What's Great About It: Few board games focus on education as heavily as Robot Turtles. Nevertheless, it’s fun, and has enough variation to keep young children engaged for hours.

3. Telestrations

If your kids have played “broken telephone”, they’ll understand Telestrations straight away. Each player gets a pad and a secret word. Each then draws a picture based on the word, and passes it on to the player to their left.

The players then have to guess what word the drawing represents, and create their own drawings based on what they think the word is. The pads get passed around until every player ends up with the pad that they started with. After that, everybody shares their word and you’ll laugh about whatever ends up getting drawn on the pad.

​I like this game due to the low barrier to entry. Plus, it encourages your kid’s creative side and helps with word association.

​I also like how you can erase drawings from the sketch pads, so you don’t have to spend money on paper. You receive 12 pads and markers with the game, making it great for parties.

What's Great About It: With 2,000 words, Telestrations has plenty of staying power. It gets your children drawing, and leads to a lot of “laugh out loud” moments.

​4. Busytown: Eye Found It

Available for kids aged three and up, Eye Found It comes with a 6-foot board, so there’s plenty to catch your child’s eye. You also receive four playing pieces, a sand timer, 30 Goldbug cards, and a set of instructions with the package.

Players have to find special items to move up the board, often teaming up to find things. I like this game because it gives everybody a chance to participate. Over the course of each game, I saw that every player had the chance to shout the “Eye Found It” catchphrase at least once.

​The game also encourages teamwork, as players work together to find the hidden items. I think of it like a youngster’s version of Where’s Waldo, only there’s a lot more going on.

​The only drawback I found is the limitation of the board. Once your children have found every item on the Goldbug cards, they’ll know where to look the next time they play.

​But it does take a while to find everything. Less experienced kids may feel discouraged when playing with kids who’ve found everything before.

What's Great About It: Eye Found It brings youngsters together to strive towards a common goal. It has a huge, sturdy game board, and the rules are quite easy to understand.

​5. Elementos

The best way that I can describe Elementos is that it’s a cross between checkers and rock-paper-scissors. It comes with 18 wooden “coins”, each of which has a picture of one of the game’s three elements on each side. These wooden pieces are sturdy enough to withstand frenetic play.

The aim is to eliminate your opponent’s pieces using the elements on your coins. As a result, the game encourages strategizing and forward planning, both of which are useful skills for children to develop early on in life.

The aim is to eliminate your opponent’s pieces using the elements on your coins. As a result, the game encourages strategizing and forward planning, both of which are useful skills for children to develop early on in life.

I particularly like that the game board folds into a small carry case. Your child can pack the pieces inside, fold up the board, and take it to a friend’s house.

The instructions are the only downside. They seem to be poorly-translated from another language, so it may take some trial and error for your kids to get the hang of the game. Bear in mind that it’s also not suitable for children below the age of seven.

What's Great About It: Elementos challenges children using a familiar game. It’s sturdy, with real wood used for all of the pieces. Plus, it’s one of the most portable games on my list.

​6. Chickapig

I think Chickapig is a great way to introduce the basics of chess to players who are too young for the full game.

The aim is similar, as your kids must move pieces around the board to get to a goal. However, they have to avoid things like hay bales and a strange pooping cow while competing with each other. I found these little touches kept my kids amused, so they spent more time learning about the game.

It comes with the board, 50 pieces, and a timer, with all the pieces made of durable real wood. You also get a little storage bag for keeping the pieces safe when your kids aren’t playing.

However, I’m not sure how I feel about the various “poop” cards. This may not be the game for your kids if you don’t want to encourage toilet humor.

What's Great About It: Chickapig requires more strategy than you may think for a game with such strange characters. It’s durable, plus it’s a great party game. Adults will find it as challenging as kids do.

7. Dixit

Great for ages eight and up, Dixit may be one of the best games for encouraging your children’s storytelling abilities. It comes with 84 cards, so there’s plenty of variation in the stories that your kids are to create. The illustrations also add to the stories that the cards tell.

Up to six players can take part, with one acting as the story master. The master shouts out words to the other players, and they have to pick story cards from their deck to match the word. The player who gets the most story cards accepted as the true path of the story wins.

It comes with a scoring board, and little spaces to store the various cards and player pieces. It’s pretty compact too.

I like how it gets kids to use their imaginations. However, the 84 cards will start telling familiar stories after extensive play. There are expansion packs available, but some of these cost more than the base game.​

What's Great About It: Dixit stimulates your child’s creative side, and is great for social playing. The illustrations match the story cards, which paints a clearer picture of the story in your children’s heads as they play.

