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Subject: Starting kids off right in games rss

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Joe Childers
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So I have an 8-month old daugher and I'm looking forward to the day when I can begin her transformation into a geek. Maybe I'm jumping the gun a little bit Those of you that have traveled this road before me, could you give me some advice? In particular, I'm curious about:

1. What games have you had success with as a first or second game? It would be good to have a list so grandparents can be steered away from Candyland and Hi-Ho Cherry-O, unless those are actually good games for that age (what would I know?)

2. What games did you introduce too early, and why did they fail the first time around?

3. What was the progression of your child's favorite gameas they grew up, and at which ages did they like what??

Thanks,

- Joe
 
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Robert Zurfluh
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8-month...I feel for you
You got some time to go.....

However, Hi-Ho Cherry-O and Candyland worked well as their first games. I also had another game (don't know the name anymore) with a spinner and colored puzzle pieces...something with Mouse in it.

However, I found out that very early on (3 or 4) they can figure out how to connect the Carcassonne tiles to make "castles" and then have little their Lego guys running around on the streets.

Lego has a couple of games out (yes, kinda mind-numbing...get used to it) Master Builder and a car-racing game.

Now, my son is 6 and he plays just about everything...well, not always by the rules, but he plays.
He really likes Fist of Dragonstones, Scooby-Doo Clue (even though I HATE clue), Sorry, Chess, Queens Necklace, Ticket to Ride, Heroscape, Lost Cities (well, he is playing open handed...can't hold the cards), Through the Desert, Pueblo,.... He, unfortunately likes The Game of Life (good thing we don't have a copy)

My son never got into those other mind-numbing games like Battleships, Four wins (or whatever it's called), or the kids Monopoly version.

But for now, stick with reading those exciting board books, and update us in three years.
As soon as your daughter is done chewing up things, bring out the good games and introduce her.
 
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Gary Zipfel
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Kids Games
We've had luck with 'The Wheels on the Bus', and to a lesser extent Captain Clever. However, my son is only 3 so it's early. My nieces have all enjoyed Queens necklace, Settlers of Catan, and Captain Clever. In case I haven't said it enough, Captain Clever is a good kids game.
 
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Kane Klenko
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Yah, you've got time. I'm just starting with my son and he turned 2 last week. Check out my session report on the Candyland page that I just posted.
 
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MK
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As a Dad myself...
Maybe it's just my kids, but those "child's first game" things don't seem to work out well.

My kids will play Candyland or Chutes & Ladders, but they just don't hold their interest much. Chutes & Ladders actually takes TOO LONG because of the numerous times you get sent back, and since all you're doing is spinning and counting spaces, even my 3 (oops, now she's 4 as of yesterday!) year old gets easily bored and distracted by other things. Candyland, at least, doesn't last quite as long, but it can be pretty painful too.

My kids prefer trying to play the games we like to play. I got Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation specifically because I read numerous reviews that said even 6 year olds can beat adults at the game - and even though my 5 year old daughter still needs help reading the cards, she'll get there soon. I did play my 6 year old nephew over the holidays, and he DID beat me (I beat him too, but that's the way the game goes). My 5 year old loves to play Abalone, which I think makes a perfect intro to abstract games for children. It has big marbles, you push them into other marbles and make a nice noise doing so, and it's not hard for them to grasp how the game works. She also likes trying her hand at Mancala and any number of the ways that's played. And that is a MUCH better game to teach numbers and counting because it requires the child to think about which pot of stones to use, not simply spin a spinner and move her piece.

Another game I've introduced is Pirateer. The pirate theme is a lot of fun, and the game mechanics are simple. Plus you don't have a lot of pieces to keep track of, and the game is good for 2, 3, or 4 players. Because of its simplicity, there are numerous ways you can give your child a handicap in playing. (And Pirateer uses the same dice-movement mechanic as backgammon - so if you want your child to learn that game, start with Pirateer and she will have no problem adapting to Backgammon).

