Family Board Game Fun & KPL Board Game Collection

board games 


Working with Kitchener Public Library (KPL), Daniela and her students hosted several Family Board Game Fun events in which we introduced children and families to many new board games that can be played by children as young as 2 years of age and that can be played in only 10-15 minutes. The events were very successful and enjoyed by patrons! What was especially unique about these events was seeing groups of siblings, parents and children, grandparents and children all playing and having fun together, with a diverse number of languages spoken. Daniela worked with KPL to curate a new collection of board games for children that was introduced into circulation at KPL's Central Branch in April 2021. The collection has been so successful that Daniela and the library are now working on a new set of board games to add to the collection.

This outreach project was covered in the University of Waterloo's News

Important! Read before using materials below

This initiative is described in more detail below and relevant materials are provided openly for other interested libraries or institutions to use and adapt according to a CC BY-NC license. This license allows re-users to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format for noncommercial purposes only, and only so long as attribution is given to the creator. (The creator for the text of these materials should be indicated to be Daniela O'Neill. Some items may have other stated attributions, such as photographs or drawings for which sources and any applicable permissions are noted).

Please note that the materials below are those that Daniela and her students worked on and provided to the library. Much more work went on at the library to get this collection off the ground. If you are interested in learning more about the library side, please contact Kitchener Public Library - Central Branch for details.

Board Games in KPL's collection - April 2021

  • The 34 board games in KPL's collection were chosen to meet a number of criteria. Some of the most important criteria I took into account when choosing the set of games were:
    • suitable for children from approximately 2 to 8 years of age
    • no commercial or popular culture figures or themes that might limit cross-cultural play and conversation
    • wide variety of different themes and topics that would appeal across different ages, genders, and cultures
    • involve little to no reading to play (aside from instructions to play, and for this we created 1-page Quickstart Instructions) to facilitate play by mixed-age groups and in many languages
    • an element of chance, so that adults or older siblings playing with younger siblings won't always win
    • mixture of competitive and co-operative games
    • beautiful aesthetics wherever possible - wooden pieces, eco- and child-friendly materials, art and design features
    • high-quality and durable
    • allow solo play or other kinds of play, such as pretend play, with the materials
    • allow for different ways to play beyond the instructions (e.g., a memory game could become a lotto game, a hide-and-seek game
  • In addition to these criteria, many of these games were part of Board Game Buddies in the elementary school recess program for several years and had proven to be very popular with the students. The games were also part of 4 Family Board Game Fun events at the library to get additional feedback from patrons as to whether they liked the game(s) and would like to see it in a collection.
  • The following table lists all the 34 games in the current KPL collection with some short descriptors, suitable for use in describing the full collection in a binder, list for patrons etc.
  • The following excel table lists all the 34 in the current KPL collection games in the current KPL collection in a greater amount of detail (e.g., manufacturer information) and is easily sortable along different criteria (e.g., age, competitive vs cooperative) using excel

Quickstart Instructions

  • These 1-page instructions were originally make for Board Game Buddies in the school recess program. Because we wanted older children to be able to rapidly learn the games, we created a set of 1-page instructions with very simplified wording compared to the more detailed instructions that often came with the games. Also, these instructions all follow a similar order in terms of setting up the game, playing the game, and how it ends (as instructions that come with games often presenting this information differently making it harder for children to follow and understand them. These simplified instructions also added a little extra element of literacy practice for students. For the library program, especially the Board Game Family Fun Events, we found these instructions to be very helpful in getting game play going quickly. We printed the sheets and put them in a protective plastic covering and handed them out along with the game. They have also been included with the games in the collection when they are lent out (except for one game, Sleeping Queens, for which the complexity of the game did not easily allow a 1-age format.)
  • The following zip folders contain all the 1-page Quickstart Instructions for all of the games in the KPL collection (apart from Sleeping Queens). These instructions are provided in Microsoft Word and PDF format in case a user wishes to edit them. Because of an uploading maximum per zip file of 25 MB, the files are broken up into 5 parts:
  • Quickstart Instructions Part 1Quickstart Instructions Part 2Quickstart Instructions Part 3Quickstart Instructions Part 4Quickstart Instructions Part 5

Game Descriptions

  • When library patrons are visiting the library in person, a binder can be made available to them to peruse the collection and see descriptions of the games in more detail. These 1-page descriptions are all formatted in a similar way with information regarding the following:
    • An overall game category that included the following categories: My first games;
    • Playing time
    • Number of Players
    • If solo play possible
    • If reading required or not
    • Short description of the game and a photo of the game
  • The following zip folder contains all 1-page Game Descriptions for all of the games in the KPL collection. These instructions are provided in Microsoft Word and PDF format in case a user wishes to edit them.

Content Lists

  • At time of clean-up for Board Game Buddies in the schools, or at time of return of the game for the library, it is important that a check is made that all components of the game have made it back into the box. To help this happen, content lists were made up for all the games. This contact list can be placed, for example, on the inside lid of the game box, or the back of the Quickstart Instructions.
  • The following zip folder contains all 1-page Content Lists for all of the games in the KPL collection. These instructions are provided in Microsoft Word and PDF format in case a user wishes to edit them


I'm happy to connect further to answer any questions. Just email me at to set up time!

More materials coming soon!

More materials will be added as they are ready to share, including:

  • a small pamphlet for parents with tips about building children's language skills while playing the games, choosing games and more
  • a set of posters showing some of the different types of learning that board games can foster
  • once accepted by a open access research article written by Daniela O'Neill and Paige Holmes reviewing the many different types of learning that board games provide young children backed by an extensive review of empirical studies and other expert sources