I recently picked up Leo Goes to the Barber, a cooperative game for up to 4 players. It’s hard to find a cooperative game that’s not text-heavy, so this game is perfect for kids as young as 4.
Rules: Build a path for Leo to navigate on his trip to the barber! Leo advances the number of spaces on the card, but if he lands on a mismatched color, Leo stops to talk. If he doesn’t make it to the barber on time, his hair grows longer and he heads back to bed. You have 5 tries to make it to the barber otherwise you all lose!
Skills Used: This game has a strong memory element.
Cost: $25 on Amazon.
Time: 30 minutes.
Modifications for Kindergarteners: None!
Can it be played if pieces go missing: You could play this game with about 90% of the pieces in the box.
Is this a game only kids would like: Adults may enjoy this as well, but it won’t be something they pull out once the kids go to bed.
Rules: Place 4 dominoes face up ordered from lowest number to highest. The player who chose the lowest number (worst) domino last round gets to go first. Assemble your kingdom to score points!
Skills taught: Abstract spatial reasoning, planning ahead, multiplication, being a kind competitor
Cost: $20 on Amazon.
Time/Players: 15 minutes/2-4 players (more is better)
Modifications for younger students: Game rules state that the kingdom must fit into a 5×5 square but we allow virtually any shape.
Can it be played if pieces go missing: If a few dominoes go missing then the game won’t be affected too much.
Is this a game only kids would like: This is a great quick ‘filler’ game that plays extremely quickly, allowing for multiple plays.
We love the game Sushi Go! It’s a pass and play card game that’s focused on set collection and counting.
Rules: Deal cards to all players, each person picks a single card to put in front of them and they are revealed at the same time. You then pass your remaining hand to your neighbor. This continues until you are out of cards. Then you score the game and play again for a total of three rounds.
Cost: $12 on Amazon.
Time: 20 minutes.
Modifications for K-1: I remove the ‘chopstick’ cards as I think they are a bit too confusing for the average 5-6 year old, at least on their first few games. You can also purchase the ‘party’ version which increases your options greatly!
Can it be played if pieces go missing: You could reasonably lose about half of the deck and still be able to play.
Is this a game only kids would like: I think this is a fun, light game that would be fun with adults, but I think it really shines with kids.
We play a lot of board games in the class during free choice time. One of my favorites is Ticket to Ride: First Journey. Normally the children’s version of a game is a really skeletal version of the adult game, but not here! It has the same mechanics and concepts, but the towns all have icons to represent them on the map.
Fun fact: My home town of Helena is on both versions of Ticket to Ride.
Rules: Everyone gets 4 colored cards to start and 2 tickets. Every turn you can build or get 2 more cards. When you complete a ticket by building a path between the icons, you yell ‘ticket!’ and flip it over. First to 6 wins.
Skills taught: Abstract spatial reasoning, geography, being a kind competitor
Cost: $30 on Amazon.
Time/Players: 30 minutes/2-4 players (more is better)
Modifications for younger students: If the games go on too long, you can play first to 5 or even 4. Some kids need help figuring out the paths they are building but most are more than capable.
Can it be played if pieces go missing: It ships with extra trains, and the colored cards can be lost without much of an issue.
Is this a game only kids would like: I think adults would prefer the adult version, but this is a perfectly acceptable stand in for family game night.