Board games are a great way to teach kids about following rules, taking turns, winning graciously, coping with their emotions when they lose, and best of all, having some fun! They’re the ultimate multitasking aide…
They’re also a great way for families to spend some quality time, and for parents to model fair behaviour.
Many games are also good for your child’s cognitive development. Tots can pick up skills such as matching by colour and counting, while older kids often pick up nuggets of information about wildlife, the solar system and the content of whichever game they are playing.
You may find it hard to believe, but kids as young as 3 have the ability to play in a board game – you just have to pick the right one. So, scroll through our list of top board games for kids of all ages to find one suitable for your peewee!
1. CANDY LAND
FROM Pupsik Studio
WHAT Move your pieces according to the coloured cards you draw, and the first player to get to Candy Castle wins. There are barriers along the way, like the gooey gumdrops, getting lost in the lollipop woods, or stuck in the molasses swamp.
MUMS SAY Set in a fantasy land called Candy Land with characters like Twirly Girl and Giggly Gumdrop, kids will love the candy references in this delicious-sounding game. Colour-coded squares and cards mean that your tot can play simply by recognising basic colours. It’s a great way to introduce board games to little ones — teach them the concept of taking turns, moving towards a goal, and how to react when you win or lose. Mum-of-two May Lim, 35, says, “I like that the game is based on the element of luck – it doesn’t matter if you’re a parent, older or younger sibling, you’ll have your chance at winning and losing.”
2. Baa Baa
FROM Growing Fun
WHAT Each player gets a board with different coloured circles (almost like a Bingo board). The game comes with a spinner — when it’s your turn, you spin and the colour where the pointer rests is the colour on each player’s board where you should place a sheep marker. The winner is the first to fill all their circles.
MUMS SAY This is a lovely little game that is perfect for even the youngest member of the family. It doesn’t take long to play, to cater to the average toddler’s attention span. Brightly coloured boards and adorable illustrations will intrigue your little one!
FROM Smart Alley
WHAT This is the classic game, Bingo, with a twist. It comes with several variations: The original one features six double-sided cards, each with a 3x3 grid of images and corresponding words for each image. Slide the “zinger” as you reveal picture tiles within, and if it matches an image on your card, mark it off. Get all nine tiles on your card to win.
MUMS SAY This popular game teaches image and vocabulary recognition. Even younger kids can hone their matching, memory and concentration skills. Says Jonie Yap, 36, “Both my kids, aged 4 and 8, enjoy playing this, despite the age gap.” When your child has mastered this version, you can move on to the Word Builder, Sight Words and Time-Telling versions of the game.
4. MONOPOLY JUNIOR
WHAT Fans of the classic board game will be happy to introduce this to their young ’uns. This simplified version of the fast-trading game is easier for kids to understand, and comes with adorable character tokens. Don’t worry if you think that kids will take a long time calculating how much money is needed in each move — single banknotes keep things quick and easy.
MUMS SAY Even though the game states that kids 5 and older can play, Geraldine Soh, 32, feels that her 3-year-old can easily participate, too. “Chase is able to keep up with his siblings, and it’s a great way to introduce the concept of money, that it has value and you can buy things with it.”
5. POP TO THE SHOPS
FROM Growing Fun
WHAT This fun shopping game will help your peewee learn about handling money and giving change. Go round the board from shop to shop using plastic money to buy lots of different items. The objective of the game is to buy the items on your shopping list without over spending.
MUMS SAY “It’s a quick and simple game that the kids enjoy,” says Yap. “We played this with my older child when he entered primary school and was learning to handle money on his own. It’s great for teaching him about budgeting.”
6. CATAN JUNIOR
FROM My Toy Shop
WHAT In this modified version of the classic card game, Settlers of Catan, you’ll build hideouts along a ring of islands and encounter the mysterious Spooky Island, where the Ghost Captain lives. Use resources like wood, goats and swords to build ships and hideouts so you can expand your network, but beware the dreaded Ghost Captain! The goal of the game is to be the first to place all seven of your pirate hideouts on the board.
MUMS SAY Families familiar with strategy games will love this. It’s simple to understand — roll the die, collect goods, trade them and build hideouts. This will teach your kids to negotiate, bargain and convince another player to trade with them. As kids aren’t the best with handling flimsy cards, they play with chunky tokens here. The game is quite pricey, though.
WHAT The cream-coloured letter tiles are similar to those used in Scrabble, but this is a faster (and more exciting) version. Each player grabs 15 or 20 tiles, and starts linking them up to create words, free form. At any time, you can rearrange your tiles to form new words or scrap others. Once a player uses up all his or her tiles, he shouts “peel” and every one grabs another letter. This goes on till all the tiles are used. The winner is the person to use up all their tiles.
MUMS SAY This award-winning word game is great fun for all in the family! It comes with 144 letter tiles, packed into an adorable banana-shaped pouch that’s perfect for taking along while you travel. It’s great for older kids who can spell and read with ease. Plus, a game can end in 10 minutes, so it’s great, even as a pre-dinner distraction or as an after-dinner wind-down activity.
8. COOKING UP SENTENCES
FROM Smart Alley
WHAT Test junior’s grammar with this adorable game. Chefs follow recipes to make complete sentences by gathering and correctly identifying parts of speech. A free “ingredient” card lets you add a funny word of your choice to the mix. Read the complete sentences out loud for lots of giggles!
MUMS SAY This is a great game for children who are able to read and form sentences. It also helps to teach the building blocks of the English language, like nouns, adjectives, and pronouns. The perfect way to change things up a little while putting in grammar practice for the kids.
9. SUSHI GO! CARD GAME
WHAT Speed is of the essence in this brightly hued game of maki rolls and sashimi. If your brood is a fan of Japanese food, they will delight in this game where you grab the best combination of sushi dishes as they whiz by. Dip your nigiri in wasabi to triple its value. The player with the most points is the sushi master.
MUMS SAY With cute graphics that are sure to make you, ahem, hungry, this game is a winner in terms of looks, ease of play and fun! We like that the game was quick to learn, and a round could be played in 15 minutes — perfect for little ones with short attention spans. While simple, there is a little strategic thinking that needs to come with the speed — junior will pick up probability and visual discrimination skills as well.
FROM Team Board Game
WHAT Each player picks a card at random to determine if they are miners or the saboteur. But don’t tell the other players which card you’ve picked. Miners hunt for gold and create “tunnels” leading to the loot. Saboteurs secretly sabotage the miners’ efforts by shattering lamps and creating “dead ends”. The game ends when a miner reaches the gold, or if the gold can’t be reached.
MUM SAYS Even adults will love this fun party game! Says Ng Chai Leeng, 40, mum to Darren, 8, and Cynthia, 6, “I played this with friends in the past and was surprised at how quickly the kids caught on to this. The element of surprise is created because each player doesn’t know what role the other players are taking.”
Main Photo: iStock