I loved playing board games when I was little (I was super competitive about them from a very early age. True story: when I was 4 I used to play Go Fish with the mailman at my mom’s friend’s sandwich shop up the street. But he stopped playing with me because I was a massive Go Fish cheater. Sorry, Roger!)
Like so many other things, I’ve been able to rediscover board games along with my children. Games are not only great fun but powerful learning tools – for growing social skills like sportsmanship & taking turns, learning to recognize numbers & letters, honing visual skills, developing critical & strategic thinking, nurturing cooperation and problem-solving, and so, so much more.
Here are some of our top picks – in no particular order – for the absolute best games for kids. Is your favorite here? Did we list one that you hate? Are we missing something awesome? Let me know what you think in the comments!
My 5 year old wants to play this one all. the. time. This is a completely unplugged game that teaches basic coding concepts. Kids use command cards to move their robot turtle to its gem, while overcoming obstacles like brick & ice walls. It’s got a ton of replay value – you can configure the obstacles any which way and throw in challenges like who can get there in the fewest commands to keep things fresh.
No Stress Chess
Love it! A completely simple way to learn to play chess that uses cards to remind players how each piece can move. As kids get comfortable you can gradually adjust the rules until eventually you no longer need the cards. It’s a really great way to ease into a classic game.
This game is awesome on so many levels. The sturdy wooden tiles are so bright & cheery, and the ways to play are endless. The standard rules that come with the box work best for middle elementary & up. It’s like a colorful, shapey Sudoku meets Scrabble. I love playing this one – my 13 year old and I have some contentious matches! But my 5 & even my 2 year old like to play modified rules – like making a rainbow, sorting the tiles, using them as dominos – lots of oopportunity for open-ended play with this one!
This one’s an oldie but a goodie – simple fun for all ages. Who doesn’t love popping that popper! It’s quick and pretty contained, perfect for quick, keep ’em busy moments.
Another great anytime, quick play game. There’s several versions of Spot It! – original, ABCs, 123s, MLB, NHL, lots of Disney themes, Basic Spanish or French…something for everyone. Lay 2 cards out and there will be one, and only one picture that’s the same on both cards. Be the first to Spot It! Great for matching & visual discrimination skills, this is a fast-paced, competitive game. The cards get stored in a small, light tin that’s perfect for throwing into a purse or diaper bag so you can pull it out when you need to keep them entertained on the go, like in a waiting room or restaurant.
A cool introduction to fantasy and world building games. Simple enough for my 5 year old but still interesting enough for my 13 year old to want to play it with him. Players collect and manage resources in order to build more pirate ships and hideouts for their fleet. Expand your empire and be the first to control seven island hideouts to win – but beware the ghost captain!
I’ve had this game for 10 years and we still love it – & at under $20, it’s more than paid for itself. It’s a go-to for family game night that gets everyone giggling and moving. It comes with a collection of props from The Cat & The Hat. Players grab one card from each of the three card piles and do as commanded – you might “slide under the trick-a-ma-stick” with “the boat” “inside your clothes”. The props are small for parents but that doesn’t stop us from trying (and failing) which is good for a laugh for everyone. Hijinks ensue 🙂
Stay tuned for updates as we review more of our collection and add in new finds!
Is your favorite here? Are we missing something awesome? Think one of our picks is the pits? Why? Tell us your picks for best and worst in the comments!
This post uses affiliate links, which means that I may get a commission if you decide to purchase anything after clicking one of my links. I have not be paid or contacted by any of the game companies featured – we bought, own and love all of these games – for real! Using these affiliate links to make your purchase helps to maintain Happy Healthy Messy so we can keep bringing you the best parenting & homeschooling content. Thank you!