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My family loves a good game – which is just as well, really, as our entertainment options are fairly limited right now!
It’s a hobby my husband and I enjoy (many a date night is spent playing a game!), so I guess it’s been natural to pass this down to our kids. We’ve been playing board games and card games with them ever since they were toddlers, from the very first Orchard Toys games to some more complex strategy-type games that they’re starting to enjoy now.
Like everything we do with our kids, it makes things much more fun if games are actually enjoyable for us as well. After all, who wants to get their child into a particular game, only to find that said child requires it to be played Every.Single.Evening on repeat, when it’s boring as mud??
So here are 25 GENUINELY FUN games that our family has enjoyed, and is still enjoying. I’ve ordered them roughly from preschool up to older child/teenagers – but please take any age suggestions as a very rough guide. Our kids are aged 5, 5, 8 and 10, and many of these games are enjoyed by all four of them.
You know your child best. Select what you think they’ll enjoy – then have lots of fun with it!
(And remember – if money is tight right now, most of these games can be bought for a fraction of the price on Ebay!).
1 Old MacDonald Lotto (2-5yrs)
This was the very first game our children owned! I remember Mister was given it for his 2nd birthday, and we played it for years. In fact, we still have it now.
It’s a standard ‘lotto’ game, where you have to pick up cards to match those on your board. I’ll admit, pre-school games are not massively fun for grown-ups, but this one is a great way to get your child started in what will hopefully become a life-long hobby of game playing!
2 Spotty Dogs (3-6yrs)
I personally really like this, because it’s a bit different from simply matching numbers or pictures, and our kids have enjoyed it for years now.
Children have to spin for a number, find a dog with that number of spots, then turn it over to see how many bones they’ve won. Great for counting practice, but with an element of luck which means anyone can win!
3 Counting Caterpillars (3-6yrs)
This is great for counting practice, and my 5 year old twins still enjoy this one!
It helps children with number ordering, 1-10, as you try and be the first player to turn over all the numbers you need for your colourful caterpillar. My one tip? Play on a smooth surface – the way you put your jigsaw caterpillar together doesn’t work so well on a carpet, leading to muchos frustration from the tiny people.
4 Cake Monster (3-6yrs)
Our kids always enjoy a game which involves posting things into something! Like recycling the bottles in ‘Ten Green Bottles’, this game has a 3D monster for posting cupcakes into!
There are two ways to play this game, which definitely adds interest, but the idea is the same: collect cupcakes and fill your cakestand – but beware of any cupcakes which belong to the monster!
Don’t forget that many of these games can be bought second-hand – click here to search Ebay!
5 Snow Snow (3-10yrs)
Another Djeco game, Snow Snow is particularly awesome because it’s a collaborative game – in other words, everyone is working together for a common goal. If your family gets a little too competitive, or you’re trying to foster more connection and team spirit within your brood, then this would be a great game to try.
The goal here is to get all four snowmen across to the other side of the ice, but when the icebergs melt, the options are limited! It’s a great way to start teaching strategy to young children, and the appeal doesn’t stop with older kids and grown-ups.
6 Tummy Ache (4-8yrs)
This is a fun game based around food and is great for kids who like general grossness! You have to complete your table setting with a balanced main course, dessert and drink – but if you pick up food infested with worms or maggots, that will need replacing!
This game always ends up a total farce in our house now, as my kids have started to refuse the cards which depict foods they don’t like, even if they don’t have insects crawling all over them! So it’s an easy one for me to win – hooray!
7 Pop to the Shops (4-10yrs)
When we were first given this game for my older two kids, my husband commented that it was less of a ‘pop’ to the shops, and more of a ‘leisurely saunter’. This game can take forever!
But if your child is 5-6 and starting to learn about money, this is a great step-up from the younger Orchard Toys games. We actually gave our original version away after a little while, but one of our twins (5) was given it for Christmas last year, so we’ve been playing it again, and really enjoying it.
You have to travel around different shops, paying for different items, until your basket is full. But you’re also a shopkeeper, selling items from your shop to raise money to buy the things you need. Good fun – if you’re in the mood for a longer game!
8 Hit the Hat (4-10yrs)
This is one my kids are really enjoying right now – there’s something about the violent element of slamming a stick down on the correct card which appeals, maybe?!
You take it in turns to roll three dice, each depicting the style, pattern and rim of a particular hat, then you need to be quick to look for that hat, hitting it with your special sucker/stick thingy when you’ve found it. A game of speed and competition!
9 Travel the World (4-8yrs)
My 5 year olds really love playing this at the moment, and my 8yo (and sometimes 10yo) is more than happy to join in. It’s been great for understanding a bit more about where everything is in the world.
There are several ways to play the game – so bonus points for ELC here – but the way we tend to play is the one where you start in one country, and have to visit three other countries around the world to win.
