Boredom Buster Monday: Make your own board game

I think I may have mentioned before that my kids are gamers.  They love all kinds of games; name your favorite kind — electronic, video, board, or a completely random made-up one using sticks and a ball — and they’re all over it.  We routinely have several board games in play all over the house — a little “Settlers of Catan” here, a little “Yahtzee” there, “Life” over this way, and “Risk” over yonder.

Even with all the variety of games, they still get bored.  Or maybe, more to the point, they get tired of playing the same thing over and over.  What to do?

Make their own, of course.  (I’m a big believer in DIY).

You can make your own board game using what you have on hand.  We’ve used craft paper, dice and game pieces from other games, as well as 3×5″ notecards cut in half for the clues.  Play-doh and yarn were involved in one game, and someone grabbed a dictionary for another.   So cheap, so easy, so fun.  They are only limited by their imagination.

There are also sites where you can purchase a more “official-looking” game kit containing fake money, wooden pieces, a spinner, dice and a blank game board (the one I found was at — they also have some pretty awesome blank journals and puzzles). It was relatively cheap and would make a fantastic gift.  The kids got right into it.

I thought it was funny that they essentially made a numbered grid; I mean, the blank board meant that you could create whatever you want.  Spirals.  Crazy shapes.  Pop-up art, for heaven’s sake.

Then M explained to me that all three of them decided on an extremely basic design because they could use it for multiple games:

  • You want a math game?  No problem.  Write up or find some math fact flashcards, set up the playing pieces and the timer, and you’re off.  You answer as many math facts as you can for the duration of the timer.  However many questions you answered correctly is the number of spaces you advance on the board.  First to the finish wins.
  • Need a quick game with easy rules that everyone already knows?  Shake the dice and move the pieces to play a game similar to “Sorry” or “Trouble.”
  • How about a trivia game from the Guiness Book of World Records?  Simple.  Using a copy of the book, write questions on cards to ask the other players.  You roll the dice and keep advancing that number of spaces until you answer a question wrong.  Then the next player takes a turn.  Once again, first to the finish wins.

The options are endless, even if the rules are a little fuzzy to me sometimes.  One game, in which Lego guys are the playing pieces and you create a whole Lego world and storyline for them, is really only understandable to its creator, C.  Another game involves strategic moves to block one’s opponent from completing a given shape.  Sounds pretty simple, but I couldn’t for the life of me tell you how to play it.  Some game ideas are best left to the kids.

And what did they call their new, multi-use game set?

“Operation Confusion?”  Do you get the feeling that they’re just messing with me?


About thethingaboutjoan

Mom of three who knits a little, bakes a lot, crafts a bit and blogs about it all.
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5 Responses to Boredom Buster Monday: Make your own board game

  1. Micha says:

    Thanks for the barebooks link. We have been playing lots of board games lately because of this heat! Mostly the endless ones like Monopoly, Payday (love that one!), and Easy Money (Monopoly knock-off). It might be time for them to put their heads together and make their own, like Operation Confusion! (love that)

    • Isn’t this heat ridiculous? My kids have little heat tolerance except when they are in the pool. But super-fair skin + varying shades of red hair = summer kryptonite. Sigh.

      I love that blank game kit, and I thought it was so interesting to see the negotiations over planning the board. Took a couple of hours of intense talks before this configuration was acceptable to everyone. But they definitely weren’t bored!

  2. alenaslife says:

    Love, love love this. You are such a creative mom. I also saw the Chicago Parent shout out on this post. CONGRATULATIONS. Keep up the great work Joan.

  3. Thanks so much for the kind words, Alena. See you out in the Twitterverse…. 🙂

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