Games for Families

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Encourage Play Games for Families to learn social skills

For OLDER CHILDREN

Set

It’s an easy pattern recognition game, but there are all sorts of patterns to choose from, so you also have to be a flexible thinker.

Uno

This game is very popular, but it can be tricky because different people play by different rules.  It’s important to teach your child to make sure to talk with people before the game begins so everyone is on the same page when someone picks up a draw 4 or changes the color.  It’s good practice to try different uno rules at home and see which ones your kids prefer.

Hedbanz

You pick a card, put it in your headband, and then ask the people playing with you yes or no questions to try and figure out what you are. You have to think of the kinds of questions you need to ask to get you closer to your answer. It can be hilarious!

Storycubes

This game requires some creativity and imagination to make up stories with images you’ve rolled on the dice.  There are several different versions of the game out there, and it’s always interesting to see what adventures people tell.

Mancala

This game is addicting.  I used it a lot at lunch groups as a school counselor. Kids have also told me they like the sound of the beads when they get dropped into the different sections.  

Connect 4

Another game that was very popular with the lunch group crowd. Sometimes kids would play tournaments, or have conversations about whether they played offensively (focused on winning) versus defensively (focused on preventing the other person from winning).

Trouble

Everyone has probably heard the sound of the trouble pop-o-matic.  I love this game because there are times you have to go back to start, and it’s a perfect opportunity to show flexibility and good sportsmanship skills.

Apples to Apples

I love this game because it makes people to think about someone else’s perspective.  What card will be chosen as the winner will change depending on who is judging.  

Bubble Time

This game is similar to Apples to Apples, but uses pictures and captions instead. Everyone can take a turn being the judge, and the judge picks the caption that they think fits the picture best. You have to think about things from the perspective of the judge, so it's another great game to help children work on taking another person's perspective.

Note: Both Apples to Apples Junior and Bubble Talk are for 8+, but younger children can play them if they are on a team with someone who can read for them.

FOR YOUNGER CHILDREN

NEW Hoot Owl Hoot

This is a game from Peaceable Kingdom, known for it's cooperative style game play. All the players work together to get the owls home before the sun rises. Great fun for practicing social skills like cooperating, working together and communicating. Plus it's just adorable!!

Q’s Race to the Top

This game is one of my new favorite social skills games! Why? Because not only do I enjoy playing, children really enjoy playing. The main character in the game is Q, a super smart monkey but doesn’t always have the greatest social awareness and doesn’t always think about others. Q’s Race to the Top is super simple to learn. The game has three types of cards: Blue YOU Cards, Green Q Cards, Orange DO Cards. The counselor in me loves the Blue and Green cards, and the mom in me loves the Orange cards. they get kids moving and doing physical things that are fun and a little challenging. It’s perfect for a child who may have a hard time sitting still for a whole game. And the beauty is it makes children stay invested and involved with the game. Having the physical component is the perfect way to balance out the talking parts of the game.

Animal upon animal

I just recently discovered HABA games thanks to Table by Teresa. What I love about the games from HABA is that they involve cooperative game play, rather than competitive play amongst players. For children who struggle with managing those competitive type of games, these games are a good place to start. Animal Upon Animal is a stacking game where you work together to build as tall of a structure of animals as you can. We've played according to the directions but we also just free build which the kids love too. I totally recommend this game!

Zingo

This is a Bingo style game.  There is a container where the tiles are kept, the dealer pulls it forward and back and reveals two tiles.  Whoever calls out the tile first gets it for their board.  My kids like to take turns being the dealer, and my 3 year old can manage to get the tiles back in with no adult help. It’s such a great game to increase vocabulary, practice matching, pick up on patterns, and just work on social interactions.  There have been many arguments over who said the word first. How do you solve that problem?  It’s a good skill to practice with your family before you have your kids play with their friends.

Elefun

One of my dearest friends let me borrow this game after my son played it at her house.  My kids love to try to catch the fireflies and they have learned to negotiate taking turns putting in the fireflies.  It also keeps them entertained for a long time. It’s adorable!

Don’t Break The Ice

My son loves this game!  He enjoys being able to actually use a hammer and hit something.  You also have to learn some self control while hitting, because if you knock all the pieces out and the skater falls, you lose! On a couple of occasions, we have played this with cousins, and there are some great lessons there about being patient and waiting your turn.  

Clue Jr.

I loved playing Clue with my sister when we were kids! Several years ago, I found Clue Jr and used it when I was working with kids who needed help improving their social skills.  The game was pretty easy to set up and was fun to play.  They had to pay attention to clues, eliminate suspects and make guesses, just like in regular clue.  This was a great game to use with kids to practice social interactions.

Thin Ice

Fun game where you use marbles, tweezers, a little water and tissues.  It’s always fun to see and hear reactions when the “ice” breaks.

Spot it!

Each player gets a card. You have to spot the item that both cards have in common and whoever gets it first wins.  There are several versions, including numbers, letters, animals and sports themes.