Board Games for Bored Little Kids
- What: Ravensburger Four First Games
- When: Ages 3 to 8 years
- Why: No reading required, multiple games in one box
- Where: Secondhand
Looking for a game for your preschooler who doesn’t read yet? Try Ravensburger Four First Games. We received this set of games for my daughter’s fourth birthday from a friend and all three of my kids have loved it ever since. In fact, they liked it so much I moved it into our living room instead of keeping it downstairs with all our other games because I got sick of going to fetch it so often.
Four First Games contains two playing boards, each printed on both sides for a total of four different board games that require zero literacy skills. It comes with six playing pieces in different colors and one die with colored sides, as well as picture cards and flower pieces for those games that require them. It works well for kids starting around age 3, though my two year old loves having a playing piece and moving pieces and cards around as well. The small pieces do present a choking hazard. The games support either four or six players maximum depending on the board selected. Despite the instructions, each game of chance can be played alone as well. The rules for who goes first – always a hotly contested position in our family – vary by game according to things like youngest or tallest player, or who rolls a certain color first.
Their favorite of the four games is called King of the Castle. You roll the colored die to move along a track of colored spots towards the castle at the center of the board. The first one to reach the castle wins. When you roll white, you take a chance card, and move to the image along the path that matches the one on your chosen card. But beware, because chance cards can move you forward or backwards. Likewise, once you get close to the castle, if you run out of colors, you can end up moving backwards to the previous spot in the correct color. My kids hate moving backwards, and have modified the rules to suit themselves, including restricting the go back to start when you land on the same space rule to grown ups.
They also love the Sizzling Sausages game, which has sausage cards sprinkled on the white spaces of a multi-colored checkerboard. You can only move horizontally or vertically according to the color rolled to try and collects as many sausages as possible. The person with the most sausages at the end wins. My cousin will no longer play this game, because to start, you have to roll the correct color to come out of your dog basket onto the board, which can take awhile. It won’t surprise you that my kids have modified that rule to their liking as well.
The other two games offer simpler concepts. Garden Party requires you to “grow” flowers of five different colors first to win. You get a flower when the die lands on a color you don’t already have, so it can go fast as it only takes the time for one player to roll all five colors.
In the Bird’s Nest, you travel one dot at a time along a colored path to the nest. The first one into the nest wins, but you have to roll white to get there. You cannot move forward unless you roll the color of the dot immediately in front of your piece unless the die lands on white, which advances you one dot regardless of color. All paths have the same number of dots in different color sequences.
None of the games in the box take longer than 15 minutes to play, even when my kids are being particularly indecisive.