Old-Fashioned Board Games for Summer Bonding

Debra Gingerich 08/04/2016

Summer is nearly upon us, and it’s time to think about keeping the kids entertained through steamy summer days. We have many happy memories of school break and time spent interacting with friends or family before the distractions of electronics detached us to different corners of the house. Get the kids (and adults) away from the TV or video games with old-fashioned board games that offer some face-to-face bonding time as well.


Aggravation Board Game

Aggravation was first developed in the 1960s, which may not seem so old to some of us, but it is a variation of Pachisi, which originated in ancient India. Designed for four to six players, this game can bring the whole family together around the patio dining set for warm evenings full of fun and a little competition. With a board made of wood and marbles, it won’t fly away like cards on those breezy evenings.

Chinese Checkers

Chinese Checkers

Another great game for breezy summer evenings is Chinese Checkers. Deceptively named, the game is not a variation of checkers and is of German, not Chinese, origin. It is relatively easy to learn so is a good option for younger children or as a game to introduce strategy before moving onto more challenging games such as Chess. The game uses marble pieces and is in the shape of a six-pointed star. The goal of the game is to be the first to get your pieces into the opposite star corner on the board.



Mancala is the name for a group of similar games with about 200 variations. The concept of the game is like sowing seeds. There is a board with holes organized in rows. “Seeds” are placed in the different holes with the objective to collect the most seeds. To do so, each turn, a player “sows” the seeds by taking the seeds from a hole and placing one in each of the following holes around the board. There is archaeological evidence of the game that dates as far back as the 6th and 7th centuries. A game with such proven history would surely be a hit with your family too.



If your kids are ready for a game of real strategy and skill, or you’re looking for some concentrated one-on-one time with a child, join the time-honored tradition of playing Chess. With origins dating back to eastern India in the 1st century and identification as a sport with competitions starting in Europe in the 1800s, chess has long proven itself as a game that can entertain for hours while teaching strategy, concentration, and even mathematics. Make sure you have learned the rules well (I must admit I never did) before teaching them to a child so that it doesn’t become too confusing or discouraging during the teaching/learning process. Falling in love with the game of chess could fill many slow summer afternoons for years to come.

The Amish know something about enjoying family time without the use of electronic entertainment. They have chosen to use their woodworking skills to build these games for fun all summer long, and maybe on cold winter nights too.

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