If you haven't done so, get Settlers of Catan as well. I know, I know, it's a long way before your child can play that. But I'm already having a hard time convincing my daughter that the game is a little too complex for her yet... she really wants to take a crack at that. And in truth, even that's not all that hard of a game for a child to grasp. For that matter you might try any of the "German style" games out there, like Tigris and Euphrates or Carcassone: Hunters and Gatherers. They're fun to look at, good fun for both kids and adults, and simple enough for kids to learn but not so simple you won't stay interested.

And look up card games as well. Kids love card games. Start her off with something like Concentration, give her a handicap (like letting her turn over 6 card to find a match instead of just 2) and gradually get her to play so she doesn't need a handicap. Games like War and Crazy Eights and Old Maid are good when she's a little older. Try a game like Cribbage when she's about 7 or 8 and you want to help her develop math and combination skills. You can't go wrong with a good book of card game rules.

Bottom line: Teach them games you like to play. Kids love to play the games adults play because it makes them feel like they're being grown up - following rules, taking turns, interacting with adults, etc. If you play games that adults wouldn't touch, they will be able to figure that out pretty quickly, and they'll lose interest shortly after you do.
 
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Randy Cox
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I'm in something of the same situation as you. Our daughter is 18 months old and son is 5 weeks old, so we've got time.

But I did raise another son who is now 24 years old. So, when he was 3, 4, or 5, the game choices weren't the same as today--there had been no "German invasion" at that time.

The earliest games I recall him playing were Animal Dominoes (connect the animals, instead of dots on the pieces) and some sort of memory game. Shortly thereafter, he enjoyed some of the cartoon tie-in games (He-Man Masters of the Universe game, Pound Puppies game, Dungeons & Dragons boardgame based on the cartoon not the adult game, a Smurf game). He also played Crossbows & Catapults, though that's more a diversion than a game. There were surely others, but I don't recall much from that long ago.

Finally, by the time he was about 6 or 7, he was into games like TSR's Dungeon and he even played Civilization with us at about age 8 or 9. By the time the new gaming world opened up (Adel Verpflichtet in 1991), he was playing whatever the adults played and he was attending AvalonCon and participating in the junior events.

In short, we tried just about any games available (even the trash that's thrown out for marketing purposes) and some stuck. Others didn't. Eventually, he was helping to design games we would make ourselves. It doesn't seem that hard to create a boardgame geek. I hope that's still the case.
 
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Robert Zurfluh
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Oh yeah...and advanced "Memory" game
Chicken Cha-Cha (or Zicke-Zacke Huehnerkacke)

there is a good one where your 4- or 5-year old can beat you easily gulp. God, did I feel old. But at least I had a better memory than my wife devil

I just ordered LOTR - the confrontation....looking forward to it.
 
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Halloween Jack
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Anything from HABA should be allright.
 
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Scott A. Reed
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Though I have not played it, I have always thought that Snail's Pace Race looked like an interesting game for young children.
 
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Karen

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Games for children
I'll probably be vilified for my suggestions here, but like others have commented before, it's important to evaluate children's games based upon their appeal to children. I also think it's important that they be not too painful for adults to play along.

Go Away Monster was a big hit with my daughter at 2, but I don't think has a high replayability factor, even for a small child. My daughter is three and a half now, and never asks to play this anymore. I know that other people are really positive about this game, however.

Uno, if you take out the text cards, is super and helps to teach colors, numbers and a little math (recognizing you only have one card left) is simple and fun.

Hi Ho Cherry is a nice counting/dexterity game that has been fun for us. Don't Spill the Beans has been fun. I haven't had any success at all at getting her to play Chutes and Ladders--perhaps I should be thankful? I just ordered Gulo Gulo, which I've heard lots of good things about.

There are also lots of matching/memory games out there that have been fun and small children are often better than adults at these types of games.

