Our four-year-old was recently gifted Race to the Treasure!, a self-titled cooperative board game from Peaceable Kingdom. Prior to playing, I wasn’t familiar with the concept of “cooperative board games” — being of the “it’s healthy for kids to learn to lose!” mentality, I wasn’t sure if I would be on-board with the idea.
To put it simply, a cooperative board game is actually a genius idea: instead of being pit against one another in their quest for the treasure, the players work together on a team to race an ogre to the finish line. The goal of each game is to emphasize play and not competition. You’ll need to band together to build a path to a) collect keys, b) amass ogre treasure to thwart the ogre’s efforts, and c) reach the end of the path. No one is left out, and at the end everyone either sinks or swims — together.
Peaceable Kingdom Press have several games with this style of cooperative play at the core — here are few faves:
In Mermaid Island, your team of mermaids are racing against the Sea Witch to get to the island first. You use a spinner to see who can pick up the magic wand — your team or the witch!
This game is based on the classic tale of cooperation, Stone Soup. In this one, you’ll work together to match various ingredients to cook up a soup. You want to match everything before the fire under the kettle goes out — this could also be played before/after you guys make your own real-life version of the soup!
Hoot Owl Hoot! is a color-coded cooperative game — when you begin play, it’s time for the owls to go home. Players help the owls fly back to their nest before the sun comes up by playing color cards to find which spot to land on. Each time you draw a sun card you find yourself closer to daylight!
Lost Puppies is super adorable in premise — each puppy is lost, and you need to work together to help them find their homes! You’ll encounter road blocks, so you have to be clever to keep each puppy safe.
A few of the games are described as being perfect for kids between one month and eight years, but I’d say the ideal age range is between three and a half and six. These games are a great addition to competitive games — what games do you guys play with your little kids?