Games
Games for Kids
Card
Name of Game: Apples to Apples

Origination date: 1999

Number of Players: 4-10

Length of Play: 20-30 minutes

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Moderate

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Applying, Analyzing

Costa: Level II

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Evaluation, Judgment, Influence

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 4 Stars ★★★★

Description: Apples to Apples is a good choice for a card game which reinforces kids’ ability to make word analogies and similarities. The object of the game is to be the first player to accumulate “things” cards, the number of which is preset at the beginning of the game. There are two types of cards in this game—“things” and “descriptions.” At the beginning of the game middle school kids will pick up one of the “descriptions” cards and tell the other players in the game what it says. The other players will then use their “things” cards to provide suggestions as to the best “thing” which matches with the “description.” Of course, the original player gets to choose which “thing” he or she likes the most to match with their “description.” For example, if player one picks up a “description” card which says, “Goes fast but isn’t reliable,” their friends may offer them “things” such as “car,” “rabbit,” “greyhound,” or “train,” as possible answers. Player one now gets to select which one of the “things” they believe is the best “apples to apples” comparison. This is a good game for developing and strengthening verbal skills. You will be surprised at how much middle school kids enjoy this game.

Name of Game: Disk Wars

Origination date: 1999

Number of Players: 2

Length of Play: 90 minutes

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: High

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Applying, Analyzing

Costa: Level III

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Diagnosis, Planning

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 3 Stars ★★★

Description: The object of the game is to play a scenario and defeat your opponent using colorful cardboard disks—hence the name for the game—Disk Wars. This game can be somewhat complicated because during each round, there are five things which happen—reinforcing, activation, missile, combat, and removing counters. During a round, a player can encounter missile-spewing dragons, fierce mahkim warriors, swamps, mountains, stalkers, healers—and, well, you get the idea. This is not a short game nor is it a new game to the market. It’s not played much anymore but if middle school kids are looking for this type of intellectual fantasy game and they don’t want to spend $40-$60 for the latest trend in board games, then Disk Wars will certainly get the job done. This game can be addicting for some kids while others would rather be attacked by an angry Yeti than play the game. Different versions of this game are available for purchase.

Name of Game: Ghooost

Origination date: 2013

Number of Players: 2-6

Length of Play: 15-20 minutes

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Low to Moderate

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Applying, Analysis

Costa: Level II

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Prediction, Experimentation

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 3 Stars ★★★

Description: Ghooost is a fast card game which has a Halloween-style theme to it. Middle school kids will love the quirky cards—but they aren’t really frightening—and the game can be started without too many complicated instructions. Ghooost is somewhat similar to UNO though it requires more thought and planning. The object of the game is to be the first player to empty their mansion and hand of cards. Along the way middle school kids will collect cards from either the crypt or cemetery and make decisions as to what to do about scary ghosts and fearless ghosts (that’s what they are called in the game). This is one of those games kids will either love or dislike—there won’t be much of a middle ground.

Name of Game: In a Pickle

Origination date: 2004

Number of Players: 2-6

Length of Play: 15-30 minutes

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Low

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Understanding, Applying

Costa: Level II

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Evaluation, Influence

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 2 Stars ★★

Description: The object of the game is to sync noun cards together so that the words are constructed and laid-out in order of the smallest object or idea or concept to the largest object or idea or concept. When middle school kids do this they win the pickle round or row of cards. For example, if the bucket card is the first card placed in a row, the next player may add the bathroom card, because a bathroom is larger than a bucket but still related to a bucket because a bucket may be found in a bathroom. The next player could add the trailer park card because a trailer park is larger than a bathroom but is still related to a bathroom. The next player could add the New York card because a trailer park could exist in New York and because it is also larger than a trailer park. At this point, after four cards have been played, everyone gets a chance to lay a card down which is larger than New York. If a player places the Universe card down and no one else has anything larger and related to New York, that player wins the round. Depending on the number of players, victory is declared after one player wins three to five rounds. This game is more suitable for younger middle school kids because many older kids will find it unchallenging and boring. The bottom line is that alleged popularity notwithstanding—the box says, “Over One Million Sold”—there are much better word games available in the market for your child.

