Smart games for the holidays
The balancing game Don't Rock the Boat (left), Magic Feather (right) and Appletters (bottom) are all board games. | Ryan Pagelow~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 20, 2012 8:52AM
Make 2013 the year of having fun with these additions to your family game night
One of the best ways to get kids (and adults) involved in games is to engage their imagination. Magic Feather (www.wiggitybang.com) and Telestrations (www.telestrations.com) are two games that do just that. Magic Feather bills itself as a “nutty rumpus of a game,” which is code for “it’s silly, imaginative and fun.” Players choose a story card, which will guide them through a magical neighborhood where they’ll answer questions, engage in dramatic play and try their hand at problem solving. The game is geared towards kids 7 and older, though I imagine younger siblings might enjoy playing along with an older brother or sister. Telestrations is designed for slightly older kids (12 and up) and is part Pictionary, part Telephone. Players learn to communicate without words by drawing words and phrases in a sketchbook, which is then passed around in much the same way you would pass around a secret in a game of Telephone. It’s a great game to play with a large group of kids as it emphasizes having fun and working together.
No need to wear your ugly Christmas sweater because Awkward Family Photos (www.awkward
familyphotos.com) has more than enough to go around. The board game, based on the hit website and bestselling book is oddly engaging and yes, even a little awkward. Players take turns responding to open-ended questions that relate to the people, places and scenes that populate the game. The result is usually a funny mix of clever comebacks, silly gaffes and the occasional “what were they thinking?” comment. Recommended for kids ages 13 and up, this game is perfect for college-age kids who will be quick to remember the time their mom dressed them up for their own awkward family photo (yep we all have them).
For parents looking for games that require no reading skills, check out Don’t Rock the Boat (www.patchproducts.com/product/6949). Perfect for children ages 3 and older, this game has players carefully placing penguins on a topsy-turvy boat. It’s the perfect game for little hands and a great way to build concentration and motor skills. Another smart activity for pre-readers are puzzles which combine visual-spatial awareness with problem solving skills. Frecklebox (www.frecklebox.com) has a fun assortment of puzzles that can be personalized with your child’s name. I love this idea because it’s always thrilling for kids to see their name in print, which in turn provides just the right amount of motivation to put the puzzle together.
GO WITH IT
For fun on the go, few games are as convenient as Appletters (www.bananagrams.com), which come in their own apple-shaped carrying case. Although the game has been around since 2009, it’s the perfect example of a tried and true game that gets better with age. Appletters can be modified to be easier or more challenging and will help get your early readers thinking about letter sounds, spelling rules, prefixes and suffixes. For older kids, Words of the Wise (www.griddlygames.com) is a challenging, on-the-go brainteaser game. The object is to come up with items that fit a specific category such as state capitals, cartoon characters or books. Of course, there are twists and turns along the way and sometimes the easiest category might be a stumper, but that’s all part of the fun.~.
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