In praise of good clean family fun
Ah, the joy of a family night of fun board games played at the dining table! From Chutes and Ladders to Monopoly, through Tripoly and Clue, to Stratego, Risk, and Battleship, board games are just plain fun.
When we were youngsters, our movies were books and our game consoles were stored in boxes on the closet shelves. I recently rediscovered this joy with my seven-year-old granddaughter. We made a decision to watch tv less and spend more time doing things that encouraged conversation and personal interaction. It was a great decision. We spent the summer working puzzles, reading books together, and playing games at the dining room table. I now know which girls in her class giggle too much, which boys will chase you on the playground, and how much homework “they” expect her to get done. I also had the pleasure of watching my really smart, very funny granddaughter become a card shark.
All of this together time took me back to my childhood. We never really had to decide to watch less television. We only got three channels and my father’s interests ran the gamut from the news to football. Chet Huntley, David Brinkley, and Joe Namath pretty well dominated the airwaves at our house. The Philco belonged to Daddy. So we played outside in the sunshine and played inside when the rains came or nightfall drove us indoors. I can still sense the feeling of sitting around the kitchen table on a cold night with my brothers and sister and sometimes my parents, the smell of goodies cooking, the laughter swelling with the ups and downs of game play. I remember so clearly knowing the warmth and comfort of my place in the family. And all of this is connected in my mind with the delightful fun of board games.
Board Games for Adults can be fun!
Board Games for ADULTS??? Okay, “for Adults” doesn’t have to mean “for Adults,” if you know what I mean.
Seriously, most of us just want to have some good conversation, good company, and good clean fun when we socialize. What better way to enjoy the company of friends than with a peaceable evening spent playing a game or two. Put on a pot of coffee, heat up some banana bread or a coffee cake, and pull out a crowd-pleasing board game.
Pictionary is a terrific game. I have a friend who guesses the picture from a straight line. Honest. I have trouble identifying a photograph, so they wait until I’m out of the room to choose teams. I’m much better at Scattergories. And Trivial Pursuit. I am a font of useless knowledge.
How about you? Are you a brain? Maybe Cranium or Scrabble are to your liking. If your ability lies in strategy you may prefer Chess or Mastermind. Backgammon and Yahtzee both utilize a combination of strategy and fortune. There’s always Clue if you’re a sneaky son-of-a-gun or if you harbor suspicions and conspiracy theories. Old reliable Monopoly lets you practice getting wiped out financially. And for all of you would-be Kings of the World, it’s hard to beat Risk for world domination.
There are lots more. Pick a favorite board game or two and call the crew. The adult crew. Adults – grown-ups – having fun just playing some board games. Hanging out. You know you want to. It’s been too long since the last get-together.
Teens want to have a little board game fun, too.
Fun board games for teens just sounds like you’re trying too hard. Really. But you’re not. Young people are just people. They have friends. They like to do things with the people they like. They get tired of trying to say the right thing, wear the right clothes, hang with the right crowd. Heck, they get tired of just trying to figure out what all of that is. They need some easy-going time with no big consequences – just a chance to slow down a bit now and then. Offer them a board game party.
Risk, Yahtzee, Pictionary, Scattergories, Trivial Pursuit – all of these lend themselves to team play. Trivial Pursuit comes in a number of variations, so if they’re big Lord of the Rings fans, go with that one.
They will, however, play with a different intensity than their parents. “Soorrryyy” could take on a whole new meaning at your house. Player pieces may well be slapped around the board with more energy than one might expect. The Game of Life could be assigned choices not listed in the rules. Scene It will cause them to monopolize the television while Monopoly will give them time to take over the refrigerator. Who cares? They’re home, at your house, laughing like crazy and having more fun than they ever thought. No keggers, no missing parents, no car trouble – just friends and food and fun. Even teens have fun with board games.
And how about the children? Do they have any fun playing board games? Mayybeee.
The foundation of board games: children’s board games. I’m talking heart of childhood, elementary school, make a game out of everything age group. They make their own board games. They play board games at school when the weather is bad. They play board games all summer long in the floor, usually in the doorway to the kitchen. They just play. So what do they play?
