Great games for kids and families

Great Games for Every Age

2017 December 10

If we’re honest, all parents will admit that there are a few things we love doing with our children…aaaaaand a few things we don’t. For example, though I am always up for a trip to the playground, I have a semi-firm no pushing on the swing policy. Not my thing for myriad reasons I’ll explain another day. And ugh. Time literally drips through the hour glass soooooo slowly when I play ball sports in the driveway with my little ones. At this age, that translates to me fetching stray tennis balls in the bushes. Hard pass-at least until my youngest teammate finetunes her hand-eye.  I’m fortunate that there is a growing list of things I truly enjoy doing with my children that overlaps with things that they love doing. I will gladly build majestic Magna-Tile castles, I’ll draw, I’ll dance, and I’m theoretically always up for baking and crafting. Legos. Are. Awesome. I also adore reading to them so I never say no when my girls bring me a big stack of books and want to get cozy on the sofa and read it out. For the past few years, something I really enjoy doing with my oldest daughter is playing games. I have always been a game lover and this has been a great way to spend time with her that is fun for both of us. 

Since it’s the season to be giving. And receiving! But mostly giving. Because baby Jesus in the manger. I wanted to share a Gaming Gift Guide of sorts. I love gifting games to other families and really appreciate when they are gifted to my children. Games offer far better bang-for-your-buck than those one-note trendy toys (this year it’s Hatchimals and those creepy little finger monkies) that get played with once and end up at the bottom of a toy basket, never to be played with again.

The list below includes games we love playing in our family and games I love gifting to families with older children. I even threw a few in there that are on our family’s wish list this year. These are mostly listed in order of age appropriateness, but your child is likely a genius and can probably start young. P.S. don’t let your little people win, at least not every time. For the sake of empowering the next generation with any prayer of getting us out of the mess we are currently in, don’t let them win.

Great first Games:

Sneaky Snacky Squirrel (3+) I played this Educational Insights game just yesterday with my daughter. This is a competitive game with twists and turns and a great game for learning early strategy and hand-eye coordination. Also great for learning how to be a gracious looser and keep on spinning if the wind blows all of your hard-earned acorns back.

Candy Land (4+) This simple race-to-the-finish game is practically a right of passage. Good intro to the wide world of games. Chutes and Ladders is another that has stood the test of time.

Hi-Ho-Cherry-O (3-6) Fun way to trick your preschoolers into developing basic math skills.

Uno Moo (3-10) – preschool version of Uno that uses cute lil barn animals instead of cards.

Richard Scary Busytown Eye Found It (3+) This is a cooperative, non-competitive game that still packs a thrill because you are working together to beat a common enemy (greedy pigs). It has a 6 foot long game board and requires imagination, teamwork and Where’s Waldo style find-it abilities. This is the perfect game for children of multiple ages to play together because older ones will enjoy it too.

Memory (3-7) Classic. I have great memories (pun!) of playing this growing up. Great brain builder and you can find in a themed version for whatever your child is into.

Hoot Hoot Owl (4-8) This is a great introduction to board games for your little one. You work together and collaborate over a strategy to accomplish a goal instead of competing.

Games for Growing Gamers:

Outfoxed (5+) This is one of my daughter’s current favorites and a game that I really enjoy playing with her. Outfoxed is a great cooperative play Clue-ish whodunit game where you use deductive reasoning to outsmart a thieving fox.

Guess Who (5+) Another classic that is easy to learn and you can play multiple rounds in one sitting. My daughter loves this one.

Zingo (4-10) This is a super popular game with families with young children and it was another of our family’s first games that I enjoyed as well. A lot like BINGO, players get picture cards and try to fill them up. There is a speed component too that makes the adrenaline kick in. We started with the standard version and are hoping for Zingo Word Builder and Zingo Sight Words for Christmas. Both are supposed to be excellent for new readers.

Uno Attack (7+) the random card shooter in this tricked out Uno makes fort a exciting and unpredictable game. The classic UNO is always a hit.

Castle Logix (3-8) and Camelot Jr. (4-8). These are great brain building single player puzzle games. The goal is to assemble the wooden blocks and towers to match the challenges included in the booklet. You begin with simple challenges and build up to more complex puzzles that (cough) I even find challenging. A great independent game for quiet time, it helps develop logical thinking skills and spatial reasoning abilities.

Sorry (6+) Sorry was one of my favorite games when I was young. It is simple and fun and it teaches children to be good sports when they win or when someone draws a “sorry” and sends them alllll the way back home. The game Trouble, which I’m sure you also remember from the days of yore, is similar.

Games for Bigger Kids and Families:

Qwirkle (6+) This is a SUPER popular strategic domino and scrabble-like game that has won the Parents’ Choice Gold Award and the Mensa National Competition Award. Sold. The pieces are shapes (no reading required), so it can be easily played by young players but there is enough strategy to it that it keeps older players engaged.

Rollick (10+) This is a cool spin on traditional charades and a fun team party game where all ages can participate. Instead of one actor and the rest guessers, it is all actors and one guesser per team. You can use props that are in the room which adds a fun twist.

5 Second Rule (10+) and 5 Second Rule Jr. (6+) Fun party game that involves quick thinking. Hilarity often ensues.

Ticket to Ride (8+) This is one of the most popular strategy games of all time that is supposed to be really fun for the whole family. It is on our Christmas wishlist. The goal is to build railroad lines across the USA and earn more points than your opponents. Apparently this one can be learned quickly (always a plus) involves strategy (yes)-and the gameplay is quick, with no lulls (ideal).

Scattegories (12+) A classic and forever personal favorite that still gets my blood pumping and mind racing.

Killer Bunnies (13+) and KinderBunnies (5+) are strategic card games that get high praise. These on our wishlist this year.

Bonus Round! Stocking Stuffers:

Spot-it (7+) Spot It is an awesome think fast matching game that works across age groups. The goal is to be the first to identify a match on a pair of cards and to call out the name of the figure in common (surprisingly harder than it sounds). We brought it to the beach to play with our daughter but ended up playing with the adults after the kids went to bed and got hyper-competitive. We have the original version, but there are Spot It Junior games if you want an easier version for little people to play-as well as themed versions for different interests.

Go Fish (5+) Love this E-boo version. Big cards with pretty graphics. Classic.

Sleeping Queens (7+) This is a fantasy card game that gets azillion 5 star Amazon reviews. It helps develop memory, strategy, and basic math skills. The name queens makes it sound girly, but there are queens, kings, knights and more, so it works for everyone. Great intro to strategy for young players. Quick to learn and doesn’t take a whole lot of time to play.

[more into books than games? Here is a post about our FAVORITE CHILDREN’S BOOKS as well as a post about PRINCESS BOOKS WITH A TWIST]

2 Responses
  1. Heather permalink
    December 11, 2017

    Perfect list, thank you! And yes, playing fetch and swings are at the top of my list as well!

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