Game Time Cure for the Summertime Blues

I’m not sure if it’s official, but based on my body’s thermometer, this has been the hottest summer on record.  Back in my slacker teenager days, I would have welcomed this number of days in the 90’s and yes, even the 100’s.  An excuse to sleep in until 1:00 and then lounge around all day doing nothing?  Perfect!  But as a parent, I know that excessive heat can make the fun park playdates and bike riding afternoons of summer come to a screeching halt.  What’s a mom to do?

Rediscover Game Time

I have always loved playing board games and cards, and I fondly remember holidays playing Uno and Hawsey, a Pennsylvania Dutch card game.  Some of my favorite memories are of the time I spent playing Phase 10 and Parcheesi with my Great Aunt and her Aunt.   Now that my kids are four and six, we have finally begun to spend long periods of time playing both board and card games, and pulling out not only the old stand-by’s but some new games as well has gotten us through this very hot summer.  We’ve also made some great memories of our own.

Ready to turn your down time into game time?

  1. Start with games that Don’t Take Too Long to Complete:  Keep in mind your child’s attention span when you purchase your first board game.  Even Candyland can begin to feel a little long for a three year old if players are constantly sent back to the gingerbread man or the candy cane.  And don’t even get me started on those stinkin’ chutes in Chutes and Ladders.  Look for games that can be played in rounds or those that you can easily walk away from and return to later when you’ve got more time.  Looking for fast and furious?  Try Hungry, Hungry Hippos from Milton Bradley.  For kids a little older who don’t want to commit an entire afternoon to one game, try the 12 Minute Game series from Gamewright!
  2. Be Prepared to Modify Games: While my son surprised us at three with his ability to play Uno without assistance, the majority of the times that we’ve introduced new games we’ve had to alter them slightly for our kids’ ability levels.  For example, when we first played MindWare’s Qwirkle, we chose not to keep score and instead to focus on the concept.  It was months before we got out a pencil and paper and took the game to a new level.
  3. No Cheating! It is tempting to giggle and look the other way when junior decides to move his person a couple squares more than he was supposed to, but it’s best to enforce from the beginning that you need to play by the rules.  While a little cheating might slide in the family, those habits will follow your kids to their time with friends, and no one likes to play a buddy who doesn’t follow the rules.
  4. Don’t Forget the Favorites: We recently made a special trip to Target to pick up Parcheesi and ended up bringing home the Parker Brothers classic, Sorry, a favorite game of mine from my own childhood.  Sometimes all it takes to pass a boring afternoon is a peaceful game of checkers!
  5. And Try Something New: I have been amazed at the number of new games each time I visit the toy section of my favorite store, and we especially love trying the interesting versions of the old standards.  Another trick we have is to try new stores, especially the locally owned toy store, for games that we might not find at Toys R’ Us or Target.

Resourceful Recommendations

We’ve been having an amazing month of family play time, and the whole resourceful family would like to share our current favorites!

  • Sorry – This classic has basic rules that are simple for young children to understand.  With the instructions located right on the number cards, it’s easy for beginning readers to help other players move correctly.
  • Say Cheese (product provided) – We reviewed this game earlier this summer, and we honestly cannot get enough of it.  You can learn more about Say Cheese at  Our tip is to use just one “photo” card at a time instead of two if you are playing with children under five.
  • Wig Out – This was one of our first Gamewright games – a favorite company of ours and carried by our local independent toy store – and we’ve revisited it this summer.  We play it over and over again!
  • Order’s Up (product provided) – This is a new game from Gamewright this summer, and we’re already hooked.  The game is beautifully made and both my four and six year old love it.
  • Checkers – After much prodding, we taught the kids how to play checkers this summer and they play over and over again.  My six year old is also learning chess, but checkers remains the favorite.
  • Take the Cake (product provided) – Again, this is a past Gamewright review, and probably my four year old son’s absolute favorite of the summer.
  • Qwirkle – Qwirkle is like a blend of scrabble and dominoes and tons of fun.  My daughter received this game for her sixth birthday, and it is now a favorite for the two of us to play together…sans her pesky little brother.
  • Mastermind, Children’s Edition – Both my four and six year old have played game after game of Mastermind for kids this summer, and they are even finding creative ways to make the game more challenging.  I think it’s time for the standard edition!
  • Too Many Monkeys – This game from Gamewright reminds me very much of the card game for adults, Phase 10.  It’s fun to see how quickly the tide can turn from round to round.
  • Rory’s Story Cubes (product provided) – Also new from Gamewright this summer, Story Cubes prompts players to create a story using images on a set of dice.  While my six year old is much better at this game, my four year old loves to play as well.
  • Uno – Everyone remembers this card game favorite, and although there are now many different versions of Uno, we still love the original.

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  • What a great post, Amy! You’ve given me some great ideas, not only for my family, but also for birthday gifts for my son’s friends. Thanks!

  • What a great list of games! My son loves playing games… I am big on the no cheating.