Gaming with Kids: A Quick Start Guide
Mother’s Day is this Sunday, and since we are both Moms, we thought we would give you some tips for gaming with kids. For the most part, we love to game with our kids. However, time has taught us many lessons about how to handle the potential pitfalls. If you have never tried because you aren't sure whether your kids are ready or aren't sure that they can sit for the whole game at the table - we wholeheartedly recommend that you give it a try. (SHAMELESS PLUG: We encourage moms who want to try with their daughters to try at an ELS Day.) Also if you are an Aunt or Uncle or friend of the family who is interested in getting kids into gaming, this guide is for you too. This month we will be sharing our tips with you. Let’s just call it the quick start guide to gaming with kids.
- Evaluate the Kid Mood
It is no fun to play the game if a kid is easily frustrated and upset. Make sure your kids are well rested and not hungry before you start the game. Do not, we repeat DO NOT, play a game right before you start making dinner. It is no fun. At that point, not even snacks are enough to prevent a kid from being hangry. Any other time Snacks at the table are a must.
Also, if it is too close to bedtime or your child seems overtired- don’t start a game. It will only end in tears and no one wants that.
2. Patience, Patience, Patience
Anyone who has a kid knows, they can easily get under your skin. Teaching them the rules of a new game can really test you, so don’t hesitate to take a break from the game. And don’t ever worry about modifying rules to make it easier on yourself! Candyland actually caters to this with their rules about the face cards; for younger players, they encourage you to ignore the face cards if you’ve already passed them (typically you move back to the character). Meepleine just removes the face cards when playing with her 3-year-old.
3. Remember: You know your kid better than the box.
If you pick games based off of the age on the box; you may be doing yourself a disservice. There are going to always be exceptions to the rule and your kids may be one of those. Can your child read really well at five years old? They may be ready for a more advanced game than is considered “normal”. Lady Diceacorn figured this out when her (then five-year old) son wanted to play Lanterns after seeing it on the Tabletop YouTube series. After reviewing the video, she agreed and they tried to play together. It soon became a family favorite. The same thing happened with King of Tokyo and Sushi Go. And Meepleine plays a bunch of 13+ games with her 10-year-old, unless there are just too many rules. (Pandemic good, Star Trek Panic bad.)
4. Play the game with another adult before you play with your kids.
This is a big one. Make sure you understand the rules of the game before playing them with your kids. It will make sure that you can learn in peace and you won’t have your kids asking if it is time over and over until it was time.
5. Make Gaming a Lesson in social interaction.
Tabletop gaming is an amazing way to practice proper social interaction. Taking turns, waiting to talk and being a good sport are key things learned by children at a gaming table. Kids with special needs that hinder or hamper social interaction can “gamify” their life and it all starts at the table. (Lady Diceacorn will write about her experience with this in a future article.) Make your family game night a chance to show your kids how to behave at a table and refer to it in your everyday life. “Remember how you waited your turn when we played the game? Now is another time for taking turns.”
6. Start young
You can start playing as early as two years old, playing Go Fish and Matching games. There are a lot of great games for the three-year old and up that practice fine motor skills. Setting a regular family game night is a great way to spend time together, eat snacks and enforce those social interaction rules listed above. Meepleine plays games frequently with her 3-year-old; Peaceable Kingdom is an amazing company that makes games specifically for 2+!
7. Make sure that the games are fun!
If a game is not one that your kid will like - don’t play it. Some games just won’t be their favorite. If you have a Minecraft fan, like Lady Diceacorn and Meepleine, there is a Minecraft card game. It is a simple game that Lady Diceacorn has played several times with her son and it made him interested in trying other card games. There are tabletop games that are based off of a lot of pop culture and you can use those as a springboard to other games.
MAY'S FEATURED GAMES :
Game for kids 3+ : Who Shook Hook?
This game, based on the TV show Jake and the Neverland Pirates, is a combination of Kerplunk and Don’t Wake Daddy. You play Jake and his pirate friends Izzy and Cubby. They are trying to get their treasure back from a sleeping Captain Hook. There are several different hooks and tweezers that add different ways to remove the treasure from the hammock Hook is napping on. It is a lot of fun and full of laughs. The person who knocks Hook off of the hammock loses.
Honorable Mention: Snug as a Bug in a Rug
This game is one of the absolute best games to play with young players. There are 3 levels of play, and it grows with your kids. There’s a party on the rug, and all the little colored bugs want to hide under the rug before the 3 stink bugs come and stink up the party. This game teaches dice rolling, spinner use, taking turns, teamwork, and matching! Each bug has a certain color, shape, and number of shapes, as well as large or small eyes. At the first level of play, you roll the die and use what it lands on to find the bugs you’re hiding (color, shape, number). You spin the spinner to find the exact match you need. If you have run out of bugs to match, oh no! The first stink bug shows up. Now, you need to match eye size. This game is fun no matter how old your kids are (Meepleine bought it for her 3 year old, but her 10 year old likes it, too) and is by that most amazing of companies mentioned earlier, Peaceable Kingdom.
Game for kids 6+: King of Tokyo
This game is fun for the whole family. Everyone is a Kaiju trying to take over Tokyo. The Kaijus fight each other and try to get enough victory points to win. The first kaiju to 20 experience points or the last Kaiju standing is the winner. Expansion packs for this game includes a special Halloween version with their version of Jack Skellington and Oogie Boogie. We will have this expansion and the Cthulhu and Kong expansion at the next ELS Game Day.
The next ELS Game Day is happening at Comicazi on Saturday, May 12, 2018 from 12-6 for an ELS Game Day filled with fun games to play with your family. If you need a last minute gift for the mom in your life - we can also give some great suggestions. We hope to see you there!
Well that is it for us this month. Happy Mother's Day to all the Moms out there!
Until next time, may all your hits be crits!