Tag Archives: games

Board Games

Tween Game Night

Board GamesKeep that first boy-girl tween-age party under control by having a games night for the kids. A bit like a casino night for the adults, but without the gambling. Everybody enjoys good games, so just make sure you’ve got good ones, and plenty of them.

Checkers, Parcheesi, Backgammon- they’ve been around for centuries because they ARE good games that people, tweens included, enjoy playing. If you just play to win instead of for money, Black Jack is good fun too. Chess maybe takes too long for a party atmosphere.

Add in some newer games like Pictionary, Mancala (new to us in the US, anyways) and one or two active games like Darts or Twister, and you’ve got a good selection to make into a party.

Upon arrival, give everyone 5* tokens– poker chips, round pieces of posterboard that say ‘token’, anything at all they can put in their pocket or carry around easily. Everytime they sit down to play a game, the tokens go in a pile for that game, and the winner takes the pile, and moves on to another game. *choose the number of tokens based on the length of your party, and the number of games you’ve got: if someone loses them all too soon, have extras to give them.

Clearly, the kid with the most tokens is the winner, and you can play this up with a gift or down by basically ignoring it. The fun is in the playing.

Have different snacks available at each different game table just to add interest and keep the hungry tweens satisfied. Keep the music going too. If dancing breaks out, good!

You needn’t buy all the different games– friends and relatives will be happy to lend you their games for your tween party night.

Party Together

Games Kids AND Adults will Enjoy

Party TogetherThere’s LOTS of good birthday party advice and ideas over on Yahoo Answers. But of course you don’t need yet another place to go looking, do you? No, you don’t. So instead I will look for you and when I find good ideas I’ll bring them over here for you.

Lots of kids birthday parties are family affairs, or family plus friends, so you need activities that can be enjoyed by guests of different ages– both kids and adults. Yahoo Answers had a great post with suggestions for such games, way back 4 years ago. Here’s a synopsis of those ideas.

One of the more hilarious things to do is have adults participate in well crafted kids games. Think three legged races, eggs on a spoon, throw the water balloon through the/into the whatever, Twister, even musical chairs. I’ve had reports that my Survivor Party has been used quite a few times at family reunions, to the delight of all. Since it’s geared to kids age 6 to 8, it just shows how much fun adults can have acting like kids.

Mixed age teams for a backyard or park game of volleyball or soccer is always good fun. Dodgeball too, but warn the Dad’s to tone it down so no kid gets knocked unconscious.

Indoor games tend to be a bit more cerebral than active, but that’s OK, ’cause kids really do like to think and be smart! Tape the name of a famous person or a movie character (all within one universe of names) onto everyones back and have them ask yes/no questions to determine who they are. Set up a Jeopardy type game on topics the kids know better than the adults and the kids will love it!

Fun for all isn’t that hard when your party games brings out everybody’s inner child.


The Perplexus Maze

PerplexusWhen you have to ration that amount of time the kids are allowed to play with a toy to insure that everyone gets a turn, you know you’ve found one of the winners among the ideas for birthday gifts for kids. And time limits is exactly what one reviewer on Amazon tells us they have to do with this wonderful Perplexus maze toy.

Perplexus is a three dimensional maze housed in a clear plastic ball. There are various tracks to choose from with over 100 barriers to negotiate by twisting and turning the container to direct the marble along the pathways.

As much fun as this toy is, it’s also educational and skill building. As they play with the maze, kids get real quiet and focused and concentrate really hard- obviously a great skill to learn. Successful play with Perplexus requires thinking skills to identify the pathway and maneuver the orb using gravity to direct the marble, and it uses small motor skills to do so.

For kids age 6 and up, the quiet focus required to play Perplexus makes it the ideal thing for waiting rooms, car rides, and such. So the parents of your gift recipients will appreciate it too.

No batteries, no annoying sound effects, not too big to shlepp, under $20 as of this writing, what’s not to love about this new idea for a birthday present?


Boochie Ball

BoochieBoochie Ball is a great ‘get up off the couch’ game that the whole family can enjoy and you ‘ll feel good about giving as a kids birthday gift or ‘gifting’ to your own kids for family fun.

