We Brought Back Family Game Night Even Though Our Boys Have a Large Age Gap
Game night can be tough when your kids are far apart in age. While one kid is ready for more strategic, long games, the other kid can’t seem to wait his or her turn…or at least that’s what happens in my house. My oldest is 7 and my youngest is 3. There is a big difference in interests and capabilities at those ages.
Before the holidays, I decided that I’m not going to let that stop us from having family game night. I remember playing board games with my parents as a kid and it was so much fun!
Aside from being fun, playing board games has developmental benefits such as:
- Improve Motor Skills: Rolling dice, shuffling cards and moving small pieces on a game board are all ways to improve motor skills.
- Improve Academic Performance: Between counting, coming up with strategy and problem solving, playing games helps your kids flex their brain power.
- Strengthen Family Bond: We are not a perfect family. My kids spend more time than I’d like watching screens. Family game night forces everyone to step away from the screen and communicate and interact. In addition to spending quality family time together, playing board games has been linked to better vocabulary, higher reading scores and better emotional satisfaction.
- Learn Life Lessons: We don’t let our kids win. Learning that sometimes you win, sometimes you lose is a valuable life lesson. They also learn healthy competition. My oldest used to be incredibly passive. He was the kid who would never go after the ball in soccer. He has been in chess for the past three years and has gained a healthy dose of competitiveness. He knows how great it is to win, and he also knows what it feels like to lose. It allows us to teach him to be a gracious winner and loser.
Favorite Family Games
I have been stocking up on games to play as a family and separately with our seven year old during nap time. I’m sharing some of our favorite family games that work for both boys.
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Pros: I loved this game when I was a kid and my kids love it too. We’ve had this game since my oldest was three years old so it has seen a lot of play. My three year old now loves this game! He asks to play it almost daily. He chooses his color hippo and counts the balls as he is tossing them in the “water.”
Cons: The main downside is keeping track of the balls! We’re down to eight balls so I am planning to purchase some on eBay. I now keep the balls in a Ziplock bag out of reach. The second downside to this game is that once you assemble the hippos, you can no longer put the game back in the box, which makes it difficult to store.
Pros: I bought this game after my mom saw my son “playing” it at his daycare when he was a year old. The teachers supervise the kids with this game to help them practice their fine motor skills. Both my seven year old and three year old enjoy playing this game and they can actually play together without supervision.
Cons: I don’t really have any cons to this, although when my little one was younger, he used to throw the chips around so it was a pain keeping everything together. Otherwise, this a great game for both kids.
Pop Up Pirate
Pros: I had never heard of this game until my oldest son’s speech therapist started bringing it as part of his therapy. She had him practice labeling colors and counting “swords.” He had so much fun with the game that I bought it for us to play together. This game can be played by all four of us or the boys can play together without us.
Cons: I don’t have any cons for this game. All of us have fun and the pirate pops up by chance so everyone has the opportunity to win.
Pros: I would be remiss if I didn’t include this classic game on my list. My seven year old still enjoys playing Candy Land. It also helps my three year old develop his color recognition and counting ability – win! The game is fairly short so it definitely holds everyone’s attention.
Cons: My three year old isn’t very good at following rules or taking turns, so when we play this game together, he doesn’t actually play. We let him pick cards and move around, but he isn’t really following the rules and just does his own thing. Thankfully, my seven year old is super patient and gets that his brother isn’t really playing, but if you have kids closer in age, or a more competitive child, they may not be OK with a younger sibling not following the rules.
Chutes and Ladders
Pros: My oldest loves this game. It goes quickly, so we can squeeze in a quick game before he does his homework. My three year old likes the idea of it, but can’t really get with the “move x number of spaces only on your turn” rule.
Cons: Like Candy Land, this game doesn’t work well for a super active three year old with a short attention span. I can totally see my 2 year old niece playing this game, no problem, but my kid can’t seem to get with the program. Know your kid and don’t get frustrated if they can’t play just because the box says they should be able to play the game.
Yeti In My Spaghetti
Pros: I saw a commercial for this game before the holidays and thought my kids would really enjoy this game. Turns out, I was right. It is simple enough that both of my kids can play and even if they lose, they think it’s so funny that they don’t get upset.
Cons: I don’t have any cons for this game, except the possibility that your little one could poke him/herself with the spaghetti. My kids are pretty tough about injuries and I take away the spaghetti before they become weapons, so it doesn’t concern me too much. I always play this game with them just to keep a close eye on my youngest.
These are the games that we play as a family. We also play more advanced games with our seven year old when his brother isn’t around. I’ll share those favorites next time.
Do you have favorite games for family game night?