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I have a degree in English and Theatre. I am a woman of imagination.

I value books more than I value cupcakes (which is a big deal), and I am in awe of people who can come up with incredible words and scenarios that delight thousands of people the world over. And yet…

And yet, the thought of pretending to make two LEGO guys talk to each other about ninja school makes me want to cry. I don’t know what the deal is — I used to do okay playing make-believe games with my kids — but I’m pretty sure we’ve reached the expiration date on my “imagination play” stockpile. I promise you, I have the appropriate levels of mom-guilt over this, but I just can’t do it anymore.

So, thankfully, a few years ago, we started accumulating board games. It may not seem like anything monumental, but board games have been the gateway to family quality time that doesn’t involve making a My Little Pony rescue a Minecraft pig from an impending imaginary doom.

You get to sit down with your family, use strategy, enjoy yourself (usually), and drop the parenting-guilt. Now, finding board games that accommodate varying age ranges is not always the easiest, which is why I’m here to help with another listicle about kids entertainment!

1. Spot It and Loonacy

Spot and Loonancy technically aren’t board games, but card games. That being said, they still provide the same benefits I mentioned before. What’s cool about them, though, is that they rely on picture matching for game play. This means that younger kids (my youngest was playing them at 4 years old) can get in on the fun without too much frustration. And while picture matching might sound childish and boring, the games are set up to be just as fun for adults as they are for kids.

2. Sequence and Sequence for Kids

Both Sequence and Sequence for Kids are family favorites around here. The basic object is to get 4 or 5 tokens (depending on which version) in a row on the game board. You are dealt and draw cards in order to place your tokens. The original version uses 2 decks of regular playing cards, while the kids’ version uses pictures of animals with fun names. While the kids version is definitely simpler, it’s a great way to prepare kids for the original when they get a little older.

Basically, the kids version is very near to frustration-free, which is a TOTAL WIN when you’re dealing with both a 3 year old and a 6 year old at the same time.

3. Sushi Go

I love love love love love Sushi Go… and I’m not the only one. My kids love it, their grandma loves it, my husband loves it… we love it. It’s categorized as a “pick and pass” game, which means that each player picks a card from their hand and keeps it before passing the rest of the hand to the next person. The goal is to make different sushi combinations for the most points. And let me tell you, the little sushis have faces on them and are so adorable I can barely handle it. My youngest has been playing since she was early 4 years old, and was able to get a solid grasp on the gameplay, even if she didn’t really understand the strategy.

4. The Magic Labyrinth

The Magic Labyrinth is a recent addition to our collection, and one that I genuinely enjoy playing, even though it’s directed toward younger kids. This game allows you to create a maze out of little wooden pieces on a cardboard grid. You then place a game board over the grid to hide the maze. From here you use memory skills and a magnetic game piece to drag a metal ball through the maze without hitting a hidden wooden piece and losing the ball. The game is doable for kids ages 5 and up, but also challenging and fun for an adult.

With severe weather season offering the possibility of power outages and basement time, as well as a summer full of hot days on its way, a healthy, fun board game collection can be the perfect antidote to cabin fever. And, while these games are available on Amazon and other online outlets, I encourage you to call your local game store first and see if they have one of them in stock. Small-scale game stores are magical places, and need our support!

If you’re in Nebraska, check out these great places to buy and play tabletop games: Spielbound, Sparta, Dragon’s Lair, Game On, and Gauntlet Games.

Happy gaming!

Lauren Bonk

Lauren Bonk is a freelance copywriter, editor, and blogger who's been wrangling children and words since 2010. She high-fives her husband frequently, probably drinks too much coffee, and sighs nostalgically over 90's music on a regular basis. Learn more about Lauren at ...

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