Board games are the ultimate classic toy. They have been around since the beginning of humanity, and have become an essential part of childhood experiences worldwide. We are lucky enough to now live in their golden age, where board games are more popular than ever. Every year, new innovative brands arise, and we have access to an incredible diversity of games.

Genres include strategy, role-playing, card and skill games. While certain games are designed for you to move or react quickly, others require deep concentration. This ultimately means that there is a perfect board game for every child. We’ve designed this article to help you find what that is for your little one, or even for yourself!

Key Facts

  • The market offers an incredible variety of board games, with countless categories to choose from. There’s everything you want from simple dice games, to elaborate role-playing or strategy games.
  • Playing is the absolute best activity if you want your child to learn. Board games will encourage his or her cognitive, motor and social development while having fun.
  • We encourage you to search for games that will entertain your child as well as yourself. This will allow you to have afternoons of family games. Teamwork and healthy competition also contribute to strengthening family ties.

Ranking: The best board games on the Canadian market

There truly is a board game for every taste. We want to help you find just the right game for you, whether it’s to entertain your child and his friends or for a family night at home. We’ve selected our favourite board games in the following section to get you started in your search.

No. 1: Monopoly – Canadian Edition by Hasbro

This is the quintessential family board game, basically guaranteed to bring hours of fun to your family. This Canadian version includes all the classic game tokens from previous versions including Rubber Ducky, Tyrannosaurus Rex, and Penguin.

There are up to 8 tokens, enabling anywhere 2-8 players to play, though for larger families you can create small teams to enable even more players and encourage collaboration.

There is likely, no need to explain the rules of Monopoly to anyone – but just in case: each participant progresses through the game purchasing and developing properties but also managing cash flow risk and expenses.

The most successful developer who ends up lasting longer (i.e. owning more without going bankrupt) wins! If it isn’t already in your home, this game will likely become a  common feature at your living room table. With the small game pieces, there is a choking hazard for young children three years and under.

No. 2: Risk – by Hasbro

Risk is another classic game requiring an enthralling mixture of risk and luck. Your mission is simple – take over the world. Its a game of strategy and conquest in which players need to conquer their enemies’ territories by building an army, moving their troops in, and engaging in battle. Depending on the roll of the dice, a player will either defeat the enemy or be defeated.

Politics is also a key component of this game in which players can create alliances, surprise attacks as well as betray their partners. On this battlefield, the rules of war and politics are not specified. Players need to defeat all of the enemy troops in a territory to conquer that territory and move closer to world conquest.  Up to five players can play. Due to the presence of small board pieces, this game is not suitable for toddlers.

No. 3: Operation by Hasbro

This is a classic engaging game that tests hand-eye coordination and concentration in a revetting way. Cavity Sam is feeling unwell and the player’s purpose is to operate on him and bring him back to health. In order to do so the player needs to take tweezers and remove the body parts of Cavity Sam with with great care. Touching the sides lights up Cavity Sam and the game buzzes!

The game requires two double aa batteries. Its best for ages six and up, due to the small pieces involved. This game can be played by oneself or even in groups of 5 or more. Each person can take turns trying to cure Cavity Sam.

No. 4: Hungry Hippos

This is a great game for small kids four and up, as well as adult kids at heart.  The purpose of the game is for the hungry hippos to eat the marbles. The player whose hippo eats the most marbles wins. There are 4 hippos in total so the game is best for either two or four players to play.

Some basic assembly is needed in putting the game together.  Keep this game away from three year olds or kids who may decide to eat the marbles themselves. Each set comes with four hippos and twenty marbles.  The game tests speed, hand-eye coordination and concentration.

No. 5: Twister

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This is a classic party game for all ages –  kids to adults.  It requires at least two participants, one person spinning the wheel giving instructions and one (or more players) following those instructions or challenges by trying to do the right move on the map. If you haven’t yet played this game, you will soon understand why it is called twister as you try to follow the instructions and put your body in the right place on the mat.

This game is guaranteed to raise the energy in the room.  Its action packed and tests flexibility, dexterity and strength. Right foot red.  Left foot green. Can you do it? If your knee or elbow touches the mat or you fall over, you are out. Be the last player standing to win.

No. 6: Jenga by Hasbro

Another classic game by Hasbro . Children aged 6 and above can play it.  Moreover  it can easily be played alone and still be lots of fun. It’s also very affordable and great to have around. The goal of the game is simple: take hardwood blocks out of the tower without being the one to make it fall.

This fun game is a great way to develop your children’s motor skills, as well as their ability to analyze situations.  It also tests concentration and patience.  Another fun fact: the name is derived from the Swahili word meaning “to build”!

No. 7: Battleship by Hasbro

Battleship is the classic naval combat game that brings together competition, strategy, and excitement. Its a head-to-head battle – you need two people or groups of two to play. In this game you need to search for the enemy’s fleet of ships and destroy them one by one. No ship is safe in this game of stealth and suspense.

The game includes convenient portable battle cases and realistic naval crafts. Battleship puts you right in the middle of the action.  You need to position your ships strategically to survive the strikes of your opponent. The last player standing wins.

Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about board games

Board games are the perfect gift, with each one being unique. The almost endlessness of concepts and genres can be overwhelming when you’re on the hunt for the perfect game for your child. In the following section, we’ve discussed some of the most frequently asked questions about board games to give you all the information you need.

Board games are the ideal entertainment to motivate children to learn.
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What types of board games are available out there?

