Friday, February 1, 2008

Great Games For Lazy Moms

I love games... A LOT. Saddly, I married a man who definitely does not. Because of this I am left having to play with my children. My very young, active, silly, carefree children. Cookie is old enough to play chess, Scrabble, Monopoly, etc with me but whenever we try to play the other kids circle us like wolves and bug us or mess up our board while we play. We own great preschool games like Operation, Candy Land, Hi Ho Cherry-O, Memory, Guess Who, Battleship, and many other really cool educational ones that aren't commercial enough for me to remember without getting off my tooshy to look at them. While they are all great games I have a hard time pulling them out for various reasons, such as: The game takes too long (I hate when Plumpy shows up right before someone is about to win), the rules are too detailed and I spend more than half the game explaining the rules, there is usually nothing for Sweet Terror to do while we play but bug us, there are usually lots of little pieces to the game and if you loose one it makes the game useless, if the game comes with cards I can usually expect to be picking them up off the floor too many times for my sanity, and, lastly but not leastly, most of the games require an adult to be there at all time to referee, keep the game going, keep the game from being destroyed, and to explain rules (this means that I can't even leave to answer the phone or change a diaper without ensuing disaster).

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.


Lisa said...

I love games, but we don't play them as much as I would like. My biggest excuse is "it takes too long." Some do. I always want to do better, though. Go games!

Family Adventure said...

We play cards more than anything, but I do like myself a good game of Jenga. :)

Have a good weekend, Heidi

Crockpot Lady said...

this is a great list! I haven't thought of upwords--I think my 6yr old would really enjoy it.

Amber M. said...

SO GLAD I was able to help with your Valentine's quandry. Let me know how it goes over!!!

Anonymous said...

Stacrobats looks like alot of fun!

Edi said...

I too have a dh that does not like the same board games as I. I desperately want a Scrabble player. Today I played Scrabble with my 8 yr old.

We did keep score but I helped her out a lot. I considered it "school" for her...she said she was bored after the first 5 min but mean old mom that I am, I did not let her quit.

She did make one great play on her own that made me have some hope that one day I'll have me a competitor.

Hey - I used your pasta mini cookie cutter idea yesterday - kids loved it!

Scribbit said...

Spencer got a tabletop fuzeball (fooseball?) game for Christmas and loves it, it's been a nice, smaller-sized game in the house.

mom huebert said...

Wow. When I read your list of requirements, my thought was "Good luck finding anything." But you came up with a great selection of games.

I always felt the same way you did about many board games when my kids were younger: too long to explain, too long to play, too easy to mess up. And one complaint of my own: too harsh. My kids have always been sensitive, creative types, and were devastated by games like Sorry! and Monopoly. (It would have been easier sometimes if they had been more rough-and-tumble, competitive types, but I love them anyway.)

I agree that Jenga blocks make a fun building toy. One year I bought several sets of cheap, un-colored ones and put them in decorated ice cream buckets and used them as simply a building block toy. (I think I called them "Dr. Tumble's Blocks".) I got the idea from Dr. Drew's blocks. Jenga blocks aren't exactly the same, but for the price, they were GREAT.

And I wonder if my kids are too old for that Stacrobats game....

Misty said...

Jenga! We were just given that for Christmas.

Andrew and I are not gamers, but boy does he come from a family of them.

We do like to play games with the kids though. It's hard. Teaching every one to feel happy about winning OR losing. And then you have Olivia who is called the Destructor.

Great post. I love it!

Lisa said...

We like games, too. The kids are getting into them well.

Also, the new version of Hungry, Hungry Hippos you can put back in the box...They designed it so that you can take it apart easily and fit it in. We just got that one for Christmas!

Holly said...

We love games too. Our family favorites are Scrabble and Apples to Apples. I've been meaning to pick up Jenga, as we've never played it and it looks like a lot of fun.

Lei said...

Oh this list is just what I need! Thank you! And if you'relooking for suggestions, my kids age 1-8 all love Hullabaloo. It requires little intervention and keeps them busy for quite a while.

Annie said...

Here's a couple suggestions for ya!

Game: Apples 2 Apples

Ice Cream: Dove, Black Raspberry Swirl!

Julie Q. said...

Ooh, I second the motion for apples to apples (the junior version). I does involve at least 3 players, but it's a wonderful game.

Teachin' this mommy new tricks! said...

A game that is really fun, but sounds Settlers of Catan! Banaza is a really good one too!

Caffienated Cowgirl said...

Oh I loved Hungry Hungry Hippos!!!

My current fave for Lazy Mom Time is Memory (I have a wooden tile set of the game that was a gift). My little one is crazy about it...and I can walk away for a bit while he is playing.

Jen said...

We do hungry hippos and the aMAZEing labryinth at our house. Both require very little effort or thought.