Good Cheap Fun for Your Family

Have you played a board game lately?

During game play, we develop important social skills: taking turns, sharing, and developing patience, diplomacy, and sportsmanship. Children learn to be gracious winners and stoic losers. Parents can assess children's character-building needs while playing board games in a way that more passive activities such as watching television or playing computer and electronic games don't provide.

 

Traditions

Board games are a tradition for some families. "Rituals are important to build into family life," says Ann Stambler. "Playing games is a structured way that gets people together and focuses everyone on one particular thing--a haven in an otherwise disjointed world. This is what families are sorely missing in the 1990s."

Most adults who played board games as children now incorporate them into their own family time. "We have a rule at our house," says Donna Smith, mother of three children, ages nine, five, and one, in Katy, Texas. "The winner has to do the 'chicken dance' around the kitchen table." The Smiths play a variety of board and card games including Skip-Bo, checkers, Jenga, Topple, Trouble, Sorry, and Clue.

A number of traditions take place in families involving board games. Some families play more around the holidays or during summer vacation, when lifestyles are more relaxed and family centered. Others have traditional family games or a marathon monopoly game.

Nita Hisaw understands about game traditions. Hisaw, a mother of grown children in Conroe, Texas, has been playing board games all her life. "One of our family traditions is that no matter how old you are, you get a game for Christmas from your parents. One of the saddest holidays in my life was the first Christmas after my parents died, and not receiving a game from them," she says. Though each of her siblings consequently bought games for each other to keep up the tradition, it just wasn't the same.

Hisaw's grown children still come over to play games. They play Life and Wahoo, a marble board game. "We play on a board that was made by my father in the early '60s. It has been painted and redone many times, and I am sure will one day belong to one of my grandchildren," says Hisaw.

 

The Future of the Board Game

There is nothing comparable to rallying the family around the kitchen table for a game to restore family unity. Board games, however, are often overlooked in today's busy lifestyle, in which many activities compete for a family's time. Toy maker Hasbro acknowledged last year that forty percent of its annual income traditionally comes from board games such as Scrabble, Parcheesi, Yahtzee, and Monopoly. Slowing growth had Hasbro concerned that Americans were becoming bored with board games. Accordingly they launched a multimillion-dollar campaign to encourage families to play games.

The twenty-three-million-dollar toy industry has faced significant challenges in today's market. The Internet, video games, computers, and television all vie for children's time and attention.

But research has shown that kids and parents want to find a way to come back together. Games are an excellent method for parents to provide learning experiences for children. "They're inexpensive, portable, and a lot of fun," says Dr. Stambler, extolling yet more virtues of traditional board-game play.

There are many commercial games available that engage all the senses, provide humor and entertainment for the whole family, while boosting the cognitive development of children from preschool through middle school. "We really focus on each other during this time," says Donna Smith, about her family game time. "We're not lost somewhere staring at the television." So, turn off the TV, shut down the computer, grab the kids, and organize the family around the table for a board game--you'll be glad you did.

This is Jennifer Nelson's first contribution toMinnesota Parent.


Favorite Old and New Games
For ages 3 to 6

 

Game . . . . Suggested retail price

Candy Land . . . . . . $5.99

Chutes and Ladders . . . . . . $6.09

Don't Break the Ice . . . . . . $7.99

The Memory Game . . . . . . $6.99

Cootie . . . . . . $ 6.99

Lucky Ducks . . . . . . $8.99

Pooh's Hundred Acre Woods Stamp Game . . . . . . $8.99

 

For ages 7 to10

 

Chinese checkers . . . . . . $4.99

Connect Four . . . . . . $11.99

Battleship . . . . . . $12.99

Monopoly Jr. . . . . . . $9.99

Clue Jr. . . . . . . $8.99

Parcheesi . . . . . . $9.99

Yahtzee . . . . . . $15.00

Guess Who? . . . . . . $12.79

Jenga . . . . . . $15.00

 

For ages 11 to13

 

Monopoly . . . . . . $10.99

Risk . . . . . . $22.99

Clue . . . . . . $9.99

Careers . . . . . . $11.99

Scrabble . . . . . . $8.99

Sorry . . . . . . $9.99

Life . . . . . . $14.99

Easy Money . . . . . . $16.99

Jumanji . . . . . . $18.99

Masterpiece . . . . . . $15.99

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