Winter is always tough with cabin fever and kids’ pent up energy. Add in the fact that many children now get more screen time than parents prefer, and you have a perfect disaster of both adults and kids going crazy at home. The pandemic has allowed us to spend more time as a family, but when you combine young kids and subzero temperatures, what are you going to do? One answer to this predicament is board games.
Board games are great for young kids. They help encourage emotional development with turn-taking, gracious winning/losing, and even beginner strategies. Children learn numbers, colors, and shapes while developing physical motor skills from rolling dice, pincers, and moving pieces. It may not get a lot of physical wiggles out, but it occupies your kids and keeps parents (moderately) sane.
You might be thinking, “Christina, I cannot handle another round of Candyland.” And that’s ok. With the board game boom a few years ago, publishers are continuing to provide plenty of new activities! Adults may even have a little fun playing, too.
Brown Bear – Panda Bear, What Do You See?
This is a slightly elevated twist to traditional memory games. Each player has designated animals they are looking for. Players try to remember where their assigned animals were located with cards faced down. If you guessed right, you keep it. Guess wrong, you put it back and have potentially shown your opponents their animal! Preschoolers learn colors and animals, just as they would reading the classic Eric Carle books.
Dragon Rapid Fire
This is full of fast-paced action with dragons, volcanoes, and lava! Games involve moving paths, which help little minds develop strategies. Counting pieces and die boost mental development. Games go very quick, so there’s always time to fit in a round.
Deep Dark Wood
This one has a lot of elements to remember, so you might not want it to be your first introductory board game. That being said, my kids have the book and movie memorized, which probably helped us learn it. The game features hidden “surprise” elements, and all of it ties to Donaldson’s fantastic story. Gameplay is longer than many games for this age range – great if your players have the necessary attention span.
The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel
Don’t get me wrong, we love Hi Ho! Cherry-O, but this game is Cherry-O TO THE MAX! Not only do you have to have the dexterity to master a spinner, this game is developmentally enhanced to include color recognition, and PINCER ACTION – giving your littles the muscles to hold pencils correctly later on, and extreme hand-eye coordination practice to get the acorns in their proper tiny positions.
Pop! The Pig
We discovered this game at my son’s speech therapy office, so you know it’s beneficial. It’s not your standard format, but it still features turn-based play. Each burger piece has a color and a number, and you have to push the pig’s head that amount of times. Suspense – and the pig’s tummy – increases as you play. The pop isn’t a traumatizing sound, so it’s not scary for little gamers.
Ok, this doesn’t have much developmental or educational value. But if you’re willing to get dirty with the kids – literally – then this game can be a fun memory maker for the family! There’s a little bit of suspense waiting to see if you’ll get creamed, which may not be the best fit for everyone.
No matter what you choose, the memories made while playing will last much longer than the game time. Turning kids to board games at a young age provides developmental benefits, as well as family bonding opportunities. Even though there’s a lot going on these days, it’s good to take a step back and see the silver lining, too.