We absolutely love games around here. They are one of our go to activities when we have the time and a willing toddler (the second part is somewhat optional, depending on how much patience I have). We’ve got a fairly large collection of classic preschool and early school age games, and in the past few years have been expanding into lesser known or new games. Aside from being a big game geek myself, I enjoy the “excuse” that games have a value all in their own. Many of them teach without even being obvious about it. Any game can teach skills like strategic thinking, sportsmanship, flexibility, patience, communication and team work. They also teach what I consider to be a very important lesson, that it’s ok to lose sometimes.
A few things to consider when you’re playing games:
- Make it casual and fun. We like to bring in finger foods or drinks if we’re planning a long game playing session.
- It doesn’t HAVE to be a long process. If you only have a few minutes to play, that’s alright. Just choose a game that’s either very short, or one that can be left and returned to later.
- Choose a game that all participants enjoy, OR play a few games in a sitting, OR make a plan for when you will play next so someone else is able to choose.
- Don’t worry too much about making games a learning experience. Some games have built-in, easily apparent “bonus learning” like math, or a historical context. I call these “guilt free” games. But all games have some educational value in and of themselves, and if you REALLY can’t find any value, then chalk it up to social skills and quality time. Nobody can argue against that case.
Do you have a poor loser on your hands? That can make game time a challenge, but it can also make it even more important. Here are some things to try:
- Choose games where it’s harder to guess early who will win or lose.
- Ask them to define exactly why they’re upset. What do they think will happen if they lose?
- Play shorter games with multiple rounds, or several short games. This (hopefully) gives them an opportunity to experience both winning and losing in the same sitting.
Disclaimer: There are some easy links to a few of our favorite games here. These links will take you to Amazon through my affiliate link. If you choose to purchase anything from Amazon after clicking a link (even boring stuff like toilet paper) I’ll get a small percentage to keep me caffeinated. Don’t worry though, you won’t spend anymore than you would otherwise. To read my full disclosure policy click here.
Games We Love
Roll For It
Easy, fast-moving dice matching game. Players roll dice to match with cards with varying point values. Match the card, get the points. Note: This game comes in Red, Purple, or Deluxe Edition. Red and Purple each support 4 players, and the dice and cards are different. The two can be easily combined (and later separated) for up to 8 players. The deluxe edition comes in a nice tin, and contains all the contents of both red and purple.
- Easy to learn
- Can accommodate several ages. If your child can match dice to a picture on a card, then they can play this game.
- Rounds are quick
- Good choice for kids who aren’t good at losing games.
Fast paced picture matching game. Players match cards from their hand into a central pile, competing to be the first to get rid of all their cards. This is not a turn based game.
- Fast paced
- Rounds can be fairly quick
- Easy to learn and begin playing right away.
- Does not do well across skill levels. Because the game is not turn based and relies on speed, younger or slower players may get discouraged easily. That said, Geekling whoops my butt 3 out of 4 games.
Slower moving sequence based game. Players use their creative thinking to make sequences of up to three with cards consisting of letters, numbers, colors, and every day objects.
- Excellent strategic thinking game
- Players can move at their own pace
- Guilt free gaming. It’s easy to see all the bonus learning going on while players are making three letter words, number patterns or sequencing.
- Exercises logical thinking, patterning, and creativity.
Zeus on the Loose
Fast moving card game. Players use cards from their hand to swap Zeus around and build “Mount Olympus” up or down. When Mount Olympus reaches 100 the player in possession of the Zeus figurine wins.
- Easy to learn and play
- Fun and engaging
- Guilt free gaming- involves simple addition and subtraction, as well as featuring some Greek Mythology heavy hitters.
- Players need a basic grasp of simple addition and subtraction, and should be able to read. This can be worked around though if you have a player that needs a little help.
Card swapping game has players strategically choose which sushi combinations will give them the best score. The game is played over three rounds, meaning players can win by several different strategies.
- Easy to play, although initial understanding takes some time.
- Good for kids who have trouble losing, as the ultimate winner is not evident until the end.
- Players can move at their own pace for the most part.
- teaches both deciding on and switching strategy as needed.
Card collecting and swapping games. Players try to build and protect their own colony of Gubs while also wreaking havoc on other player’s colonies.
- Reading skills are a must
- This is a complete anything can happen game, making it both good and bad for kids who have trouble losing.
- Highly competitive as players actively target one another.
- Not good for sensitive kids. Gubs will die. It will be sad. You’ve been warned.
Fast moving color matching, card swapping game.
- Great for younger kids, no reading required
- Easy to learn
- Quick rounds
Want to see more of the games we have on our shelf? Visit my Amazon Store! Have a favorite game you’d like to share? Please let me know in the comments!