Thursday, June 7, 2012

10 Board Games to Play with Your Older Kids

"Tesla" plays Agricola over Christmas Break with Uncle Mike and some cousins.

My husband, who has an enormous board game collection, enjoys playing them with our kids.  It's a great way to get the children all involved in a single activity, especially over the summer.  These are games that he has a played with the kids as young as Peel (i.e., down to 8 years old).  Some of these are very well-known, but some are a bit more obscure - I've linked to descriptions on Amazon below.  Later I will post a list of games to play with toddlers.  I've listed these in order from easiest to play to most complicated:

1. Monopoly
A classic old standby - in fact this is the Monopoly game my husband owned when he was a kid.  Sometimes the game bogs down a bit, but the girls especially love it.  An oddity - someone must have mixed up the playing pieces with Clue - in addition to the famous shoe and racing car, our set includes a gun.  Eleven-year-old Chop likes to be the gun.
2. Careers
Another old standby.  The game underwent several major revisions after it was first published, but the version we bought is actually a reprint of the 1960s edition.  A lot more strategy than Monopoly, and generally quicker, too.
3. Yahtzee
Also very quick.  Although it requires a bit more thought that Monopoly or Careers, both Peel and Chop were able to understand it.
4. Coloretto
Now we enter the realm of the obscure.  This is a card game that involves collecting different colored chameleons.  Simple rules, but subtle strategy.  Our kids mastered it fairly quickly.  Like many of these games you never heard of, it originated in Germany.
5. Hey, That's my Fish
Players maneuver their penguins across ice floes and compete to eat the most fish.  But as the penguins move, the ice is gradually melting... Lots of fun, simple to play, and a very funny theme.
6. For Sale
Players bid to buy funny houses in the first part of the game, then try to sell them off in the second part.  Might hit a bit too close to reality for some of us!  Wasabi (15 years old), who generally does not like board games, actually enjoyed this one.
7. Uptown
Supposedly about a night out on the town in the 1920s, but in reality it has nothing to do with that.  Each player starts with a set of pieces with numbers, letters, and pictures on them - the number, letter, or picture tells the player where on the board the piece can be placed.  The object is to keep all of your pieces connected.  Chop and Peel love this one.  Along with Battleship, an easy way to introduce your kids to the idea of graphing, without them even knowing it.
8. Settlers of Catan
These last three games are a quantum leap in complexity and price, but the older kids love them.  Peel can, in theory, play them, but she often loses interest halfway through.  Chop is able to play them without difficulty.  This game involves trading cards representing different resources while building cities and roads.  Note that games requiring either trading or auctions can sometimes bog down when younger children are involved.
9. Puerto Rico
Build your own plantation - grow coffee (yum!) sugar, indigo, corn, tobacco (oops), and compete to ship your goods back to Europe.
10. Agricola
OK, my husband has only played this with the older kids (17 and 13) so far, but he is planning to teach it to Peel and Chop this summer.  Players run a 16th century German farm, planting and harvesting crops, fencing their land, raising pigs, cows, and sheep.  My husband thinks this is one of the most fun games he owns.  But definitely for older kids.


  1. Great entry! More like this one, please.

    Dr. Bob

  2. Ugh...I sent our thrift store edition of Agricola back to Goodwill (it was too hard for us at the time.) If only I had looked up its actual cost first!

    Thanks for the fun list.

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