My daughter also enjoys puzzles, so I let her play Carcassone with me on that level (placing the tiles so they match and fit), she's also played Lost Cities, Coloretto and Ticket to Ride with me, which on their most basic level involve counting and matching colors. I think there are a lot of games you can "modify" like this to include small children if you're patient and prepared to do a lot of coaching. She isn't actually playing the game, only small aspects of it, and she usually loses interest after a few turns, but it's a way to include her and she likes playing with the grown ups. Not sure if you could modify Advance Squad Leader for a three year old, though .

Good luck and enjoy your gaming.
 
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Robert Zurfluh
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One last thing...
look into products from HABA. They make good stuff for youg kids. If you want some presents from the grandparents, tell them to look for HABA products. You can usually find them in the upscale toy stores.

http://www.haba.de/

 
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David Stewart
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Kids.
The Games Journal printed a hilarious article last month: http://www.thegamesjournal.com/articles/NewFatherGaming.shtm...

My own experiences with my kids, now 7 and 4:

Started off with Tummy Ache, Shopping List - most of these Orchard Toys games have been very good.

Baffled - memory games - they pick these up very quickly and are always better than us aging Dads.

Older MB games, Key to the Kingdom, Escape from Atlantis, Valley of the Dinosaurs.

Worst games I've had to endure were a Goosebumps and Home Alone game but they both enjoyed them!

Very quickly moved onto Carcassonne without the Farmer rule.

They are picking up the scoring in the Reiner game Mensa quickly.

I was recently pleased that Ra is enjoyed by them all, now becoming a firm favorite.

Krunter and Kruber is also quite straight forward if only I had an English edition instead of trying to get them to understand Yaaa and Neee!

I've found when we do purchase simpler Tomy games they get very good at them very quickly. For example they are extremely quick at 'Crunching Crocidile'. Also enjoy Ghostly Galleon and Rumble in the Jungle.

Now just waiting until my oldest can read quicker, once dealing with money is sorted out that will be it! Sky's the limit.

Now that someone has mentioned Tigris I'll have give it a shot as soon as I get home!
 
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JessA
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Remember that the first games are to give them the idea of taking turns and other basic concepts to game playing. I'm amazed at my kids' friends who don't understand rolling the dice! Also the most important quality is for games to be fun! I'm not saying that you're this way, but I've seen people who get caught up in the educational aspect or teaching strategy, and zap the fun right out of the best game.

Make it fun, and the learning will follow.

Here are my thoughts:
Pick a theme that appeals to the kid, I know hard core gamers would cringe, but sometimes you have to go with the Disney game or favorite TV show. (Teletubbies Memory was my daughter's first game)

I think dexterity games are a big hit with young kids:
Don't Break the Ice
Jenga

I love cooperative games for young kids, especially 3 year old boys who hate to lose.

Recommendation: Family Pasttimes Games
 
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Dwayne Hendrickson
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First to Reverse is an interesting game. Each player takes a different form of transportation that has a corresponding die and each form has to travel a different distance. The skater has to travel the shortest distance, but he only has a d3. The race car has to travel the entire course but has 2 d6.

It's a lot more suspenseful that one would think. Yea, it's a roll & move, but it gets kids used to different dice and different rules per player. It's a race game, but a balanced one (& of course it's all luck based.)
 
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Heidi S.
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Children's Games
At such a young age, what's important is how many, uh, I guess gaming skills, a child has acquired.

Until a child can understand taking turns, simultaneous action games work great. At age 2 I tried lots of games, but Puppy Racers and Fishin' Around were the best hits.

Somewhere along the line, maybe age 2 1/2, a child starts understanding how to take a turn. This is when I started memory games. I used a deck of cards to find a red or black match. Move on to suits. I used cheap cards because my son wasn't so gentle with them.

The next big step is learning how to count and to recognize numbers.

The final hurdle seems to be patience. A child has to learn to wait for their turn to come and be able to stay involved in the game long enough for it to finish. The few kids I've known don't seem to get this skill until at least age 4.

