Have you ever played dots and boxes? It's an astounding simple game that is perfect for passing the time. This little game fits that description as well. Critical thinking gets snuck in while kids play.
What You Need
PDF of triangles/squares (download it here)
Cardstock (2-5 sheets)
Small drawstring bag or plastic sandwich bag for transport/storage
Notepad and pencil for scorekeeping
Simply print the PDF on cardstock, cut out and get ready to play. If you want to increase the durability of the game, either laminate the pages before cutting out the squares or use foamies glue and adhere the paper to thin sheets of foam and use a straight edge and craft knife to cut out once dry.
To make the game car-friendly, buy a metal clipboard to use for storage and playing surface, shrink and print the pieces on sticker paper, and adhere them to thin magnetic sheets.
There are five pages in the PDF I made. For a short two-person game, only two pages of game pieces are necessary. Play is extended with more pieces. Likewise, for more players, you need more pieces.
When all the pieces have been played, be the player with the most points. Points (or tally marks) are earned by adding the last piece to make a full square of any single color.
How to Play
All the game pieces should be turned face down in a pile accessible to the players. Each player draws three pieces from the pile and looks at them. (It's up to you if you want players to keep them secret or lay them out on the table in front of them.)
The youngest player picks one game piece and puts it in the center. He/she then draws from the pile of unused game pieces.
The next player looks at their three pieces and if possible, adds to the piece previously played. Play continues in this way, so that each piece must touch another of like color. The player to add the last piece to make a full square of any single color gets a point. Keep track with tally marks on a notepad.
If a player adds a game piece that finishes two squares, two points are awarded (see the picture above).
When all the pieces have been played, look at the scorecard. The player with the most tally marks wins!
VARIATION: During a child's turn, they can move an existing piece that's already been played on their turn instead of laying down a new piece.
EXTENSION: Talk about fractions as you play, asking the child to recite how much of a square is complete when a game piece is added (e.g. "Now there is 3/4 of a red square!").
When the game is over, put the pieces in small bag for easy transport. (I plan to tote this around in my purse to play next time we're waiting for food at a restaurant.)