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101 Comments

  1. I can’t say enough good things about Zingo! From day one, all three kids loved it and understood the concept. We love Jenga and Dominoes too, even if it means simply using them to build structure ;) And one of the games we’ve been playing recently is Life, though a modified version. We sort of make up our own rules, but they like spinning the wheel and counting the spaces they get to move.

  2. I’m a big fan of games from Educational Insights and Peaceable Kingdom for preschoolers. Most of them are cooperative, so it has helped us ease into games without too many sibling rivalry fights or meltdowns over winning. And they can play them without an adult.

  3. Try Dobble. A fast-paced matching card game with pictures. Great for all ages. It’s a winner!

  4. Great list! For smaller ones, we also really like Ghost Blitz, Elemenis, and Rat-a-Tat-Cat. then moving up, Takenoko is good for all ages, Splendor, Incan Gold (great for learning math), Fluxx and now Exploding Kittens (the version ok for kids ;) )

    1. We LOVE Rat-a-Tat Cat. And I will only play games I enjoy too!

  5. Here are a few that I enjoy playing with my 4 through 9 year olds: Carcassonne – you draw and place tiles, place meeples to control cities or roads, or monasteries. Staxis – starts out as a simple structure made of 5 sticks, each turn has you balance more sticks on the structure. Tsuro of the Seas – place tiles that extend your route, can be played with dragons that can eat your ship, or just try to stay on the board. Jamaica- you’re a pirate in a race around the island. Be the one at the end with the most points to win, manage resources (food, gold, and gun powder) and win battles against other pirates. Truly unique mechanics, and the box insert fits everything nice and neat. Forbidden Island – you work together to collect cards to find treasure, but you also have to keep the island from sinking until you can get off. Flash Point – work together as fire fighters, keep the blaze out of control while you also rescue people/pets from the building before it collapses.

  6. Great list! We’ve played a few of these, and we need to try some more of them!
    My kids are 8, 5, and just-turned-2. We got Suspend for Christmas. My kids get frustrated with it. I didn’t know there was a Junior version….it would’ve been better to start with that.
    Another game we got for Christmas is Chickyboom. That one is fun for the whole family….my youngest loves it too….she makes the funniest face when when everything topples! And I happened to catch it on video when she was so into it she fell off her chair! My little chicky went boom while playing Chickyboom! https://youtu.be/8vP_X-_aYWY

  7. We picked up some Noodleboro games @ Walmart on clearence for $2 a piece, we really love them! Listening Pizza, Sharing Fair, & Manners Picnic they come with a little book & cd. Noodleboro Fun Park Sharing Game is our favorite! Quick to play, easy to understand, great reminder of basic toddler concepts, these have been well played in our house!!

    Our very Next favorite is UNO!

  8. So glad the Candyland and Chutes and Ladders, and even Sorry days are over. I’ve been able to turn my 9 year old into a fierce gin rummy player, and am getting her into poker as well. She loves 5 card draw, haven’t gotten her into Texas Hold’em yet. That being said, there are still some classic board games I love: Stratego, and Clue, especially. I also love Payday, less intricate and can be played in a shorter amount of time than Monopoly or Life, yet still teaches kids money and math skills. I also like Alien Autopsy, it’s like Operation except you’re removing novel organs from an alien, and there is a little bit more involved of a board game around getting a chance to remove an organ. We’ve discovered a new adventure board game called Forbidden Island by Gamewright, and it is great because unlike most games it teaches cooperation instead of competition – all the players must work together, using their different player skills, in order to get all the treasures before the island sinks. Either everyone wins or everyone loses. It is my new favorite game to play with my daughter! There is also a great game called Dread Pirate, and has beautiful and high quality game equipment.

  9. Anne-Maree says:

    We like to make games work for us! My 5 year old and I play cadoo. She can’t read well yet so if there’s no one around to read a card that has a prescribed answer on it then she just makes up her own which works well. We have also modified the electronic version of of cludo, I photo copied all the suspects, objects and locations on to 3 pieces of paper so she covers each one with a token when she has seen them.

    1. Anne-Maree says:

      We also love the Bettle game,my 2 yer old can just build a bug while we play by the rules.

