For this reason I have been slowly collecting what I call Lazy Mom Games For Kids. My requirements are: Kids can play without an adult, one kid can play alone, loosing pieces won't affect game's useability, Sweet Terror can do something in/with the game that won't bug us or ruin the game, players should be able to leave and new players enter the game at anytime, and it must be entertaining for me as well because I do like playing with my kids.
Here are the winners, thus far (Click on picture to read descriptions and reviews on Amazon):
Jenga meets all my requirements, plus the kids can just use them like regular blocks if they get tired of the game. And, because the point of the game is to have the tower tip over, it isn't TOO bad if Sweet Terror knocks it down because that means she is the looser, and no one else wants to be the one to tip it over. I do miss the old square box that it used to come in because then you could slide the box off the blocks and it was already set up to play.
Stacrobats is a lot like Jenga. you start with one plastic acrobat standing in the base. Then you try stacking them onto eachother until it comes crashing down. There are holes and slots in the acrobats where you can stick legs and arms through to kind of weave the acrobats together. It has actually proved to be harder for the adults than for the kids which makes for competitive fun. On the plus side, Sweet Terror likes to take a few of the acrobats and use them like paper dolls while we play. Another plus is the different colors of the acrobats. We use them to teach sorting skills and math. We will build up a tower of acrobats and then I will have Monster Man count how many there are of each color and which color was used the most, and then Pablo has to add the numbers up to find out how many they used. WE LOVE THIS ONE.
Upwords is so much fun for kids who can spell or who are just learning to spell. When I play with Cookie we keep score but with the younger boys we just try to make as many words as we can and we all help each other. Because the pieces all interlock a little it is hard for Sweet Terror to destroy it while we are playing (unlike Scrabble, where one sweep of her hand leaves everyone in tears). For little Monster Man I like to hand-select his tiles so that he can spell lots of three letter words like cat, mom, dog, etc. I really reccomend that you try to find the older version of this game (the one with simple cream colored tiles) because it is much sturdier and user friendly than the new brightly colored version.
Hungry Hungry Hippos may remind you of the 80's but it is still a great game. If you loose the balls that come with the game you can easily replace them with marbles (one time my kids even made balls out of playdough and they worked just fine). My son will play this all by himself, circling his arms around it to run all the hippos at once. It also teaches counting to the little kids as they have to count up their balls at the end of each game to find out who wins. And if you don't want to have winners and loosers you just focus on clearing the board together. (Sadly, this is another game that is better if you find an older version, as the newer version is flimsy and doesn't fit back in it's box. You can find knock-offs that work better. Our current one has frogs instead of hippos)
Hot Hoops was a game I picked up last minute in an attempt to even out the Christmas presents between our kids and has been a family favorite every since. Even DSSH and I have been caught in a viscious round of hoops after the kids have gone to bed. When we loose the basketballs we can just replace them with ping pong balls. As it is, we have lost one of the balls and it hasn't affected game play at all. We just play until one person has all the balls and misses 3 shots in a row. Sweet Terror is so fascinated by the game play that she is happy to just watch and she loves to retrieve any of the fly away balls for us. Sadly, Amazon no longer carries this (I bought mine at WalMart) but you can get it online here.
So, do you have any Lazy Mom Games that I can add to my list?
And for other great game ideas you should go check out Scribbit's list.