Name of Game: Ka-Ching

Origination date: 2001

Number of Players: 2

Length of Play: 15-20 minutes

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Moderate

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Applying, Analyzing

Costa: Level II

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Prediction, Planning

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 3 Stars ★★★

Description: Ka-Ching is a card game for all the budding capitalists who wish to make a name for themselves on Wall Street. The object of the game is to—no surprise here—make more money than your opponent. Middle School kids make money by buying cards at their face value, combining it with another card and then selling it for a higher price. Of course, their opponent have the same idea and kids will have to constantly outwit their opponents by forcing their opponents into buying certain cards, which subsequently allows the original seller to uncover cards they really want. Sound confusing? Welcome to the world of capitalism! The game is relatively easy to learn and doesn’t take much time to play. Don’t’ expect middle school kids to need hours and hours of game play to finish one round of action. About twenty minutes should be enough. There are better math games available, like Math Dice but middle school kids will at least need to use their multiplication skills in this one.

Name of Game: Magic

Origination date: 1993

Number of Players: 2

Length of Play: 15-45 minutes

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Moderate to High

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Analyzing, Evaluating

Costa: Level III

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Evaluation, Diagnosis, Planning, Causation

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 5 Stars ★★★★★

Description: Magic is a card game which has reached cult-like status among kids and adults—most of whom are males. In Magic, two players duel it out while using decks of cards that aren’t anywhere close to what most of society uses when they play “cards.” The Magic deck—there is a basic set and then endless permutations as players design their own special decks from booster packs—contains cards of various types, such as land, creature, sorcery, instant, enchantment, and artifact cards. The object of the game is to reduce your opponent’s life down from 20 to zero and thus slay your enemy and win the game in triumph. Magic is often considered as a game for “nerds,” but if the kids are having fun and socializing with their friends, why should you care? This can be a hard game to master.

Name of Game: Mille Bornes

Origination date: 1954

Number of Players: 2-6

Length of Play: 30-45 minutes

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Low to Moderate

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Understanding, Applying

Costa: Level I

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Experimentation

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 3 Stars ★★★

Description: Mille Bornes is an older card game which few middle school kids play today. I’m bringing it up for review because there are some advantages to the game which can’t be found in today’s modern game stores. The game is decidedly French in nature and players must occasionally show off their French language skills by blurting out phrases such as “Coup Fourre,” (pronounced Coo-Foo-Ray). Don’t worry, however. Middle School kids won’t need to know French to play this game. The object of the game in Mille Bornes is to be the first player or partner team to amass 5,000 points through several hands. The game is based on a drive through the French countryside and kids gather distance, hazard, safety, or remedy cards. Of course, kids will also use their best cards to slow down their opponents’ travel. There are several versions of this game on the market.

Name of Game: Phase 10

Origination date: 1982

Number of Players: 2-6

Length of Play: 30-40 minutes

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Low to Moderate

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Applying, Analyzing

Costa: Level I and II

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Experimentation

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 3 Stars ★★★

Description: Phase 10 is a card game based on an older card game called Rummy. The object of the game in Phase 10 is for the middle school child to complete all required ten “phases” faster than their opponents. And what is a phase? A phase involves creating certain combinations of cards involving numbers or colors. For example, the first phase for all players involves making two sets of three cards of the same number. There are also wild and skip cards to make play more exciting and interesting. This is a little bit slower (in total time-wise) card game than most because at least 10 hands are required before a winner can be declared. In addition, players can be eliminated from the game if they are unable to complete a phase or get rid of their cards in any given hand. Consequently, I’m not a big fan of Phase 10 for middle school kids because there are better games which don’t allow for the possibility of an early exit.

Name of Game: Poker

Origination date: 1810

Number of Players: 2-10

Length of Play: 15-45 minutes

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Moderate to High

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Analyzing, Evaluating

Costa: Level II and III

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Evaluation, Judgment, Influence, Negotiation

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 4 Stars ★★★★

Description: The object of the game in Poker is for players to assemble the best set of cards without letting any of their opponents know the strength of their hand—until the very end. If they have a great hand, they can win the hand based on the strength of the cards. If they have a weak hand, they can still win the hand by pretending they have a strong set of cards. Poker is a very unique game in that the winning hand may indeed have the best hand, or the winning hand may have the worst hand and the individual may merely be a good “bluffer.” When middle school kids play poker, they may have no idea whether or not they have a good hand or whether or not their opponent has a better hand. There’s sometimes no feedback loop—especially if everyone except the winner has “folded.” In most games middle school kids will play, they will be able to observe other players and make conclusions as to whether or not their opponents’ strategy—and their own for that matter—was successful. This is not always the case with the game made famous by cowboys and gunslingers playing in smoke-infested saloons during the heyday of the wild, wild west. I suggest that Poker will be more successful with middle school kids if they get to see everyone’s cards when the game is finished—of course this isn’t the case in a real game of Poker. If kids can see everyone’s cards, after the hand is over, they can become better at discovering who is telling the truth and who is not, thus learning an important social skill.

