My family has been a fan of the ThinkFun games since before they were more mainstream. I found Zingo! online about 5 or 6 years ago for our oldest son for Christmas. This came about as my brain was tired of Candyland, Chutes and Ladders, and the typical preschool board game fare.
Zingo has been awesome. It’s seen much wear and tear over the years in our home. In fact, our younger son, who is now 5, is on a Zingo! kick himself. I’ll admit, he’s almost making me regret buying it, but that’s more of the autism, and less of the game. You see, once we start playing, we MUST play ALL of the cards on both the green AND the red sides, and we can’t stop until we do. See? That’s an autism thing, not a game thing.
We have many other ThinkFun titles. Some I have bought myself at the store, some they have sent us to review. All of them we play regularly and love as a family. All of them get the boys to use skills they need to work on, but they don’t realize it while they’re having fun playing.
We have Bug Trails, S’Match!, Snack Attack!, Flip Over! (I swear this one is rigged. My 5yo wins 99% of the time), and Swish.
Bug Trails makes the boys use problem solving skills. How many legs of the bugs you can match at one time determines if you must draw another bug or even discard one. Sometimes the game is fast, and other times it’s slow. It’s all in what you draw and how it’s played. Using the flag in this game helps the kids focus on where to play next. This is also a great game to take on trips because everything fits into a convenient pouch. It’s small and easy to take along.
is a great way to get kids thinking while they play memory. The spinner tells you if you’re matching by color, number, or category. In our house, this gives the rest of us a chance at winning since our 5yo has a memory like a steel trap. He cleans up in the traditional version, but S’Match! challenges his abilities more.
*Note: We did have an issue with our spinner, but ThinkFun has awesome customer service, and instead of having to return the whole game, we were able to easily get a new spinner. Good customer service is hard to find these days, but ThinkFun has it, hands down.
Snack Attack I would say gets as much play as Zingo! in our house. The box tells the tale. Players race to match the foods on their cards, and the player with the most at the end wins. This is a great game for our boys because it gets them to scan the circle for the foods they need, it gets our 5yo using his speech, and most of all, it’s fun!
FlipOver is another matching game. My boys like it because the animals are split in half, and as they say, “head and butts.” This produces a lot of giggles while they play. It has gotten to the point where no one except my 5yo wants to play this game because he always wins. It doesn’t matter how many people play. The rest of us have even tried various cheating tactics. The child STILL wins 99% of the time. It’s just not fun when you know you’re probably going to lose every time.
Swish is awesome. It’s clear cards with circles and dots that you match in sequences of set numbers according to which game you choose to play. I LOVE how the rules lay out different levels of play, and each player can be held to a different level during the same game based on ability to level the playing field for everyone. I honestly can’t get enough Swish. It is for older kids, but it’s fantastic for getting them to try and visualize a sequence in their heads. We did start out playing where you could physically move the cards, but then we moved away from that. I know I’m geeky, but this is just a really fun game to play.
I think any of these games would be great for a family looking for new games to add to their collection. What are your favorite family games?
Update: I forgot that we also have Zingo To Go. The boys take this in the car. I don’t let them play in restaurants because the dice part is noisy, but it’s great for visiting the grandparents. It gives them an easy to take along game since everything fits into a pouch and there aren’t any small pieces to lose.