Wednesday, June 29, 2011

DIY Thomas Board Game

My mom made tons of games for us when we were kids. A lot of them were educational, but some were just for fun. For my son's third birthday I wanted to make him a special board game that he would really enjoy. He loves Thomas the Tank Engine, so I decided to make a Thomas-themed board game. After I decided on the theme, it was a pretty straight forward process.

First I found a piece of cardboard. I used part of the box from the new toilet seat, but any sturdy cardboard will do. You could probably even buy new cardboard if you wanted to, but I have no idea where I could but it here.

Then I had my husband print out a map of the Island of Sodor he downloaded from Wikipedia. Because Nate is amazing and computer savy, he was able to make it large enough to fit on two pages and added direction arrows, start here, and end of the line markings to the document before printing. This made my job easier. I just added additional stops, basically black dots, for the trains to stop at along the track. Then I glued the map to the cardboard and put some Thomas stickers we had on for decoration. Next I laminated the whole thing, with tape because that is all we had at the time.

I also had my husband print some engines from Thomas coloring pages we found online. Again because my husband is so cool, he was able to shrink them down and adapt a Thomas engine to match the rest before printing them out. I colored them, cut them out, and then laminated them onto cardboard. Then I made little stands so the trains can stand up as they move along the track.

I wanted the game to help emphasize some of the good morals that are taught in the Thomas stories so I made consequence cards to be used when a player lands on a stop that has a name written on the map. Things like helping a friend shunt freight cars move you ahead, but being bossy or boasting move you back a few stops. If you want to make your own game you can download the free printable game cards here.

The rules are simple:
  1. Roll the die
  2. Move that number of stops
  3. Stay there if it has no name
  4. Or pick a card and follow the consequence if it has a name
  5. The fist one to the end of the line wins
Or you can simply push the cars around the Island of Sodor and have fun reading the cards, which is what Aaron's favorite thing to do with this game so far. I guess it is good to has gifts that you can grow into.

I am really pleased with how the game turned out, and Aaron is too even if he plays the game differently than intended. It is a gift Aaron loves and cost me basically nothing to make since we had the cardboard and die already. It did take a little paper, ink, and tape, but the only real expense was my time.

What do you think would be good themes for board games?

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