The game’s challenge comes via the method of transport. Spin a bus when you’re in the middle of the sea, for example, and you have to miss a turn.
10 Fart (4-11yrs)
No prizes for guessing why this is one of my children’s favourite games at the moment…!
The great thing is that ALL of my kids, aged 5-10, really enjoy playing it – and it’s rare to find something which engages them all, so Fart definitely has my vote!
I assume you know the game Uno – if you don’t, then you really need to get it, as it’s the total bedrock of family card games! Fart is played on a similar principle, where the card you play is determined by which card has just been played – but with different fart noises to make each time you play a card!
Needless to say, it’s had us in stitches every time we’ve played!
11 Connect 4 (4+)
This classic 3D game can be enjoyed at a very simply level by toddlers, but as kids get older it’s fun to watch them start to become more and more strategic about how to play.
A 2-player game, Connect 4 is won simply by getting four in a row of your coloured counters before your opponent manages it – easier said than done! As the strategy grows, so does the sense of competition – watch out for your kids trying to trick you out!
12 Ker-plunk! (5+)
There’s something fun about the games which involve a certain amount of construction first, and Ker-plunk is one of the best value games of this kind.
You poke all the straws through the dish, making a kind of ‘nest’, then tip the marbles in. Players take it in turns to remove a straw each, trying not to let the marbles fall out. It’s great for fine motor skills, and hand-eye coordination, as well as encouraging children to think and plan ahead a little. A fun game of skill and luck!
13 Dobble (5+)
Dobble must be one of the most popular card games to hit the market in the last few years. If you don’t have it, I’d say buy it immediately!
My son was given this for his 6th birthday. His 4 year old sister joined in but really couldn’t play, bless her – the game was a bit too old for her.
But then, guess what? She practised and practised, often just by herself, and within months she was a feisty opponent to any of us!
It’s an incredible concept, and there is nothing quite like it. Based on some complicated mathematical principles (but don’t worry, you don’t need to understand that to understand the game), all you need to do is spot which of the icons on your card matches an icon on your opponent’s card – there will always be one, but only one!
It sounds simple but can be terribly challenging – and definitely very competitive! Plus, there are five ways to play, so it never gets boring.
14 Speedy Words (5+)
This is another fun matching game, which my older kids (10 and 8) really enjoy, and even my 5 year old twins are starting to want to play! It’s also super educational.
Like all good games, the concept is very simple: you get a category on one card (city, famous person, plant, food etc) and a letter on the other, and have to be the first player to come up with something in that category which starts with that letter.
It’s a game of speed (the clue’s in the name) – which means, at least in our house, it sometimes gets nasty… You have been warned!
15 Operation (6-11yrs)
This is a classic game which has been around for years – and unsurprisingly so, because it’s a great concept!
While younger children might be drawn to it, Operation (in our experience) is best played at the stage when a child has the fine motor skills to actually be able to remove the pieces from the patient’s body without setting off the buzzer. It’s pretty tricky even for grown-ups! We’ve found our younger kids getting really frustrated when they literally can’t do any of the operation – and that’s super demoralising for them.
So, you know your own child best, but once they have the steadiness of hand, attention to detail and patience needed for this game, then it becomes so much fun!
Money tight right now? Check Ebay for some great deals on games!
16 Blink (5+)
Another lightning-quick card game, for those who are quick on the uptake!
Blink is a 2-player game, where opponents get rid of their cards by matching them to the last card played, in either colour, number or shape. Both players play at once, and it’s fierce!
Kids as young as 4 or 5 could play this game, but it’s still a challenge for most adults, so it comes with a big thumbs-up from our family!
17 Pirate Attack (5-11yrs)
We love introducing our kids to strategy games – have you noticed?! – as we’re hoping to train them onto Catan when they’re older! (In fact, sceptics might think the only reason we had kids was to find the 3rd play for Catan games…)
This lovely Djeco card game is all about building your pirate ship, whilst simultaneously hijacking others’ ships, and trying to avoid the pirate attack!
Games can be super short or very long (and frustrating!) depending on the shuffle of the cards, but it’s a really engaging game for all ages.
18 Pipolo (5+)
This is basically a scaled-up version of the old classic, ‘Cheat’ – but, needless to say, our kids LOVE an opportunity to lie and not get into trouble for it!
The illustrations on the cards are beautiful, and each creature comes either ‘dressed’, ‘feathered’, ‘hairy’ or ‘naked’. You must play the same as the previous player, but as cards are played face-down, you’ll have to work out when you think people are cheating!
19 Catan Junior (6+)
If you play the full version of Catan, and haven’t yet invested in the Junior version for your kids, I’d highly recommend it! It’s MUCH easier than the adult version, so isn’t exactly a stepping stone, but it does get children used to strategy and thinking ahead.
