We all know how much kids love technology and mine are no exception. They would spend hours playing Lego Harry Potter, Jurrasic World and Batman on the XBox, if we let them. To be fair, my husband are also usually found in the evening chilling on the sofa playing games on our phones and browsing social media. But recently we’ve discovered the joy of playing card games and boards games together as a family after dinner.
It all began one sunny afternoon when my husband and I picked the boys up from school and walked them up to the local library in the town centre. We spent a nice half an hour choosing books and then, as we were all thirsty, we made the unusual choice to go into the pub a couple of doors down to have a drink. The pub had a selection of games on the bar so my middle child picked Scrabble and the four of us played. The boys loved it and held their own playing independently, albeit with one or two clues. My eldest checked out words he didn’t know on Google to find out what they meant thus proving an educational activity too!
Over the past few months we’ve tried out a number of ‘old’ board games and loved how our children have taken to some of our childhood favourites. I decided to write this post to encourage you to dig out those dusty old board games from your loft and bring back the retro family games night!
Games we play as a family
Cluedo – for 3-6 players age 8 and above. However, it is so simple even my 4 year old will play it independently! She doesn’t yet understand the tactics but she loves to have guesses and show her card when asked. I think the age restriction mainly comes from it having small pieces so the EU warning on the box is that it should be used under adult supervision.
Uno – great for ganging up on each other! The junior version is suitable for ages 3+ and the original version is aimed at age 12+. However, we have found our 6 and 8 year olds can understand the original game just fine.
Cards – there are so many different card games that can be played with a regular 52 card pack. Some games are called different names by different people but in our language we’ve taught our 4 year old to play Go Fish and Snap. The 6 and 8 year olds can join in with games of Gin Rummy, Cheat, 7 of Diamonds, Shed and Whist. We avoid betting games with them. We have also taught the 8 year old Patience, Clock Patience and Elevens for independent play.
Jigsaws – not necessarily a game, but it is fun to pick out a challenging jigsaw to tackle together as a family. You can choose your own level of difficulty by selecting jigsaws with more or less pieces. We were surprised at how well the children did with challenging puzzles just because they had our input. We have recently completed a 500 piece Harry Potter puzzle, a 1000 piece Jurrasic World one and a 1000 piece Where’s Wally jigsaw. The Where’s Wally puzzle was particularly good fun as it is brightly coloured and there are interesting things to look at on each piece.
Dominoes – another game that we can play as a family with the youngest. There are so many different sets around with dots on or pictures on for the kids, or why not make a family set out of pebbles from a beach holiday? Click here to see how we made ours.
Blockbusters – a real retro game from the 1980’s for 3 players that we found in a charity shop but when I checked you can still buy it online! Aimed at 12+ year olds we found with a tweak to the rules we could play happily with our 6 and 8 year old playing as a team. The tweak being that mummy and daddy choose the children’s questions by picking from the card the one we think they have the best chance of answering correctly. For older players you stick to the rules of choosing a number and getting that particular question on the card.
Dungeon! – this game is an old favourite of mine and I still have my 1990’s version at home. It is sold on Amazon and a select few online retailers but I don’t think it is very well known. To play you each pick a hero and embark on a journey round a multi-level dungeon fighting monsters (by rolling dice) and collecting treasure. The deeper you go into the dungeon the more difficult the monster but the more lucrative the prize. There is a basic version and an advanced version of the game meaning it is suitable for a wide range of ages. It is aimed at ages 8 years and above however we have found the basic version is easy enough for our young players. Like the Cluedo game it contains small playing pieces so it should be played with adult supervision.
Scrabble – this is the game that started our family obsession with retro board games and it is still widely available in junior and original versions.
Beetle Game – a game for 2-4 players which was first made in the 1950s (I think) and is still available to buy online. This game is so simple and only requires players to roll the numbers 1-6 on a dice in order to collect the parts of their beetle. There are versions where a plastic beetle is made, or versions where a simple drawing of a beetle is completed. Suitable for age 3+, again the plastic version contains small pieces.
Obviously there are hundreds more games to choose from out there. The point of my post though was to give you a flavour of what we do at home and encourage you, if you haven’t tried it already, to grab some of those well loved games of your childhood and share them with your kids. Happy gaming!