As you probably know, there are a great variety of board game genres to choose from. These can be defined by their physical elements, their rules or their mechanics. In the table below, we’ve summed up the main board game categories:

Category Way of playing Characteristics
Dice games They are based on throwing a die and moving a token on a board. They include some of the most classic and iconic games, such as the Game of the Goose. Winning mostly relies on chance, and games tend to be shorter. They are generally easy to understand.
Strategy games These games involve players developing a series of strategies to achieve a goal. They can be cooperative or individual. They depend on players’ analytical, planning or deduction skills.
Card games Card games are only played with cards, whether traditional or specifically designed for the game, such as Uno or Dixit. Each game is unique. Some are purely random, while others involve strategy, skill or deduction.
Role-playing games These games involve a narrator, and the players must take on the role of a character. They test players’ storytelling skills, communication and imagination. The games tend to be very long.

What are the benefits of board games?

Children learn best by playing. They are developing key cognitive and socio-affective skills while they’re having fun with a good board game. While the educational content will naturally depend on the game you choose, most games offer the following benefits:

  • They contribute to cognitive and motor development: Board games, and more specifically those with attractive and colourful designs, contribute to the cognitive development of children. They help them better identify shapes, numbers, letters and colours. Games with different pieces also stimulate motor skills and coordination.
  • They stimulate social skills: Playing a board game with other children helps them to learn bout healthy competition and cooperation. Children therefore train their patience, generosity and even their understanding of justice. They may even learn to analyse other players’ strategies and adapt their own.
  • They allow quality family time: One of the best ways to make the most out of board games is to play them as a family. Game nights are ideal to spend some time with your child while being away from screens. Teamwork and healthy competition are also concepts that are uniting.

Should I play board games with my children?

Of course! Most child-oriented board games are easy to understand and perfect for children to play with their friends or siblings. They’ll even be able to enjoy them without supervision once they understand the rules. That being said, it is important for you to also play games with your kids.

Easy board games are fantastic didactic tools for your youngest children. As they grow, you’ll be able to play games that you can also enjoy and that are more challenging for all ages. That way, you can organise family game night and spend quality time together.

Having board games at home is a life saver during bad weather.
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When can my child start playing board games?

As you might know, there are different board games designed for each stage of childhood. Experts recommend children to start playing board games around the age of 4. This is when children are developing the appropriate motor skills for this kind of games. This is also an age particularly favourable for them to learn to play in a structured way with their peers.

Children will be attracted to more complex board games as they grow up. There really is no age limit for board games, and teenagers may have a preference for role-playing or strategy games. There are also excellent options that any adult will enjoy if you’re looking for a fun way to spend an evening with your friends.

Shopping Criteria

Board games are more popular than ever, which also means that the market offers an incredible diversity. This is great news, and we bet you want to find the perfect game for your child. In the next section, we’ve discussed some of the most important criteria to consider when looking for your new board game. They are the following:

  • Age of your child
  • Number of players
  • Game genre
  • Difficulty and length
  • Educational content

Age of your child

Your child will be able to start experimenting with board games around the age of 4. In that regard, it is crucial that you provide the right games for the stage of life they are in. Opt for short games if you don’t want younger kids to lose interest. Because children of that age are so energetic, we recommend a game that involves movement.

Classic games like Uno or Monopoly can be introduced a little later in life. Children can understand just about any board game around the age of 8. This will be the appropriate time for you to initiate them to more complex games, like strategy games. You’ll also be able to enjoy your time playing with your children.

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Did you know that Monopoly is one of the best-selling games in the world?

Number of players

This is naturally a key element to consider when buying any board game. We encourage you to go for a product tailored for more people if you’re not quite sure how many players you’ll have. Most games can be played when you have guests over, or during a family evening.

You should also think about when you’ll be playing the game. If you have several children, some game are ideal for playing in pairs. Other games, on the other hand, are more tailored for large groups: they are perfect for a family evening or for your child’s birthday party.

Game genre

The personality of your child and his interests will naturally determine which type of game you should go for. Extroverted children, for instance, will particularly enjoy games that involve singing or miming. Narrative games like Dixit are great for creative kids who love to tell stories. If your child is very alert, you might be interested in strategy or deduction games.

Didactic games are also a fantastic way to contribute to the development of our kids. You can also find products that encourage physical activity if you want your child to exert himself. Certain games available on the market are designed to test the flexibility, balance, coordination and even the rhythm of the players.

Monopoly is a great classic that you simply must have at home.
(Source: Steven Cukrov: 29099192/ 123rf.com)

Difficulty and length

The complexity of a board game is a big differentiating factor, and one that will strongly influence which you choose. Role-playing games and certain strategy games, for instance, are harder to understand and entail more rules, but they are fascinating to play. These games that are more complex immerse the players in elaborate fictitious worlds and can last several hours – or more.

That being said, please do remember that not every child and teenager enjoys these harder games. As we mentioned earlier, try and stick to simpler and shorter games if your child is still under 8. Complicated games that require a lot of patience will most likely bore kids of that age.

Educational content

As you’ve probably understood, board games don’t have to be explicitly didactic to contribute to your child’s cognitive development. Most games actually allow kids to work with different skills and learn while playing. Simply think about the skills you want to stimulate in your child and look for games that provide the right playing environment for this.

In our selection of board games, we’ve tried to include games that also contribute to the development of various skills in your children. Monopoly, for instance, serves as an introduction to money management.  Scrabble, on the other hand, will help expand their vocabulary and they’ll start playing with letters in a fun way.

Summary

Board games are always an excellent gift idea, whether it is for a boy or a girl. Their ever-growing popularity means that the market has an almost infinite offer of all genres and types. There is always a board game out there suitable for everyone, regardless of age, personality or interests.

Your child’s development can also greatly benefit from playing board games, as they allow kids to learn while having fun. We can’t encourage you enough to choose a board game that you can also play with your children, as they are a great way to spend quality time together.

If you liked our guide to board games, feel free to share this article on your social media, or leave us a comment in the section below!

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