Let’s face it, board games for toddlers are geared toward the 3-4 year old set. Any parent who has been forced to sit for round after round of Candy Land knows just how mind numbing boring it is. There is nothing to do, no choices to make whatsoever, you pick up a card then move to that color. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. For a 3 year old, it’s great. Don’t make your 5 or 6 year old play it though.
I’d put Chutes and Ladders into this category as well. At least there is some tiny amount of math involved in Chutes and Ladders.
These types of games typically play themselves and help ready our children for adult lives of sitting in front of the television being spoon fed entertainment. That’s not for me, nor do I want it do be for my kids.
With that in mind, I’ll be highlighting some great kids board games that really allow for fun, creativity, learning, and problem solving all rolled into one.
We are big fans of Enchanted Forest by Ravensburger lately. In fact, pretty much every game Ravensburger makes is awesome on some level, but this one particularly so. The rules are a little too long to go into here, but it’s basically a memory game. You need to travel around the board and discover which treasure is hidden under which tree, then race to the castle once you find the treasure. Get there first, guess correctly, and a new treasure card is turned over. Guess wrong and get teleported back to the start of the board. The first person to find three treasures wins. Sounds easy? It’s not. Anyone who rolls doubles can use “magic” to change the treasure card, so if someone is racing towards the castle if they know the treasure, you can thwart them. Be careful though, they might know where the new treasure is as well.
This is a decent length game, typically taking about an hour to play a full game, but it culminates quickly once a few players have seen most of the treasures on the board, typically resulting in a mad dash to the castle by all the players.
It’s a great learning experience for younger kids, since it doesn’t involve advanced reading skills but can involve advanced strategic learning. I’ve been able to teach the boys how to infer when someone knows where the treasure is, how to play defensively, how to bluff, and how to balance the risks of making an educated guess based on available information.