Old stand-bys are still loved. Checkers and Chess are easily obtained and only take two people. Monopoly can take an entire afternoon and even then may not end with a clear winner. There’s a Monopoly Jr. now that is perfect for beginning readers and only takes about thirty minutes to play.
Sorry and Trouble, with it’s great Pop-O-Matic dice tumbler, remain crowd favorites. The Game of Life has become pretty convoluted, but kids still like to play it. Mouse Trap is fun to build and has the added value of a half hour of trapping mice once the game is done. Upper grade levels have a great time with Clue and Colonel Mustard and the Library – with the candlestick. Then there are cartoon-based games (think Spongebob) and Junior versions of Trivial Pursuit and Cranium. And Chinese Checkers and Parcheesi and Operation and Tri-Bond and Mancala and Aggravation and Backgammon and Scrabble and – oh, you get the idea. The list of children’s board games is as long as your imagination.
Don’t leave out preschoolers. Board games are not just fun. They’re useful.
We don’t always think about board games for preschoolers when we think about their play. Little ones run and jump and fall and get up and do it again. We sometimes limit their calm time to television – cartoons and children’s movies are quite good when Mom and Dad need some quiet time. Still, we miss out on some important training for small ones, as well as missing time spent together in an atmosphere of calm. More and more, children are losing the art of polite conversation and civilized interaction with adults. One solution? Bring out the games!
Pre-school board games help children to develop skills they will need in reading. They learn to match colors, count, recognize letters and their sounds, think sequentially, win graciously and lose gracefully. These are pretty important concepts. Candyland and Chutes and Ladders will wear you out, because your youngster will want to play again and again. There are all kinds of dominos (I know – not strictly a board game) that allow children to match cartoon characters rather than dots. There are games that let them match picture cards arranged on a grid and games that require fine motor skills. You’ll find that all of them are great fun for your four-year old.
Take the plunge. Board games with your preschooler. How much fun can you cram into one day?
WHOOHOO! Most fun section. Vintage board games.
Yep, fun board games of time gone by, making them vintage. Nice word for old. Well, maybe not all that old. Remember these?
Tripoly. We played this one with the neighbors. I don’t remember much about it except we used poker chips. There was a big green mat. And it was pokerish. And rummyish, too, I think. That’s it. That’s all I remember. Probably because I had a crush on the neighbor.
Then there was the Game of the States: VERY educational.
I’m pretty sure this one was a gift from my aunt. Very sure. Really. Aunt Helen. She was always the best at finding “educational” stuff that was pretty fun. Thanks, Aunt Helen. I miss you.
We really did learn all kinds of things about the states. We learned capitals, state birds, agricultural products, population – none of which I remember now. Not that much of it would be the same, anyway.
Now let’s talk about the REAL fun we had with board games. How about Tycoon? You had to be money-grubbing and free of conscience. My brothers slaughtered me. What are some others? Stratego. Mystery Date! Now there’s a great game for a sleep-over. Surfer dude. Hmmm. Remember him? Clue, Monopoly, Scrabble, Rook, Payday, Stock Market – all great games. I wish I still had all of them. But there was one we played ALL THE TIME:
Square Mile. This was the game with plastic roads and bridges. There was a railroad and a swamp. There were these little bitty buildings – houses, a school, a church, factories, apartment buildings, a shopping center. This was a cool game. Square Mile was the best for a rainy day.
Board games are amazing fun. I recommend their resurrection even if you just pull out the Monopoly game for an evening. Step away from the x-box, look your children in the eye and say,
“That’s Boardwalk with four houses. You owe me $1700.”
My name is Beth Haley. I am a choral conductor, teacher, writer, child, sibling, parent and grandparent. For the record, the last one is the best. Southern born and raised, Gulf Coast settled, and mostly happy. And blessed. You are invited to visit me at my home page: http://olive-branches-two.blogspot.com. There you will find this and other musings, as w