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Mariel Uyquiengco @MarielU63

12 Board Games for Kids to Make Family Time Fun

Monopoly and Candy Land may be your idea of board games for kids, but these newer games can provide educational benefits while your family is playing.

The game aisle at the toy store can be overwhelming. If you're not careful, you'll end up spending your hard-earned cash on board games for kids that are easily mastered or quickly tossed aside. What makes a board game great? "A great game involves some sort of skill or decision-making that makes winning a more fulfilling accomplishment rather than relying on blind luck," says Dr. Carlos Sandico, a doctor who specializes in occupational medicine and the owner of Ludo Boardgame Bar & Cafe, which lets diners play games for free.

Board games for kids can be good for more than just fun. Dr. Sandico explains, "It can teach an abstract concept such as planning ahead, improving memory and facilitating quick thinking. It can improve motor skills or improve socialization for shy kids." He emphasizes that a well-designed children's game even draws in parents, making it enjoyable for the whole family.

"One of the greatest things about playing board games with your family is that you're showing them that they're important in your life," says Trent Howell, who reviews and advocates the use of board games for family time on his site The Board Game Family. "The face-to-face interaction that board games and card games deliver is priceless in today's society of digital distractions."

Here are 12 board games for kids that they recommend to benefit not just your child's development but your family's bonding time as well:
 

For Toddlers
 

  1. Animal Upon Animal. Players race each other in placing all their animals on a pyramid in this classic game. Toddlers improve their dexterity and fine motor skills while learning to take turns.
     
  2. My First Orchard. Using a die, players are required to harvest all the fruits in the orchard before the raven arrives. Along the way, kids learn colors and counting by ones.
     
  3. Puppy Pals Bingo. Have fun while learning about patterns, colors and shapes. Players get to put a puppy in a doghouse when they make a match on their bingo card. First player to line up three puppies in a row wins.
     
  4. Ben Bear Helps His Friends. In this great memory game for toddlers, players help Ben Bear match the right parents for each animal in the farm.
     

For Preschoolers
 

  1. Doodle Quest. Draw on transparent sheets according to a Quest Card's instructions and score everyone's drawings each round. This family game works on visual and spatial perception and hand-eye coordination.
     
  2. Chicken Cha Cha Cha. Players have to find the yard tile that matches the egg tile on their left so they can move to it. First person to jump over all the other chickens and get their tails wins in this unusual and challenging memory game.
     
  3. Coconuts. In this dexterity game, each player gets a monkey launcher with which to toss coconuts. Claim a cup when you land a coconut in it and win the game if you collect six cups first.
     
  4. Rhino Hero. Collaborative and strategic, players take turns in this game adding parts to a single building using roof cards that indicate instructions. The first player to use all his cards wins the game.
     

For Grade-Schoolers
 

  1. Carcassonne. Players build the board as they play, making for a unique strategic tile game that shows a different medieval landscape every time it is played. Young ones will enjoy matching the tiles while older players will work for points to win the game.
     
  2. Word on the Street Jr. Two teams play against each other in a tug of war for letters that are lined up in the middle of the board. Players pick a card with a description and use the available letters to spell an appropriate word to move closer to their side.
     
  3. Timeline. Players are given cards depicting historical events, and they try to get rid of them by laying them down in the correct chronological order on the table. This is a superb, quick game to learn about different historical facts.
     
  4. Pictureka! Kids collect mission cards as they search for items hidden on the board. Different card decks keep things fresh and prevent players from memorizing the game, which keeps kids on their toes and helps them pay attention to small details.
     

Enjoy being together and amp up your family's game nights with one of these fun picks!

And try these 8 Ways to Make Family Game Night Fun for All.

Mariel Uyquiengco is an early-childhood educator and parenting writer and speaker. She inspires parents to be their children's first and best teacher through her website The Learning Basket and by giving parenting seminars.

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