Forget Candyland, these are the family board games we play over and over again. Board games are one of our favorite ways to spend time together. Not only is it fun, it’s enjoyable to see the kids learn to strategize, learn lessons about being good winners and losers, and talk smack (friendly smack, of course).
One thing that surprises me about board games is their age recommendations. We’ve found that many times a child younger than the recommended age can play along just fine after the initial learning curve. This is important because it makes the games we play fun for the whole family, and not mind numbingly dull for the older participants. These are all games we’ve played with our girls starting around age five.
- Clue | More complicated than you might remember as a child, this game actually is great practice for deductive reasoning. It’s a logic puzzle as you work your way around the mansion, trying different combinations of suspects, weapons, and locations to find the correct combination and answer whodunit.
- Ticket to Ride | I share this one ALL the time because it’s been a family favorite for years. We love it so much we got the European version for the girls for Christmas. It’s easy to learn, takes about an hour to play, and teaches strategy- will you try to get your routes or block others?
- Spy Ally Junior | This is my only inclusion that borders on the “slightly dull for adults” category, but both kids enjoy it so much, that I wanted to include it. In the game, you choose a secret identity and go around the board trying to discover the other players’ identity before they can discover yours. I’m considering buying the real version (not the junior) in hopes it will be a better fit for all of us since the junior version is such a big hit.
- Rummikub | We’ve been playing this in my family for years and it’s great for learning patterns, sequencing, and planning, as well as how to form sets and runs. It says ages 8+ but in my experience, children can play quite well beginning around age 6.
- Five Crowns | A five-suited, rummy-style game that is easy to learn and fun for all. I do recommend getting a set of card holders to help children easily see and sort their cards. This is probably Kaitlyn’s (age 6) favorite game!
- Battleship | A classic for a reason, Battleship is a simple and fun strategy game and while I never would have chosen it, both kids have really taken to it and enjoy it.
- Settlers of Catan | I saved the best for last! Well, at least our new family obsession. I won’t lie, this one took David and I a solid hour to learn how to play, following the video guide the game recommends. But when we taught the kids, they caught on SO much faster and now we are all looking for any excuse we can to get a game it. The way it’s played, you never play the same board twice, which keeps things interesting as you collect resources, build roads and settlements, and avoid the pesky robber. We can’t wait to add on extension packs because this game is a keeper!
A quick bonus recommendation? A nice chess set that is magnetic and portable! I never knew how to play until a year or two ago and now we enjoy keeping a board out and set up for anytime play, and we bring ours on trip with us, too. Hailey can beat me in it with me trying and Kaitlyn gives me a good run for my money. I love the strategy that goes into it and the fun they have playing each other.
And looking to learn while having fun? These are our favorite math board games for first through third grade.
Playing games together has been such a fun new phase for us, as I was never particularly fond of the young kid games like Chutes and Ladders or Candyland. Now it’s an enjoyable experience for all and a way to spend quality time together, creating new inside jokes and sweet memories.
Do you have a favorite family board game we should check out? I’d love for you to share it with me in the comments!