Kids like most games, especially if a parent walks them through while playing. Personally, I judge a game a hit if I like it, and my kid can take it out and play it alone or be able to explain it to a little friend without my help.

So, age 3: My kid liked Cranium Cariboo (I hated it--but my son LOVED this game), Snail's Pace Race, Cathedral (modified with children's rules--not the original game), Obstgarten (Orchard), and Pass the Bomb, Jr.

Age 4: My kid still liked most of the above (except Cariboo was long worn out, pieces lost, and trashed) plus Lego Creator, Funny Bunny, and Russelbande. I really enjoyed FloB Geht's, too, but my son wouldn't be able to play it alone.

Age 5: My son's current age and we're working on his reading skills. He still likes all the above games, even Snail's Pace Race. I've seen other five year olds play Take It Easy, so that's the first "adult" game I'll try with him soon. I think this will be a really fun year for us.
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Snoo Py
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My kid is 18 months old, he loves playing 'Don't Break the Ice' That teaches him to wait for his turn, and to play with a goal. At this age, they love to destroy things, so it's a game he really enjoys. Next step (in six months) will be Alex Randoplph's Snail Pace Race (his first true designer game ).
Already tried on a 2 and something boy that loved it.
 
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Ted Alspach
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Abstracts for the kidlings
I'm surprised no one has mentioned various abstract games - my kids don't really seem to need a theme (though they have had a blast with HeroScape). Right now both kids (7 and 5) want to play Dvonn and Zertz again and again (which I'm more than happy to do). My 7 year old son just crushed me the other day with an amazing "dvonn snatch" move that I never saw coming.

And the cool thing is, when you lose to your kids, you have a real sense of pride about it.
 
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Stephen Smith
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My kids
I have two little girls -- 4 1/2 and 2 1/2

It didn't take much for us to get either of them interested in actually playing games. They want to do what mom and dad are doing and they also want mom and dad to do things with them.

Our older daughter started last year (almost two years ago now) playing Candyland, Snail's Pace Race, Cranium Cariboo, Hi Ho Cherry-o, and Ice Cream Scoops of fun with few problems. She still asks to play them all, and none had any difficulty keeping her attention. We also have a kids train game called the Color Train Game that she really likes, but it seems we are the only owners.

The Younger daughter has been able to play several of these for a while now, although usually with a little help. Snail's Pace Race was actually the first one we started her on. Earlier this year we got them Kids of Catan for their birthdays, and they both really like that. However, it can get a little long for the younger. We also got Chicken Cha Cha Cha for the older, which she also enjoys.

In the last year, Grace has also picked up Galloping Pigs which she really enjoys. I've also gotten her to play Carcassonne, Dvonn, Blokus, Jumpin, Through the Desert, Trias, Coloretto, and Checkers (among others). Pretty much anything that does not require reading is fair game. That doesn't mean she is any good at them, but that is not the point. Although she often asks for some of these games, particularly Coloretto and Trias, she also still wants to play some of the mindless kids games my wife and I have left over from our younger days.

As for advice -- let her sit in your lap while you play games. While it may be a little early at this point, allow her to perform game actions for you -- i.e. move, roll dice, draw cards, pay money -- whenever it is feasible. Despite the rap Candyland often gets here, it is not that bad for the really young child. Take out the special cards and teach her colors, drawing cards, moving pieces, taking turns and following the rules. Heck, we play Monopoly as a 2 lap race around the board, but my oldest learned to count the dice together rather than always considering them separately.

A 1-1/2 year-old can play Snail's Pace Race with some assistance from mom and dad (mine did). Expect to give them a lot of help early on. After all, the point of playing games with kids is not to win. My kids just want to play games. I don't think they are really aware there is a winner or loser. The most important point is to let her know you enjoy playing games with her. My kids would play with me 24/7 if I let them -- not a bad problem to have.
 
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