Games are fantastic for family bonding and child learning. Bonding through games is an excellent way to go and our family plays a ton of games. We have two children ages 2 and 5 (as of 1/27/12) so any recommendations should be viewed with that in mind. However I will probably do some reviews of adult games as well. Child development can be fostered through games in general by aiding in the ability to think ahead (strategy), organize objects (in the case of matching, sequencing, etc), become gracious winners and losers, bolster self-esteem, and much much more.
I hope that you will find my reviews to be useful in not only finding games but also in thinking of ways to use the games to help with child development. Some of the things that are done easily with most games include talking a lot while playing. This can be just about your day, or can have to do with different aspects of the game like who is winning and how everyone feels about that. For younger kids who are still learning about things like colors, shapes, sizes, numbers, and sequencing talking about what you see and how it all relates is helpful.
For example, if you have a classic game like dominoes but that maybe has pictures of animals instead of dots it is very easy to talk about the animals and what colors, if they would be larger or smaller than another animal, what sound they make, etc.
I would also encourage you to look at a game and decide if it might be worth getting even though your child is outside the age group. A lot of times these games can be adjusted a bit so that the child has the ability to have fun with it. I do not mean that you should "let" your child win although that is a choice that is up to you to make. I mean that the rules are adjusted for everyone playing so that the kid can play and be able to understand what is going on. A lot of times we have found that if we do this for the first few times of playing a game our kids are able to pick more and more up as we go.
The most difficult thing to get past is when a game requires a lot of strategy just because adults have an huge advantage in this aspect. What I tend to do to get past this is try and teach pieces of the strategy as we are playing, explaining why I make the choice that I do. My husband tends to give a lot more as far as faking his ability and I find that I do not always make the optimal move especially if I can see that I am very far ahead.
I hope that in playing lots of games with my children I am not only creating a learning experience but a lot of fun family memories. I know that I can remember a lot of the games that I played with my family as a child and look back on them fondly. How about you? What is your favorite family game or game from when you were a child?