Playing Games with Samantha!

This week was a bit of a landmark in the life of my little girl. Before now, we’ve played with lots of games. We’ve taken turns putting checkers into a Connect 4 game, stacked towers of dominoes and then smashed them apart, flipped and sorted (and occasionally chewed on) the tiles from Toss Your Cookies, and had several rounds of Daddy taking 3 minutes to place all the ice cubes in the rack for Don’t Break the Ice, only to have Samantha dismantle the whole thing with her mallet (or more often, her hands) in approximately 5.3 seconds. 

But just over a week ago, I stumbled across this review on BGG, which is perhaps the most adorable thing I’ve ever read. And on the author’s recommendation, I went out to Amazon and ordered my own copy of Go Away Monster! Two days later, I cracked open the box and played my first “real” game with Samantha. 

Samantha is 25 months old (just turned 2 in late March), and she grasped the game immediately.  She was identifying the tiles as they came out of the bag and placing them on the correct spots in her bedroom.  And when a monster tile would come out, she remembered to say “Go away monster!” and would throw them in the pile where I put mine.  We played cooperatively, and “won” when both of our bedrooms were complete.  

Now, of course, there’s not really much “game” to Go Away Monster!  You’re just taking turns pulling tiles out of a bag, and if the tile is a component of your bedroom (the bed, lamp, teddy bear or picture), you place it on your bedroom board.  If it’s a monster, you say, “Go away monster!” and throw it away somewhere out of sight.  You play until everyone’s board is filled, and then clap loudly, say, “Woot! Woot!” and hug each other.  Well, that’s what Samantha and I did, anyway; but it’s not in the rules or anything.

But the coolest things about it were how well Samantha did with the “skills” of playing the game.  It held her attention the whole time, she did really well taking turns, and she was very generous with extra tiles that she already had.  In fact, the first time we played it, we were placing all the tiles we drew onto each other’s bedroom board.  So for a lot of good reasons, I had a great and encouraging time playing this game with Samantha.  And I certainly hope that it is but the first of many games that we play together throughout the years.
Oh, and I almost forgot!  I want to get some information from you as well!  

Which games have worked for you with younger children?  I’ve got the school-age and family-style games pretty well handled, but what games are fun and engaging for the 2-6 year olds?  Please, as a father who desperately wants to raise gaming children, give me some great suggestions! 


  1. Snails Race Pace! That’s the first game… then Memory, Chicken Cha Cha Cha and Kids of Carcassonne. My 3 yr old is now playing normal Carcassonne (w/o farms), Checkers, and Formula D!

  2. Alex Grant

    After Go Away Monster, the next successful game for my daughter was Cranium Cariboo. At 3, Chicken Cha Cha Cha, Animal upon Animal, Dora Snap and Dora Candyland were all very successful (the latter two obviously due to a Dora obsession). FITS also works – I play the real game, she just tries to fit the pieces in (in the order of the cards). At 4, she also enjoys Monza, Sherlock, Dora Fish and Can You See What I See?

    Don’t push her into games harder than she’s ready for – let kids play games they enjoy.

  3. Heli

    My daughter (who’s currently 5) also likes Dora Candyland. I think the first game we actually played together fully, though, was Cranium’s Duck Duck 123. It’s pretty basic, but comes with cute duck pawns and plays quickly enough for shorter attention spans.

    She also likes Sorry, but usually gets bored before we actually finish the whole game.

    Wait; I may have lied before; I think our first game might’ve been checkers, and she actually beat me.

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