I grew up in a family that loved to play games. I remember spending holidays at my grandparents or Aunt & Uncle’s houses and the adults staying up late into the night playing cards, laughing and enjoying each others company. That love of game playing was passed down to us and now I am passing it on to my own kids.
Over the past few months during our travels, we have allowed limited usage of electronics, which means they have been more creative in their activities. Not only have they played outside, but they have learned several new card games as well revisited a few neglected board games.
This year, with our confined space, we are looking at more “family gifts” than individual ones. Gifts that we can enjoy together as a family. Card and board games are two great options, as they store easily and can be played just about any where! So, I wanted to share with you some of our favorites and some new ones on our own list this year!
Left Center Right – This is a fun and simple game that kids of any age can play. If they know the letters L, C & R and know their left from right, you’re good to go! It’s a fun, fast-paced game for little ones too. Our kids play this quite often.
Let’s Go Fishin’ – We don’t have this game, but my in-laws do and the kids request to play it almost every time we visit. It is a good hand-eye coordination game for little ones and fun too. My kids always get a good laugh out of it.
6-in-1 Fun Pack – My kids love playing each of these games and they are perfect for preschoolers too. This set includes Memory, Go Fish, Crazy Eights, Slap Jack, Old Maid and Matching. A couple of these may be a little advanced for some preschoolers, but most of them are easy to play with young kids. My kids spend hours playing Go Fish and Slap Jack!
Connect 4 – This is another classic, but fun game that kids love. It teaches taking turns and counting. It’s simple to set up, so long as you keep track of all the pieces. Tip: Use a baggie to keep them altogether, don’t ask me how I know.
Chutes and Ladders – There are just some classic games that don’t go out of style. Chutes and Ladders is one of those. My kids love playing this game, even well into the elementary years!
Candy Land – And another classic that never gets old! Preschoolers love playing this simple and fun game of shapes, colors and candy! What more could a kid want?
Sequence for Kids (3-6) – Even if they can’t read yet, younger children can enjoy playing this great strategy-building game. The Sequence Game for Kids is easy to play yet challenging and exciting. Just play a card from your hand, place a chip on a corresponding game board space and when you have 4 in a row, it’s a “sequence” and you win. But there’s more. Use a unicorn card to place your chip anywhere or a dragon card to remove your opponent’s chip.
Scrabble Jr. (5+) – Kid-sized words and colorful pictures make it fun to match letter tiles to words on the grid. Players move their funny tokens up the score track as they score points. When all of the tiles have been placed on the board, the player with the most points wins! Don’t worry, your little ones won’t outgrow this game; just turn the board over for the advanced level, where they come up with their own words.
Monopoly Jr. (5+) – The Monopoly Junior game is just like the classic Monopoly game, but it’s accessible and exciting for younger players. It’s fast, simple, and full of surprises. Kids choose their favorite Junior token and learn how to pass Go, buy properties, and collect rent. Single banknotes keep the transactions fast and easy.
Life Jr. (5+) – Choose your fun adventure with the game of life – junior style! this fun and fast-paced game is just like the adult version, but with much cooler rides! Pick the blue wheeler, the pink cruiser, the yellow speedster or the green rider, and start enjoying life’s twists and turns! Have tons of fun with amazing adventures on the beach or at the zoo – it’s your choice! keep collecting stars and see how the action cards and attractions like the museum or the chocolate factory affect your fate.
Sorry (6+) – This classic game of luck, strategy, and determination is easy to grasp for children as young as 6 years old, yet it’s fun for adults and older siblings too. By drawing cards, players move their game pieces around the board, hoping to eventually accumulate all their pieces at the final destination–home sweet home.
Operation (6+) – Cavity Sam is feeling a bit under the weather, and kids will love to “operate” and make him better. Use the tweezers to take out all of Cavity Sam’s 12 funny ailment parts that parents might remember — such as a wishbone, Charlie horse, and Adam’s apple. My kids absolutely love this game, or any variation.
Guess Who (6+) – There’s a mystery person on your opponent’s card. Can you find the matching face in the crowd? My 7 year old daughter recently found this game at church and has absolutely fallen in love with it. So much so, that it is now on her wish list for Christmas! I loved this game as a child, so I am thrilled she loves it too.
Jenga (6+) – Have you ever played Jenga? My kids love this game so much that we had to buy a new one, because they lost some of the pieces. This is a great game to work on hand-eye coordination, patience and balance. It’s the perfect game for everyone, with edge-of-your-seat, gravity-defying action.
Dominoes (6+) – Visiting my grandparents, my kids have found a new love of dominoes. They have all learned how to play correctly and it is a great way for younger kids to work on their counting and matching skills, as well as strategy and skill.
Skip-Bo (7+) – This is a great game for kids working on number recognition and learning to count up and down to 12. It takes a little skill, so I do recommend sticking with the 7+ age group. However, with some assistance younger children could also enjoy this game. Players build up their “draw” pile numerically in sequence, 1 through 12. The first player to deplete their pile wins!
Pass the Pigs (7+) – My aunt introduced my kids to this game several years ago and since then we have gone through several sets of pigs. They love this game and have played it since before they were 7, but needed help adding up points. It is a great game to work on addition skills with a fun twist! It is basically a dice game, with pigs that are weighted and have different values depending on how they land. Give it a try!
