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summer games

My love for board games and card games waxes and wanes. In the past, Dan and I have been known to stay up playing backgammon or speed solitaire. I went through a phase where every get-together with family ended with intense rounds of “nerts” around the table. (I may have even been known to break a hanging ceiling light in my arm-raised-in-victory enthusiasm.) 

But recently, I have discovered (or rediscovered) how much fun it is to play these kinds of games with my children. Not only is it fun, and the competition hilarious and thrilling, but there is some amazing brain energy and learning that takes place. 

A few weeks ago, I heard the girls tell their dad that they hadn’t done any Math that day at all. Little did they know they’d been figuring, estimating, matching, sorting, counting, and adding in an afternoon of game-playing. 

So I thought I’d share some of my most recent best-loved games. They are all inexpensive and easy to find. And I hope in return, you’ll share some of your favorites with me as well. Because I have officially declared this the summer of games. 

summer games

Blink

This card game was actually recommended to me by the woman who handles my homeschool reviews each year. It is a card game of speed, where you are matching cards based on their color, shape, or number. You and your partner play simultaneously and the goal is to be the first person to run out of cards. It is addictive. Thrilling. And I could feel my brain ache as I played. It is SO good for exercising your brain muscles! I tend to get tense and loud when I play. Dan is calm, cool and collected (which drives me crazy). And Emma is mad-fast–and currently the champion. (We keep score on the chalkboard in the kitchen.) 

You can find the game at Target for under $5. But I recommend springing for the deluxe version ($6) which has it’s own metal tin to hold the cards when you’re not playing. 

summer games

TOSS UP
 

This little game was an after-thought when I was at the store buying Blink. And I think I may have initially purchased it for the cute purple case that stores the dice. But it was still a great purchase. You roll ten dice which are sided in either red, yellow, or green. Your goal is to roll as many green-sided dice as possible in your turn. However, after your first roll, you decide if you want to take a risk, roll again and try to get more greens, or stick with your original roll. It takes logic and luck. And Mary, apparently, has the magic touch with this game. I think I should take her to Vegas. The game suggests you play until 100 points, counting up the number of green dice. I like to play to a larger number and make the girls do different kinds of skip-counting to count their points. (10s, 5s, 2s, etc)

I also found this one at Target for under $4.

summer games

Dominoes

I finally taught my girls the proper way to play dominoes (besides lining them up and knocking them down.) We play the Mexican train version. The great thing about dominoes is that it can be played at any level. Elizabeth can match up colors. Mary can match up colors and numbers on the dominoes, and Emma is beginning to see how to strategize while she plays, trying to end with the least amount of points as possible. There are so many great learning opportunities with a fun game of dominoes.

You really need a set of double twelves, in my opinion. And the little Wooden Domino Trays
make it feel ten times more special. I found ours at Target as well for under $10. 

Sleeping Queens

This game was a gift to the girls from Emily. It is a great card game that Mary and Emma can easily play together without my help. Different cards have different abilities–like the ability to “steal” a queen, save her, or put her “to sleep”. But the actual game play can also involve some simple math problems, if you choose to play it that way. When Emma and I made our (second) follow-up trip to the ER a few weeks ago, we played Sleeping Queens while we waited and waited and waited and…..

(and this one, Frog Juice, looks really cute, too!)

Kanoodle

summer games

This was one was also a gift from Emily and Emma immediately squirreled it away into her room. It is a great take-with-you game and requires great thinking skills about spatial relationships, geometry. You start at a beginning easy level and can independently work your way up to harder and harder configurations of arranging the shapes, until you are eventually building complex pyramids. It’s a bit like a 3D version of Tetris. It also comes in a nifty case and would be a great thing to bring to the pool, car trip (as long as you don’t drop the parts between the seats), waiting rooms, etc. 

summer games

Sardines

I’ve had this game in the cupboard for more than a year, and with my new addiction to card games, finally decided to take it out and figure out how to play. If the cute fish aren’t enough, the game is all about using your memory. Each player gets five fish cards that they place face down in front of them. Then a box of “sardines” is played in front of everyone. You study the card for a few seconds, flip it over and then looking at your own cards, decide which of those fish were in the box of sardines. (Did that make any sense?) It’s really another brain-stretching game. I love that my kids have to hold the images of those fish in their heads and try to recall them. It’s a bit like the follow directions game. 

I found this card game at a toy store that was going out of business, but you can also find it on amazon.

So now, it’s your turn, what are some of your favorite family games? I’d love to hear!! 

My love for board games and card games waxes and wanes. In the past, Dan and I have been known to stay up playing backgammon or speed solitaire. I went through a phase where every get-together with family ended with intense rounds of “nerts” around the table. (I may have even been known to break a hanging ceiling light in my arm-raised-in-victory enthusiasm.) 

