As the evenings get longer and the weekends threaten to be a washout, try reaching for a family board game rather than an iPad. Here are some of our favourites for whiling away family time.
We know we spend too long looking at screens: as a generation, a nation and a tribe (parents). We read everywhere that families/parents/kids need a digital detox and that playing games, reading and being outdoors together are the antidote. We do know.
But all told, we still have emails to send, Ocado shopping to arrange and birthday presents to order. If the kids spend the odd twenty minutes playing Minecraft so we can shower in peace or watch Despicable Me (again) while we negotiate Christmas arrangements with the in-laws then, so be it.
It’s when we’re banging around the house together on a rainy afternoon and it’s all too easy to switch on a screen – that’s when, just maybe, we should park our pressing desire to scroll through The Outnet’s latest stock, and pull out a tried and trusted family board game instead.
Here’s a few of our favourites: encouraging strategy, conversation and fun as well as being rather lovely to look at…
Match A Pair of Birds
A beautifully illustrated memory game which is so simple that children from 2 upwards can enjoy it, yet older children will also be challenged by trying to read and remember the names. Like Dog Bingo/Bug Bingo (also brilliant board games from Laurence King publishing) Match a Pair of Birds is quick, fun and a perennial favourite, but this one fits in your handbag. £12.95
Budding strategists, queue here. Chinese Checkers has nothing to do with chance. It is tactical, skilful and in our houses, can get pretty heated. The objective is to move your pieces to the opposite triangle of the star, and you won’t believe how competitive that simple achievement can make young players. The rules are simple so suit kids from 4+, and can be played by two people or up to six. We say: a good game is a fast game. £14.95
Talking Tables Ministry of Games: Ludo
A marvellously old-fashioned parlour game, this new ludo game from Talking Tables takes players on a tour of the British countryside, racing from start to finish through London to Cardiff, Manchester to Edinburgh in vintage cars. Good for motor-skills – on every level. £10
Ridley’s Giant Snakes & Ladders
The beauty of this large format version of the traditional snakes and ladders game is that it can be played outside. The mat is hardwearing and the pieces are big so little hands can play easily and kids as young as 2 can get involved (though try to prevent older siblings losing the plot when they pick up the pieces and dash off across the garden). £16.45
If you want to get to know your kids better, Sussed is a great way to do it. A conversation game that can be played over dinner or on the move, you’ll explore each other’s likes and dislikes as well as sparking debate and encouraging storytelling and memory sharing. £9.99
Faces Memory Game by OMM Design
The beautiful illustrations by Ingela P Arrhenius make this simple memory game a great present. Turn over the wooden discs to discover the faces of people and animals to get a match. Great for exercising young children’s memory (and your patience). £12