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    Top 5 Best Board Games For Kids | 2017 Reviews

    December 12, 2016
    Top 5 Best Board Games For Kids

    Top 5 Best Board Games for Kids | 2017 Reviews

    When you consider the ubiquity of video game systems, tablets and phones in today’s homes – and kids’ fascination with them all – it’s somewhat surprising that traditional board games are still being sold.

    Smart parents, though, realize that there are key skills that children can learn from playing “real” board games. Some games provide important reading and arithmetic practice for younger kids, some promote the use of logic and rational thinking which aren’t always called for in fast-paced video games, and most help children learn crucial socialization skills which usually don’t come into play when they’re staring at a tablet or TV screen.

    The creation of a calm and relaxed environment for quality family time without deadly-serious competition is often sadly lacking in today’s world, but playing board games is one of the best ways to add that vital ingredient to a child’s development. Many games have come and gone over the years, usually because they were just fads or were unable to maintain kids’ interest over the long term. However, there are those which have not only survived but remain extremely popular among today’s parents, because they provide the same mix of education and fun that they did when first introduced.

    In our rundown of the top 5 best board games for kids, we’ll be including some time-tested classics, as well as some newer games that may be unfamiliar to you but are well worth checking out. None are mindless time-fillers; we’ll leave that to the Candy Crushes of the world (and yes, we understand there can be pattern-recognition and hand-eye coordination benefits to many games you play on your phone). The board games on our list, though, are all intended to provide more substantial benefits for your kids while also being a ton of fun.

    Before going through our list, you may want to check our Best Board Games Buying Guide here.​

    So, who goes first?

    Quick Comparison Table

    Scrabble and Scrabble Junior

    Candy Land / Chutes & Ladders

    Blokus and Blokus Junior

    Ticket To Ride

    The Game of Life

    Scrabble and Scrabble Junior
    Withings Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor for Apple and Android
    Blokus and Blokus Junior
    LotFancy Automatic Digital Arm Blood Pressure Monitor
    The Game of Life

    $$$

    $$$

    $$$

    $$$

    $$$

    2-4 players

    2-4 players

    2-4 players

    2-5 players

    2-6 players

    Scrabble and Scrabble Junior

    Scrabble and Scrabble Junior

    Believe it or not, one of the most popular games of all time was rejected by Milton Bradley and Parker Brothers when they were given first crack at releasing it in the late 1940s. However, Scrabble quickly became one of the best selling board games in history, and due to toy company mergers and sales, both of those companies have produced the game over the years. It is currently sold by Parker Brothers (which is owned by Hasbro) in the U.S. and Canada and by Mattel in more than 100 other countries, with about a third of all households in America (and about half in Great Britain) owning at least one Scrabble set.

    It’s obvious that this venerable game is an outstanding way for kids to become proficient at spelling and building their vocabulary. But there are a number of other developmental benefits to playing Scrabble as well. It’s an introduction to strategic thinking, because players learn to balance the immediate benefit of using letters immediately against the possibly greater reward of saving them for later use in a longer, triple-score word. Scrabble teaches the skill of relaxed, cognitive thinking as players take their time to run through different possibilities before making a move. And like most good board games, it lets children gradually learn to absorb rules and play by them, how to handle both winning and losing gracefully, and the importance of completing a task without giving in to frustration or anger.

    Most readers probably don’t need a long explanation of how Scrabble is played – the familiar wooden or plastic tiles and the 15 x 15 grid, along with the double and triple word and letter spaces, have been familiar to most people since childhood. Most readers likely remember the arguments as well: whether abbreviations, proper nouns, acronyms or other questionable words are “legal.” If you have older kids you’ll probably want to buy a Scrabble dictionary along with the board game in order to cut some of those inevitable arguments short.

    As befits any legendary board game, there are many different variations on the market. The traditional game costs around $15 and comes with all 100 wooden tiles (including the two blanks), four tile holders, the board and a carrying bag. There’s also a deluxe edition with a board on wheels that can spin around to face each player in turn and a non-slip grid to hold the tiles in place without slipping (that one costs an extra $20) as well as electronic-scoring models, travel editions, and Scrabble-branded electronic and card games.

    The variation we’d like to call your attention to, though, is Scrabble Junior. The “real” game is meant for players aged 8 and older (although many first or second graders may be able to handle it), but Scrabble Junior can be played by preschoolers as well as elementary school children in the process of mastering the alphabet and easy vocabulary words.

    One side of the Scrabble Junior board already has words spelled out for players (easy words like “dog” and “sun,” and harder ones like “television” and “bicycle”) along with picture clues. Children who are learning their A-B-C’s match their cardboard letters to the ones they see on the board to form words and score points (with cute tokens to let them keep score); it’s fun and educational, without seeming like work. When kids progress a bit further, the board can be flipped to the opposite side for an easier but more traditional Scrabble game, where kids can create their own words. Scrabble Junior also sells for about $15.​

    There are plenty of older games that have added flash or high-tech gimmicks in an attempt to stay “relevant.” Scrabble hasn’t had to do that – it’s just as educational, and just as much fun for kids and families, as it’s been for the last 65 years.

    Details of the Scrabble and Scrabble Junior

    Recommended Ages

    Scrabble 8+, Scrabble Junior 5+

    Number of Players

    2-4

    Included

    Board, 100 tiles, 4 tile holders (pieces vary by edition)

    Candy Land/Chutes and Ladders

    Candy Land Chutes and Ladders

    We had such a difficult time choosing between these two classic games for pre-schoolers that we decided to include them both. They each provide a fun way for non-readers to practice their counting, and Candy Land can help younger kids who are still working at recognizing colors. They also give children a terrific introduction to the skills of patience and good sportsmanship during game play.

