Last week I wrote about handheld video games, kids and travel. It seems fitting that I should follow up with a list of the board and card games which we also usually bring with us when we travel. To be clear, these are not just travel games, we play them at home and on the road but they’re all rollicking good fun for kids three and up and easy to pack.
Puzzle games By ThinkFun
Rush Hour by ThinkFun is one of my all-time favorite games for kids. It can be a challenge for three and four-year-olds to get used to the rules of the game, but boy, once they get used to it, they can entertain themselves with it for hours – challenging themselves using puzzle cards of increasing levels of difficulty. The game comes with a pull-close bag. Sometimes I wish all game manufacturers were so considerate as to include such a useful detail.
When my niece and nephews were visiting recently, they proved that Rush Hour can also function as a team game with the three-year-old and the five-year-old playing against their seven-year-old brother. And as a game for older kids to help flex their leadership skills as they assist a younger child to play – without giving away the solution. There’s also a Rush Hour Jr. version.
Hoppers is another classic from ThinkFun. Again, the game comes in a self-contained unit which is immensely useful for traveling families. It follows a similar style to Rush Hour in that there are puzzle cards and the player needs to figure out how to solve the puzzle such that only the red frog is left on the board. It’s trickier than you might think!
Personally this is my favorite since “Hoppers” is also a short name for the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing which is an awesome networking organization for the (paltry few) women studying Computer Science these days.
Card Games By Gamewright (and Mattel)
Rat-A-Tat-Cat is BigB’s favorite game mainly because it’s a game which makes it easy for even a young child to beat the grown-up he or she is playing with – always a crowd-pleaser.
The basic premise of this game is small set memorization but it’s a hoot to play.
Slamwich will exercise your child’s matching skills but by matching food toppings to sandwiches in hilarious combinations. You’ll get a kick out of your child’s giggles.
A list of fun family card games for home and travel wouldn’t be complete without Uno.
You know the drill. It’s quick and easy to learn. It lends itself very well to team playing where a younger child can team up with an adult to learn the game and beat an older sibling or friend. Truly, a classic.
Do you have a budding math geek in your family? SET by SET Enterprises Inc. is going to be right up his or her alley.
And then there’s Scrabble .
You know it’s a great game, but it’s tricky to know when to introduce to children. Let’s be honest, there are many adults who struggle with this game. At nine, my BigB isn’t quite ready to play alone. Spelling is not his strong suit and it can be frustrating for him to play against his older brother. CAM has pretty incredible word-attack skills (that’s the educational term for always aceing spelling tests) and he’s been flexing his Scrabble muscles since he was about 10.
I don’t normally like to buy the travel-version of any game – it’s extra expense and usually just a packaging gimmick – but I made an exception for this travel Scrabble folio. It’s been a worthwhile investment. The tiles click into the board and the tile holders for players snap shut holding your tiles inside. It’s easy to start and stop games without losing continuity.
So there you have it! A family-tested list of games which we have and still enjoy playing.
Have I left out your favorite? Leave a comment and let me know.