As schools close their doors for an unspecified period, many parents have rather mixed feelings. Relief certainly, first priority is our families health of course! Is that trepidation you feel creeping up your spine though? Unspecified period sounds like a rather long time to have energetic little ones cooped up indoors. Exercise of course is key, in wide open spaces where we can maintain our social distances. This is Britain however and rainy days, unlike loo roll, are never in short supply!
Board games are an excellent way to entertain your little ones. Avoiding screen time while engaging their minds is a double win. Not to mention bonding and spending quality time with your little munchkins!
Don’t worry, kids games don’t have to mean getting squirted in the face with water or wearing ridiculous head gear. There’s plenty of games out there that will be addictive and fun for young ones whilst also being enjoyable and engaging for us parents too. Here’s a few of our favourites:
Ticket to ride is one of the most popular hobby games of all time. With over 6 million copies sold worldwide, it has introduced countless new fans to the hobby. First Journey is a version of Ticket to ride specifically designed for young gamers. It retains the principle mechanic of collecting train cards to claim routes. Some finer points are simplified and the map has shorter routes but the game play is shockingly close to the original.
First Journey Europe has a beautiful cartoony map with cute illustrations for each city. It’s a lovely way to start an interest in geography. Most importantly though the gameplay is fun. It’s quick, simple and addictive. Also it’s close enough to the original that mum and dad will love it too.
Visually stunning, with super tactile chunky train mini’s, TTR: First Journey Europe is an excellent intro to set collection. My daughter has played it from age 4, we just play with an open hand of cards and point her in the right direction every now and then.
Colour Brain is a unique party game created by Big Potato Games. It’s a quiz game where people answer questions using only 11 coloured cards. The Disney version is aimed at younger audiences... aww who am I kidding, Disney fans come in all different ages!
Having the answers to all the questions already in your hand is great as everyone has a chance of getting it right. Questions range from “what colour is Cinderella’s dress?” to “what colour are the 3 buttons on Buzz’s spacesuit?” There’s plenty of helpful illustrations adorning the box and cards of beloved Disney characters and scenes. Though if your family is anything like ours you’ll be amazed at how much better your little ones are at this than you!
My only gripe is that Disney Colour Brain came out before Star Wars joined the Disney family! Now that would’ve been cool. Even as a 36 year old guy though I still enjoy this one, even if my 5 year old regularly thrashes me at it!
Dream home is a tableau building family game. Each player has a player board which is your house. You then draft pairs of cards from a central display. Room cards, roof pieces, decorations, tools and helper cards. Choose the most effective pairings and build your ultimate dream home, or at least the home that scores you the most vp!
Whilst not specifically marketed for kids, Dream home is simple and easy to learn. It’s fun to look at with unique art for each room. My little girl loves looking for the kids playing hide and seek and the naughty cats dotted across the cards.
It may be a step up in terms of strategy but Dream home can be a really rewarding family game. The theme is ideal and gameplay allows for differing abilities to still enjoy the game together. Whether they are playing to score the most points or just having a riot building their pretend home kids love this one.
Sushi Go is an incredibly simple card drafting game. It’s super quick too, but it’s great fun for literally any age.
Each player is dealt a hand of cards. You’ll choose one to play and pass the rest to your neighbour. Then you’ll choose another card to play from the hand you were just given. So on and so forth until all cards are gone. Each card depicts a type of sushi, these fishy delights score in various different ways and for various interactions.
Sushi Go’s strength is its swift and simple gameplay which is ridiculously addictive. It’s age recommendation of 8+ is probably a bit high, our 5 year old plays and enjoys Sushi Go regularly. At 15 minutes per game you can play several times in a row or fit a game in between other activities.
Kingdomino was one of the first hobby games we bought and it has hit our table regularly ever since. I have played it with my heavy euro gamer group, my wife and my little girl. They all love it!
This versatility is due to its insanely simple premise, laying tiles next to other tiles of the same type like dominos. But it’s also down to the depth of strategy available to players of different abilities and the puzzle like nature of creating your personal grid.
There are several variants to play depending on player count which is great value. Turns are quick and a whole game only lasts about 20 minutes so it sits comfortably in the concentration sweet spot for most kids. There’s even an expansion (Age of Giants) or a stand-alone sequel (Queendomino) for older kids who want to add a little complexity.
These are some of our regular family favourites but there are so many great kids and family board games to discover. Here’s a list of some suggested by other gamers:
- Rhino Hero Super Battle - tower building dexterity fun
- Valley of the Vikings - crazy tabletop bowling action
- My First Stone Age - Stone Age... for kids!
- Ice cool - Penguin flicking shenanigans
- King of Tokyo - Monster bashing dice chucker
Hopefully these ideas will give you some ideas for keeping your little ones entertained through this tough time. Isolation doesn’t have to be boring, board games can be an amazing resource for parents. They’re also an opportunity to spend some quality time together rather than just time together.