  10. I have been trying to incorporate game nights into our weekends. We have had so much fun with Beat the Parents and Big Pictures Apples to Apples. We have 3 kids ages 8,7 & 4 and they were all able to play both games! We played for hours and had tons of fun!

  11. I teach in a K-6 Resource Room and recently introduced my upper grade kiddos to “Clumsy Thief” and “Clumsy Thief in a Candy Shop”. They LOVE these games and ask daily if they can play! Such fun all while learning great math skills. We are also great fans of Blokus and Go Fish matching to 5, 10, or 15.

    1. My dad always played dominoes by multiples: you choose what your multiple is for the round then each person counts up all the open ends and tells their score (ie: 2s so if you count 10 on open ends, you’d get 5points if it hits 11, Nada. 5s you’d get 2 points, again, an 11 would be zero) so you’re working on planning the best move, addition (for all those open ends) & multiplication/division to get your scores.
      .
      Yahtzee is another one that helps with math especially addition.

  12. Jane Broman says:

    We love Yeti in My Spaghetti. :) Low competition and just a fun game! Another is Blockhead just played with any set of blocks that have different shapes — not just cubes.

  13. Hey Kelly, I’m so glad I stumbled upon this list. I always prefer hearing recommendations on games. This is such a great list! I’m definitely going to have to buy a few of them for our family game nights.

    My 8 year old just got into Clue and loves the logic of it. Another fun activity (not really a game) is Story Cubes. When my son was younger, he loved to roll the die and create silly and outrageous stories. They are great for getting their creative minds working.

    As a teacher, I’ve even used them in my classroom for kids who really struggle with creating a fictional story.

  14. Kristin Hale says:

    We used to love Cranium Cadoo in our house, but we also loved another game by the maker of Cranium which was Zooreka.
    My kids are 20 and 24 now, and we still love our game nights. Loaded Questions is a favorite of ours now.

  15. Ciara Knepper says:

    My husband’s aunt ‘s step granddaughter invented Sleeping Queens! We had one off the first versions ! Love it’!

  16. Cecilia Zackey says:

    Monopoly Junior!!!

  17. Thanks for the suggestions Kelly. My almost 6 year olds are definitely on a different playing level than our two year old who very much wants to play with them, but sees pieces as something that belong in her dollhouse instead of on a game table. I walk past the games section at Target and never know what would be a good fit. We’re going to give one or two of these a shot and hope for some game-night magic!

  18. Autumn G. says:

    We play Castle Panic and Carcassonne with our boys, and they LOVE them both. They are 3 and 6. Sometimes, our 3 year old is on a team, but he can usually play by himself for both games. Bohnanza is another we play this way.

  19. Christine says:

    We have discovered Monopoly Deal! it’s a card version of the classic game and easy for ages 4 and up. The game is quick and compact and challenging for everyone. A fantastic buy!!

  20. Now that my children are 8 and 11 years old, we often play Dixit and Ticket to Ride (the regular version). We love them both! We also enjoy Potion Explosion (I think this is the name you know, here in Italy it’s “Pozioni esploosive”), then we like Camel Up, Machi Koro, and Sushi Dice.

    Preferred card game: Dobble and UNO, or we play a traditional Italian card game for children like Rubamazzo, Piscialetto et al.

    Thanks for this useful post.

  21. you’ll love ‘Enchanted Forest’ and Carcassonne

  22. Spot it! And Spot it! Junior!

    1. We love Spot It so much!!

  23. Silly Street! Grown ups can play and make it a little easier as needed, and it got a lot of giggles when we played. The winner of the game gets to lead a dance party (which I found softened the blow of losing with ones who are just starting to learn board games). Very fun!

  24. Want to hear a new one! Enchanted Forest, it is the best! So good for memory (especially for me) our kids 6 & 3 love it. We also love SET Junior and Skipbo.

    1. Catan Junior is so much fun! Our kids (6 and 3) love it.

    2. I still have my enchanted forest from when I was a kid! I still remember how much I loved it (about 30yrs ago now) and I can’t wait until my kids are old enough to play!

