Back in 2009, I shared some of my family's favorite board games, and this year I'll share a few more. My kids are 8, 5 and 5 and have been playing games regularly since age 2. We've had good luck introducing games meant for older kids to them, but I'll make suggestions for age ranges and personality types as we go through each game over the next two weeks. I hope you find some that look like fun for your family!
One of our current favorite board games is called Viva Topo! It's billed as “a tactical cheesy dice game for 2-4 children,” and that's exactly why we enjoy playing it–the tactics. It's much more than a travel-around-the-board game. You play one color of mice, and as you travel by roll of the die, you're being chased by a giant cat (who wants to eat you). Along the way, you have the choice to stop in a corner and pick up cheese (of size 1, 2, 3 or 4) or go all the way to the end for the coveted 6-sliced cheese. Each game, you need to decide whether it's worth stopping or pushing your luck and continuing on. It plays differently each time, and we like that about it, too.
Viva Topo! is suggested for ages 4 and up, and I agree that's a good age to start. My 5-year-olds played it pretty safe last year, always stopping for the smaller pieces of cheese, but now that we've had it a year they push a little more to see if they can get ahead of the cat. It's well-liked by my 8-year-old son, too, along with friends of all ages we've had visit. The wooden pieces are tactile and fun to play with, and as with many German games (also called Eurogames), the game play is quick–just 20 minutes or so–making it easy to play again if it goes badly for your child the first time. I hope you'll try Viva Topo! as your next family game.
Disclosure: This post contains an Amazon link, since it's easy to buy board games there. You may also find Viva Topo! at a local independent toy store.