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Looking for a fun board game? This Wichita toy store owner has some suggestions

Gwen Ottenberg is owner of Imagine That Toys, an independent toy store in northeast Wichita.
Suzanne Perez
/
KMUW
Gwen Ottenberg is owner of Imagine That Toys, an independent toy store in northeast Wichita.

Just in time for holiday shopping and family time, Gwen Ottenberg, owner of Imagine That Toys in Wichita, talks about some of the best new games for children and adults.

Gwen Ottenberg knows a thing or two about games.

As owner of Imagine That Toys in Wichita, Ottenberg gets the scoop on all the new card and board games each season. And she’s also an enthusiastic and competitive player herself.

“Play … is good for everybody’s mental stability, whether you’re a child or an adult,” she said.

“You truly learn so much about a person by playing a board game with them. You learn what kind of competitive person they are, whether they’re a good rule follower, whether they’re a little shifty about how they play things and do things. … It’s a great way to meet people and know people.”

If you’re looking for a new children’s toy or family activity this year — for your own family or as a holiday gift — here are some of Ottenberg’s recommendations:

Tongues Out, a color-matching memory game for ages 4 and up.
Suzanne Perez
/
KMUW
Tongues Out, a color-matching memory game for ages 4 and up.

Tongues Out (ages 4 and up, $24.99) — The classic memory game with an adorable twist. Roll two “lollipop” dice and squeeze dogs to search for the colored tongues that match the dice. Collect six pugs in your dog park to win. Makes a great first board game for young children, reinforcing fine motor skills, color awareness and strategic thinking.

Dress Code, a single-player problem-solving game for ages 4 and up.
Suzanne Perez
/
KMUW
Dress Code, a single-player problem-solving game for ages 4 and up.

Dress Code (ages 4 and up, $27.99) — In this one-player problem-solving game, you stack patterned and colored tiles to create a matching outfit. Kids learn visual perception, planning, concentration and, believe it or not, basic computer coding concepts.

Cats & Boxes, a travel-friendly problem-solving game for ages 7 and up.
Suzanne Perez
/
KMUW
Cats & Boxes, a travel-friendly problem-solving game for ages 7 and up.

Cats & Boxes (ages 7 and up, $19.99) — Players move the pieces to try to get the cats inside the boxes. Perfect for kids and adults, because the challenges get more difficult as you go. Helps develop deduction and problem-solving skills. And best of all, everything fits inside a compact, portable travel case.

Buildzi, a fast-stacking block game from the makers of Tenzi, is designed for ages 6 and up.
Suzanne Perez
/
KMUW
Buildzi, a fast-stacking block game from the makers of Tenzi, is designed for ages 6 and up.

Buildzi (ages 6 to 96, $29.99) — In this fast-stacking building-block game from the makers of Tenzi, Slapzi and Snapzi, players flip over a card and race to build a matching block tower. There are seven different ways to play, including “Together Buildzi,” where players work as a team to build a tower that uses all the blocks.

Color Addict, a fast-paced color-matching card game, is designed for ages 7 and up.
Suzanne Perez
/
KMUW
Color Addict, a fast-paced color-matching card game, is designed for ages 7 and up.

Color Addict (ages 7 and up, $7.99) — Up to six players race to match colors by text or ink color before another player steals their match. The first player to get rid of all the cards in their hand is the winner. Similar to Blink or Spot It, this handy card game is quick to learn and takes only 15 minutes or less to play.

A new premium edition of the classic Rummikub game features high-quality racks, engraved tiles and a handy storage bag.
Suzanne Perez
/
KMUW
A new premium edition of the classic Rummikub game features high-quality racks, engraved tiles and a handy storage bag.

Rummikub Premium Edition (ages 8 and up, $29.99) — The classic Rummikub game uses elements of rummy and mahjong. Two to four players try to build groups or runs with the number tiles. This new edition features high-quality racks, engraved tiles, foil accents and a handy storage bag.

Fire Tower is a competitive strategy game for ages 10 and up. Players try to defend their towers from the growing flames and take control of nature to send the fire toward opponents to claim victory.
Suzanne Perez
/
KMUW
Fire Tower is a competitive strategy game for ages 10 and up. Players try to defend their towers from the growing flames and take control of nature to send the fire toward opponents to claim victory.

Fire Tower (ages 12 and up, $29.99) — More serious board-gamers (fans of Ticket To Ride or Settlers of Catan) will appreciate this strategic but fast-paced game. Players use firefighting techniques to defend their towers from the growing flames and send the fire toward opponents. On each turn, you spread the “fire” in the direction of the wind and then play one of your action cards to dispatch smoke jumpers, build firebreaks and more. Takes 15-30 minutes to play.

Suzanne Perez reports on education for KMUW in Wichita and the Kansas News Service. You can follow her on Twitter @SuzPerezICT.

The Kansas News Service is a collaboration of KMUW, KCUR, Kansas Public Radio and High Plains Public Radio focused on health, the social determinants of health and their connection to public policy.

Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished by news media at no cost with proper attribution and a link to ksnewsservice.org.

Suzanne Perez is a longtime journalist covering education and general news for KMUW and the Kansas News Service. Suzanne reviews new books for KMUW and is the co-host with Beth Golay of the Books & Whatnot podcast. Follow her on Twitter @SuzPerezICT.