Best Games for a Rainy Day

It has been another record-setting winter here in Seattle.  Record rain, record cold, and record number of days without sunshine.  Is it spring yet?  Unfortunately, the answer here is no, so we are still taking advantage of all the rainy day entertainment we can find here in the Northwest.  And while it’s easy to complain about the rain and gloom, I honestly don’t mind it that much.  I like drinking hot tea, wearing sweatpants, and being cozy inside with my family.  I also know that it can’t last forever, despite what it might seem!

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So how have we weathered the winter?  With a lot of indoor fun and games.  Today I thought I’d share our family’s favorite games to play when we are going stir-crazy inside.

Board Games

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We have finally hit that magical sweet spot in ages where the boys can actually play board games together – sometimes even all by themselves.  We have a growing collection of board games, and they are all played very regularly.  The favorites of the classic board games are Chutes and Ladders (my personal favorite), Candy Land, and Dinosaur Escape.  These are all simple enough that the boys (ages 3 and 5) can play with them on their own!  They have also just gotten into Sneaky Snacky Squirrel and Connect Four.

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Outside of the typical point-to-point type of games, we also have a number of memory games that are also quite popular.  The Dinosaurs Matching Game is a fun one because it includes a lot of different dinosaurs we weren’t already familiar with.  The MLB Matching Game is an absolute must for any tiny baseball fan –- both my kids now know every single major league mascot!  The memory games are great because we can do it face-up as just matching when we play with both kids, or face-down as a memory game when it’s Cullen and me.

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The other really popular board games the kids love these days are Bingo games! These are great in groups of kids so that everyone can play without having to wait a long time for turns.  We have Animal Bingo and Skunk Bingo, and both are really fun.  These are some of my favorite to play together as a whole family, since they are very inclusive and low drama.

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Over the weekend, I taught Cullen checkers (using Connect Four pieces and a chess board).  He is really into strategy and it’s nice to actually play a game that requires some thinking.  I won’t let him win and he hates it.  He and Casey also play chess and he is REALLY into it.  If you ask him what he’s excited about for Kindergarten next year, the chess club is high on the list.  We have this kid’s chess set and book that he reads over and over again.  I won’t play with him because he is already better than me!
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iPAD Apps and Games

I get asked a lot what games and apps the kids are using these days!  We have a puff-ball system where they earn little balls to cash in for screen-time each day (more on that in another post!), so that we don’t have to battle about it on a daily basis.  They can choose to either watch a show or play on the iPad, and they almost always choose to play games.  The current favorites for their ages (3 and 5) include:

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Anything LEGO – Graham likes the LEGO Duplo Trains app, and Cullen’s favorite is the LEGO My City app.  They also both like the LEGO Creator Islands!  These hold their attention a long time, but are somewhat mindless.

BRIO World – Another favorite – involves building trains and driving them around on pre-made tracks, or tracks you build yourself.  Again, not super educational but pretty inoffensive, and definitely an attention holder.

PBS Kids – There is an actual PBS Kids TV app, where you can watch free full episodes of all the PBS shows.  I love this one because I trust anything made for kids on PBS, and don’t feel like I need to preview or screen their show choices.  These are the only shows the kids watch on TV!  Also, depending on what shows they enjoy, each show or character has their own app as well (our favorites are Sid the Science Kid and Dinosaur Train!)

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Moana Island Life – I’m serious about the Moana obsession.  If the iPad is not being used to play the soundtrack on repeat, it’s probably being used to play this game.  There is nothing educational about it, but it’s Moana and that’s all that matters.  Also, one of my friends from high school is a video game designer and he built this one – so cool!

Toca Boca – I’ve written about these before, my kids love the Toca apps.  Their favorites are Toca Train and Toca Robot Lab.  I like that they are fun and imaginative and it’s important to me (particularly with little boys) that the games they play have non have violent characters or motivations.

So there you have our favorite games for the family this season. Fingers crossed for more sunshine and fewer rainy days ahead.  No rain, no rainbows right?

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Have a great Monday, friends!