Patterned after the game of bocce ball, a game which has certainly withstood the test of time, you can be assured that everyone will have fun with Boochie Ball. Included are the 12 sided Boochie target, 4 toss rings and 4 bean balls, 4 wrist trackers (scorers) and a vinyl carry bag. For 2 to 4 players age 8 and up.

Toss out the target then take turns trying to get as close as possible to the target with your balls and rings. Each of the 12 sides of the target have different instructions for earning bonus points, so the games are always different. The most points wins.

The parent reviews on Amazon make clear that everyone in the family gets into the fun. It gets competitive, it gets silly, it gets noisy, it gets parents doing something fun with their kids. And best of all, it gets everybody moving and away from their ‘screens’. Any birthday gift that accomplish all of these things is in the winners circle as far as I’m concerned.

Sort It Out

Sort It Out

Sort It OutSort It Out is an educational yet fun family game you can give as a kids birthday gift with pride. From an Australian company (University Games) whose mission is to create games that are quick to learn, that keep everyone involved all the time (even when it’s not their turn), that combine luck with skill so everybody has a shot at winning, and that make learning fun. What’s not to love?

Recommended for age 8 and up, this is a game where you put things in order. The ‘things’ are given, the correct ‘order’ isn’t so simple. For example: “Which Is Faster ? A Cheetah A Helicopter Or A Steam Train?”

Just goes to show that thinking can be fun. Especially when it’s competitive and timed as Sort It Out is. There’s a reason Jeopardy’s been going for so long on TV- because people enjoy the intellectual challenge, and kids do too. Like Jeopardy, the topics in Sort It Out are quite varied, so no one is really at any advantage or disadvantage. And the Amazon reviews point out that even when you don’t know the answer, it’s still good fun. And everyone plays on every turn, so nobody’s sitting around getting bored.

A simple game gift that gives the gift of thinking as well as family together time– that puts Sort It Out in the winning column in my book!

ProSkater2 Video Game

Pro SkaterA video game for preteen or young teen boys that’s not violent but still fun and engaging – what a good idea for a kids birthday gift! They’re most likely going to play video games whether we parents like it or not, so lets at least give them ones that aren’t full of blood and gore. And don’t only think boys; any girl into skateboarding and video games will enjoy this just as much.

My girls spent hours playing a snowboarding video game built on challenges similar to this. There are various levels of play with various skate parks and hidden areas that are opened by performing certain feats and tricks. I won’t say games like this exactly nurture thinking skills, but there is reasoning involved to figure out what needs to be done to advance.

ProSkater2 also allows the players to create new skate parks and to create their own skater, greatly personalizing the game play. The players can also design and name new tricks.

Check out the Pro Skater 2 reviews on Amazon and you’ll see this game gets high marks from some obviously knowledgeable skateboarders/gamers. You’ll also find various other skateboard video games at other price points to choose from. [NOTE: If you make a purchase at Amazon through a link on this page, I receive a commission, and that seems fair to me.]

You do need to confirm that your gift recipient has PlayStation, but that’s easy with a quick call to the parents. And if they’ve purchased the game platform, you know they won’t be upset about a video game gift, especially one that’s non-violent. So in this case, the ProSkater2 video game, or any of the others in this Tony Hawk line, should be on your list of possible gifts.

Logic Building Puzzles

Logic Links GameIf you’re like me and would prefer a kids birthday gift that was skill building and fun instead of just plastic nonsense, then you should know about this game. It will engage the birthday child, and friends or family, in entertaining yet challenging puzzles that actually helps them learn logic and deductive reasoning. Very few ‘toys’ can make that claim.

I think it’s best described by the manufacturer, Mindware:Logic Links requires you to think sideways, backwards, right to left and up and down as you read the clues that lead you to the one and only correct answer. Each puzzle is comprised of a series of clues that instruct the player where to place colored chips and solve the puzzle.” The game includes 166 different puzzles and 32 of the game pieces. [NOTE: If you make a purchase through a link on this page, I make a commission from Amazon, and that seems fair to me.]

