Switch off the TV, put away all electronic devices (yes, yours too) and turn to one of these seven fantastic board games for hours of family fun.
Your kids may think board games are outdated, but psychologist Daniel Koh from Insights Mind Centre thinks there are still lessons to be learnt from them. He says playing a board game requires children to “work with others towards a common goal, improving their social interactions”. He adds: “Board games help teach kids to follow rules while they’re having fun, and enjoy each other’s company. They also require kids to carry on a conversation, an important social skill.” So take that, tablet!
For 3-6 year olds
GOLDEN APPLE GAME, from Early Learning Centre.
Two to four players. Young ones will enjoy this beginner’s board game, where the goal is to be the first to reach the golden apple on the mountain. Each player starts from his own house, rolls the dice, and moves to the next square matching the colour he rolls. Players may be slowed down by flower patches and river crossings, giving opponents a chance to catch up. In addition to colour recognition, children will also learn social and problem solving skills.
For ages 6+
CUBORO TRICKY WAYS, from Playhao.
Two to four players. In this game of strategy, players use blocks to form a path so their marble can arrive at an empty exit point. The longer the path created (using the trails on top of the blocks or tunnels within), the more points you earn. But players can only move the blocks around the board or rotate them, so they have to make calculated decisions and plan ahead.
COT COT PANIK, from The Better Toy Store.
One to two players. Save the hens from the big bad fox! Each player gets his own board, and has to use fences to create pens that will separate the hens from the fox. You draw from a stack of challenge cards that state the positions of the animals on the board, and the size and quantity of fences that must be used. Kids must think carefully but quickly to beat their opponent by winning five challenges.
For ages 8+
PYRAMIX, from www.gamewright.com
Two to four players. The three-sided pyramid structure makes for an elegant puzzle that can help hone a child’s strategic thinking and pattern recognition skills. Players take turns to remove one cube at a time from the stack, earning points based on the cube’s symbol – one for an ankh, two for a crane and three for an eye. They can’t move cubes that are beside a cobra cube. When only a single layer of cubes remains in the plastic tray, the players tally their points. Whoever has the most ankhs in each of the four colours can claim the remaining cubes of that colour from the tray, and earn extra points. The one with the most points wins.
For ages 10+
RELIC RUNNERS, from www.boardgamelifestyle.com
Two to five players. Appeal to the Temple Run game fans in your family. Each player takes on the role of a character to acquire relics deep in a jungle. Kids must create pathways across the board to visit temples, expand their toolbox and collect relic tokens to win. The rules may take a bit of time to understand, so you may want to play a few trial rounds at the start.
CONCEPT, from www.boardgamelifestyle.com
Four to 12 players. Remember charades? This has a similar premise, but instead of acting out the word or phrase, players communicate using plastic tokens and illustrated icons on the board. For example, for the word “milk”, players might place tokens beside the “liquid”, “food” and “white” icons. The game has varying levels of difficulty but a finite number of icons, so kids are bound to have a hilarious time. It’s great for large family gatherings.
For ages 13+
COMPOUNDED, from www.boardgamelifestyle.com
Two to five players. Players take on the roles of lab managers racing to build chemical compounds. They must carefully manage tokens symbolising different elements and strike deals with one another for the elements and laboratory tools. Some compounds are flammable and may cause a lab “explosion”, while others can take too long to complete. Kids don’t need to know chemistry concepts to play, but it’ll familiarise them with some basic compounds.
By Melissa Chang, Simply Her, October 2014