Make a simple board game

board game 07

Making a simple board game is one of the easiest and fun things you can do on a rainy afternoon.

You will need:
4 pieces of different coloured A4 (or Letter) sized paper
A large game board sized piece of heavy card
Felt tip pens
Glue stick
Glue
Dice

First, cut a strip off the length of each piece of paper about five centimeters (one inch) wide. Cut each of these strips into small squares.

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They don’t have to be particularly uniform, in fact it’s better if there are a few smaller pieces as well as a bunch of bigger squares.

Draw a line around the piece of cardboard which will be the track of your game play. Stick a start and finish square at each end:

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Then glue all of the little squares side by side along the line…

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…until the entire line is covered. It’s best if you mix up the colours so that not too many of the same colour are sitting next to one another – but it doesn’t really matter if they do.

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Make a couple of “short cut” places to give the game a bit of interest:

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Decorate elaborately or minimally or not at all. You could number the squares if this takes your child’s fancy.

Take the remaining coloured paper and cut each sheet into uniformly sized rectangles:

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On the backs of these write your game playing instructions such as “Miss a turn”, “Move forward three spaces”. Obviously it’s more fun to elaborate a little so that they say things like “Win Australian Idol! Move forward two spaces” or “Slip on a banana peel, go back one space” etc. AJ and I came up with the card ideas together – so they were all familiar concepts to a preschooler – “Mummy has a nap, miss a turn”, “Pancakes for dinner! Move ahead three spaces,” but of course they also got faintly ridiculous such as “Meet a monkey who eats your teeth! Go back five spaces”. Because a card will be picked up on every square, I also included a lot of “Stay where you are” cards just so that the game play doesn’t go too quickly.

Our game was vaguely family themed, with pictures of relatives hastily drawn on the squares and on the board. You could come up with all kinds of different themes and looks. I remember when I was a kid we did a similar thing but we made it look like a haunted house and all the instructions were spoooooky. Take you child’s topic du jour (pirates, Wiggles, Thomas, bugs, etc) and make the game board and card instructions fit in.

Make a couple of counters out of rolled up scraps of paper and you are ready to play! Our rules (and they seemed to change with every minute) were simple. The youngest player starts. She (or he, but it was she for us) rolls the dice and moves the number of spaces shown. She picks up a card of the corresponding colour to the place she has landed on and follows the instructions. If she is told to move ahead or back she does so, and her turn ends without picking up another card. Move to the next player.

The older the child the more complicated you might like to make the rules. If you land on a square occupied by another counter, you have to do 20 star jumps or maybe if you land on a square marked with a star get a special star card which you can use to avoid squares marked with aliens (and alien marked squares might mean you have to change counters with another player or something) — really, there is no limit to how wild it could get.

12 Responses to “Make a simple board game”

  1. Julie

    I love this idea! Thanks for writing it up and making the instructions so clear and simple. I wouldn’t have known where to start if I did this on my own!

  2. Alisa

    I did this with my 4 year old daughter this morning and it was such a hit. The cutting and pasting were right up her alley. She also loved coming up with the instructions for the cards. While most of our cards illustrate her ideas of good and bad behavior, “You pushed your brother on the swing,” or “You ate too much candy,” we have one card that says, “sparkling stars underwater.” Love that one.

    Thanks for the great idea. I wish I had done this when I was a kid.

  3. Vicki Howard

    This is a great idea, also can be used for the mentaly challenged.

  4. Michelle

    Thank you SO much for giving me this idea. I recently began nannying a 4 1/2-year-old boy and a 10-week-old girl. The baby is fairly easy to entertain but the little boy isn’t as easy. Now I have something that will keep both of us occupied and have fun!

  5. Yehuda Berlinger

    I linked to this post, because you made it seem so easy.

    But I would advise all parents, just like I advise them when they are considering what games to purchase for kids:

    Don’t stick with the games that offer no choices for your children. Play games that give them choices to make, regardless of what age they are. Otherwise, the game essentially devolves into luck, and all that that teaches is gambling, not playing.

    Even for the dumbest games, such as Chutes and Ladders and Candyland, the game goes up five notches if you make one change to the rules:

    Give each player TWO pawns, and let them decide which one to move each turn.

    I think I will devote a blog post to this subject sometime this week.

    Yehuda

  6. rainrowan

    Very clever, very creative!! Thanks for the detailed pictures and description.

    I made a game board for my son’s classroom recently but will definitely give my son more room and opportunity to be creative for our next board.

  7. Bri

    Loved the idea.!! It helped me with my homework for English.!! Thank you.!!

  8. rachel

    this is a brilliant post, i wanted to do something like this with the kids but had no idea of how to go about it, but this makes a simple board game really quite simple! and very creative for the kids too. thanks alot :)

  9. Fatty mcfat fat

    this is a brilliant post, i wanted to do something like this with the kids but had no idea how to go about it,

    this makes a simple board game really quite simple! and very creative for the kids too. thanks alot :)
    I love this idea! Thanks for writing it up and making the instructions so clear and simple. I wouldn’t have known where to start if I did this on my own
    I did this with my 4 year old daughter this morning and it was such a hit. The cutting and pasting were right up her alley. She also loved coming up with the instructions for the cards. While most of our cards illustrate her ideas of good and bad behavior, “You pushed your brother on the swing,” or “You ate too much candy,” we have one card that says, “sparkling stars underwater.” Love that one.

    Thanks for the great idea. I wish I had done this when I was a kid.
    This is a great idea, also can be used for the mentaly challenged.
    Thank you SO much for giving me this idea. I recently began nannying a 4 1/2-year-old boy and a 10-week-old girl. The baby is fairly easy to entertain but the little boy isn’t as easy. Now I have something that will keep both of us occupied and have fun!
    Great idea! Thanks!!
    I linked to this post, because you made it seem so easy.

    But I would advise all parents, just like I advise them when they are considering what games to purchase for kids:

    Don’t stick with the games that offer no choices for your children. Play games that give them choices to make, regardless of what age they are. Otherwise, the game essentially devolves into luck, and all that that teaches is gambling, not playing.

    Even for the dumbest games, such as Chutes and Ladders and Candyland, the game goes up five notches if you make one change to the rules:

    Give each player TWO pawns, and let them decide which one to move each turn.

    I think I will devote a blog post to this subject sometime this week.

    Very clever, very creative!! Thanks for the detailed pictures and description.

    I made a game board for my son’s classroom recently but will definitely give my son more room and opportunity to be creative for our next board.

    Loved the idea.!! It helped me with my homework for English.!! Thank you.!!

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