But recently, I have discovered (or rediscovered) how much fun it is to play these kinds of games with my children. Not only is it fun, and the competition hilarious and thrilling, but there is some amazing brain energy and learning that takes place. 

A few weeks ago, I heard the girls tell their dad that they hadn’t done any Math that day at all. Little did they know they’d been figuring, estimating, matching, sorting, counting, and adding in an afternoon of game-playing. 

So I thought I’d share some of my most recent best-loved games. They are all inexpensive and easy to find. And I hope in return, you’ll share some of your favorites with me as well. Because I have officially declared this the summer of games. 

summer games

Blink

This card game was actually recommended to me by the woman who handles my homeschool reviews each year. It is a card game of speed, where you are matching cards based on their color, shape, or number. You and your partner play simultaneously and the goal is to be the first person to run out of cards. It is addictive. Thrilling. And I could feel my brain ache as I played. It is SO good for exercising your brain muscles! I tend to get tense and loud when I play. Dan is calm, cool and collected (which drives me crazy). And Emma is mad-fast–and currently the champion. (We keep score on the chalkboard in the kitchen.) 

You can find the game at Target for under $5. But I recommend springing for the deluxe version ($6) which has it’s own metal tin to hold the cards when you’re not playing. 

summer games

TOSS UP
 

This little game was an after-thought when I was at the store buying Blink. And I think I may have initially purchased it for the cute purple case that stores the dice. But it was still a great purchase. You roll ten dice which are sided in either red, yellow, or green. Your goal is to roll as many green-sided dice as possible in your turn. However, after your first roll, you decide if you want to take a risk, roll again and try to get more greens, or stick with your original roll. It takes logic and luck. And Mary, apparently, has the magic touch with this game. I think I should take her to Vegas. The game suggests you play until 100 points, counting up the number of green dice. I like to play to a larger number and make the girls do different kinds of skip-counting to count their points. (10s, 5s, 2s, etc)

I also found this one at Target for under $4.

summer games

Dominoes

I finally taught my girls the proper way to play dominoes (besides lining them up and knocking them down.) We play the Mexican train version. The great thing about dominoes is that it can be played at any level. Elizabeth can match up colors. Mary can match up colors and numbers on the dominoes, and Emma is beginning to see how to strategize while she plays, trying to end with the least amount of points as possible. There are so many great learning opportunities with a fun game of dominoes.

You really need a set of double twelves, in my opinion. And the little Wooden Domino Trays
make it feel ten times more special. I found ours at Target as well for under $10. 

Sleeping Queens

This game was a gift to the girls from Emily. It is a great card game that Mary and Emma can easily play together without my help. Different cards have different abilities–like the ability to “steal” a queen, save her, or put her “to sleep”. But the actual game play can also involve some simple math problems, if you choose to play it that way. When Emma and I made our (second) follow-up trip to the ER a few weeks ago, we played Sleeping Queens while we waited and waited and waited and…..

(and this one, Frog Juice, looks really cute, too!)

Kanoodle

summer games

This was one was also a gift from Emily and Emma immediately squirreled it away into her room. It is a great take-with-you game and requires great thinking skills about spatial relationships, geometry. You start at a beginning easy level and can independently work your way up to harder and harder configurations of arranging the shapes, until you are eventually building complex pyramids. It’s a bit like a 3D version of Tetris. It also comes in a nifty case and would be a great thing to bring to the pool, car trip (as long as you don’t drop the parts between the seats), waiting rooms, etc. 

summer games

Sardines

I’ve had this game in the cupboard for more than a year, and with my new addiction to card games, finally decided to take it out and figure out how to play. If the cute fish aren’t enough, the game is all about using your memory. Each player gets five fish cards that they place face down in front of them. Then a box of “sardines” is played in front of everyone. You study the card for a few seconds, flip it over and then looking at your own cards, decide which of those fish were in the box of sardines. (Did that make any sense?) It’s really another brain-stretching game. I love that my kids have to hold the images of those fish in their heads and try to recall them. It’s a bit like the follow directions game. 

I found this card game at a toy store that was going out of business, but you can also find it on amazon.

So now, it’s your turn, what are some of your favorite family games? I’d love to hear!! 

55 comments on “summer games”

  1. We absolutely love Cranium Games, their adult games are great for parties or small gatherings and their kids games are fun for everyone!

    We also have a family game night, which happens on Wednesday evenings. We make homemade pizza dough, and everyone assembles their pizza the way they want it. While I bake the pizzas, the kids set up the game and make sure everyone has what they need to eat dinner and play the game (plates, silverware, drinks, game movers, money, etc.) By the time the pizzas are all ready, we are ready to play a game or two.

