Twister game – early box cover art

Earth Game

Earth Game – a great cooperative game from Family Pastimes. “No, not a war game but a peace game! Players look after Fictional Nations, managing resources and solving the emerging problems. You have to be quick thinking and compassionate to deal with rapidly changing circumstances. What to do? Try Consultation, Trade Agreements, Economic Communities, deploying Peace Armies to cool out conflicts, Planetary Meetings … Games are won when Spaceship Earth’s problems are solved and lost when you allow a World War to break out. A great strategy that simulates leadership skills!

Another unusual and elegant board game is the Tokaido game – A strategy game involving travelers along the Tokaido East Sea Road. It won the 2008 Lucca Best Game Honors. See slideshow of game pieces here. – A.K.

We just love Apples to Apples. If you have kids in elementary, I suggest the Apples to Apples Jr. Jr. is also great for ESL classes. It’s not a board game, but a word game. Each player is dealt 5 red apple cards (nouns such as Winnie the Pooh, washing dishes, dirty socks…) The green apple cards are stacked in the middle. They include adjectives such as smelly, funny, spooky, sad, thin, etc. One green card is turned over and one person is designated the judge. Each person except the judge puts face down their card that best goes with the adjective. The judge decides the best card – it’s important that all submissions are anonymous. This winner gets the green apple card. The judge changes at each play and the winner is the one who has 5 green apple cards first (or 10 depending on how long you like to play). It is better with more people and is a great party game (3-10 people can easily play this one). I haven’t been able to find this in Japan and got them in the US. We use them also at the High School I teach at. Even those who hate English love this game. – Lauri.

 Settlers of Catan

Has anyone ever played Settlers of Catan? You are a colonist on an uncharted island, and you have to settle the land by building houses and roads. You have to make your way by mining, logging, or farming… trading etc. There is quite a bit of strategy involved, and it is both cooperative and competitive. The ‘strategy’ of the game is approached very differently by the ages of my kids. My youngest started at four, and was thrilled with the trading aspect. Recently he has been focusing on how many houses he can build, or how long he can make his roads. My 10 year old is focused on the end results — point is that it is really interesting for multi ages. We have the Japanese version. I think that German is the original, but am not certain.

High schoolers or university students (or moms) might be interested in the online game version online game version. (The kids do not know there is an online game) Anyway, we have been playing it nearly every night now. – Regina


Twister and Ludo

My kids love board games as well. We have the usual ones, including Twister (see learning through Twister), which I refuse do any more because the kids get hysterics at me trying to twist around. My kids also make up board games, with rules that are constantly changing. Also the kids seem love ludo, which I find very boring.–Jackie

My 7 year old is a real game fan! We have tons of board games. His favorites are Stratego, Risk (and anything with a war-like theme…), Monopoly, Sorry, Clue, Battleship, Mastermind, Connect 4, Mille Bornes and Life. For moms who can handle noisy games: Perfection and Operation. RushHour is a great solitary game. And don’t forget chess! — Inh

Monopoly pack logo.png

My kids like Monopoly best. One is hotelier wanna-be, another a banker wanna-be. They also like Scrabble jr. and sr. and Scrabble Cards is a great one because it can go anywhere. Then there’s chess and Chinese checkers which we like but which we’ve managed to lose some pieces. Othello‘s a great favorite that the kids can catch on to at a very young age. We’ve just added Cluedo and Mastermind to our collection and my son is asking to add Life as well. — Aileen  

Dao Deluxe Strategy Game

I was just reading in the National Geographic about this very ‘smart and small’ game called Dao  that has deceptively simple’ rules. It was made in this tiny area of the US hanging off a Canadian peninsula. Apparently, everyone plays it there. It might make for a family treat. – L.

If you’re looking for good cooperative games to promote English exposure and family fun, I highly recommend a small games-maker in Canada called Family Pastimes. I blogged about my experience of these games yesterday at Bilingual Monkeys …– Adam Beck @ Bilingual Monkeys: Ideas and inspiration for raising bilingual kids (without going bananas)

 The Swiss Family Robinson: Flone of the Mysterious Island

Flone or The Vision of Escaflowne I have been eyeing this game. My family Dh, and 3 dss aged 7,5,3, and I have been borrowing the dvd series Flone recently. It is from the 80s, and is a very cute anime based on the swiss family robinson, except it has a girl as the main character. They get shipwrecked, and then settle the island. It is in Japanese, but it has been delightful. Dh remembers it from his childhood. – Traci See website promo website promo (a limited edition packaged with a small collector’s book and 26  from Bandai games). You can also watch the video anime here.

Your best resource online for searching out great board games? Try the Board Game Geek website!

For puzzle ideas, try the website

Purchase many board games and puzzles at Toys R Us and Tokyu Hands or

The point of this article is to get your kids out interacting with each other and with you playing board games.


We advocate board games because they bond family members and build social skills .. but if you can’t get your hands on a board game, there are online ones.

Recommended: Settlers of Catan (You are a colonist on an uncharted island, and you have to settle the land by building houses and roads and prosper by mining, logging, or farming, trading etc. Available in English or Japanese, and other languages.


How to Train Your Dragon Games / HTTYD Games

Sudoku China

Paradise Quest

The Lost Tomb

Plan It Green


You can find over 50 downloadable online games at yahoo games.

You can download online 90+ online games here.