  25. We have friends who recently outgrew this problem, too. Their youngest (beginning age 4) really enjoyed both Dominion and Carcassonne, though it helps if you can set up Carcassonne before he/she gets there.

  26. One of our favorites for our 3 & 8 yo is Spuzzle.

  27. We love Spot It. Our 5 and 7 year olds love it! No reading skills needed. And it travels well.

  28. Great post, thank you for the awesome list of ideas! I’ve come back several times to check this list and add to our Christmas list. I’ve also shared with my readers and on my personal fb page. Thank you for a great list of great games for the kiddos!!!

  29. Dutch Blitz is a family favorite at our house…we’ve been playing this since they were 6. It’s like Skipbo (another great card game) but faster passed.

  30. Mo Meehan says:

    I have taught preschool for three decades, and playing card games and board games for enrichment has been a staple in my classrooms. Most games can be adapted for younger kids as others have noted. Uno and Sequence for Kids remain favorites with my grandkids and they are way beyond preschool. The only 2 games I refuse to play are Candyland and Chutes and Ladders.
    One type of games we have 10+ that aren’t on the list are the cooperative games out of Canada from Family Pastimes. Wonderful games especially for helping those kids that feel the need to always win. There is a place in life for always being number one, but board games do not have to be that place. It can be just as satisfying to win the game working as a team and these games prove it. I believe it is important that an adult play these games to serve as a role model. I tried an enrichment after school day with elementary students who just didn’t get the idea and I couldn’t sit and play with several different games at once. I recommend Max as a starter for the preschool set. My grandkids still like to play that game. Secret Door, Harley and Round Up are other faves. I enjoyed reading the comments on this piece. Long live board games!

  31. We play a lot of the games you’ve recommended. It’s always good to come here to get new ideas. Carcassonne is a favorite at my house! We also like Zooloretto. Little kids don’t always have great strategy skills, but they still like collecting the animals to build their zoo.

  32. My kids are also 3 and 9, so I’m very grateful for these game suggestions. One game we’ve played together recently is Whoonu. My 9-year-old got it for his birthday. It’s a simple game of guessing each other’s favorite things. My 3-year-old has to partner with someone who can read the cards for her, but she still likes playing. The rules are simple and it only takes a few minutes to play a round.

  33. I like to old school it with SORRY.

  34. Thanks for the list! The game we have enjoyed playing most with our 4yr old daughter is Sequence for Kids. We loved it so much that she wanted to purchase one for her friend for Christmas. :)

  35. Surely you must not be familiar with Goblet Gobblers! Far and away our family’s favorite game!

  36. Does anyone have any experience with QBitz (regular or junior)?

    1. Be prepared to lose to your children in QBitz! My daughter has been playing this since she was 6 or 7 and can beat everyone who challenges her. QBitz Regular is slightly easier for all ages than QBitz Extreme (with the neon colors and curvy shapes). Kids who are not necessarily interested in games of strategy may really like the visual component to QBitz.

    2. My 9 year old LOVES Q-bits. I hate it. Not because it’s a bad game (it’s actually awesome) I just have lousy spatial perception or something. I can’t for the life of me figure out how to make the cubes form the right picture. My son, on the other hand is a wiz at it, and helps me complete mine too. Of course he also loves jigsaw puzzles, 3D puzzles and anything he has to “build” to play with. If those things are up your alley, you’ll probably like Q bitz

  37. Karlynn Cory says:

    I highly recommend Dragonwood. Our youngest has been playing since he was 5. And sometimes we adults play it without the kids!

  38. Please tell me you know the game Dutch Blitz? It’s a Mennonite fast paced card game and it’s very addictive! I am always the green water pump!

  39. Great reviews of great games! And I love the card holder, plus your suggestions for how to play with little kids!

    Labyrinth is a fun game, sliding tiles to arrange the path to your next treasure.

    1. I still have my Labyrinth game from childhood and I can’t wait to introduce my kids to it.

  40. Ah! Uno! that old lovely friend.
    Thanx for reminding. Now my preschooler will share my love for the game.

  41. We *love* Yeti in My Spaghetti! And also Rivers, Roads, and Rails. We also really like Uno. My 2 yr old plays with us and loves it. We just got Buggaloop for Christmas and it took a few plays to get used to but my 5 year old loves it.