Battleship (7+) – Our oldest has loved this game for a long time and is now in the process of teaching his younger siblings. It is a fun game of strategy and a little friendly competition. We have both the larger board game and the travel edition, because love it so much!
UNO (7+) – Who hasn’t played UNO a time or two? We use this simple, yet fun game to teach our kids about colors, following directions and how to win and lose graciously. It doesn’t always go as planned, but we continue to play and try. My kids love playing this game with us or each other.
Headbanz (7+) – My kids played this game at a friends house a couple years ago and have not stopped talking about it since! This is another version of Guess Who, only you have to guess what you are! It is a great way for kids to work on their question asking skills and learning to be specific to get the best and most information.
Spoons (7+) – I haven’t played this game in years, but it was a game my cousins and I played growing up. Play this classic card game where you race to get four-of-a-kind and you have to snag a spoon to stay in the action. Each round somebody will be eliminated, so be sharp, but be thankful the spoons aren’t!
Farkle (8+) – This is another game my kids love to play. It is quick and easy to set up, because you just need six dice. It has been a great game to improve my kids’ dice rolling skills and teaching them that more power isn’t always better. A soft, gentle roll will still get the job done. It is also a great game to work on addition skills as the kids get older!
Clue (8+) – My kids started playing the junior version years ago and of course, we have now graduated to the older version. They love using their deductive reasoning to figure out who the victim and murderer are in this fun, face-paced game.
Yahtzee (8+) – Similar to Farkle, this game has helped my kids with their addition skills as well as realizing that life isn’t fair and sometimes you miss out on points. I remember playing this game with my parents growing up, so it is not only a favorite with my kids, but me as well.
Middle & High School
Spite & Malice – I learned to play Spite & Malice after I met my husband and would visit his grandparents. It is a fun card game that requires concentration, strategy and a little bit of luck. You can purchase the product or easily find the rules online and learn how to play in less than 10 minutes. Our 12-year old has learned to play and even played a few games with his great-grandma.
RISK – I have personally never played this game, but my husband loves it and has started teaching our oldest how to play. Take over the world in this exciting game of military strategy, now with a refreshed look that includes updated figures, compelling board art, and improved Mission cards. In the Risk game players set out to conquer their enemies’ territories by building an army, moving in troops, and engaging in battle.
Settlers of Catan – Another game I have never personally played, but my husband would love for me to learn. Your adventurous settlers seek to tame the remote but rich isle of Catan. Start by revealing Catan’s many harbors and regions: pastures, fields, mountains, hills, forests, and desert. The random mix creates a different board virtually every game.
Apples to Apples – We love playing this game with my family and now with our oldest! Apples to Apples is the game of hilarious comparisons. It’s as easy as comparing apples to apples just open the box, deal the cards, and you’re ready to play. Select the card from your hand that you think is best described by a card played by the judge.
Say Anything – Say Anything will have YOUR friends talking and laughing in minutes! Every player answers a fun question like “What’s the worst thing to say to a cop after getting pulled over?” or “Who’s the most annoying celebrity in show business?” Then players try to choose which answer the judge will like best. Play Say Anything and find out what hilarious things YOUR friends will say!
Chess – To be honest, I know how to play the game of chess, but I don’t play well. I am not good at thinking ahead and planning moves and reading the other player, so I typically give up and quit. However, my oldest son loves to play with my husband and one of our daughters is already showing interest. It is a great game to help kids work on strategy.
7 Wonders – You are the leader of one of the 7 great cities of the Ancient World. Gather resources, develop commercial routes and affirm your military supremacy. Build your city and erect an architectural wonder which will transcend future times. This game comes highly recommended and has great reviews. I think it will be on our short wish list!
Wits & Wagers – This is another game that comes highly recommended, so it has made our list too. Wits & Wager is history’s mos award-winning party game. Why does everyone love Wits & Wagers? Because you don’t need to know the answers to win! The excitement is betting on the best guess. First, everyone writes down a guess to a fun question like “In inches, how tall is the Oscar statuette?” Then players bet on which guess is closest to the right answer. Strike it big and you’ll be cheering like you just hit the jackpot!
Five Second Rule – This is a hilarious game of quick thinking. The game that sounds easy, but can be a bit tricky. It seems easy to name 3 breeds of dogs, but can you do it with time twisting down quickly? Just say what comes to mind – if it’s not a right answer, maybe it’ll be a hilarious one!
Cranium – Players team up to cruise around the board completing activities in 4 color-coded categories: Creative Cat, Data Head, Star Performer, and Word Worm. One team picks a card from the category that matches their space on the board, and must successfully complete the activity before time runs out. The first team to reach the Cranium Central space and complete one last challenge wins!
Taboo – This game is a fun one for family night, or in a larger group setting. In Taboo you need to get your team to guess the secret word, but the obvious clues are strictly off-limits. To get your team to say pinball, would you say arcade, game, flippers, tilt or roll? In this game you can’t because all of those words are strictly forbidden. Get your team to guess as many words as you can while you race against the clock. But watch out; if you say a forbidden word, the other team will “squeak” you and you lose the word.
We love playing games with our kids. They make great gifts and give us more family time together. We also love finding new ones to enjoy, so I hope there are some here you want to try this year! Does your family love games? What are their favorites?