I love the environment that surrounds a board game. Whether it’s a rainy day, a cozy, fire-lit evening, or just a long, summer’s afternoon, there is such excitement in running to the basement to grab a colorful box from the shelves.
I began amassing board games for our daughter as soon as she was old enough to safely grasp a board game marker in her fist. I think Candy Land was first, purchased at a Rite Aid on the walk home from Nursery School.
Board games are great rules teachers. They encourage turn taking, instruction following and how to be a good competitor. Great lesson of boardgames? How to act gracious to the loser – or to the winner.
And then there are those out-of-box boardgames that allow for a little more inventive thinking and creativity. These fall into a different category. These are the games that are fun to play with even after the game itself is finished. (Note: this is not a sponsor blog, but when I love something, I share it).
Here are my favorite 10, not in any order of preference, plus tips for imaginative play:
This is the same as when I was a kid. And just as amusing. I could set this trap up in my sleep. After the game is over, we move on to trapping other small toys. What will fit? Squinkies? Lego figurines? What happens if you change around the trap parts? What if the old guy does a backwards dive instead?
Monopolies of all kinds
After a rousing game of trying to out-develop an opponent (I put on my Million Dollar Listing NY hat while playing this game, so watch out) the little houses and hotels are irresistible. Off-market deals can be negotiated with the candy-necklace-colored money (which is great for reinforcing math), and crazy little villages can be built. The electronic game sports a handheld ATM which is a great learning tool. It also makes great noises.
The game is fascinating in its medieval look and feel. After the game is done, new mazes can be built to be navigated by the little wizards (I am referring to the game markers, not your children, although they may fancy themselves a little wizard at times).
Surprise Slides series
There are several of these. The game itself is a very soft and approachable. It is perfect for a sick day from school because it does not require too much mental energy. And the flippable-aroundable rooms keep it interesting – and pique curiosity. What happens if all of the rooms’ arrows face backwards? Or all forwards?
Bugs in the Kitchen
This game features the delightful HEXABUG robot, which I am typing in all caps for some reason. It is an enlivening game. And when the game is over, it is amusing to build mazes for the HEXABUG to navigate, or to trap the bugs in a corner or so they buzz with frustration. We have even invited an additional HEXABUG to play at times. Pseudo races and battles can be set up.
This game is perfect for big imaginations. How exactly does one describe a hamburger? It can be taken a step further by acting the images out – actually being what your opponent’s card pictures. How does a hamburger act?
Chutes and Ladders
Perfect simple game for little ones. The game is straightforward, so it is a great learning tool. And when it is over, it is soothing to climb those ladders and slide down – over and over again. Can you find the biggest slide? Or the longest ladder?
This game encourages focus and quick thinking. Then, we play sandwich shop. We build sandwiches for figurines or stuffed animals. Some figurines are picky eaters. Some are verrrry hungry and want sandwiches with everything. Some are vegetarians. Some are grumpy.
Great purse game for a night at the restaurant. It requires enough imagination just as it is set up. But I had to add it.
Hi Ho Cherry-O without the rules
We save this for when we have had a stressful week. I give our daughter the option to make up whatever rules she wants. Sometimes we switch game around so the players are putting the cherries back on the tree. Or the “dump bucket” spot on the spinner means only I have to dump my bucket. She gets to spin again if it lands on that one. Great stress reliever in its simplicity and familiarity.
Ten Board Games for Kids with Very Big Imaginations