  42. Great article. Our family, ages 13, 9, 5, and 3 love Tsuro. It is easy enough for all and still very fun for adults. I highly recommend it.

  43. Pass the Pigs is a favorite of ours – our 6yo and 4yo love to play it with dad after their 1yo brother goes to bed.

  44. Meg Altis says:

    We love games in this family! Our new favorite is Too Many Monkeys! It is a blast and there are rounds which means that everyone normally will win at least one round which cuts down on the crying because someone lost! Super simple to play and teaches the beginning of place value!

  45. Stephanie says:

    Our whole family loves a game called Viva Topo! Affectionately called “the Cheese Game” in our house, where we proclaim a Cheese Champion. This title is proudly held until the next game is played. I’ve only every seen it online, but it’s worth looking for.

  46. My grandson (age 5) got Bugs in the Kitchen for Christmas, and I enjoy playing it as much as he does! Another game he loves is Trouble, and he started playing that at age 3, and he’s very quick with the counting now.

  47. Sue from Fowler says:

    We love the Apples to Apples games and have gained a large variety of them . Our children are nine years apart and it’s perfect for many ages – especially the Picture Apples to Apples and the Disney Apples to Apples . We also host exchange students from around the world. The Picture Apples to Apples is especially enjoyable for them because they understand the pictures and also get to work on learning English while playing the game .

  48. Spot it, Pit, Slapzi, Tenzi, Quixx, Color Stix

  49. Ashley Reding says:

    Our family loves Otrio. It’s like tic tac toe on steroids! Even kids as young as 3 can play, but adults love it equally as much.

  50. Our family loves game night and with a 4 year old, 2 year old, and 4 month old are always trying to find games we can all enjoy and play together. Can’t wait to add Soo many of these to our game collection! One game not mentioned that we love is Eye Found It, Disney addition.

  51. We scored the game Balance Beans as a cheap Amazon Lightning deal. Turns out it’s an excellent family game! My almost four-year-old loves it, the 18 month old enjoys playing with the beans, and the adults race to see who can get their car done the fastest! Its a hoot!

  52. Jeannine Liebmann says:

    I completely agree! We played many of the games you mentioned – loved Sequence especially. Also SkipBo and checkers. Best newer game for families with all ages is Telestrations. We played with ages 6 through adult and never stopped laughing.

  53. We’ve recently rediscovered Yahtzee! My 1 year old loves to shake and roll the dice. And my 6 year old is responsible for the counting and math.

  54. We LOVE Catan! Best game for the whole family. We also love Dutch Blitz – like a group game of solitaire.

  55. Our son is 4. We love the Peaceable Kingdom games, and he LOVES Pengoloo and Feed the Kitty. Zingo is always a favorite!

  56. I definitely agree that family games should be fun for everyone! We have five kids, and that is one of the rules of our Friday Family Fun Night. We’ve played many of these games with our kids (and I am now excited to try out Sleeping Queens and look into Lattice, thank you!). We play a lot of co-op games with our kids — Hoot Owl Hoot and Outfoxed are really fun! We also taught them Forbidden Island and Forbidden Desert and Castle Panic. Co-op games are great for teaching kids slowly, as open hands and working together are good. We also play Apples to Apples Jr, with readers on their own team and nonreaders teamed up with a parent.

  57. We play a lot of these already! Great suggestions! We got Left Right Center for Christmas and our 4-year-Old loves it! It’s a great one to keep in the car for when you’re at a restaurant!

  58. We just got Lattice for Christmas and it is fantastic! Our granddaughter loves it! Other favorites of ours are Farkle and Apples to Apples in the kids or junior versions.

  59. So many great games here! Castle Panic and Go Nuts for Donuts are AWESOME. Also Mega Monopoly (games are clocked at 2-ishhours tops).

  60. You missed our very favorite. Otrio. Amazing. Buy it at target. Best game I have ever played. My 4 year old can beat the whole family.

