Somewhere around the time that my oldest reached age 7, my husband and I overdosed on Candyland. It was a horrible experience. The shakes, night terrors, knee-jerk reactions to anything brightly colored or gingerbread-man-shaped... awful, I tell you. And, we still had a 5-year-old that liked the game. It was a scene straight from every parent's worst board games nightmare. How did we recover? Well, my friends, first we had a bonfire. Just kidding. Kind of. I may have dreamed that part.
We moved on to bigger and better games. I have learned over the past decade that kids are capable of more advanced, strategic games that don't utilize brightly colors spinners much earlier then I would have imagined. I have now made it my personal mission to rescue other parents from losing their minds on Licorice Lane and hanging up their sanity on the Plum Tree.
Here are some board games for the 7-11 crowd that won't bore mom and dad to tears.
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Dixit is really great game for all ages, starting at around age 7. It's the game we pull out most often for non-game people- those who aren't really into board games or aren't very competitive. Often described as a picture version of Apples to Apples, Dixit it a game where you look at unusual images and try to describe them in a way that someone else can pick them out of a line of cards. Too subtle, and no one gets it right. Too obvious, and everyone gets it. Either way, no points for you!
Skip-Bo is becoming a classic. Or maybe it already is? Either way, it's a must-have for the 7-11 crowd. The concept is very simple. Build piles in the center from 1-12 and use up your cards before anyone else to win. The strategies can be simple, or more advanced (blocking, anyone?), but it only takes a game or two for everyone to have the hang of it and be comfortable playing.
Is it Block-us, or Blow-kus? I honestly don't know, but I prefer Block-us. Either wya, Blokus is a colorful game that is best with 4 players but very doable with 3. Each player starts with a variety of Tetris-style pieces and moves to fit them on the board turn by turn. The catch is that your pieces must touch each other diagonally by corners, and only by the corners. To win, you need an advance strategy and the ability to visualize where the pieces will fit, without giving away your strategy to your opponents!
Don't worry, Monopoly deal is only vaguely reminiscent of it's namesake. While the cards do have the traditional Monopoly names (like Boardwalk and Baltic Ave), and you do try to own complete sets of the matching properties, that is where the resemblance ends. During your turn, you may buy properties, celebrate your birthday (by demanding gifts), or even steal your opponents coveted Electric Avenue.
Quirkle is often advertised as one of those "create a Mensa scholar while playing a game!" games. And maybe it is. I have no idea. We just have fun playing it. Quirkle is a game of patterns, and during your turn you add tiles to the main board by either matching patterns or colors (but not both- each row can only have one of each). The board expands scrabble style, but without any spelling involved. Higher scores are achieved by playing multiple pieces at once, or by connecting rows and columns together. Bonus: the tiles come with a storage bag and make great toddler entertainment in a pinch.)
So, there are my top picks for games with the middlers, the 7-11 ages that have outgrown toddler games but perhaps aren't quite ready for the big leagues.
You can read about my favorite picks for older kids here.
What games do your kids enjoy? Leave me a comment and let me know!