Copyright 2006 Julie Shepherd Knapp. All rights reserved.
about the book
The Homeschool Diner's Strategy Games that Even Young Children can Play
by Julie Shepherd Knapp, copyright 2006
At our house, we have a big collection of board games that promote thinking skills. We've collected them over the years, mostly at yard sales and thrift stores... many are no longer produced, but are still available (used) on eBay and at thrift stores. The strategy games that I've listed below are fun and interesting and worth playing more than once or twice. They can even be played by pre-schoolers, as there is no reading required (after someone reads and explains the directions, that is). Most of these games continue to be challenging on up into the teen years (so they are not too boring for older siblings or parents to play too ;-)
Blokus -- players place geometric pieces on a board, following simple rules, and the player who is able to play the most pieces wins, (play online!)
SET game -- follow the pattern rules to find matches -- trickier than you might think! Play online for free to try it out
INPUT by Milton Bradley -- 2 players move tiles around the board in a set pattern inscribed on each tile - the strategy is to look ahead several moves to knock your opponent's tiles out by landing on them. A little like chess in planning skills.
strata5 by Milton Bradley -- 2 players build up plastic "modules" into a structure that will let you get your pieces to the top (5th) level, while blocking your opponent's pieces. Lots of "building codes" to follow - so good for the "rule-loving" types.
SHIFTI by OrDa Ind ltd (a company from Isreal) -- 2 - 4 players move pieces across the board by rolling dice that go up to 6 and have stars on them. Rolling a star means you move a slide which shifts the squares on the playing board. Strategy level/difficulty increases with number of players. Requires flexibility in seeing alternate paths.
Sequence by JAX (Minneapolis, MN, USA) -- 2 players match (standard) playing cards from their "hand" to matching pictures on the board to get 5 in a row and to block your opponent. The strategy is in the timing of when to play the cards you have. Requires attention to detail and good "scanning" skills (the board is visually very busy - 10 x 10).
Mastermind by Pavilion -- 2 players, one player arranges a hidden pattern of colored pegs, the other player tries to figure out the hidden pattern thru strategy and trial and error. The player choosing the pattern must be reliable enough (old enough) to accurately assess and mark the progress of the other player (or arguments will ensue ;-) For younger players, keep it to two colors.
RUBIK'S RACE by Ideal -- 2 players match a 3x3 color block pattern by sliding the squares on their own 5x5 playing board. Skills are similar to the hand-held sliding puzzles where one square is open, and the numbers are scrambled, and must be re-ordered.
Tri-Trac by Milton Bradley -- 2 players place plastic triangles into spaces on a plastic playing board, trying to make a path from any one of 4 end points to another.
Domination by Milton Bradley -- 2 to 4 players move pieces around an octagonal board alternately stacking and unstacking the pieces in order to capture their opponent's stacks
Universe by Parker Brothers -- 2 players take turns placing pentamino shaped pieces, trying to be the last who can legally place a piece, popularized by the 2001: A Space Odyssey movie
Yahtzee by Milton Bradley -- any number of players, roll dice and get points for certain combinations and patterns, similar to poker hands