The point of Candyland is to provide something that mimics a game in order to teach some very important concepts:
When it is your turn, there are a handful of things you have to do.
When it is not your turn, wait patiently.
Don’t be a poor loser.
Don’t be a rich winner.
If the kid is a little older, they can learn banter between moves.
As such, Candyland is probably one of the most important games for any/all of us, even if, as adults, we see the fun not in playing it, but in watching the small ones figure out how to go through the motions of playing a game.
So let’s say the kiddos have that down. Now it’s time to play something else.
What do you play?
NO NOT MONOPOLY. Jeez. What a great way to turn anybody/everybody off of board games for the rest of their lives. Checkers? Chinese Checkers? Chess? Nine-men’s Morris?
Those might good for the 6 year old who has games down, it seems to me. Not good for the 4 year old who has Candyland down pat. Not yet.
So I stumbled across a dice game that requires no reading (assuming a grownup reads the instructions the first time and teaches the simple game to the child), teaches simple tactical play, and allows for noises to be made:
The conceit is pretty simple: it’s a car race. You are a car on a track and you want to get from the start line to the finish line by rolling five dice. These are dice with six colors (a different color on each side) and you can only move to an adjacent color next to yours on the track. Sometimes, that means that you have three colors to choose from (and the failure state is that you roll nothing but the other three colors… practice saying “you stalled!”). Sometimes that means that you have to roll one specific color (“Come on, BLUE!” “Aw… you’ll get it next time, buddy!”).
Now, here’s where the game has potential to be really exciting: you remove one of the die when you move to the adjacent color with that die, but if you then have new adjacent colors that are still in your remaining dice pool, you can move to that one. Jump to blue, then jump to green, then jump to purple? “Vroom! Vrooooom! VRRRRRRRRRRRROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM! SCREEEEEEEECH!”
100% chance, just like Candyland. Running around a track based on the color of the track, just like Candyland. But, sometimes, you can make choices (“do I go to the adjacent red square or the adjacent green square? Well, if I go to the adjacent red square, I can go to the purple square. But if I go to the green square, I can only go to the next adjacent yellow square and I didn’t roll any yellows… okay, we’re going red!”) and it’s the choices that make the game fun and allow you to point out that some game choices are better than others.
Or, I suppose, there’s Chutes and Ladders. That one is a good one too. You can work some moral messages in to that. “Don’t goof off on your bike or you’ll end up in a sling!”
So… what are you playing?
(Picture is HG Wells playing a war game from Illustrated London News (25 January 1913[/efn_note]