Not only does it offer appealing animal characters, a spacious game board, and action-packed fun, but the logistics of the game also encourage teamwork.
Best suited for small kids, but adults report having fun playing along with them. Rare complaints of pieces breaking.
An exciting game that takes children down paths filled with candy on a race to the finish. Plays similarly to the classic version enjoyed by kids for several decades.
Some parents gripe that they don't like the new graphics, but more rave about the fun they have playing the game with their kids.
This game brings adventure to your living room as players try to collect treasures before escaping the sinking Forbidden Island. Children can learn strategy and teamwork as parents work with them to help everyone escape in time. Presents a challenge for adults as well as kids.
Younger children may need help when playing this game on their own.
A cute game with a unique concept – players have to return "home" when they get wet when the dog shakes. Ideal for young kids – keeps them eagerly awaiting the dog's next move.
May not be challenging or interesting for older kids. Not much water comes off the dog when he shakes, but this may be a plus for parents hoping to keep messes to a minimum.
Strategy is the object of this game, which helps kids learn to focus and concentrate. Easy to learn, but challenging to master. Ideal for kids ages 7 and older.
Small pieces feel cheaply made, and get lost easily – some owners wish it came with a case to keep track of all the components.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
Roll the dice. Pass Go and collect $200. Take a card. Sound familiar? Chances are, you spent a decent amount of your childhood playing board games — and some of your adulthood, too.
Kids’ board games are designed to engage and educate. As fun as they are, there’s usually a lesson to be learned — whether it’s basic arithmetic in Monopoly or strategic planning in Risk. In fact, you’ll even get a lesson on fair play, which is equally important to winners and losers of a game.
More recently, kids’ board games have been revived in an attempt to cut down on screen time and instead hone their social skills. Besides being fun to play with friends, board games are a great way to get the whole family to spend time together. Before you know it, game nights will become a regular event in your weekly schedule.
Ready to get competitive with a new kids’ board game for your family? Here’s our buying guide to help you choose the best game for hours of fun.
Most kids’ board games accommodate between two and six players, and some can handle as many as ten players. When choosing kids’ board games, consider how many players you expect to host at a time. Make sure the game can accommodate your whole group so no one is left out.
Kids’ board games usually advertise their intended age group, but this is more of a safety measure to prevent choking than an indicator of complexity. If you have very young children, take these warnings seriously.
If you are wondering whether your kids will be able to handle the complexity of a game, use the recommended age minimum as a guideline. Every kid is different, and you know your kids’ capabilities best.
If you feel your kids are more advanced, let them try their hand at the adult or full version of a game.
Ongoing engagement is a major consideration when choosing a board game. In fact, it’s what board game designers keep in mind when creating them.
Consider short-term and long-term engagement. If games run too long or are too complicated, some kids may lose interest quickly. If you’re looking to get years of play out of a game, it’s worth considering how versatile it is and whether it can appeal to your kids as they grow older.
You should also consider how much downtime a game has. Is there a lot of waiting between turns, or are players always active while they play?
Some games have randomized setups to increase replayability from one game to the next, like Catan. A game that is always different is likely to feel fresh after dozens of plays or more.
For a board game that kids ages three and up can enjoy, consider this game with plenty of moving parts. With a board that is 6 feet long, kids will enjoy racing around town to solve mysteries. All pieces feature bright colors and familiar faces from the ever-popular children’s show as well as easy-to-read cards. The game also receives high marks from parents and early childhood educators, as gameplay lets kids develop hand-eye coordination, critical thinking skills, and object identification.
All board games are social experiences that can teach kids to interact and treat one another fairly. But board games vary in what additional skills they offer to kids.
Kids can hone their math skills in games that require basic addition and subtraction, like Monopoly. Card-based games are also popular for developing math skills, as many of them require pattern-building, planning, and strategy to win.
In games that have cards with text on them, like Apples to Apples, kids get a little bit of practice reading, both silently and out loud. These games are also fun tools for ESL and ELL students to develop their English reading skills and to practice more advanced vocabulary words.
Board games that divide groups into competitive teams, like Codenames, are ideal for encouraging kids to work on their communication skills. They’ll learn how to delegate and how to compromise when there’s a difference in opinion. Most importantly, kids have a chance to discover what their strengths are in a team setting and see how each team member has something valuable to contribute.
Many board games are fast-paced, which requires swift, confident decision-making. In games like Life or Clue, kids are encouraged to weigh alternatives and choose the path with a better outcome. Some decisions will be better than others over the course of a game, so kids will also have a chance to make mistakes and learn from them.
