It’s no secret that our family loves a good board game… but sometimes I absolutely loathe trying to figure out the directions! Are you wondering how to decode game instructions without losing your marbles? You are not alone! Today, I’m sharing some tips to get you started and help you spend less time decoding and more time playing.
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How to Decode Game Instructions without Losing Your Mind
What to do when the game instructions do not make sense
When you first get a new game, everyone is excited. In my house, I have children crawling over me and snatching pieces and asking eighty gazillion questions a minute. I can barely read a sentence, let alone decipher game instructions.
Let’s be honest here: some board game instructions are horrendous! Sometimes, I feel like I’m trying to unlock a secret code and all I really want to do is to play with my kids.
There have been times when I put off learning how to play a new game for weeks because I glanced at the instructions and knew they were terrible, but last year I resolved to stop doing that. When we stumble upon a new game, I make a point to learn it as soon as possible.
Here are some of my tips for spending more time playing and less time trying to figure out what the instructions mean:
- When possible, open the game and read instructions when the kids are not around.
- If the kids are around, use the powers of distraction. I’ll often say something like, “Before I can read these directions, I need to clean up the kitchen island and switch the laundry to the dryer.” It’s amazing how helpful those kiddos can be when there is a new game on the horizon, and this usually buys a little bit of time.
- YouTube is your friend. When in doubt, check YouTube. It’s unlikely that you’re the first person to question these instructions and there are wonderful tutorials online, including the following:
- Check out Dice Tower, which is loaded with videos and podcasts on gaming.
- BoardGameGeek is a go-to resource for gamers.
- Check out the show Tabletop with Wil Wheaton. The show is fantastic (but pre-watch because there can be language).
If you have tried all of the above and you still don’t understand the instructions, you have some options:
- Put the game aside for a little bit and try again the next day, with fresh eyes and mind.
- Try your hand at a practice round or two. Sometimes, you just need to start playing before game directions begin to make sense.
- Or, just wing it and make the rules up as you go. In our gameschooling episode, Kara talked about how she and her son started playing Clue when they didn’t have any instructions. They made an entire game up… and they still play that way!
Do you love Gameschooling?
I rely heavily on educational games in our homeschool. Read more here:
Do you love board games, too?
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- Finding Time to Play
- 10 Tips for a Successful Family Game Night
- Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling with Games
- How to Grow Gamers Using Amazing Gateway Games
- How to Enjoy Board Games With Toddlers Underfoot
- How to Enjoy Board Games with Kids Who Fight … And Still Have Fun
- Gameschooling: Learning Through Play
- 100 Games and Picture Books for Play-Based Learning
- Gameschool Resources
Now, it’s your turn. Tell me: Do you have tips for figuring out board game instructions? Share here!
Cait co-hosts The Homeschool Sisters Podcast and is co-founder of Raising Poppies, a community for parents of gifted and twice-exceptional children. Cait is also founder of the Family Book Club at My Little Poppies, a fantastic community of book-loving parents and the Gameschool Community at My Little Poppies, a vibrant community of gameschoolers.
Cait is a contributing writer for Simple Homeschool. Her work has also appeared on The Huffington Post, The Mighty, Scary Mommy, GeekMom, and many others. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram
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