If there’s one thing I’ve done a lot of, over the last 13 years and after having 5 children; if there’s one thing I’ve done a lot of (other than saying I’M SO TIRED to anyone who’ll listen) – it’s playing games designed for toddlers.
And I’d hate to sound less than enthusiastic about these games, so carefully designed to help learn to count / learn to match / learn to boost memory, but there is one small problem with them, and that is that they’re entirely, objectively, mind numbingly, awful.
The first time you play one of these games it might go well. No one cries! Everyone is excited to learn the rules! And crucially, the shoutiest person in the house at that particular time Must. Win.
The first time went well! You bring the game out for a second, third time. And then the fury sets in. I WON! I NEVER WIN!
What I’m saying is: toddler board games are rife with frustration and competition, two things that are red rags to some (all) toddlers.
Nonetheless, children are always desperate to play board games and so I’ve spent a long time playing these games and trying somehow to find some joy in the situation, as well as trying to quietly adapt the rules to make it less of a knife-edge-tantrum-inducing situation.
And all the while, I was missing a simple solution: a CO-OPERATIVE board game for toddlers. The team of toddlers (and you); vs. the game itself! No one wins unless we ALL win!
This is a convoluted way to introduce you all (or perhaps not, if you are already familiar – and if so, why didn’t you tell me about this 13 years ago?) – to introduce you all to the Orchard Game.
The players work TOGETHER to harvest the fruit before the raven can eat it all!
Each player gets to have a tiny little extremely toddler-pleasing basket for the fruit! (Our youngest requires that he has two baskets while any other players have only one, so for transparency, there’s always a way to make these games somewhat fraught with tension).
You roll the dice (Hugo loves to issue a high pitched “pleeeeaasse be a basket” before rolling which is delightful enough to make me ask HIM to play the game with me on the reg); pick the corresponding piece of fruit (or two pieces of fruit, if you successfully roll onto the basket icon); place your tiny wooden piece of fruit in your tiny straw basket, and hope to harvest all the fruit before the raven jigsaw is complete.
Huge hit in this house. No one wins unless everyone wins. Absolute genius. And of course the other great news is that toddler games eventually make way for mature tweens who play games that are marginally less fraught.
A toddler game you can play without losing your mind. You’re welcome!