Board Games for Kids 2011 – 2012

When I was a kid my brothers and I received a new board game each Christmas that we played hours on end. It was usually the best gift we received because it forced us to bond by spending time with one another. In this post I’ll review the board games that are most popular for this year. Only a few of these were actually released in 2011, but it usually takes a couple of years for most board games to get on the bestseller’s list.

Tip for Buying Board Games Online: I recommend that you purchase your board games on Amazon. Individual retailer sites and stores usually set a premium. Amazon is great because it forces all of the retailers, including Amazon, to compete with each other and you can usually get the cheapest price.

Top 10 List of the Best Rated Board Games for Kids Christmas 2011

1.  Rory’s Story Cubes – Encourages Creativity

This game is perfect for encouraging artistic expression in young children. The rules are simple. Roll the 9 dice and then have your child create a story based off of what the dice say. Either arrange the dice in a predetermined order and make them use their problem solving skills or have them pick which ones they want to use at which time. It’s recommended for kids ages 8-12 but my 4 year old girl and 6 year old boy love using them as well. You can also play a game where you make it a short story or take it out as long as you want. My son liked one of them he made up so much that he’s written down on paper.

Overall this is a great game at a great price – under $10. See Rory’s Story Cubes on Amazon or hover over the link for today’s price.

2. Hedbanz Game – Best New Family Party Game

Hedbanz has really caught on since it’s release in late 2010. It’s recommended for ages 8-12 but my wife and I enjoy playing this with our family, friends, and it’s even a success at parties. One of the reason’s is that it’s super simple to understand. Simply place one of the headbands on your head, draw a card, and then you try to figure out what’s on your head by asking other players questions. You start out with coins chips and every time you guess what’s on your head you get rid of one. The first one to get rid of their chips wins.

In summary, there’s a reason that this game is #2 on the bestseller’s list this year – it’s a really fun family game. If I had one complaint it’d be that it’s sometimes difficult to come up with the questions or answer them as another player but after you’ve played it a couple times this becomes easier. See Hedbanz on Amazon.

3. Perplexus Maze Game

I wish they had had this game in the Doctor’s office when I was a kid rather than those boring ones that you just move along the track. This maze game is fun because you can take several ways to your destination by flip twisting and shifting your way through it. It doesn’t get old because of the 100 challenging barriers that that PlaSmart added to it. It has small parts (a marble) so I wouldn’t really recommend it for children under 3.

This is a great game which helps them to improve their motor skills and hand eye coordination. It’s a hit with our six year old boy and I find myself playing it all too often as well! See more about and read customer reviews for the Perplexus Maze Game.

4. Qwirkle – Encourages Critical Thinking and Math Skills

Qwirkle received the parents “gold” award and although it was released a few years ago is still hanging in on the top 5 bestsellers list for board games. You start by drawing 6 different pieces each and then trying to match them up by color and shape. You get a point for each color and shape before you and like Scrabble you can get multiple points by adding a piece that fits to both a row and a column. Additional points can be scored by  making a “Qwirkle” which is made by having 6 of the same shape or color.

Overall this is a great game for kids and adults. It’s been perfect for logical reasoning skills with our kids and quick math/addition skills. This is why Mensa named it their “Mind Game Award Winner”. You can get it new at Amazon for under $15. See Qwirkle on Amazon.

5. Spot It – An All-Around Fun Board Game

Spot it is a great new game that takes matching, a relatively simple concept, and makes it into a competitive madhouse! The game comes with 55 cards and each card comes with 8 images with only 1 matching. Whoever shouts out the symbol first wins. There are four different variations of how you can play the game; The Tower, The Well, Poison Gift, and Hot Potatoes so it never really gets boring.

Overall this is another really fun game for families. It’s small enough that we can take it on trips with us and play it in the car and it doesn’t get old fast. See Spot It on Amazon.

6. Richard Scarry Busy Town

7. Bananagrams

8. Blokus Classics Game

9. Monopoly Junior Edition

10. MindWare Imaginets

Best Board Games for Kids

When I think back to some of my earliest memories, I think of playing Candyland and other board games with my parents and friends. These games were integral to my learning, and even to my growth as an individual. I remember when I started elementary school that there were board games available for me to play during my free time, and that some of them were downright boring. Which is why we have created a top ten of all time list of board games for kids.

