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Board games: More than fun and games

Turn off the TV and get cozy with some old-fashioned board games.Your kids will have a ball and develop valuable learning skills while they play.

By Melanie Haiken

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Ages: 4 and up

Sorry! (known as "the game of sweet revenge") has been a favorite since Parker Brothers brought it to the U.S. from England in the 1930s. Sorry! is simple enough for young children to play and exciting enough to keep older kids coming back for more, making it a perfect choice for family game night. Although the basic concept of Sorry! is deceptively simple — you move plastic pieces in a linear sequence around the board — a series of rules about where you can move, and when a player can "bump" another out of place, quickly turns the game into a rollicking race. In the process, kids learn lessons on strategic thinking and hone basic math skills; the feature requiring players to move pieces backwards helps kids learn negative number concepts as well, according to Jeffrey Hinebaugh, author of A Board Game Education.

Bottom line: Teaches strategic thinking, math skills, problem solving, cooperation, concentration — and good manners, too!

Melanie Haiken is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in numerous national magazines including MORE, Real Simple, Fitness Parenting and Ladies Home Journal. She lives in San Rafael California with her two daughters.

Comments from readers

"Public schools are sooo guilty of overlooking the importance of board games. Chess is curricular in many foreign countries. Way to go Great Schools. "