Now that fall is here, we’ve designated Friday nights as our family game night. It’s not that we don’t play games other days of the week of course, but we love having this special family time set aside just for us. The kids really look forward to planning our family game nights, especially picking the game and deciding on a snack. Popcorn or hot chocolate are their current faves, depending on the weather.
The best games are ones that everybody can have fun playing, but also get the old brain cells firing. We recently received some classic games from Pressman Toy, and we’ve had a blast reviving these old favourites the past few Fridays. Here’s what we’ve been playing.
For 3 or more players, ages 4+
Pressman Toy has taken an old classic and tweaked it to make it kid-friendly and reasonably quick to play. Charades for Kids comes with 150 cards with 3 options on each, giving you a total of 450 different simple charades to act out. Roll the die to determine which one to choose from the card.
The first time we played, hilarity ensued with my 6-year-old waving her arms around over and over.
“A really big bird?”
“No! It’s fireworks, Mommy! Fireworks!”
It’s a great family game for all ages, including preschoolers. Even if your little one can’t read yet, no need to fret. They can play too! Each card also has a picture on it that even the youngest players can act out. We take turns guessing so everyone has a chance, and the first person to guess three correct answers wins.
The kids love Charades, and they clamour to play every occasion they get. Playing to three correct guess keeps the game pretty quick and makes it a good choice when we don’t have as much time as we’d like between dinner and bedtime.
For 2-4 players, ages 8+
Rummikub is basically Rummy but played with small tiles instead of cards. There are 104 tiles numbered from one to thirteen in four different colours (the equivalent of two card decks) and two jokers. Just like Rummy, the goal is to get rid of all the tiles in your hand by making sets, either a group (three or more tiles of the same number in different colours) or a run (three or more consecutive numbers in the same colour).
At this point Rummikub is a little beyond 6-year-old Kay, but 8-year-old Tee caught on pretty quickly and loves it! The game play reinforces STEM skills like sequencing and pattern recognition, as well as arithmetic skills when keeping score.
For 2-4 players, ages 7+
Tri-Ominos is a twist on the traditional game of dominoes. Instead of rectangular tiles, Tri-Ominos is played with triangular tiles for a little extra challenge. If you’ve ever played dominoes, you’ll know how to play Tri-Ominos. The rules are mostly luck with a bit of strategy. Play a tile from your hand with numbers on the edge that matches a tile already on the table. Make a hexagon or build a bridge for bonus points!
It can get frustrating if you don’t have a matching tile because you’re supposed to keep pulling new tiles until you can play one. We often “tweak” the rules when it makes sense, so in this case we agreed to limit it to three draws. If after three draws you still don’t have a playable tile, just pass to the next person. I get the kids to keep score (add up the three sides of the tile plus any bonuses) so they can practice their math skills too. The rules say to play to 400 points, but we usually just play one hand and whoever has the highest score at the end, wins.
For 2 players, ages 8+
Mastermind is a simple code-breaking game for two players with just a few easy-to-learn rules. The codemaker creates a hidden code of four coloured pegs, and the codebreaker tries to guess the correct order within ten tries. Next to each guess on the board, the codemaker records how many pegs are the correct colour, and how many pegs are the correct colour and in the correct position. The codebreaker uses that feedback to inform their next guess.
I used to play Mastermind all the time as a kid, and I couldn’t wait to introduce this classic game to Tee. Since Mastermind was new to her, we played several practice games as I walked her through my thinking process. “If there are two white pegs, that means I guessed two of the colours correctly, but they’re not in the right position. How can we tell which ones are the right colour?” Kay’s a bit young for this and mostly guesses randomly, but Tee is starting to get it.
We’ve played a bunch of times and I love that she’s exercising her logic and deductive reasoning skills. Mastermind has even been used as a classroom tool to teach students analytical thinking, mathematical and scientific thinking, experimental design, hypothesis-testing, and the effective use of controls.
Unfortunately, the shield that protects the hidden code on our board doesn’t actually fit properly so it falls off its hinges every time we lift it or put it down. I don’t know if that’s a defect with just our game or if all the boards in this edition have this problem.
By its nature, Mastermind has lots of tiny pegs to keep track of. Fortunately, the board has storage on the side to keep all the pegs together. I do wish that it latched shut or was secured in some way so it doesn’t come open if the board gets turned upside down (I may know this the hard way).
Win 4 Classic Family Games
We’ve been having so much fun playing these games, we wanted to share with you! Two of my readers will win all four games we reviewed here: Charades for Kids, Tri-Ominos, Mastermind, and Rummikub. Enter in the giveaway widget below. This giveaway is open to residents of Canada and the U.S., 18+. All the winner’s entries will be verified.
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I received a sample item to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are completely honest and my own, based on my personal experience. Your experience may differ. This post contains affiliate links. This West Coast Mommy is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. I will receive a small commission if you purchase through my link, at no additional cost to you. This income helps pay for the operating costs of my website – thank you for your support!