Games with an element of chance can give kids an opportunity to learn about probability and risk.
Not everyone wins a game, so integrity and fair play are important take-aways from every board game. Kids will learn how to be gracious whether they win or lose and not to take a loss personally. At the end of the day, board games are supposed to be fun and lighten the mood, so everyone should be a good sport after it’s over.
If there’s a kids’ version of an adult game, consider buying both. When kids have a grasp on rules and gameplay, they can graduate to the adult version as soon as they’re ready.
In the event that you lose or damage game pieces or cards, contact the manufacturer regarding replacement. There may be small fees for the pieces as well as shipping.
Travel editions of board games are typically compact versions of their full games. Not only do they take up less space, but their gameplay is also often tweaked to accommodate shorter games. Travel editions may have magnetic boards and pieces so that everything can stay in place if you’re playing in a car or plane.
Classic board games often have kids’ editions, which present the game in a more approachable way. In some games, the boards have fewer squares, large-print cards, and bigger tokens. Kids are able to enjoy the game, learn the basics, and then later graduate to the full game once they’re ready.
Themed board games are popular, as they feature TV shows, movies, and even video games. These tend to be more expensive than classic versions. On the upside, they’re often made with better quality materials and may last longer than the regular game.
Some board games have electronic components, such as spinners, tokens, or counters. Board games with these modern parts often cost more, and there’s also the ongoing cost of batteries.
Games with an electronic component at the center can achieve gameplay that wouldn’t be possible otherwise, but they might not be what you’re looking for when trying to get your kids to completely unplug.
Certain board games are compatible with expansion packs, like Apples to Apples. Expansion packs may simply add more cards, or they may introduce a new way to play. Some expansion packs are released annually, whereas others are special editions with themed cards.
It’s a good idea to have two or three kids’ board games in your home. Everyone has a favorite game, so kids can alternate between games instead of getting bored with just one.
Kids’ board games cost between $5 and $60. The rather large range can be attributed to the popularity of a game as well as how involved its design is.
Inexpensive: For affordable games below $10, you’ll find some travel editions and classic games. These are mostly simple, card-based games, but some larger board games fall into this bracket.
Mid-range: The bulk of everyday board games cost between $10 and $25. These include classic games as well as new games from indie board game companies.
Expensive: Licensed or themed board games often cost a little more, so expect to spend between $25 and $60 for these. Games with electronic components are also found in this range.
It’s easy for kids to get hooked on this classic game known for its sweets-inspired board. Kids ages three and up race to the castle while exploring Lollipop Palace, Licorice Lagoon, and Peppermint Forest. Directions are easy to explain, and once kids know how to play, they can play on their own, as no reading is required. Games wrap up in 15 minutes, so it’s ideal for those with shorter attention spans as well as those who want to play round after round. Best of all, this simple game encourages kids to hone their social skills through waiting their turn and active listening.
If you didn’t find the game for you and your kids in our top recommendations, we have a few other games to consider.
Pictionary lets players flex their artistic muscles — or lack thereof. This set comes with both adult and junior levels of clues, so it’s a genuine mixed age group game. This updated version of the game even comes with erasable markers and boards.
If you’re looking for a simple game that doesn’t require much reading or an involved set of rules, try Jenga. This timeless, nail-biting game of balance and tough decisions is easy for players of all ages. It comes in a compact package with 54 stackable game pieces made from high quality wood. While it’s one of the easiest games to play, it’s certainly one of the hardest to master.
Q. I need replacement game pieces for my game tonight. What do I do?
A. Replacements from the manufacturer can take a week or two, so you’ll have to make your own pieces. If you need to replace cards or paper money, you might be able to print them online. For actual tokens, use other small items in their place like coins, bottle caps, figurines, or even nail polish bottles. Since you might not have extra dice lying around the house, you can download a free dice app so everyone can keep on rolling.
Q. My board started peeling and cracking. How do I fix it?
A. If the breakage is located where the board folds or along its edges, you can cover it with a strip of clear mailing tape. Glue can deteriorate and dry out, and it may discolor the board after a time. Depending on the price of the board game and how often you play, it, consider picking up a replacement. Save the original game pieces from your first board as spares for your new one.
Q. The players are having a dispute about the rules of the game. How do we determine who’s right?
A. You can take a quick look at the manufacturer’s website, or you can check Board Game Geek to see if there is a forum discussion about the rule in question. Some games are known for having gray areas with rules, so it’s not uncommon for there to be different opinions on how to handle it. If things get particularly heated during a game, it might be a sign that it’s time to pack the game away.
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