From the September 2017 issue

Starting a Board Game Club at Your Child’s School

Board games are all the rage with kids these days. Find out how these games can benefit your kid and learn how to start a gaming club for them, too.

When my tween son Verick asked to start a board game club, I had no idea he was onto a growing trend. These days, it’s cool to be a game geek. Tabletop game sales have grown into a $1.2 billion industry in the U.S. and Canada, pulling in six times more than video games in 2015, trade mag ICV2 reports.

Verick’s club was a hit, drawing up to 20 students after school twice a month.

“Games teach kids so much,” says his principal Scott Brenner at Maltby Intermediate School in Brighton. “Cooperation, strategy, reading and following directions. I’m all for it.”

Interested in launching one, too? Start here.

Set the scene

Make sure you have enough room for multiple games at once. For us, the school media center was perfect with a mix of four-tops and longer tables.

Get your games on

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Encourage attendees to bring games to share, but don’t count on it. Invest in a few more expensive “hobby” games like Ticket to Ride and Dixit (which start around $25) from shops like Genuine Toy Co. in Plymouth or Vault of Midnight in Detroit. Then scour garage sales and Facebook swaps for finds as little as $1-$5, and seek donations of gently used games.

When in doubt, check reviews on boardgamegeek.com.

Mix it up

Combine classics (Clue, chess, Monopoly) with collector games (Boss Monster, Munchkin, Exploding Kittens) and two-player games (Battleship, Mastermind) with group games (Uno, Apples to Apples) to appeal to girls and boys. Younger kids love action games like Don’t Break the Ice.

Time it

At the fifth and sixth grade levels, an hour was perfect, allowing time to learn something new or play a longer favorite like Stratego. Have quick hits like Bounce-Off and Jenga ready for those who finish early.

For grades 1-4, a half hour is probably enough, while high schoolers may need an hour and a half to get in a good round of Magic: The Gathering.

Set rules

Tell kids to treat games with respect and put away pieces when they’re done. Remind them if there are any disputes, always refer to the instructions.

Make it special

Consider a field trip to 3&UP board game lounge in Plymouth, or try Pieces & Pages in Livonia or The Great Escape Room in Royal Oak. Everyone loved our bingo grand finale, complete with pizza and prizes.

Let ’em play

Kids learn a lot from taking the lead and learning the rules together. Of course, they also love when their parents join in the fun!

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