    This is a tradition we have kept for about two years, and I love that my kids look forward to playing board games and talking (& laughing) together as a family. Absolutely Precious…

  2. Frog Juice is a great game–I picked it up on a whim at a used store and we love it. I like it better than sleeping queens, though that’s a hit in our house too!

  3. thanks for sharing your summer game loves with us. we love sleeping queens here too, along with doodle dice, pictureka, rat a tat cat, the amazing labyrinth by ravenburger. most of these have been favorites for awhile so knowing some new games to add to the game cabinet is great.

  4. My 5 year old loves Rat a Tat Cat. My husband and I have been known to play it when she’s asleep!

    Abby also can play farkle (with help). . . look up some rules online, it only takes 6 dice and a pad and pencil.

    Mancala is a hit here too.

    And, pretty much anytime I see a card game by the company “Gamewright” at the thrift store, I buy it. They make Rat a Tat Cat, Sleeping Queens, Slamwich and a bunch of other fun games that we like to play.

    I games. Thanks for the new ideas!

  5. We play “race to 100” with math dice though you could play with regular dice. Also, we love the game The Kids of Carcassonne, not a cheap game but really fun. We also really like Royal Rescue which is similar to kanoodle (also a favorite here) in that you are given a starting point and need to complete the task. In the case of royal rescue the knight has to rescue the princess or the princess has to rescue the knight (I love that) by using the blocks indicated on the card. Another game like that is Rush Hour.

    We’re going camping this weekend so I am looking into those card games.

  6. Great list to share! I’ve made notes to purchase some of these for our 1st (annual) family camping trip with all the cousins and everyone. Definite winning post!

  7. Thanks for some new ideas – our 4 year old loves games (so do we!). I actually got Blink as an Easter gift from my parents (as a 32 year old!). We also like Farkle, Mancala, and here is a great spelling game – Quiddler. You start with 3 cards and each round you add another card to your hand until the last round deals you 10 cards. The goal is to make short words – perfect for beginner spellers. You can definitely adjust to the players (not including the bonuses, or not as many cards). We are fans of Uno and Rummikube too (they make primary versions). Summer has just started here, and I see some new games to put on the wish list!

  8. Thanks for the great ideas! At 10, 8 and 6, my kids are really getting into games now. We love Blokus, Uno and Mastermind. My husband will play Othello with them, too. I just bought Blink before a road trip last month. My oldest is the only one who has played it yet. I think it’s time for us to upgrade our domino set, too–I purchased a “starter set” when my oldest was in first grade to practice math facts, but we’ve never played it as a game. It looks like a trip to Target could outfit us for summer for a fair price!

  9. My husband and I love to play “Flux,” a card game we got off Amazon. The name comes from the fact that the rules change as you play (so the game is different every single time). Some of the rules are pretty silly (Did you draw the radioactive potato? Better get rid of it it’s hot!), and it may be a little complicated yet for your girls, but it travels well and it’s serious fun.

    I also hear “Gloom” is a fun card game that involves storytelling and chance.

  10. Thanks for the new card games. My son (5) absolutely loves the Mexican Train Dominoes and has been known to kick his grandparents butt! We love playing Uno and wanted to find some new ones to alternate- so you have made my week! We live in AZ-so unlike most of the US, we don’t go outdoors in the summer. I definitely needed some help with boredom busters.

  11. molly, thank you for such a fun post on games. my husband recently instituted “FGN” (family game night) each wednesday, and it’s a hit with our children! We have ages just-turned-7, 5 and 3. Games are pretty fun around here. 🙂

    We love Crazy Eights, Uno, Scrabble Jr., Mille Bornes, Quiddler, to name a few!

  12. We love mancala, memory, and the normal war and go fish. We will definetly be adding to our game cabinet with the suggestions you have.

  13. Thanks for the great game ideas. We are currently fans of Candy Land – good game for the three year old. I have to say your comment about nerts made me chuckle. My husband grew up playing this game and one weekend we decided to teach my whole family. (Parents, brothers, sister, and in-laws) My brother-in-law was so excited when he ran out of cards that he yelled “tits” instead of nerts. It was pretty fun and he was a little embarrassed that he yelled it out in front of my parents. We had a really good laugh! I read your blog regularly – thanks for sharing!

  14. These look great, and most of them are new to me! My kids like Apples to Apples, Jr., Monopoly, Sorry, Othello, Mancala, Yahtzee, Guess Who?, and The Touch Game.

  15. These look great. I haven’t seen Dutch Blitz mentioned yet. I think this has become our all-time favorite game.So fun!

  16. 2 new favorites recently thrifted, Mastermind for kids and Kerplunk. I also love the game Set, it is similar to Blink (I think it was the precurser). I just taught my eight year old to play Gin Rummy and that makes me happy…really, really happy.

  17. I’m not a game person at all. But there is a Ravensburg game call River Rails and Roads that is addictive. It’s cooperative game that can also be played alone.