Top 10 Best Board Games for Kids – All Time

1. Candyland

Candyland is an absolute classic, and there are probably very few people that have not been exposed to it. The board itself, with its colorful and inventive places, evokes general feelings of happiness and being carefree. In this game, players draw cards that have different colored squares on them, and a player moves his piece to the next square of that color, until he reaches the end of the board. Passing through lollipop lands and gumdrop forests spark kids’ imaginations and pique their interests. The lack of strategy in this game makes it perfect for children even as young as the age of two.

2. Chutes and Ladders

What could be better than the thought of climbing a ladder to slide down a slide? The concept of this game, just like Candyland, really evokes warm fuzzy feelings. Children simply spin a dial to determine how many spaces they must move, and some spaces attach to ladders that climb higher, while others attach to chutes that send you back a number of spaces. The pure simplicity and idea of this game is perfect for any child that knows how to count. See more reviews.

3. Guess Who

In terms of board games that both cater to children and require minimal deductive skills, Guess Who is at the top of the list. In this game, two opponents draw a character card, of which there are approximately 24.
Each player has his own separate board that has a flip card for each character.
Players alternate asking each other questions about the other’s character, and the first person to correctly guess the other’s character wins.

4. Mouse Trap

The colorful playing pieces and ultimate object of this game are extremely appealing to younger children. In Mouse Trap mice-shaped playing pieces move about the board on spaces that instruct players to build part of the mouse trap or collect cheese pieces. Once the mousetrap has been completely built, whichever player traps the other players in the mousetrap first wins. The rickety stairs, metal balls, and rubber band that are all integral parts of this game are all well-loved by children and adults alike.

5. Connect Four

Connect Four is a simple game that is similar to tic tac toe in nature, and thus its simple nature caters to the younger generation. Two players alternately drop colored pieces in five different rows, and the first person to connect four pieces of their color wins. The game has a simple strategy in determining whether it will be of more benefit to block the opponent, or to strategically place one’s own piece in an advantageous location.

6. Trouble

The unique presentation of the die in this board game is enough by itself to draw kids to the game of Trouble. Up to four players can play at a time, and players “pop” the dice inside a plastic bubble that determines how many spaces they move. Players move their four playing pieces around the board and into their home, and the first one to do so wins. The lack of strategy in this game makes it easy for children under the age of eight to play.

7. Sorry!

Sorry encourages children to learn politeness as opponents bump each other off their spaces. This four-player game requires opponents to draw numbered cards and successfully take all four of their playing pieces around the board and safely into their home spaces. Because only one playing piece can be on a space at a time, when a player lands on his or her opponent, he must say “sorry!” before sending that player back to the start. Once again, the simplicity of this game caters directly to young children.

8. Parcheesi

Also known as “the classic game of India”, the utter simplicity of this game and colorful playing pieces cater to young children. Today, the game’s playing pieces are colorful animal figurines that might be found in India—water buffaloes, tigers, camels, and elephants. The object of the game is to circle the board and get all four of your players “home” by rolling the dice. Safety spaces and blockades make this objective more difficult than it seems. The very simple strategy involved in this game is perfect for young children.

9. Cootie

In this game, players roll the dice to take turns assembling a plastic “cootie” bug, alternately attaching the legs, antennae, eyes, and other body parts. The colorful body parts and shape of the cooties themselves captivate the interest of the younger crowd. The simplicity of this game makes it easy for children as young as the age of two to play.

10. Operation

The board itself of Operation intrigues young children just upon looking at it, and when they see what it can do, they are entirely captivated. A cartoon character lays on an operating table with various holes in his body where small bones are placed. Players take turns trying to remove these bones without touching the metal tweezers to the outlines of the holes, because otherwise the patient’s red nose lights up and there is a jarring beep, indicating failure. This game is perfect for developing dexterity in young children. Variants include Operation Toy Story 3 and Operation Spongebob edition.

There are thousands of board games in the world, but not all of them are suitable for the younger generation. Thus games that cater directly to children are important in today’s society, as they are integral in developing dexterity, strategic skills, and deductive reasoning, as well as a plethora of other life skills.