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Board games for younger kids

Yahtzee, Kids Rule! and others are worth a try.

What’s one of the great ways to spend with grandparents and parents in a nonthreatening activity that builds relationships? You got it: board games.

You know, the old-fashioned kind where you interact in person.

Last week in this space, we looked at some board games suitable for older children and their parents. This week, we’ll analyze a few games that are great for families with younger children: shorter games Yahtzee, Apples to Apples and Kids Rule, plus one that takes much longer to play, Mexican Train.

Yahtzee: This classic game was developed in 1956, and has withstood the test of time. My 10-year-old niece, Abby, loves to play this. We have the deluxe edition, complete with a plastic frame covered with felt to hold down the noise, and compartments to line up your dice. The maximum score using all the dice combinations wins. We all cheered my brother Jim recently, as he rolled a Yahtzee of threes in one roll. This game helps with kids’ skills in decision making and math.

Apples to Apples: The game has two categories of cards, Things and Descriptions. Each player in turn is a referee and picks the top card, which will be the Description for that round. The rest of the players lay out one of the Thing cards in their hands that best match that description. The referee chooses the best match.

Kids Rule!: A new game with the answers to parenting questions written by kids 8-14. The object is to be the first to reach the Family Room by successfully choosing the most popular answer. Sort of like a Family Feud scenario. Correctly choosing the most popular answer moves your game piece closer to the coveted Family Room in the house.

Mexican Train dominoes: This is an entertainment staple in our family, and can accommodate up to eight players. The object of the game is to get rid of all your dominoes each turn, and have the least amount of points at the end. There are 13 rounds, beginning with the 12, and ending with the blank domino.

Players match the middle domino by making their own train. Once all players’ trains have been successfully started, someone can start a Mexican Train. Get a small plastic train that makes noise for extra fun. Instructions for this game can be found online at

If you haven’t yet tried regular game night with your kids, then now is a good time to start. You never know, they might even open up to you about what’s going on in their lives during a lull in the action.

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