Games
Games for Kids
Tile
Name of Game: Bananagrams

Origination date: 2006

Number of Players: 2-8

Length of Play: 10-15 minutes

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Moderate

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Applying, Analyzing

Costa: Level II

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Experimentation, Judgment

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

Description: Bananagrams is a crazy game which relies on speed and the ability to quickly form words using letter tiles. Bananagrams is comparable to Scrabble in that middle school kids will use letter tiles to create words. The difference is that Bananagrams doesn’t have an official game board—kids can play it anywhere there is a flat surface. In the game there are no points for individual letters and speed is also a factor. If kids dislike playing Scrabble because they are always complaining other players take too long figuring out which words to place on the board, they may love this game because the ability to form words quickly is the single greatest factor which leads to success. In addition, kids get to blurt out, “peel” which causes their opponents to add tiles to their own pile of letters. Once kids have disposed of all their letter tiles and there aren’t any more remaining in the primary pile, they get to yell “Bananas,” which signals their victory. If middle school kids continually alternate back and forth between playing Bananagrams and Scrabble, they will develop a formidable arsenal of word recognition and word synthesis skills.

Name of Game: Castle Keep

Origination date: 2005

Number of Players: 2-4

Length of Play: 30 minutes

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Moderate

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Applying, Analyzing

Costa: Level II

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Modeling, Planning

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

Description: This is a game your middle school kid has probably never heard of or played. But if you can get it into their hands, the chances are high they will enjoy playing the game. The object of the game in Castle Keep is to be the first player to build a castle, using tiles depicting towers, walls, and keeps. Of course, as with any good game depicting life in the middle ages, they will also spend time tearing down and destroying their opponent’s castle. At first glance, the game may appear to be relatively easy to play but don’t be deceived. There are a myriad of ways to construct a castle, because there are different colors of walls and shapes to choose from. Although two players can challenge one another in a game of Castle Keep, the game is better with three or four players. There is a solitaire version of this game—don’t worry, nothing else needs to be purchased—which is somewhat unusual for board games.

Name of Game: Connect 4

Origination date: 2008

Number of Players: 2

Length of Play: 5-10 minutes

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Low

Bloom’s New Taxonomy: Understanding, Applying

Costa: Level I and II

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Prediction

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

Description: The purpose of Connect 4 is to build four checkers in a row while preventing your opponent from doing the same. Think of it as a more elaborate form of tic-tac-toe and you won’t be too far off the mark. What is different about Connect 4 is that the “game board” rises vertically in space rather than flat on a table. This adds a slightly interesting dimension to the game, which is quick and sweet. Some middle school kids may think the best part of the game is pulling apart the board letting the checkers fall out. This is also a game middle schoolers can easily play with significantly younger kids.

Name of Game: Dominos

Origination date: 1500

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 I and II

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Modeling, Experimentation

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

Description: This is an old game. The odds will be very good your grandparents played Dominos when they were middle school kids. The object in the basic game of Dominos is to match one end of a domino with the other end of a domino until one player has used all of their playing pieces or no player in the game is able to use any of their playing pieces. For example, to play the game of Dominos a player who has a six and a four on their domino, can match the six with another domino which has the number six on the main game board. It’s a rather simple game although there are other versions which are slightly more complicated. If middle school kids are looking for a tile-based game which doesn’t require a lot of thought, Dominos may be the game for which they are searching.

Name of Game: Equate

Origination date: 1996

Number of Players: 2-4

Length of Play: 30-60 minutes

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Moderate to High

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Analyzing, Evaluating

Costa: Level I and II

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Diagnosis, Planning, Judgment

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

Description: If you have been searching for a math game which requires a semblance of sophisticated thinking, look no further than Equate. The object of the game in Equate is to generate equations and score more points than your opponents. Think of Equate as the mathematical version of Scrabble and you won’t be too far off the mark. During the game, middle school kids will create mathematical equations using addition, subtraction, division, negative numbers, mixed numerals, and even powers of ten. The same general rules for Scrabble will also apply to Equate. Tiles can only be placed horizontally or vertically and must make complete equations. Of course, middle school kids will get to use the tiles already placed on the board to develop their equations. New tiles are drawn after using up older tiles. Middle-school child may initially think you are weird for suggesting Equate but why shouldn’t they have a numbers game to go along with their Scrabble board?

Name of Game: Scrabble

Origination date: 1948

Number of Players: 2-4

Length of Play: 30-45 minutes

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Moderate

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Applying, Analyzing

Costa: Level I and II

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Diagnosis, Planning

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

Description: This game simply refuses to go away. Scrabble is the type of game a grandmother, mother, and middle school daughter can play to the conclusion and still be friends. The object of the game is for the middle school child to use their vocabulary skills and to create words using the letter tiles on the board and the ones they have randomly selected. Each letter is worth so many points and each word created can be worth a few points or many points. The more complex the spelling of the word, the more points the kid will accumulate. The winner is the one who creates the most complex words and hence, the most points. An oldie-but-goodie vocabulary game.

Name of Game: Sequence

Origination date: 1982

Number of Players: 2-12

Length of Play: 10-20 minutes

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Low

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Understanding, Applying

Costa: Level II

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Prediction, Diagnosis

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

Description: Sequence is essentially a modified, ramped-up, version of tic-tac-toe. The object of the game is to be the first middle schooler to sequentially arrange five playing pieces either vertically, horizontally, or diagonally on the playing surface. Each player (or team) takes turns laying pieces on the board which correspond to the cards in their hand. (The cards are very similar to those found in a regular deck of cards.) Some cards, when played, allow kids to remove their opponent’s pieces from the board while others allow them to place a piece anywhere they want. This isn’t a complicated game and kids will quickly get the “gist,” especially if they have played tic-tac-toe before. This game is better than the original tic-tac-toe game which can be played using only paper and a pencil. The game board in Sequence does require a flat surface and a small corner of a table or floor. There is a junior version of this game available but don’t buy it—middle school kids will think it’s too “babyish.”

Name of Game: Tetris Link

Origination date: 2011

Number of Players: 2-4

Length of Play: 10-20 minutes

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Moderate to High

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Evaluating, Creating

Costa: Level II

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Prediction, Planning, Causation

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

Description: Tetris Link is based on the video game Tetris and if kids enjoy playing the video game version, they’ll also enjoy playing Tetris Link. Tetris Link is the better game, however, because the direct actions of their opponent in Tetris Link can have profound implications on what their next move happens to be. In the video game version, kids simply manipulate the objects into space so they fit together in some type of coherent whole. Tetris Link requires s higher level of thinking and faster adjustment because of the actions of their opponent, which must be taken into consideration. The object of the game in Tetris Link is to connect tetrominos together. The longer and more tetrominos which are connected together, the greater will be the point reward. Whichever middle schooler has the most points at the end of the game wins. Players lose points for leaving spaces and a roll of the die determines which tetromino they have to play next. This is a very good “hands-on” game which requires the manipulation of objects in dimensional space.

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