Category Archives: Family Fun

Favorite Family Board Games

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This family loves a great board game.  Any weekend or break or vacation involves a board game or 10.  The kids are 9 and 7 and have played enough games to pick up how to play just about any game.  For many of these games, they are REAL competitors at this point.  if you are like us, you’ve moved beyond the Sorry! and Chutes and Ladders and easy card games and on to some adventurous and interesting games for older kids and adults.   I’ve compiled a great list of our favorite games for families with school-aged children.

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The Settlers of Catan

This is one of our absolute favorites.  It seems complicated at first, but taking the time to learn it is completely worth it.  The directions include a “starter” way to set up and play, and I suggest starting with this.  After you get the gist of the game, you can move on to the random set-ups.  We’ve also tried out “Seafarers” which is an expansion.  This proves to be fun too with a new twist of water exploration and trade routes.

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7 Wonders

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This is my favorite game of the moment.  First of all, the topic is fun and interesting.  When we received this game as a gift, it prompted us to get some books out of the library about the seven wonders of the ancient world and read up on our history!  This game is complicated at first.  Again, like Catan, it takes awhile to figure it all out, but DON’T GIVE UP.  Both of my kids can easily play and set this game up and they are 9 and 7 years old.

Karuba

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This one is a bit easier in the directions department.  You each have an identical game board set up in front of you and use identical pathway pieces to build paths from explorers to temples to collect treasure.  It’s a quicker game but is fun nonetheless

Labyrinth

This games is great for younger kids and there is even a Jr version for the youngest in the family.  My kids played the normal version easily by 5 and 6 years old.  You try to collect treasure in a large maze that constantly changes!  It takes some thought and problem-solving….something great for exercising young minds.

Imhotep

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This was another game that prompted us to get to the library to find some history books.  In this game, you are in ancient Egypt, building pyramids and trading goods at the market.  It has fun little game pieces and such an interesting theme.

Risk

This is a classic that you have no doubt heard of, but I have to say it makes my list of favorite games every time.  No matter when in my life you would have asked me about my favorite games, I would have always included this one.  The classic gameboard is fun, especially when you reference the Seinfeld episode!!  But, you can find this game in a whole bunch of varieties, which can be fun if you want to change it up a bit.  For example, we have a Lord of the Rings version and a futuristic version.  Even if you play the classic rules with the new boards, it can be so much fun.  Capturing the Shire or occupying the moon adds some fun twist in this game of world domination.

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Playing the classic game of Risk….on a futuristic board.

Machi Koro

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I realized after playing this game for a month that we DON’T have the original version.  I picked this game up on a whim at Target and apparently have a new version called Machi Koro: Bright Lights. That being said, this game is an easy to pick up city-building card game.  It involves some pre-planning and money-handling and just all around thinking which is great for young minds.

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Monopoly

I hesitate to include this one because it is not MY favorite.  However, it is very much a favorite with my kiddos. I do believe this game has some merit though. The whole money management thing is great.  And the kids have to learn how to count out money and change too.  I have to say I don’t like the idea of the newest version that has a “bank card” that automatically keeps track of the money for you.  I like the old school version where there is a banker and each person has paper money and properties to take care of. Seems to me that the kids will learn a bit more in the process of using the “old” version!

Carcassonne

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Another great one that someone gifted us.  My kids even like playing with the tiles and creating a city and countryside with castles, roads, rivers and churches.  This game isn’t a super long one, so it is good for beginners, especially because you can adapt the game to make easier ways to play.

 

So what is everyone else’s favorite game for the family?  We are ALWAYS looking for new suggestions!

 

 

 

 

Fairy Gardening With Kids (in Wisconsin!)

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Last summer, the kids and I embarked on a fun, little, and currently quite popular mission….making fairy gardens.  I can tell it has become “all the rage” because the items needed for it are starting to be seen everywhere!  Bruce Company, in Middleton, WI has a fantastic display inside the store of all sorts of figures and furniture. Outside, come May, they have a huge table in the greenhouse of plants suitable for fairy gardens.  Jung Seeds also has some plants set up suitable for fairy gardens in the spring as well.

The idea of the fairy garden is to set up a little garden and scene in miniature.   The plants you include usually tend to stay very small ideally.  From there, you’re imagination can run truly wild.  There are tons of items you can make yourself to add to a fairy garden.  Just do a Pinterest search and you’ll see.  For our fairy gardens, we decided to try them first in pots.

I’m terrible at bringing pots indoors in the winter, so I thought I’d try a couple of plants that were cold-hardy.  I want to keep them coming back year after year.  I may try to add in some annuals this summer though too.  Our plants came from Bruce Co.  The fairy garden accessories were from Plow and Hearth and Bruce Co.  I picked up shallow but wider pots for the fairy gardens because I thought it would give a better display surface.   The kids loved picking out a couple of fairies and acccessories to add to their gardens, as well as helping me pick the plants.  My daughter received a set of fairy garden items for her birthday, which helped prompt this whole craze for us!

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I have silene acaulis and hen and chicks in this cute container. My daughter helped set up all her little figurines, and gathered the stones to add in.

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3 small plants, include hen and chicks, silene acaulis and a sedum are in this cute container.

 

The hen and chicks flourished in these pots, but also must have become slightly stressed because they flowered.  The flowering was BIG fun because they made “flower trees” for the pots and the kids loved it.

I can’t tell if all my plants are coming back this spring yet, but for SURE this one is:

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It is called a silene acaulis and it already has teeny green bits coming back.  So I KNOW that one is super cold hardy.  It stayed in the pot on my deck all winter. Next year I will be more careful with my pots and bring them into the garage if need be, but you know, with kids, we got side tracked and never did it!  At least I know the silene is a survivor!

I have found the PERFECT place for a fairy garden on the ground at our new house….think moss covered tree trunk near our patio.  It’s going to be great, especially when I add a little door to the tree.   I’ll keep you posted on that progress.

Last year, we went to the botanical garden in Austin, TX at Zilker Park.  There was a fantastic trail through the woods with many, many fairy garden set-ups and ideas!  Take a look:

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I LOVE the bunting with this one.  Must try this idea!

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I love the idea of using found, natural objects for this….thinking of rocks, sticks, tree bark, and more.

Thank heavens the spring has sprung around here, and we can start thinking about doing this gardening again.  Gardening is such a fun rewarding hobby to enjoy with your kids.