While it sounds like it’s hard, it is meant to challenge their brains. For kids age 6 and up, the game includes different levels of difficulty so they won’t get bored with it and it can entertain kids of different ages. One reviewer on Amazon recommends that it’s not so good for kids over about 10.

The Amazon reviews suggest that kids really do enjoy playing these games by themselves– challenging themselves to figure it out. All the while building their deductive reasoning and critical thinking skills. All that for a game under $20 makes Logic Links a real bargain.

Grab a Logic Links game for your own children to have around when you’re in need of engaging activities, as well as for that next birthday present that you need to come up with.

Flip 4 Math

Flip 4Games make terrific kids birthday gifts and they’re even better when they help kids learn. Make learning fun and it WILL happen. That’s what Flip 4 does for math for kids from age 8.

The concept here is very simple- perform basic math functions on the numbers rolled with dice, and use the results to determine the moves on the game board. It’s simple to learn how to play, but challenging to actually play it to win. There’s a strategy involved to ‘flip’ an opponent off the board.

Flip 4 is a perfect learning complement when the kids are learning their math facts. Having fun with the multiplication tables sure beats dry memorization!

Parents on Amazon give this game a 4+ star rating, and many say that their children ask to play the game with their parents, so you know they enjoy it. Teachers have also bought this game to use in the classroom. Flip 4 has also won multiple awards, so you can feel good about giving it as a birthday party gift.

Currently priced at just around $10 on Amazon, pick up an extra one for your own child at home. Everybody can benefit from practicing and polishing those math skills while having fun with parents or siblings. The game can be played by 2 to 4 players.

[DISCLOSURE: If you make a purchase through the link on this page, I make a commission from Amazon. Seems reasonable to me…..]

Birthday gifts that give both fun and learning are the best kind. Sure beats plastic ‘stuff’ that ends up broken in the trash or unused on the top shelf in the closet.

Zingo for Preschool Birthday Parties

Use Zingo as one of your preschool birthday party games or as a kids birthday gift- either way it will be a big hit. From the same Think Fun game makers as the hit game Rush Hour. Their name says it all- THINK and FUN.

[DISCLOSURE: If you purchase through the link on this page, I make a commission from Amazon. Seems reasonable to me…..]

The game is a variation of Bingo that builds early language skills such as verbalization, image and word recognition, memory and concentration. Each player chooses a card, then the dealer slides the dispenser forward to reveal two picture tiles. If a picture matches your card, shout it out first and win the tile. Fill your card with tiles, shout Zingo! and win the game. The cards have two sides for a less and a more competitive version of play.

The game plays with up to 8 players, so it’s a great addition to your games and activities at a small preschool party. Recommended for ages 4 to 8 due to small parts that can cause choking in younger kids.

The game makes an equally welcome birthday gift- they can play it with siblings and/or parents, on playdates and with neighboring kids.

Zingo has an average 5 star rating on Amazon, from over 200 reviewers. And it’s currently priced at under $20 making it an affordable gift as well.

The Qwirkle Board Game

QwirkleAnother great game hits the list of great kids birthday gifts. It’s reasonably priced, an easy game to learn yet not so simple to master and it engages those brain cells.

Or, make it a gift to your own family since Qwirkle teases the brains of everyone over the recommended age of 6: it’s not just fun for the kids.

Think Scrabble without the letters, and without the words. More math than language as it’s all about pattern recognition and pattern building, just as scrabble is about word recognition and word building. Using 108 wooden blocks (or tiles, as in Scrabble) with 6 different colors and 6 different shapes, points are scored by building lines that share a common attribute of color or shape. Strategic thinking is a key component of the game play.

Qwirkle has won a pile of awards from both gaming and parent organizations. And if you check out the reviews from parents on Amazon, regular families are having lots of fun together with this game and the kids are also enjoying it greatly on their own and with their friends.

Let’s not forget that board games provide interaction with real people– not just a computer screen and animated graphics, making Qwirkle a good gift to get kids away from all their electronic gizmos.

birthday gifts that give fun, build thinking skills, provide a family-together kids activity are the real winners. So when you buy one as a gift, get one for yourselves and have some fun together!

Do share with a comment any other good family games that double as good kids party gifts.