  18. ooh we picked up Blink today at Target. so, so much fun. im the champion around here. although i may be a sore winner because i can no longer get anyone to play with me. 🙁

    other than that, we’ve been playing blokus, apples to apples, and fact or crap. im also a fan of oldies like othello, yahtzee, and memory. love the charley harper memory. i like something pretty to look at. 🙂

  19. I don’t have kids yet (still a couple more months) but these are some of my favorites that I’ve been playing.

    Rummikub – tile gameCanasta – card gameCarssacone – puzzle gameTurbo Taxi – speed puzzle gameScrabble – time gameScotland Yard – board gameApples to Apples – party game (for adults, but there is a kid version too)

  20. Bananagrams is great and can be played in tons of different ways. I try to think up a new game each time I play it and it’s great for solitaire or group play. The kids at the library love Sorry Sliders and its probably the best $15 I ever spent for the library. Also, Apples to Apples is fantastic.

  21. we’ve just started playing games with the girl this year. current favorites for the 4-yr old are chutes and ladders, hi-ho cherry-o and zingo bingo. i really look forward to the games in the years ahead – i hope she loves canasta, boggle and scrabble as much as i do!

  22. Oooo, those all look great! Thanks for sharing! My kids like War and Go Fish!. I also found this Scavenger Hunt game at Borders that they like a lot. There’s also Clever Castle that my kids enjoy. I remember my brother playing Sequence board game when he was younger. That was a really fun game. Oh, and of course there’s Mancala. Such a great game that involves strategy, counting, patterning, etc. Oh, and puzzles. My kids love puzzles. We need to set up a table for puzzles. Anyways, I plan to get some of these game you recommended. Love it.

  23. We love games as well. Card & board, but I’m with you – my enthusiasm for playing wanes. We have most of what you have – Sardines -that’s a new one! I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled for that. Our game shelves seem to get stuffed more & more each year: Fluxx, SET, Boggle, Pit (love this one), Apples to Apples, Dutch Blitz, Sherlock (great memory game for younger ones -it’s harder than you think), Pass the Pigs…

    and for some cooperative board games, we really like Family Pastimes games: Sand Castles & The Secret Door are our favorites (although my youngest son loves Caves & Claws because it sounds scary!)

  24. Our family loves games too. I will have to check some of these out. Our favorites are Zingo, Sorry Sliders, Trouble, Crazy 8’s and Uno. These are all games that can be played by many skill levels.

  25. My son and I love to play Pass the Pigs. It comes with two little pig dice and you score by how they land. Its a great little travel game. Alot is luck but you have to strategize also as if you roll too many times you can lose all your points.

  26. Thanks for so many great suggestions! My son isn’t old enough yet for my favourite game of all time but your kids might be ready for it soon – Set (I believe it’s setgame.com). Fabulous game that I think you can easily modify to make it simpler in the beginning.

  27. Great Post! Our all-out favorite right now that the whole family can play (4, 7, 40 and 41) is Qwerkle. It’s kind of a combination of Uno, Dominoes and Scrabble…kind of. It’s a great game for learning patterns and some thoughtful strategy…or not. It’s fun no matter what or who is playing ~

    Hooray for summer!

  28. My kids love Blink, too. I’ll have to check out some of your other games. Thanks for the suggestions. My kids are also crazy for Twisted Fish — it’s a “twisted” version of Go Fish, and it’s a gas! Another favorite is Dutch Blitz. That card game is terribly addictive. It’s an Amish game. I got it on some website that sold beading string of all things, but I think you could find it online.

  29. These are all great suggestions. My daughter (she’s 11) and I love Rummikub, Apples to Apples, Uno, Milles Borne, Stop Thief (a Ravensburger game I got in Germany when I was a kid. You have to collect 5 thief cars that show the whole action of staking out the crime to getting caught.) Scotland Yard (another Ravensburger game from my childhood. You travel around London following clues and trying to catch the thief before the other players.), and Cathedral, which is a great game that reminds me of a form of chess, kind of. We bought it at a Renaissance Faire, but you can find it online. We even have travel versions of Rummikub and Cathedral.

  30. Great, great list of games. Thank you.One that isn’t listed that we found and really love isFill or Busthttp://www.fillorbust.com/

    We also like to add a twist to it. We all have to have fictional names. Then if anyone says your real name (especially, if things get heated) they lose 100 points. It’s hard to be upset when you have to say, “Knock it off Magnolia”

  31. In a number of history accounts, the exclusive rights of this domino game was registered to Roy and Katie Parsons. Unfortunately, no accounts testified how and when it was created. Nevertheless, Mexican train dominoes game is still one of the most enjoyed domino game next to Draw dominoes, block dominoes and American All-fives.

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