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Why we love board games

Why we love board games

elliot game

You must have figured out by now that I’m a nerd.

I mean, look at my Instagram feed (craft beer, board games), my reading habits, my Pebble watch, and the fact that I buy my son David Tennant-era Doctor Who trousers whenever possible.

It was with some excitement that I realized our son was old enough to play board games with us. Through the generosity of some equally nerdy friends, we’ve borrowed and bought several games lately that have become part of our daily routine.

Some kids love to cut paper, colour, or make crafts. My son will sit and play four rounds of games every morning. This amazed me initially, as he is so physical; previously, unless an activity involved running or wrestling, he was not interested. I also love that playing games works on math, word recognition, motor skills, and social interactions – I mostly wanted to do something with him that didn’t involve me getting any more bruises!

As we head in to this last, seemingly unending stretch of winter, I’m going to be posting a series of reviews of the board games we’ve been playing. My husband and I have gotten back in to playing games in the evening as well. It’s definitely helped clear some brain fog and reassured me that three years of sleep deprivation did not actually turn my mind into oatmeal.

I’m talking about German-style board games mainly, which are along the lines of Settlers of Catan, Civilization, Axis and Allies, Carcassone, Smallworld, and others. You’re building out worlds, developing civilizations, trading resources, playing out wars – that kind of thing. Not Sorry! or Trivial Pursuit or something like that. Often one adult game will run for an hour, or more, depending how long you take to think through your turn. There are small person versions of many of these games, and I’m going to be talking through the ones we’ve been trying, and which ones we’ve loved.

But first, some great resources for finding out about good board games.

Board Game Geek, is, as you can imagine, a deeply overgrown thicket of information. However, one of my favourite elements of this site is their user-generated GeekLists of Netflix genre-type specificity. I found She’s Asleep! Games for Time Poor Adults with Infant(s) an excellent list of quick games for adults. Digging through the forum archives, we also found good advice on new games to try with our 4 year old.

Tabletop is a YouTube show about games produced by Wil Wheaton. I was resistant to sitting through half an hour of watching people play a game, but it’s actually quite good. If you’re not sure how a game works, watching the related episode of Tabletop will give you the best overview possible.

Research is key, because these are not 99¢ apps we’re talking about here, but shelf-space cluttering $40-$80 purchases. We often play at least two or three different games a day, however, both with our son and without. Non-screen time for all of us is a good thing.


Gus on the Go giveaway

Gus on the Go giveaway

gusonthego splash screen

You lucky people! After seeing how much we loved their language app, the generous developers behind Gus on the Go have offered 5 apps to give away to my readers. You can pick which language you’d like too. This giveaway is open to residents of Canada, US and UK, and you can pick iOS or Android.

Go forth and enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Playdough impressions game

Playdough impressions game

playdough titles

We stumbled on this game by mistake, but it occupied my 4 year old for an hour – I don’t think he’s wanted to play any game for an hour before! Make your own play dough or use store-bought, it doesn’t matter. I also love that this game just uses things you have lying around, there’s no fancy equipment. In fact, all you need is play dough and some things to press into it, like chopsticks, utensils, lego, small figures, toy cars – that kind of thing.


Shape the play dough into a large pancake, about an inch thick.

All other players close their eyes, while the first player picks two objects and makes impressions of them in the play dough.

When they’re finished, they ask everyone to guess which objects made the shapes – players are encouraged to try making impressions with objects to see what looks like the original.

You can either leave all the possible objects on the table, or for older children, put away the objects and have them guess with no help.


Fizzing dirt and dinosaur discovery

Fizzing dirt and dinosaur discovery

fizzing dirt title

The reaction between baking soda and vinegar is eye-wideningly exciting, and here you can combine it with digging up dinosaurs too. It’s a relatively cheap re-use for toys you probably already have lying around. Here’s how to make it:

You will need:

  • 2 boxes of baking soda
  • Cocoa powder
  • Water
  • Small plastic dinosaurs
  • Large bottle of white vinegar
  • Squeeze bottles
  • Large slotted spoons and tongs
  • Small plastic bin or large plastic bowl
  • Drop sheet
  • Water




1. Empty all the baking soda into a large mixing bowl. Whisk in cocoa powder a tablespoon at a time until the colour looks enough like dirt. Add water a tablespoon at a time until you have a crumbly dough.

2. Pack half the baking soda mixture into the bottom of the bin. Spread out the dinosaurs, and then bury them with the remaining baking soda mixture. Decorate the surface with LEGO trees and rocks if you like. Leave overnight to dry.

3. Put the bin on a drop sheet, as this can get messy though it is easy to clean up. Fill squirt bottles with vinegar and let your child squirt it on the baking soda, which will start fizzing and dissolving. Use the slotted spoons and tongs to fish out the dinosaurs, and the squirt bottles to clean them off. We found adding some water after awhile made a nice, squishy mud to play around with.


On Treehouse: Handprint holiday wreath

On Treehouse: Handprint holiday wreath


You know I’m not one for complicated children’s crafts. For one thing, my son is only likely to be interested in making something for about 20 minutes, so if it takes longer than that to set up I’m likely to get very irritated. We made this wreath, and then I pulled out another sheet of paper for him to go crazy on. When his wreath dried, we tacked it up on his bedroom door and he was thrilled.

Pop on over to Treehouse Parents to get the instructions.