  61. Years ago there was a game called Flinch. The object is to get rid of your Flinch pile of 10 cards while creating card piles from 1 to 15. They stopped making Flinch and it’s hard to find now, but if my kids get a chance they will play Flinch over UNO any day — and they love a good game of UNO. If they ever bring Flinch back, I know what I’m buying each of my young adults for Christmas, ‘ cus they’re sure not getting my Flinch deck.

  62. My kids (ages 4 and 7 1/2) are fans of Yeti in My Spaghetti and Spot It, which is my go to for long waits at Doctor appts or restaurants! They love Quick Cups and Thumbs Up too. Cootie is still a favorite also, but I think we are just about aging out of that one. I’m starting to teach my 7 yr old Shut the Box and Bananagrams also. They are great games to practice her spelling words and math from school also!

  63. When I was a child in the 70s we loved the game Husker Du. It is a memory game. I now teach kindergarten. I found a Husker Du game at a resale shop & my kiddos LOVE it. I still enjoy playing it. I’ve found it on websites but it’s pretty pricey. VERY FUN though for all ages.

  64. We love Silly Street! Move your game piece through the “street” and draw cards that have instructions like “make up a song” or “take off like a rocket.” It’s our go-to gift for birthday parties now.

  65. I truly used to hide when my kids asked to play games until we found SimplyFun games. I love their games for many reasons but tops for me is all the games are designed to be played in about 30 mins or less. Plus they replace lost game pieces for FREE. Our current favorites are Marble Matrix, Grill Party, Owl Solve That, Kilter, The Climbing Knights, Pelican Cove, Walk The Dogs, Let’s Drive & Dreaming Dragon.

  66. I play games with my 6-year-old, and Carcassonne and Forbidden Island are GREAT games! For Forbidden Island, it’s cooperatively all of you against the island and everyone plays the part of flooding the island. We start with the water level one imaginary mark below the usual ‘novice’ level when the kids play with us. So fun!

  67. Stephanie says:

    We have three kids: 10, 8, and 4, so we have a hard time with finding games we can all play together. We like the game Carcassonne a lot! We skip the keeping score part when play with our preschooler, but not with our other two. And Labyrinth too, and we make it easier by letting everyone stay where they are instead of going back home after each. Thanks for the great list! I’m always on the hunt for new GOOD games!

  68. Elizabeth says:

    We love Spot It and also the game Fishstix! Sneaky Snacky Squirrel is a hit for our 3 year old!

  69. Ker-Plunk! I loved it as a kid, my own kids loved it, so I wanted it for my grandson. They still make it, but fans of the original (and others) complain that it’s cheaply-made, the sticks are too weak to hold the marbles in the tube, and thus the game is over too fast. But if an original version were made again, I’d be all over it. Pick-up-type sticks are suspended through tiny holes across a tall tube. Marbles are added on top of those. You turn the tube to your numbered space, and take turns removing one stick at a time. The player with the fewest marbles at the end wins. It can be scaled up for strategy, but even toddlers can play it. Needless to say, this won’t work for your after-bedtime games — eventually someone removes the one that sends all the rest of the marbles (noisily) into the catch.

    And hey — Hi-Ho Cherry-O was great in its original iteration (for the youngest ones, anyway) — but now it also suffers from cheapness, which makes it duller than it has to be.

    Thanks for the suggestions!

  70. Cristy M Shields says:

    A must have game for every home perfect for ALL ages…Spot It! It’s a matching game on a whole new level. My husband and I love this game as much as the kids!

    The next best game Tenzi. It’s a dice rolling game that even a preschooler can understand.

    Thanks for this post. I am going to buy sleeping queens today!

  71. What about Twister? It’s quite an active “boardgame” – has your family tried it?

  72. Elizabeth says:

    Outfoxed is cooperative so it’s fun for everyone and easy enough for even preschoolers to participate!

  73. Thank you for all the suggestion. I can confirm the power of board games. It’s our bonding time where we all have fun together. Sushi Go is one of our favorites when we are short on time!

    You might want to check out ghost (not the same as ghost blitz). It’s really easy to understand, doesn’t take much space ( you could even bring it to restaurants) , each round takes less than 15 min, and it’s quite simple since it’s matching colors and counting up to 8.