​8. Blokus

Playable for kids aged seven and up, Blokus combines a simple premise with strategic thinking.

You receive 84 blocks, split into sets of 21, with a different color for each set. Players place their blocks onto the board, ensuring the new block is set against a previously placed block of the same color.

It’s all about taking territory. Whoever has the most of their blocks on the board at the end wins.

I like how easy it is to learn the rules to this game, and I think even kids below the age of seven would be able to learn the rules. It gets your kids thinking too. In fact, Blokus has an award from Mensa for encouraging brain development.

I’m not a fan of the box that the game comes in though. It tears too easily, so you kids must be careful if they’re taking the game to a friend’s house.

What's Great About It: Each game of Blokus plays out differently, so it has longevity. It encourages children to come up with strategies, think ahead, and change plans on the fly if another player counters their moves.

​9. Scattergories

I like Scattergories because it encourages children to develop their vocabularies so they can win the game. It’s also a team game, so players have to cooperate if they want to win.

Players choose a card, and then roll a lettered dice. They then use words beginning with whatever letter they rolled to describe the category on the card. It’s remarkably simple, yet it offers plenty of challenge for kids with developing vocabularies.

Though it only comes with 32 cards, Scattergories offers greater longevity thanks to the dice. However, regular players will get through the 32 cards quickly, but there’s nothing stopping you from creating your own cards and adding them into the mix.

I’ve seen versions of this game with an egg timer, and versions with an electric clock. I prefer the former because the clock ticks, which may distract younger players.

This is a game for older children too, so you may wait until your kids hit their teens before buying it.

What's Great About It: Scattergories encourages players to develop their vocabularies so they can use more words to describe the categories on the cards. It’s easy to set up, and provides a lot of laughs.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Board Game for Your Kids

With so many board games available, it’s difficult to choose one that will connect with your kids. I think you should look for games that are easy to pick up and play, but require some intelligence to win.

For younger players, this means finding games that develop basic skills, such as numeracy and vocabulary. Older players need more of a challenge, so games that require forward thinking suit them better.

Speaking of age, you must check the box before buying a board game, especially when buying for younger children. Your kids will soon tire of games that they can’t learn, which may put them off board games entirely. You also waste money.

I’ve found that learning the game’s rules ahead of buying it gives you an idea of whether your child will be able to play it. If you can match the game to your child’s pre-existing interests, you may have a winner.

The Must-Have Features

Every board game is different, but I think any good game must have at least some of the following:

Variety

If a game plays out the same way every time, your kids will get bored of it. This is particularly true for older children. Good board games switch things up with each play.

The methods used to change things may differ depending on the game. Some offer alternate sets of rules for players to learn. Others rely on the random distribution of cards and pieces to create variety.

Regardless, all good board games must change things up to keep players coming back.

A Path to Mastery

If your children can master a game in the space of a few minutes, they’ll get bored of it. Kids want their games to challenge them. However, you must ensure that the challenge matches your children’s age and ability level.

I think the best board games have simple rules, but require skill to master them. This allows new players to get involved, while keeping the challenge level high enough for experienced players to stay interested.

Something to Play For

Some parents shy away from introducing their kids to competition, but I think it’s beneficial. Competition allows you to teach your child the importance of winning humbly and losing gracefully. It also acts as a spur to keep your children coming back to the game.

Good board games have a competitive element. This is usually a scoring system, where players earn points for correct moves. However, some of the games on my list focus on clearing boards or snatching up territory.

The method matters less than the fact that the competitive element exists. However, be wary if your children throw temper tantrums if they don’t get their way. You may have to play board games more delicately with sensitive children.

Consistent Rules

Good board games keep things fair with consistent rules. Any competitive advantages must be open to all players. If they’re not, children may stop playing if they think they can’t win.

Each player must have the same chance of winning as the others when the game begins. As the game progresses, this chance will change depending on the player’s performance. Nevertheless, everyone should start on equal ground.

The Final Word

Board games offer you the chance to share play time with your kids as they get older. Furthermore, many encourage creative thinking and the development of skills that will serve your children well later on.

When choosing a board game, think about what your children could learn from it. For example, I favor games with a language element because I want my children to develop their vocabularies. The game must also strike a balance between accessibility and challenge.

The games on my list all offer an educational benefit to your kids while being fun to play. In fact, some are just as much fun for adults as they are for kids.

Think about what your children enjoy and choose a game that meshes with those interests. Hopefully, my list will provide you with a few fun ideas.

    Sandra Cobain
     

    Sandra is the head of content for BestForTheKids. When she’s not busy crafting posts & researching about compelling content ideas, she can be spotted playing outdoors with her two adorable children.

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