Get into your pyjamas, make some Milo, break out the board games, and get ready for an exciting Saturday night… in! At a time where we are becoming more aware of the dangers of too much screen time, good ol’ fashioned tangible board games are a parent’s best bet for luring our kids away from devices. Board games help improve attention span, while improving strategic and cognitive skills. In addition, they help in brain and mental health development — all without damaging your young one’s eyes. You and the kids already know the usual suspects like Monopoly and Scrabble, so we asked game experts to recommend some others. Try them too!
For 3-5 year olds
Kenneth Kooi, 34, the General Manager of [email protected] suggests that basic language and word games are best for the younger ones in this age group.
Richard Scarry’s Busytown: Eye found it! (3+)
2-4 players | Approx. 30 minutes playing time
Based off the popular nursery school book series, this game has won numerous awards from 2011 to 2013. Designed as a cooperative game for preschoolers, your kids join the animals of Busytown on a race to look for specific objects on the map. This animated experience for little ones also develops critical thinking, teamwork, attention to detail, and reinforces identification and matching skills.
Catch The Match (4/5+)
2-8 players | Approx. 15 minutes playing time
A reflex reaction game for identical symbols. It is colourful, eye catching and helps kids practice their memory skills. It also encourages visual perception and pattern recognition skills. There are 15 cards, each showing a number of objects such as pencils or balls. Each card shows the same 15 objects, but in different colours and locations. Any two cards always have only one identical object, and your job is to find which one that is!
2-4 players | Approx. 15 minutes
Who stole the pie? This award-winning, cooperative logic whodunnit game lets junior detectives crack the case as the pie thief moves through the town. This is a game of deduction, memory skills, details, and collaborative problem solving. The artwork is bright and appealing, and with some guidance from Mummy and Daddy, little ones will surely feel rewarded after they’ve outwitted the wily fox!
Number Chase (5+)
2-5 players | Approx. 15 minutes playing time
Asking questions such as “Is the hidden number even or odd?” or “Is the hidden number between 1 and 15?” in order to get to the correct answer is a great way to introduce numbers to little kids. Players try to guess the number their fellow players are thinking of. This builds basic number comparisons and identification skills, and encourages deductive reasoning.
For 6-10 year olds
As kids get older, they become more independent and start to want more complicated games, with more challenging game play and a higher learning curve. These games are appealing, and can match their growing visual dexterity, mathematics, and strategic thinking levels.
Ticket to Ride: First Journey (6+)
2-4 players | 15-30 minutes
Like its original award-winning Ticket to Ride, except that this simplifies it for the little ones. The aim is to try to connect the cities by building your own train route by collecting train cards and claiming routes on the map — to be the first to connect the cities and win the game. It is fast paced, has great replay value, and is an exciting introduction to the big-kids version.
Five Minute Marvel (8+)
2-5 players | 5 minutes playing time
This is recommended by Edison Lee, 27, a staff member at Playnation SCAPE: “I taught this game to a few kids recently, and they loved it, mostly because of the Marvel theme, and because they get to be a superhero of their choice and beat the villain together in five minutes.” Players need communication and teamwork to win, and it teaches them to develop interpersonal skills.
Sleeping Queens (8+)
2-5 Players | 20 minutes playing time
This game encourages strategy, quick thinking and can get royally rowdy! Kenneth says it’s one of his favourite ones to recommend to kids, “It’s a set collection game where kids are collecting sets of queens. But the most incredible thing is that it’s designed by an eight-year-old for eight year olds! It is designed to be played the way she wanted to play her games.” And that definitely seems to have paid off, as her creation has won numerous board game awards.
2-5 Players | 45 minutes playing time
If you and your kids want a break from the fast-paced, frenzied competition of other games (and life!) Tokaido is the board game to bring out on game night. This straightforward game is a zen-like journey through Japan. Praised online and in board game communities, the objective is to gain as many experiences as possible. Only in this case, “experiences” are relaxing activities, like visiting hot springs, collecting beautiful souvenier items, and having fine meals. Unlike other board games, the competition of this game stems from wanting to have the best holiday possible.
For 11 year olds to teenagers
As these games are designed for groups of players to interact with one another, playing them often could potentially decrease feelings of isolation and benefit the mental health and the development of teens.
3-4 players | Approx 60-120 minutes
In this award-winning game players aim to be the dominant force on the European island of Catan by gathering and building resources, infrastructure, and settlements. As a “gateway game” into the world of boardgaming, it’s a thought-provoking game which encourages critical-thinking skills and long-term strategy. Kenneth suggests starting with junior versions of this classic if you find the original too complicated for kids.
Forbidden Island (10+)
2-4 players | Approx. 30 minutes playing time
This visually stunning cooperative and collective board game is designed to encourage a healthy dose of competition, but instead of competing against each other, players have to work together to beat the sinking island they are on. With multiple levels of difficulty, this game has huge replay value and has won numerous awards for its innovation. In 2010, it was one of five games to earn the Mensa Select Seal.
The Singaporean Dream (13+)
3-6 players | Approx. 30 minutes
Created by Singapore media company SGAG, The Singaporean Dream is an interactive card game where you can take on an iconic Singaporean personality type (ie. Influencer, PSLE Top Scorer), and play your way to be the ultimate Singaporean, with uniquely Singaporean traits and Dream Cards. Aaron Koh, 22, of Sanctuary Gaming recommends card games like this for older kids to encourage more interaction with their friends. “Kids can bring card games out and buy expansion packs to make their games more dynamic. They can play them with their friends wherever they want, since card games are more portable than board games.”
2-8 players | Approx. 15 minutes
With thousands of reviews, numerous editions, awards, and versions under its belt, Codenames is a crowd staple and a family favourite. Two rival spymasters know the secret identities of 25 agents, and can give one-word clues to their teammates. Get ready to battle: Codenames is a compelling, competitive challenge!
Get on Board with Board Games for Ultimate Family Fun!
With board games, you and the kids can enjoy non-screen time, while increasing family cohesion and creating bonds with one another. Over time, this will hopefully become a tradition that leaves everyone in the family with great memories for years to come!