My Pokemon mentor once said to me, “The family that games together, stays together.” He couldn’t be more correct.
A few weeks ago I shared with you how my husband and I balance being parents and gamers. My husband and I encourage our kids to play games as well. It doesn’t matter if it’s a game we made up with balls, an educational game, a board game, or a video game. Don’t get me wrong, video game play is earned and the time spent playing them is monitored.
Educational games for kids are fairly easy to find. Several companies focus on educational games for kids. Kid appropriate games that are just like mom and dad’s are a little harder to come by.
Our kids often are more interested in the games we play instead of their own. So, here are some kid friendly ideas that are related to the adult versions our little geek 2.0’s might not be ready for.
Try Pokémon instead of Magic the Gathering: The mechanics are very similar. The artwork is amazing without being as graphic as Magic. I know some parents cringe at the thought of letting the cute little animé creatures into their homes. The truth is, I used to be one of those parents. Then Call of Legends was released and my then 4-year-old daughter fell in love and was inspired to read. She can now read the cards and count by 10’s and she isn’t even in Kindergarten yet. I think these skills were greatly helped by playing Pokémon. Strategy skills and other math skills are also exercised by playing. Card packs run $4-$15. Most leagues are free and some even offer decks to check out and play.
Try RPG Kids instead of Dungeons and Dragons: RPG Kids is a simpler version of Dungeons and Dragons for kids age 4-7. It only uses two dice and the characters can be as simple as attacking only, all the way to having feats and resistances (if you want them). This game also offers an opportunity for parents who have never been a DM before to do so. The game is very easy to run and set up. It comes with pieces that you can cut out, or you can make your own. It can be purchases for $2.99 from RPGNow.com. RPG Kids uses math, reading, and strategy skills.
Try Hero Scape or Hero Quest instead of miniature war games like Warhammer: Over a year ago, my husband and I were both very much into playing Warhammer. Since we spent a decent ammount of time painting our miniatures and playing the game, our daughter also became interested. We found a copy of Heroscape at our local second hand store. We took all of the miniatures out and let her play with them while we were playing Warhammer. Now she’s ready for Hero Quest which has a similar turn style to RPG Kids. If you have crafty kids, why not let them paint a spare miniature?
Computer games aren’t evil, but computers might be (the cake is a LIE)!: We used to be into playing World of Warcraft and other MMO’s. Now, if we actually have the time to play on the computer, we tend to play games like Minecraft, Spore, and Portal 2. The skills used in these games have a huge range but include building and following directions in Minecraft, budgetting money and strategy in Spore, and strategy in Portal. These games are fun for the entire family. It has been debated how much time kids should be spending playing video games, and how young is too young, but computer games have been an asset in our house when played in moderation. There are also some great websites that offer educational and fun games such as Starfall, PBS Kids, and a favorite at our house – Pokémon.
Do you have a Leapster or DS?: The games offered for the LeapFrog Leapster system are themed after popular characters our kids like (such as Star Wars and Pixar characters). The games are FAR more educational than games played on the DS systems, but the characters and desirableness are comparable. We have used Leapster gaming time as a reward for helping with chores without being asked or, as a quiet gaming activity while mom and dad are playing with other adults.
I hope the ideas shared here inspire you to share a gaming experience with your kids. They don’t even have to be old enough to read in most cases, all you both need is some imagination and patience. What games have you found recently to play with your kids?
6 thoughts on “Balancing Board Games and Babies Part II”
Not sure whether you mentioned any of the following in your first installment or not, but a few other “like dad’s games” plugs. (My wife is a non-gamer, with which I’m OK):
– Forbidden Island is a cooperative game that my 5-year-old first grader has more or less mastered, although he balks at playing on any difficulty past Novice. (He still has a hard time with losing anything.) Designed by Matt Leacock (who did Pandemic), it’s often described as Pandemic-lite.
– He’s also pretty good at a very stripped-down version of Carcassonne, as is a friend of his from across the street. (Points for completing features, 1 point per tile)
– Also in the D&D-lite vein, Wizards of the Coast did a one-shot called “Heroes of Hesiod” that I haven’t been able to get to the table with him (insufficient number of players), but that is supposed to be pretty good.
– Two other “dad’s games” plugs that he’s gotten the general hang of pretty quickly: Incan Gold (or Diamant, if you’d rather — we still play w/o the artifacts) and Coloretto. (I’ll probably eventually get Zooloretto, which is the same engine redone, but it’s a way down the pike, I think.)
While I like your other ideas, the Leapster one I just can’t agree with. The quality just isn’t there – and most kids when comparing those games to even free ones online will not want to play. Every educational console/handheld we’ve bought for my son and that I’ve seen friends and family buy get pushed to the wayside for true consoles (like the DS), web based games, or mobile apps. I always end up regretting my purchase when I see how little use the system gets and the titles that look straight off a Sega Pico.
My sons recently got interested in Pokemon — mostly from the video games, but I found some of the mid-90s cartoons on Boomerang, and my oldest is JUST starting to get into the card play too. He just needs to find other kids as geeky about it as he his (luckily, his best friend is similarly into it).
I grew up an anime kid (think Doraemon!), getting gifts and videos from my relatives in Hong Kong…so I kinda like that my boys are interested in Pokemon and Beyblade. My husband is getting wrapping his head around it, though.
If you are looking for additional educational games for your children to play, I recommend checking out Filament Games.
The games are available online to be played for free and there are games for almost every subject.
We had the privilege of playing a pick-up game of RPG Kids with the creator at Gen Con this year. We really enjoyed it, and our six year old did surprisingly well for paying attention considering that she really hadn’t been quite so involved in an RPG setting until then (plus it was dinner time and she was noshing on chicken nuggets…hmmm, brand new shiny pink iridescent dice or chicken nuggets, truly a dilemma 😀 ). Our three year old even got in on the action by supplying sound effects for our attacks.
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