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Dad Suggests was created to share with others the many different things that we have loved sharing with our own children.

Our hope is that - by reading - you will find something here to enjoy with your own family.

- Ryan

First Orchard: Let HABA Introduce Your Kids to Board Games

First Orchard: Let HABA Introduce Your Kids to Board Games

As a parent, it’s always special when the kids achieve milestones of independence. Recently our 2-year-old reached a new one, and a very memorable one. She finally reached a stage where she can play through an entire board game completely independently. Hooray!

First Orchard by HABA is perhaps the very best board game to be your child’s first board game. It teaches basic skills like taking turns and rolling the die - and the wooden game pieces are amazing enough to be toys by themselves. #firstorchard #familygames #boardgames #kidsgames #bestkidstoys #boardgamesfortoddlers #HABA #dadsuggests

Before we reached this recent milestone, we really only had a couple of options - either my wife and I tried to play games with her older brother when she was napping, or we just rolled the dice while she was awake and watching us, and hoped she wouldn’t turn into a little tornado.

When we played with her in the past, we’d always put her on someone’s team and let her move pieces or draw cards, but honestly that’s entirely different than the independence that we’re talking about now.

Mostly it used to just be a matter of keeping her occupied while we played, so she wouldn’t turn into Godzilla all over the board. And needing to occupy little sister unfortunately meant it was tricky for the rest of us to find the time to play certain games. And, more often than not, that situation just left my son and I to play games as a duo.

But that brings us back to our recent milestone. Little Sister has been completely introduced to independently playing through a board game. For our son, it was Race to the Treasure. For our daughter, the game that did it is HABA’s First Orchard, and it’s perfect for us right now.

It’s perfect for introducing the basic concepts of gaming - like rolling the die and taking turns and making simple choices. And it’s a cooperative game - definitely my favorite way to play. I really enjoy being on a team with the family and sharing a common mission, and it’s the ideal way to introduce gaming to kids if you share the same goals.

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In First Orchard you’re trying to harvest all of your fruit before the raven gets to your orchard to gobble it all up. You simply roll the die and harvest the fruit that corresponds to the color that you roll. You might also roll the raven (who moves 1 step closer), or the basket, which allows you to choose any fruit you want. So, along with taking turns and the basics of game mechanics, kids get to practice their colors as well.

First Orchard, designed by Anneliese Farkaschovsky, even has a hint of strategy involved to introduce your children to a little bit of logic. Once a tree is entirely empty, there’s a chance that you will have some wasted turns, because rolling that color will no longer do anything. Therefore, if you roll the picture of the basket (where you get to choose any fruit you want) it would be wise not to pick the last piece of fruit on a tree if you can avoid it.

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Another gigantic selling point for me, as it is with all of HABA’s games, is the incredible wooden game pieces. The wooden fruit is so high-quality your kids could easily play with all of the pieces as standalone toys as they play kitchen or grocery shop.

And the art on the raven, done by Jutta Neundorfer, is perfectly adorable. Our little girl is so fond of the raven, I think she started to feel bad for him if we won. So she actually started rolling the raven on purpose and letting him get into the orchard for some food.

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If you have little ones of your own, you’re probably well aware that high-quality wooden game pieces have another big benefit over cheap paper and plastic - it’s much harder to destroy! Just like a board book, this game is going to last a very long time. These wooden apples and pears are easy for little hands to grab and the setup is very hard to mess up, even if we get a little clumsy and have a mini-tornado.

Did I mention she plays through the entire thing by herself! She rolls the die, she harvests the correct fruit or moves the raven, and she passes the die to the next person. At the end we all celebrate together or console each other while we watch the raven gobble up all of our hard work.

One final point worth mentioning, is that our 6-year-old has absolutely no issues playing this game designed for younger kids with us - and he still enjoys himself very much. It’s an attractive game, and I think he loves playing with the whole family. And just like we try to do with any game, we like to get silly and role play and do voices for the raven as he creeps closer.

It really is a special turning point. There are so many games on our shelves that we’re one step closer now to playing together as a family foursome. And the wait feels like it just got a whole lot shorter!

If you’re looking for more early cooperative games for the family, check out:
The 5 Best Cooperative Games for 5-Year-Olds
The 5 Best Cooperative Games for 3-Year-Olds

What was your child’s first board game that they played completely independently? Do you remember when your family game night team felt like it finally came together? Have you ever tried First Orchard? Let us know in the comments.

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