Name of Game: Quiddler

Origination date: 1998

Number of Players: 2-8

Length of Play: 15-30 minutes

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Moderate

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Analyzing, Evaluating

Costa: Level II

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Diagnosis

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 4 Stars ★★★★

Description: Quiddler is basically a card game version of Scrabble with some added twists. The object of the game is to accumulate the most points through eight rounds by assembling the most words from the cards—each of which contains a letter of the alphabet—each middle schooler holds in their hands. During each round, the number of cards in their hands will increase, as does their opportunity to create more and longer words worth more points. Some letters, because they are more difficult to place into words, are worth more points. Some letters, because they are used more frequently in the English language, will also show up more often, but players will receive fewer points. Of course, bonus points are awarded for those middle schoolers who have the most words and the longest words in each round. Quiddler is a decent game for visually creating words out of random letters and can be lots of fun. You won’t go wrong with Quiddler. It is simple, easy to learn, and a good learning tool.

Name of Game: Skip-Bo

Origination date: 1993

Number of Players: 2-6

Length of Play: 10-20 minutes

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Low

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Remembering, Understanding

Costa: Level I

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Planning

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 2 Stars ★★

Description: Skip-Bo is an older card game which requires kids to process the cards given to them and to make decisions as to which cards they should hold and which they should discard in the center of the table. The rules of the game aren’t too complicated, though if kids haven’t played this game before, they will need a few minutes to understand how the game works. The object of the game, as with many card games, is for kids to get rid of all the cards in their hand by playing them sequentially, while at the same time leaving their opponents stuck with cards they can’t use. Multiple hands are required to ultimately acquire the 500 points necessary to win the game. This is a decent game which won’t cost you very much money.

Name of Game: There’s a Moose in the House

Origination date: 2004

Number of Players: 2-5

Length of Play: 15-20 minutes

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Low

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Understanding, Applying

Costa: Level I

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Experimentation

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 2 Stars ★★

Description: There’s a Moose in the House could be one of the silliest card-style games ever invented. But it’s fun to play and who wouldn’t like saying, “There’s a moose in your house!” to annoy their opponent? (The rules requires players to say this when handing the moose card over to an opponent. Needless to say, receiving the moose card is not a positive event.) Moose eventually can be placed into your opponents’ kitchen, living room, bedroom, and bathrooms. The object of the game is for kids to collect as few moose in their house as possible while giving their opponents as many moose as can be fit into their house. Along the way, moose can be trapped through effective use of the “moose trap,” which prevents them from entering rooms through strategic placement of doors. This game is fast and easy to play. If you don’t middle school kids to think very much and just have fun, it’s hard to go wrong with this game.

Name of Game: UNO

Origination date: 1971

Number of Players: 2-10

Length of Play: 10-30 minutes

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Low

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Remembering, Understanding

Costa: Level I

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Experimentation

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 2 Stars ★★

Description: You probably played UNO as a kid and there is no reason why middle school kids won’t also enjoy this simple, yet fun card game. Today there are many different versions of UNO available, so make sure you get a version that the kids thinks is “cool” to play—such as UNO Angry Birds, UNO Harry Potter, or UNO Shrek. (Keep in mind that what they consider “cool” may change dramatically from year to year.) The object of UNO is to be the first one to play all cards in each round and to accumulate 500 points overall. UNO will never win any awards for intellectual greatness, but that’s not the point of the game. This is an old-fashioned, good, mindless, fun game to be played with friends.

Name of Game: Wizard

Origination date: 1986

Number of Players: 3-6

Length of Play: 20-60 minutes

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Moderate

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Analyzing

Costa: Level II

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Predictive, Evaluation, Planning

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 4 Stars ★★★★

Description: Wizard is a refreshing card game which is similar to the classic game of Five Hundred. Just as in Five Hundred, kids predict how many tricks they can win with their hand. Their ability to do well in the game has little to do with the quality of the cards in their hand, but everything to do with their ability to correctly predict the outcome of their cards—that is, the number of tricks they can win. To make things interesting, the diabolical game designers added four wizard and four jester cards to the deck. This improves the game over Five Hundred. Wizard cards trump all other cards and jester cards lose to all cards but change what is trump in the current deal. This can be particularly aggravating when kids thinks they are about to win the hand only to discover that their playing buddies have changed the trump suit. The game is officially supposed to last 20 rounds but some middle school kids will want to shorten the number of hands to speed the game up, but it really doesn’t matter, as the game can be stopped at any predetermined number of hands to officially declare a winner.

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