    Wishing your family happy holidays!

  74. Elaine Honigmann says:

    Our favourite game for waiting rooms or single person play is Dobble! (Also called Spot It! in the U.S.)

  75. Hi! I’m Caroline from Brazil and I am adicted to family games. I would add to your list “Aquarius”, “Ludo” and “triomino”. Thank You!!!

  76. April Alt says:

    Apple’s to Apples

  77. What a great list! I love so many of the games you recommend! My family’s favorite game EVER is Dixit. It’s perfect for a wide range of ages! We also love Blokus. A lot of the HABA games would work well for kids of varying ages, too. Rhino Hero comes to mind first.

    Also, Ice Cool is definitely a family favorite! I usually don’t play with the hall monitor rule for very young kids, but you can add it as they get older.

  78. Was looking for game ideas to play with my 10 year old nephew and 5 year old niece, this list is great!! Some classics I didn’t even think of and some new ones I’d love for us to try…now which one to buy first?

  79. One of our favorite family games is Zombie Dice. It plays quick and is exciting enough to captivate both parents, our 12 year old, and our 5 year old. We play every night while eating dinner!

    We also love Long Cow, and The Oregon Trail Card Game (it is cooperative play so our 5 year old can be involved and the older players can strategize, although he is quickly catching on to the strategy side).

  80. ….did you just watch me through a magic mirror? Because your opening pretty much just described exactly why I googled and ended up here. And your article is PERFECT because it’s the exact conundrum I have: four kids, ages 3 – 11, plus not wanting to be bored myself. I’ve been waiting for the youngest to turn 3 to really dive into board games, thank you for this perfect starting list!!!

  81. Loved your list from last year. For Christmas based on your recommendations, I gave the kids Sleeping Queens and Ticket to Ride First Journey, and we’ve been playing them ALL YEAR! Can’t wait to add a few more of your recommendations this Christmas!

  82. This is my favorite time of year, when your new game list comes out! I got many off the list last year for our 4 year old and they were all hits! We’ll all be excited to add more this year and love our game playing family!

  83. Carcassonne is a great game for kids AND adults! Depending on the age of the kids, you can leave out some rules (like farmers).

  84. Marian Engelland says:

    We picked a Christmas tag for 16-year old boy from a local shelter who asked for a board game. Which game would you pick for someone like this? Don’t know him or his family.

  85. Sarah Parker says:

    We’re we to make a list of our favorites they would dovetail very closely with tour list. One addition we would like to suggest: Goat Lords! A more colorful spin in cover your assets. Both my five year olds love Goat Lords!!

  86. Francis Raycroft says:

    Great list! Thank you for sharing. Carcassonne is my family’s go-to favorite! Shadows in the Forest is another great game that our kids love.

  87. Sandy Crossley says:

    Love this list. I have added new games to my to be bought list. I work at an after school program for kids K through 6th grade and we enjoy spending our afternoons playing games.

    Taco Takeover is a fun game to play. It helps if the child can read to order. It is a non turn taking game and is fast. You also start the game by counting to 3 in Spanish and when you complete your order you say Ole. My kids love this game although it can get a bit loud.

    Also Bonk is another fun game that requires cooperation. Although this game has small parts and may not be good for younger children. (only available at Target or Target.com)

    Shut the box is a fun game that reinforces math facts and is fun to play.

    Bellz is a quick game with colored jingle bells and a magnetic wand.

    Zombie Run is a fun card game that my kids enjoy playing too.

    Scrambled States and Scrambled States 2 are both card games that include learning by having fun. A plus to any game.

  88. My 5 and 7 yo love Quixx. It’s dice game that requires some strategy. Great for counting up to 12, fast and everyone can win (kids and parents alike). A big hit!

  89. I think a great addition to your list would be Uno Flip!

  90. Ruby Gayle says:

    Being a game player, I just love this article. I was looking for the trending games and i got your article.
    I read this whole article and i am impressed by your writing. It includes the all best board games. I will share this blog with my siblings. Thanks for sharing this great stuff!