Board games are so much fun, and they provide families with a great way to connect. Some of my favorites when I was a kid were Risk, Stratego, and Monopoly. I’ve been wanting to teach my daughter how to play Risk, but with homework and extracurricular activities, who has the hours and hours of time it takes to play a whole campaign? I find that bonding over board games can be much more meaningful than playing video games together.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE video games. I love to play them with the kids even if my 6-year-old can pummel me when playing ARMS on the Nintendo Switch. But in our home, strong family bonding happens while playing board games, and those special moments can happen even if you have a busy family with little time for games.
One of my family’s favorite games is Five Minute Dungeon, by Spin Master. I discovered this game on Kickstarter a few years ago and it became an instant family classic. It is a go-to game when we need a laugh.
Five Minute Dungeon is a fast-paced cooperative game that uses everyone’s skills to win. Each player takes on the role of a member of the adventuring party. The party must defeat a series of monsters, obstacles, people, and mini bosses in order to defeat that dungeon’s boss. The challenges are featured on door cards, and the game is so fast paced that you might miss out on the humor of each of these challenges. Each player has cards, either resource or action cards, that they use to defeat these challenges.
Players flip over a door card and see what is on the other side of the door. Then they must pool their resources in order to defeat that challenge. So if you flip over a door card and it takes two swords, two jumps, and one spell to defeat the challenge, these resources can come from anyone in the party. It gets pretty chaotic but remains fun. To enhance the excitement, there is a timer app with silly voices to either encourage your party or taunt you as you play.
If the sound of popping balloons scares you or your child then this might not be the game for you, but if you find the anticipation of a popping balloon to be exciting, then Spin Master’s Boom Boom Balloon is a great fit. The game is simple: You have a frame and a bunch of sticks to push into the balloon. Setup is quick and easy, assemble the frame and attach the sticks and then put in a balloon and blow it up. Then it is a quick roll of the die to see how many clicks you have to push in any of the sticks. Then it is all about the anticipation of who will be the one to pop the balloon. This game produced so many giggle fits from my son.
One of the newest games in our collection is Miss Bernard is a Wild Card! – The My Weird School Game, by All Things Equal Inc. We just got this for Thanksgiving and played it together. The game takes about 15 minutes or so to play and is great for a family of four. It is also one that is fun for the little readers in your family.
The object is to create silly sentences. You start with a teacher and you must find a rhyming description of that teacher. So for example, “Miss Bernard” will be your teacher and “is a Wild Card” is the rhyme. Then there are three additional elements to the sentence, an action, an adjective and a noun. Sentences end up really silly and it got everyone laughing as we played. This game is designed for kids ages 6 to 10, which was perfect for us because our kids are exactly 6 and 10 years old. Although, the big kid in the family—me—got a huge kick out of the game.
Why Strong Bonding Happens over Board Games
Board games are our first introduction to playing games in an organized way with other people. Learning the rules, making mistakes, and having fun are cornerstones of games. With a board game the stakes are not high so you can just play and enjoy. Older players can help the younger ones form strategies to make more informed decisions, and everyone can have fun.
I recommend finding cooperative games where everyone wins or everyone fails as a group. This is very important, especially with little ones are just learning to play games. It takes some of the pressure off of the child as they play and it also allows parents to help children without letting them win. If everyone wins then they can celebrate together. If the group loses then parents have the opportunity to show how to handle disappointment with grace and very important to pass on to the kids.