Monday, September 3, 2018

Our Favorite On-the-Go Games (Easy to Teach, Quick to Learn)

Our homeschool family loves to play games. I love that a good game can not only engage my kids, but teach them math skills, co-operation, reading, and more. We happen to spend a good chunk of our time at our martial arts gym. Between the classes that I teach, the classes that they each take, and the classes that my husband and I take, we are there for a few hours each day. Sometimes they play with the other kids, sometimes they sit and veg out on iPads, and a lot of times they bring games to play together and with their friends.

I'm always looking for simple but fun games that my kids can play on their own easily. Games that are easy to teach and are easy/quick to learn are the BEST!  (If you have any that you love, I'd love to hear about them, too.) I figured since we've got a few good ones at the moment, we'd share with all of you!

1. Snappy Dressers. I love any game that I can throw in my purse and bring with me on the go. This is one of those games.  This is a fast-paced card game that anyone can learn and play quickly. While there are at least 9 different ways to play this game, we generally stick to the first option. Every card in the deck matches every other card in the deck in exactly ONE way. You have to spot the matching item on the card (hat color, scarf, top, bottoms, shoes, gift, or animal) to lay it down in the discard pile. First person to get rid of all their cards wins.


2. Sleeping Queens. My sister in law, Jenny, gave us this game for a birthday once, and it quickly became a favorite. Not only is it fun to play and won several game awards, it also incorporates matching, addition and subtraction, and silly character cards. My kids have taught many of their friends to play, and it quickly becomes a favorite for most. We've played it with numerous 4 year olds, as well as up to big kids (10-12's).

3. Mancala. This isn't a new game, for sure, but it's a fun one that we recently rediscovered. After purchasing this game and realizing that I played differently than the instructions in our game box, I took to the internet for the rules.  And guess what? It turned into a whole history lesson as we explored the oldest game ever known! It originates in ancient Egypt, and there are over 600 variations of the game/ways to play. There are a variety of board shapes, styles, and rules. So if you play this game with others who already know it, be sure to clarify how you plan to play! You may find that you play by different rules. Side note: My 4 year old manipulating the little beads in his hand is the absolute cutest thing ever. He loves playing this game with his 4 year old buddy from martial arts while their big siblings are all in their classes. So cute.

4. Nerts/Group Solitaire.  You know the age-old game of solitaire we used to play on our computers as kids? Did you know you can play group solitaire? To play: Everyone needs their own deck of cards. Set up your seven piles just like normal solitaire (first pile is face up, then six face down piles; move to the second pile and place one face up, then the other five piles face down...continue until all seven piles have a face-up card on them). Everything is the same in group solitaire EXCEPT that ANYONE can play off of the center Ace cards.

This is an interesting one because although you are trying to beat each other, if one player doesn't uncover all their cards, you might both lose. SO, there is a little bit of team work, too. My 7, 9, and 10 year olds have all been working really hard to get good at this game, and it's become really fun to play with them.


5. Labyrinth.  We've had this game for a couple years now, and it is still a favorite. A portion of the squares on the game board are stationary, the rest are movable. Each player draws a card to find a treasure. They then have to get through the labyrinth and to the treasure in as few of turns as possible. You only get to push one square on each turn. The first person to get to five treasures wins. The labyrinth is always changing, making it a fun challenge to set up moves for your next turn. Even the little ones simply enjoy changing up the labyrinth on their turn. This game is most-loved by my little 7-year-old engineer brained child, who can *almost* always get himself to the treasure on his first try.

This is a decently quick game, easy and quick to set up, and great for all ages...even adults.

6. While not a game, I wanted to mention this neat little tool that allows our youngest kiddo to jump into card games with the rest of us. My friend Ginny gifted this to my Levi, and it has gotten more than its fair share of use. This card holder allows little hands to grab on and stick their cards across so they can see their cards and play. He uses it every time we play Sleeping Queens.

7. Last thing, I promise. These waterproof cards were also a gift from my friend Ginny to my husband...I have since claimed them as my own because they are my favorite. BUT, they are also the BEST cards to pack up in my purse, car, to go to activities, etc. because they are waterproof and cleanable! My kids often bring these cards with them to martial arts and play with their friends while I take class...and if they get dirty from kid hands, I can easily wipe them clean! So great. Everyone needs these cards! (Side note: I am aiming to provide you with an Amazon link to buy these, but the one showing up for these appears to have BLUE spades/clubs, not black. While not a huge issue, I find it difficult to play Nerts with differing colors of card numbers/shapes.) 

What are your favorite games to play with your family/friends? I'm especially looking for more games like these that can go with us anywhere, are easy to teach, quick to play, and fun for kids of all ages. Leave your ideas/suggestions in the comments!

(Some of the links in this post are my referral/affiliate links.  Read my disclosure policy HERE.  Thank you for supporting the continuation of this blog by using my links!)

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