And even if you’ve never played Catan in your life, this is a game worth getting. 2-4 players compete to build seven ‘lairs’, plus the ships needed to connect them – and, to do that, they require resources, which can be earned or traded. The more you build, the more you earn!
Our kids really enjoy playing this, although the games can be long-ish, so if it goes on for 20 minutes or more, our 5 year olds don’t really have that kind of stamina, even if they began enthusiastically. But our 10yo and 8yo love it!
20 Othello (7+)
I loved this game as a kid, and recently bought a second-hand version for my husband. However, I’ve taught it to our older two and they’ve been enjoying it too.
It’s a game for two players: one of you is white, and the other black. The counters are white on one side and black on the other. When you place your counter down, you can turn over any counters of your opponent in a straight line – and the aim is, obviously, to end the game with the most counters!
21 Cluedo (7+)
This seems to be the game of choice when our kids have friends for sleepovers! It’s definitely improved with more players, although you can play with two.
It’s a classic game which needs no introduction, but if you’ve somehow managed to miss its existence, then you’re basically ‘solving’ a murder! You have to work out who committed the murder, where, and using which weapon. The game gets more exciting as kids get older and realise how they can start to deduce more than just the obvious cards they’re being shown…
22 Hive (7+)
This simple strategy game for two players is fairly short and sweet. It’s another one which I bought for my husband, but we’re now teaching to our older two (10 and 8). They’re getting quite good!
It’s like a simpler version of chess. The aim is to trap your opponent’s ‘queen bee’ by creating a ‘hive’ of different insects around her. All the insects can moved in different ways, so you’ll have to think ahead as to how to trap your opponent’s queen, whilst also protecting your own.
23 Carcassonne (7+)
The hubs and I have been playing this for years, and only recently tried it out on our older two. It’s another one which is great for older children and teens.
The hook of Carcassonne, I think, is its simplicity. Although the strategy element gets as complicated as you like, what you do on each move is very straightforward: you pick up a tile, then you play it in the best possible position to build cities and roads, for which you score your points. Plant your men in fields with a high amount of cities, and your score will really shoot up.
While you score as you go along, the fun of this game is the points which get added at the end of the game, when all the tiles have been used. Sometimes it’s pretty impossible to see who might have the upper hand when the game ends, so it’s exciting till the finish!
24 Ticket to Ride (8+)
My husband bought this for our family for Christmas, and I have to say that it’s mainly been the two of us who have played it so far! Our 10yo and 8yo played once on teams with one of us, and while I think the 10yo would try again, I think it’s a bit above our 8yo (although other 8yos would love it!). But for older children and teens, this is a great choice!
There are various different versions, but we have the Europe game. You have to build certain train routes around the continent, scoring points for both the short connections you make, as well as the longer routes. There are stations you can use when an opponent takes the connection you needed, and there are extra points for the longest route. Horribly addictive!
25 Splendor (10+)
Finally, Splendor is a game that we played for a pretty long phase, together as a couple, but gradually with our older two – although this was a couple of years ago, so they didn’t really get it. I’d love to return to it now, though!
You’re essentially a Renaissance gem merchant, purchasing precious gems, many of which give you ‘prestige’ points. As your wealth grows, your purchasing power increases, making the game faster and more exciting as it goes along. Get 15 prestige points, and you’ve won the game!
Don’t forget to check Ebay for many of these games at a much lower price!
I hope this has given you some ideas of the next game to buy for your family. What games does your family like playing? Let me know in the comments!
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Always love board game recommendations! We love Catan Junior, Carcassonne and Kerplunk with our kids (the 6 year old mainly). We have Dobble, so will have to crack it out more. Loved Othello growing up! After your recent post mentioning Hive,I discovered there’s an app version that’s free where you can play a computer or another player. Haven’t tried it yet but a good cheap option for a new game at this time! Other games we love to play with our 6 year old are cooperative games like Forbidden Island, Forbidden Desert and Outfoxed (3 year old can play that one), the classic Guess Who (the three and six year olds can play each other at that but we enjoy it too!), Racoon Rumpus (chosen for the three year old, and great fun!), and Jenga which is fun for all. We also have a new version of Uno called Uno Flip which is a fun variation on the classic, which we all enjoy. Thanks for all the ideas! X
Ooh, I’ll have to check these out and add to a follow-up post – thanks! xx
Martha White says
Blink sounds good, and I’ve been wanting to get Ticket to Ride for a while. You should try Qwirkle, that’s one of our favourites. And we got Rummikub for Christmas and the boys (9 and 5) will just about get through a game without going silly.
I *think* we played Qwirkle with friends last summer! If it’s what I’m thinking, then I agree – it’s ace! Definitely one we need to invest in. And we got Rummikub for Christmas too – actually played it a couple of days ago, after this post was published! Excellent game. xx
Hi Lucy, great list. We also like Sushi Go, Camel Up, Labyrinth and Hotel Tycoon
I will investigate – sound good – thanks! xx
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