Family Game Night

With the constant hustle that is life these days, quality family time can be quite a challenge. Yet it is essential in order for the family to thrive and bond. Work here, school there, lessons, practices, and recitals make for lots of time in the car and minimal time at home. It seems to be that we’re only home to sleep Monday through Friday, so the weekends are often the only time we have to catch up and spend that quality time together.

Sometimes it takes active planning and an expectation of tradition to ensure quality time is to be had. I’m constantly looking for new adventures to go on and experiences to be had by our family of three, but I also know that time together—just that—is in itself enough. That’s why we enjoy good ole fashioned board games as a means to take life a little less seriously, have fun, laugh, and make memories. Not to mention it’s great fun for parents when trying to establish what rules ought to be followed and what your children decide to do about them during games…even with the simple rule of “wait your turn” can create an experience in itself!

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It’s also the trend that kids these days would much rather sit behind an iPad or tablet for hours than have a face-to-face conversation. Needless to say, the more time spent with screens and the less time spent playing and having conversations in and outside of the house might have something to do with the lack of development of social skills or other skills that are imperative for functioning in the world around them. Games are a way to develop such skills like patience and delaying gratification, positive encouragement, critical thinking, patterns, and more.

So make a bowl of popcorn, gather around the dining table or spread out on the living room floor, and set your family up for some quality bonding time through these 10 family favorites.

1. Pie Face!

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Age recommendation: 5+

How to play: Each player spins the dial and turns the handles that number of times while placing their face in the prop. No one knows when the hand will release and splat the whipped cream right in the face. The anticipation is the best part for parents and kids alike!

Laugh factor: 5/5

Potential lessons or skills: Encourages a sense of humor, counting for the young ones, anticipation, family bonding.

2. Hungry Hungry Hippos

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Age recommendation: 4+

How to play: An RSMB favorite, this classic game encourages friendly and family competition when each player competes with their hippo to chomp the most marbles.

Laugh factor: 3.5/5

Potential lessons or skills: Positive competition and counting for the young ones.

3. Candyland

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Age recommendation: 3+

How to play: Another classic game in which each player races to the castle while meeting colorful candy characters along the way. Best to play with a group of young ones.

Potential lessons or skills: Color recognition, taking turns and delaying gratification.

 4. Bean Boozled

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Age recommendation: The older the better, but sometimes the younger ones actually enjoy the stinky flavors!

How to play: There are two possible flavor options per jelly-bean. Each player spins and lands on a color. Will brown be chocolate pudding or dog food? Will yellow be buttered popcorn or rotten egg? Now, I know someone is thinking, “Why on earth would I even attempt eating the possibility of a barf jelly-bean?” For the reactions of course! Try to get through this game without laughing both at yourself and at each other.

Laugh factor: 5/5

Potential lessons or skills: Encourages a sense of humor, improves taste tolerance (haha), family bonding, being silly.

 5. Pop the Pig

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Age recommendation: 3+

How to play: Players each pump the pig’s head with the given number of pumps each hamburger popped in its mouth requires. Watch the pig’s belly grows until it pops.

Laugh factor: 5/5

Potential lessons or skills: Counting, color recognition, anticipation, being silly.

6. Tic Tac Toe

Age recommendation: As soon as your child begins to write.

How to play: Three in a row wins the game. This is an excellent choice for kids who are working on their pencil grip. We enjoy a magnetic version for long car rides or travel.

Potential lessons or skills: Handwriting, development of fine motor skills, problem-solving.

7. Peanut Butter & Jelly

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Age recommendation: 4+

How to play: The first player to build three peanut butter and jelly sandwiches out of the deck of cards wins. Watch out for the bugs in between! That means the other player could steal part of your sandwich.

Laugh factor: 3/5

Potential lessons or skills: Creating patterns, delaying gratification, friendly competition.

8. Smarty Pants

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Age recommendation: Preschool-5th grade versions

How to play: Not quite a board game, but kids have great fun trying to master the developmental brain-building tasks on each card.

Potential lessons or skills: Cognitive development, problem-solving, critical thinking, patterns.

9. Spot it! Alphabet

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Age recommendation: 3+

How to play: Within two cards, there is always one match of letter or picture.

Potential lessons or skills: Patience, focus, recognition of alphabet, fine motor skills.

10. Puzzles of any kind

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Age recommendation: Toddlers-children

How to play: Piece a puzzle together, together. Being able to assist your child create something is a gift to both parent and child.

Potential lessons or skills: Patience, focus, fine motor skills, family bonding.

Happy Board Gaming! What are some of your family favorites?

Samantha is a newer resident to Baton Rouge having moved here with her sweet boy Holden in 2011. Her love for blogging grew when she began writing about life as a twenty-something single mom, and her personal blog became an outlet for inspiration throughout her journey of vulnerability, shame, forgiveness, personal growth, and the joy of motherhood. Having an undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Notre Dame, years later she decided to pursue a masters in counseling from LSU, and she is now in practice at Legacy Behavioral Health of Louisiana, LLC. For Sam, it is privileged work to walk alongside someone during times of difficulty and confusion and join with towards wellness and empowerment, a process in which she has found a personal capacity to understand. She has recently gotten married to the love of her life, Nick, or “Kick” as Holden re-named him, native of New Orleans, and together they raise Holden, now almost 5 years old, on a little slice of the country in St. Gabriel. When spare time isn’t being spent as superheroes hunting for bugs and monsters while keeping from falling in hot lava, Sam enjoys friends, running, painting, reading, and fundraising. For Sam, being a mother continues to be a limitless experience of unconditional love, laughter, and life lessons.

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