Deck the Halls: Educational Family Games 

Post By: Elizabeth B


Deck the Halls:
Educational Family Games
Fun and Games

The holidays are here! That means nights are longer, the world is colder, and Great-Aunt Gertrude is packing her bags for her annual visit. Whether you have eight celebrations planned or are foregoing all holidays in favor of naps, you may be getting calls from loved ones asking when you can get together. Don't spend your winter dreading another conversation about politics over pie. Your local library has your back with six awesome, educational, and family-friendly games to fill those gaps in conversation with good memories instead.  

Each one is:  

  • Playable in 30 minutes
  • Builds important literacy skills
  • Available at Aurora Public Library to try!

1) For Kids Who Pore Over Picture Books: Dixit 


Whether your kids can read yet or not, they'll love Dixit, a cheerful card game filled with fairy-tale imagery. One player names a prompt, like "music" or "The Little Mermaid." Everyone then chooses one of their cards that they think best represents the theme. Afterwards, all players try to guess what card the prompt-giver picked. With rabbit-shaped game pieces and lush illustrations, Dixit will leave you marveling at cuteness instead of stressing over winning.  

Recommended Ages: 6 and older 

Playtime: 30 minutes 

Literacy skills: Creativity, story-telling, communication 


2). For Your Niece Who Sleeps in a Tutu: Sparkle Kitty 
Sparkle Kitty

Cross Candy Land with Uno and you have this sugar-sweet game. The evil Queen Sparkle Kitty has locked the princesses of the land in towers! To escape, players must match cards and shout silly phrases to free themselves. Younger kids will love the bright colors and princess theme, while adults will enjoy the deck's diverse representation and vocabulary. (Plus, who says adults won't laugh over magic phrases like "Otter Devastation?")  

Recommended Ages: 6 or older. Younger kids may need a parent's help to read the words. 

Playtime: 15-20 minutes 

Literacy Skills: Colors, shapes, vocabulary 


3). For the Artist who Doodles in Notebooks: Tsuro 

Game play is marvelously simple: each player builds a path for their token, winding across the board. Players must avoid bumping into other players or falling off the edge of the board...but, as the board fills with paths, this gets harder and harder to do! Play it once and you'll know the rules. Play it twice and your friends will be placing tiles down with a conniving glint in their eyes.  

Recommended Ages: 8 and older. 

Playtime: 15-20 minutes 

Literacy skills: Strategy, spatial reasoning 


4). For Ralph the Reptile Lover: Coloretto 

Match colorful chameleons to win in this award-winning German card game. Players want to match one color with another, but beware: you don't want more than three different chameleon colors! Wordless and bright, the whole family will like this fast-paced card game. 

Recommended Ages: 8 and older 

Playtime: 30 minutes 

Literacy skills: Colors, counting 


5). For the Teen Who Loves to Yell: Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
Keep Talking

Want to scratch that “spy” itch and strengthen communication skills at the same time? Teens at Mission Viejo and Iliff Square can’t get enough of Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes. The game’s premise is simple: only one player can see the bomb. They must explain what they see to anyone else playing, who desperately scour a rulebook looking for ways to defuse the bomb. Fail three times, and a loud explosion signals that it’s “Game Over.” Players can focus on reading, asking questions, or describing symbols, depending on their skills and confidence level.

 Recommended Ages: 12 and older, though younger kids can play with help.

Playtime: 5 minutes for a quick game, though I promise no one will quit after the first round

Literacy skills: Communication, advanced vocabulary, Morse code (yes, really)


6). For Anyone Who Won't Wash Dishes: Overcooked  

Everyone could stand to help a little more with household chores. And what better way to prompt that than by turning work into a fun game? In Overcooked, players must work together to cook various meals for their restaurant, passing burger patties and dirty dishes across the counters. The trick? You might be cooking on a moving truck, on an iceberg, in a spaceship, or with a flamethrower. Overcooked won multiple game awards for "Best Cooperative Game" in 2016, and after testing it with teens, young adults, and moms, I can confirm it's fun for video game addicts and novices alike.  

Ages: 12 and older.  

Playtime: 5 minutes for a quick game, though finishing every stage might take all winter. 

Literacy skills: Cooperation, time management 


Want more games? Or want to give these a test drive before committing?
 Check out our Tabletop Gaming Clubs at Mission Viejo and Iliff Square: 

Mission Viejo: Wednesdays, 4:30 PM: December 13, January 10, January 24
Iliff Square: Saturdays, 3 PM: December 2, December 16, January 6, January 20

Posted by On 11 December, 2017 at 12:03 PM  

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