You’re stuck at home, your kiddos are crying about being bored, and you’re just about at your wits’ end. So, what do you do? Break out a nostalgic board game, that’s what! And few are more nostalgic (or more pure and simple fun) than Chutes and Ladders. While you probably often played this classic growing up, though, you may not have even thought about it in years. You know what that means, right? You need a quick refresher, especially if you want to pass on your love of the game to your kids.
Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about playing the Chutes and Ladders board game with your little ones.
Chutes and Ladders vs. Snakes and Ladders
Before we go over the basics, let’s take a look at the game’s history. Originally called “Snakes and Ladders,” Chutes and Ladders originated in ancient India. You may have heard it called either or both. The inventor isn’t known, but it’s thought to have gotten its start sometime around second century B.C. The game was intended to teach math concepts like numbers and counting (just like string art!), as well as contribute to a child’s education in morality.
The board was — and still is — set up with numbers one to 100 in a 10-by-10 grid. Throughout the board, there were snakes (now chutes) and ladders. The ladders represented virtue while the snakes were a symbol of evil. Landing at the base of a ladder would send you ahead in the game, while landing on a snake’s head would send you back several squares. To win, a player needed to get to the top of the game board. TBH, the rules haven’t changed much since those early days.
In 1943, Snakes and Ladders made its way to the United States. Brought over by Milton Bradley, he redesigned the game to be more child-friendly by turning the board into a playground and replacing the scary snakes with chutes for kids to slide down. The game still maintains a good vs. evil theme while taking on a much lighter tone than the original. Fascinating, no?
Chutes and Ladders Board
The Chutes and Ladders board is set up to be whimsical and fun for kids (and adults, too!) of any age. The bright, colorful, park-themed design makes it engaging for all players. The board is a 10-by-10 grid with 100 squares. Throughout, there are both chutes and ladders that allow players to move up and down the board based on what number the included spinner lands on.
How to Play Chutes and Ladders
Now it’s time to get into gameplay. Chutes and Ladders is a simple game, appropriate for even the youngest of players. As mentioned above, the objective is to get to the top of the game board. When you open the box, you’ll see a game board, four playing pieces, and a spinner. Each player picks a playing piece to begin. Granted, you may find this is the most challenging part of the game — avoiding a battle royale as your kids scuffle over who gets what piece.
Once you get that all sorted out, you’ll place the pieces at the bottom of the board. Then, each player takes turns spinning the spinner to determine how many squares to move.
Chutes and Ladders Rules
The rules for Chutes and Ladders are easy to learn and follow. The game can be played by two to four players. Got a big family? If a bigger group wants to play, simply team up.
To determine which player goes first, spin the spinner and see who gets the highest number. Other players then follow in turn from left to right. Players start at the first square and move an amount equal to the number shown on the spinner. When a player lands on a ladder, they move to the square where the ladder ends. When a player lands on a chute, they move their playing piece back to the square at the bottom of the chute. The first player to get to the last square at the top of the board wins the game.
There are a few ways to win Chutes and Ladders. If you want to make the game a little longer and challenge the other players, play the bounce-back version. This is when you need to roll the exact spaces left to win the game. Let’s say you roll a six and you are four spaces away from 100. You would move up four and then back two spaces, which would mean you’d need a two to win. It’s definitely harder to end the game, but it’ll add more fun.
How long does it take to play Chutes and Ladders?
Chutes and Ladders is a game of chance and mathematical strategy if you play your dice right. According to the Mathematical Gazette, it takes about 39.2 turns to finish a game. Another finding found that without the chutes and ladders it would take about 33 turns. If a player ran into a lot of chutes, it could move them back more than 200 spaces throughout the game. In terms of ladders, they could move a player forward up to 200 spaces.
Wrapping It Up
Chutes and Ladders is often one of the first games parents introduce to their kids… and for good reason. The rules are simple and the game moves at a fast pace, keeping everyone entertained. This makes it a must-have addition to any family’s game stash.
Other Games for Families To Consider
As kids, board games were the cornerstone of playtime — and Chutes and Ladders wasn’t the only pastime that saved us from boredom. Below, take a trip down memory lane and check out the other games you may have played as a child.
There’s nothing more nostalgic than a whodunit adventure. Clue is a classic board game for ages eight and up that allows up to six players to solve a murder mystery. There are three cards in a secret envelope that reveal the culprit. During the game, players will gather evidence and eliminate innocent characters until they decide which three cards are hidden.
If you’ve played monopoly before, you know this game can go on for days, but it’s totally worth it. The game allows you to flex and flaunt with pretend money, which has a funny way of feeling like actual money. And bonus: If you’re looking to teach your kids about property or business ownership, this is a great introduction. Your kids will learn what it means to pay rent, lose money, and build an empire.
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