    You may have to think back a little, but you’ll likely recall the basics of each game. In Candy Land, players draw cards which show them how many colored squares they should advance their character (with a few short-cut cards). Their goal is to reach the finish line at Candy Castle while passing through colorful regions like Lollipop Woods and Gumdrop Mountains (if you remember the Molasses Swamp, it was renamed the Chocolate Swamp in 2002). Sadly, some recent versions of the game are now being sold with spinners instead of the traditional deck of cards. A million copies of Candy Land are still sold every year, produced by Hasbro. There are travel and handheld versions as well.

    Chutes and Ladders (which is actually based on an old Indian game known as Snakes and Ladders and still sold by that name in many parts of the world) has always had a spinner to determine how many spaces players should advance. When they land on certain spaces they get to climb a playground ladder and bypass game spaces; when they land on others they must slide down a playground slide and lose ground. The aim, of course, is to reach the top. The Snakes and Ladders version of the game includes morality lessons, with “good deeds” allowing players to climb and bad ones forcing them to slide back down. Milton Bradley produces Chutes and Ladders.

    Each of these games sells for $10-$15, and having both of them in your home will provide the perfect introduction to board games for your preschoolers and hours of fun for the family.

    Details of the Candy Land

    Recommended Ages

    3+

    Number of Players

    2-4

    Included

    64 cards (or spinner), four gingerbread players

    Details of the Chutes and Ladders

    Recommended Ages

    3+

    Number of Players

    2-4

    Included

    Board, 4 game pieces, spinner

    Blokus and Blokus Junior

    Blokus and Blokus Junior

    Ah, haven’t heard of this one, have you? This is a recent entry into the board game world, introduced by a French company in 2000 and now owned by Mattel. It is an introduction to strategy game for younger kids (kindergarten and up) and has won awards for excellence from both Mensa and the Teachers’ Choice panel.

    The game may seem a bit strange at first, but it only takes kids a few minutes to grasp the concept and the strategy element makes Blokus as much fun for adults as it is for children. The classic game is for four players. Think of a 20 x 20 empty Scrabble board, with every player getting a different colored set of 21 pieces in shapes ranging from single squares to varied configurations of five squares. Each player starts by placing one of their pieces in a corner of the board; they then go in turn, with the only “rule” being that when they place a new piece, one corner of that new piece must touch a corner (not a side) of one of their blocks already on the board. Eventually, players will be left without possible moves, and the player with the fewest unplaced blocks is the winner (with a few bonus point rules).

    Young kids love the bright red, yellow, blue and green colors and quickly get into the strategy element of the game – and since no spelling is involved, even kindergarteners can figure it out quickly, while learning to think strategically and learn the basics of considerate game play. It can be played by 1-3 players (there are additional versions specifically designed for two players, for more advanced players, and for travel), and there’s a cool Blokus Junior edition with a smaller board, fewer pieces, and single-player puzzles to let kids practice before competing. Each version costs $15-20.

    Details of the Blokus

    Recommended Ages

    5+

    Number of Players

    2-4

    Included

    Board, 84 tiles

    Details of the Blokus Junior

    Recommended Ages

    5+

    Number of Players

    2-4

    Included

    Board, 48 tiles, paper templates

    Ticket To Ride

    Ticket To Ride

    This may be the most popular board game you’ve never come across before. It’s a cross-country train adventure for older kids, ages 8+, and it combines a fun competition with lessons on navigation and geography. Ticket to Ride was originally published in Germany in 2004, and it won a host of European “best game” awards before editions were released featuring various destinations in European nations, the U.S., Asia and the world.

    In a nutshell, players receive a number of train pieces representing their movements on the board, and cards representing their secret origin and destination points. In turn, they claim various routes across the board by drawing play cards, which will eventually enable them to connect their origin to their destination. Points are scored for routes completed, lengths of trains, and so on.

    This is a game which requires planning and strategy – and is a whale of a good time while giving kids experience in thoughtful game play as well as a terrific grounding in the geography of the nation in which their “game is played.” Game times that can last as long as an hour and the relative complexity of gameplay make this one perfect for families with kids in grades 3 and above. Millions of copies of Ticket to Ride have been sold at around $40 apiece, and there are computer versions available as well.

    Details of the Ticket To Ride

    Recommended Ages

    8+

    Number of Players

    2-5

    Included

    Board, 240 train cars, 110 Train Car cards, 30 Destination Tickets, 5 Wooden Scoring Markers

    The Game of Life

    The Game of Life

    We close with one more classic, and if you listen really closely you can probably still hear the “click, click, click” of the spinner in your head. The Game of Life combines traditional board game play with an introduction to the life lessons kids will eventually have to figure out in the real world. College or career, buying a house and getting married, paydays and loans, retiring a millionaire or in the country, you remember how it goes; it’s a fun journey through the realities of life, in kid-sized bites without calamitous consequences.

    There’s been one neat change to the Game of Life since you played it as a child; the possible careers have been updated according to choices made by panels of kids, making it even more fun for younger players. It’ll cost $15 or so – but it provides some of the cheapest life lessons your kids will ever receive.

    Details of the The Game of Life

    Recommended Ages

    8+

    Number of Players

    2-6

    Included

    Board with spinner, game cards, tokens, cars, pegs, money pack


    Originally posted 2016-06-25 03:01:09.


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