Saturday, December 24, 2016

Board Games with a Nature Twist

While we love getting outside, we also enjoy playing games together! We have found a few nature related board games we enjoy!

1. Bingo! Wildlife Bingo is a classic game that can be played by just about any age. These games are pretty basic, with paper counters, 6 bingo cards and cards for all the animals. The animal cards have information on the back. I even learned a few things when I read these, such as mink being excellent swimmers. My kids started making connections between different animals with the deer family and also with members of the rodent family. I find the number of bingo cards limiting, as I'd most likely want to use this in a larger group, however, it works fine for my family. It is made of thin cardboard. It also includes animals from all of North America, rather than just our region. There are numerous other nature bingo topics, like birds, insects, nature, wildflowers, and freshwater fish. These could be made with your own pictures as well to make them more customized.

2. Professor Noggin series! The Professor Noggin series of games includes simple games that test your knowledge. There are two levels of play (can be different for each person playing), making it good for adults (or older kids) and kids to play together. Once again, not region specific, but we've learned about animals while playing the game. It would be another good one to make your own clues. It also has many topics--Freshwater Life, Reptiles and Amphibians, Birds, Insects, etc. I like the portability of these, too.

3. Sneaky Snacky Squirrel! We have really liked this game. The box is shaped like a tree with plastic acorns inside with a set of tweezers shaped like a squirrel. While it doesn't directly teach about squirrels, it reinforces color and counting with younger children. I found all of my boys would play it together (aged 2-10 when we first got it). See my full review here.  While it doesn't talk about squirrels, I find we have plenty of conversations about squirrels while playing. I gifted it this year and bought an extra to have for upcoming birthday parties for my 4-year-old.

4. Animal Tracks! This game can be played as Bingo, matching, or guess the tracks. The game is fine, but includes animals from farms and all over, rather than a specific place. Can you tell I like learning about animals in our region as a solid foundation for our kids? Sometimes, I will separate the cards into sets that make more sense of them to be together.

5. Hide & Seek! A friend brought this over for Christmas this week. It's really similar to playing hide and seek in the yard! I liked that there was a stream, four-leaf clovers, and other details we might find outside. My friend's family had made/played this game for years and then her son got them interested in producing it for market. We had fun playing it--we should follow it up with a real game of hide and seek! It was fun trying to stay away from each other.

6. Wildcraft! An Herbal Adventure Game. We purchased this as an early Christmas game. It was simple to play, though took just playing the game to understand how to use all the cards. The artwork is great! The cards reinforced various plants we might find in the wild (though many transported by colonists) and how they might help various ailments. The game is cooperative in nature, which was kind of nice. I like competition, too, but enjoy working together, too. You can download a story to read as you go on the adventure. We're looking forward to playing this more! It does not go into depth about the plants, so I might put a field guide on the table while we are playing. We noticed the distinctions between the plants. This is a fun way to start thinking about plants more.

7. Nature Fluxx! We played this with my brother and sister-in-law. They always find good games. I would say older kids or adults would want to play this more. The premise of the game is pretty simple, but due to the changing nature of the game, it is always a challenge and fun to play. There are other games in the Fluxx line, though we appreciated the natural spin on this on.

8. Settlers of Catan I feel like I need to include this as it deals with humans' interactions with resources. It reminds me subtly that our resources are finite and how much we depend on them to build and expand. We need to be responsible stewards. There is no clear nature connection beyond that; however, we enjoy the strategy of playing this game.

9. GoFind It! This is a neat card based seek and find game for outside on the trail. It is handy to have in a trail bag to bring out when kids need a pick me up. Match different characteristic cards to find unique items in any spot in nature!

What nature inspired games have you enjoyed? Want to play? Just let us know! We'd love to have you over if you are local.

I have been able to find some of these at yard sales or thrift stores, making them less expensive. I watched the Wildcraft game for a couple of years before taking the plunge to buy it. I waited until I found a good sale. It's also fun to get together with other families or couples with each bringing a nature game to play! Locally, Better World Books in Goshen also has many games on display as demo games, as well as a game night. This can be a great place to try out a new game.

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