If you are a mom inhabiting planet Earth during Spring 2020, you will most likely be on the hunt for something with which to entertain your kids. We have gone through all the window painting, street chalk messages, sensory bucket, teddy bear hunting ideas that the internet can offer, and we’ve maxed out the Disney+ account. We are all looking for the magic form of entertainment that our kids can do without (gasp!) their mom, who needs to be able to shower/cook/clean/sit/drink coffee/not answer questions for five minutes.
I am no fairy godmother and it is possible that none of these board games will appeal to your children, but here is an attempt to offer desperate moms another idea for an hour or two of engaging play. And if you aren’t desperate for new ideas, just remember, Karen….and walk away.
No Stress Chess
Chess might seem like a boring and unengaging board game for kids, but this version is actually fun and easy! Plus, it teaches players how the game of chess works and within a few games, my eight-year-old didn’t want to use the cards anymore and had learned to play the real way. Some younger kids can play with the cards as well, but it has been most enjoyed by my two oldest.
I have to confess: I haven’t played this game, but my husband says it is the best sports board game he has played. Your kid will need to know a little bit about the game of football, but even my five-year-old can play (and gets creamed) alone with his older brothers, so if your kids have any interest in football, it’s easy to learn!
Ticket to Ride
Math, geography and strategy all in one! A game is practically worth about two hours of school credit, right? Parents usually jump in on this game with the kids, and since my oldest wants more competition, we save it for an evening activity after dinner or over dessert. My littlest likes to hold the cards and place the trains, so it can end up being a fun and stress-free family activity.
Ages 5 & up
Ticket to Ride: First Journey
A simpler version of the game listed above, this is a game that my three oldest can play together without me having to oversee and check for cheating. (Cheating? My kids? Never!) The cards use pictures and words, so that young kids won’t need to be literate to be able to find the cities on the map.
An oldie! I remember playing when I was little and picked it up on a whim back when we were allowed to still shop for fun. All of my kids love it, and even the two-year-old will sit and “play” by moving the rocks around randomly hole to hole. My kids have perfected the strategy by playing over and over, so I try not to get sucked in because I always lose now. Replacing the pieces is super easy, which is one of my favorite perks of this game.
We have had this game for years and it is still a favorite. It’s basically Bingo, but with a fun and simple twist of getting to replace the unused tiles in the stacker with a satisfying “click.” I don’t know why, but it really does seem to be why they like the game so much.
The worst part of Uno is keeping up with the cards. Other than that, it is a great game for all kids! Numbers are generally learned before letters and colors even before that, so preschool kids can usually play this card game with older siblings.
Left, Center, Right
We don’t own this game yet, but we played it at a relative’s house (back when we could see people) and my kids loved it. Super, super easy and good for all ages to play together! Also, it offers the bonus of teaching left and right, which challenges my directional dyslexia greatly and amuses the kids.
Shoots and Ladders
I don’t know how many variances of Shoots and Ladders we have owned over the years, but enough for me to say it is a favorite and perfect for non-parental involvement (which is the goal, Karen.) Biggest problem is that we lose the pieces so fast.
Best game, hands down! Portable, easy to play and fun for all.
Ages 3 & Up
(I don’t have any board game recommendations for this age group, but we try to pull out something for the youngest to do when we are playing a game together and here are our favorites for the littlest.)
The newer versions of K’NEX are so easy for little hands to use. Actually, all of my kids enjoy them together, even though I had asked for them mostly to keep our youngest busy.
Used mainly in the classroom for math, these never fail to capture little kids’ attention. The downside is the clean up, but when it keeps a kid busy for 20-30 minutes, I am willing to get them out!
Sure, they won’t know how to play it “for real,” but it is a fun game for these little ones to play with and do by themselves or with a patient partner.