One of my favorite memories from my childhood was playing Monopoly with my dad and sister. I remember spending a lot more time making side deals and selling insurance policies than actually rolling dice and moving around the board. Before we left Scotland to return to the United States, one of our friends gave us a British version of Monopoly with properties like Notting Hill, Hyde Park, and Heathrow Airport instead of the traditional properties named after locations in or around Atlantic City. The recommended age-range on the box is 8 years to adult. I thought the kids would really enjoy playing Monopoly, but I knew that I would have to simplify things a little. Here is how I simplified Monopoly to make it accessible to our three young children.
Note: Hasbro does sell their own simplified Monopoly Junior, but this way you can use the set you already own!
Simplified Monopoly for Young Children
The main simplification is to ignore the denominations completely. This gets around having to do any math (we’ll start doing math when Lily turns three). We just refer to the bank notes as “pieces of money.” Here is what we arranged:
- We each start with 15 pieces of money.
- For one piece of money, we can buy:
- A property,
- A house (called an “apartment” in the British version), and
- A hotel upgrade from a house.
- If someone lands on our square, we get:
- One piece of money if we haven’t built anything on it,
- Two pieces of money if we have a house, or
- Three pieces of money if we have a hotel.
- Any time we have to pay money to the bank (e.g., from community chest, chance, jail, or the annoying tax squares) it costs us one piece of money.
- If we get money from community chest or chance, we get one piece of money.
- Passing or landing on GO we get two pieces of money.
- Landing in Free Parking we get five pieces of money (in the official rules, nothing really happens here, but it is more fun to make some money).
We completely ignore any rules pertaining to the color groups. We also allow only one house or one hotel on a particular property. This makes the game really simple to play and very enjoyable for everyone, including two-year-old Lily. We end the game after some number of times around the board, and the kids are all declared winners. (I’m declared a winner by MaryAnne for occupying the kids for nearly an hour straight.)
Playing this simplified version of Monopoly teaches the kids how to take turns, count squares, and engage in play where there are rigid rules to be followed (when playing with me, even Lily understands there is no bending of rules). I’ve learned a lot of things about my kids through playing Monopoly. Lily is very conservative and likes to hang on to her money—I would have guessed that she would be more likely to splurge on hotels. Johnny likes the houses, probably because they are green and that’s his favorite color. Emma almost always buys hotels, knowing that a little investment can pay off in the long run.
As you can see in the picture, we’ve been having a lot of fun.