Board games are a tried and true way of teaching interpersonal skills and keeping kids entertained without TVs, computers, or tablets.
We've researched some of the most popular board games on the market, considering the age level, entertainment level, and challenge value of each. Our top pick is Settlers of Catan: Family Edition. The reimagined classic requires the same strategic thinking, but in a more family-friendly way.
Here, the best board games for kids.
Best Overall: Catan Studio Settlers of Catan: Family Edition
Quicker setup than original
Not as extensive as the original
Who else recommends it? Insider also picked Settlers of Catan: Family Edition.
What do buyers say? 89% of 500+ Amazon reviewers rated this 4 stars or above.
If you're a Catan fan, you'll be happy to know that this strategy-based game comes in a kid-friendly version. Like the original version, this game requires you to build a settlement to earn points, but the Family Edition makes it a little easier to learn the ins and outs of the game, so kids won't need to sit through lengthy instructions to get to the fun.
Since you build the board with sets of hexagonal tiles at the start of each game, this game won't get old too quickly, and although it is competitive—part of your strategy is blocking your opponents from getting points—you'll also need to work together by trading, teaching social skills and good sportsmanship along the way.
Reviewers love that this reimagined classic has a quicker setup time and easier-to-understand instructions. This is a great starter strategy game for kids and families, who can eventually graduate to the original Catan or other more intensive board games aimed at adults. Still, some wished that this version had a bit more play options compared to the original.
Price at time of publish: $30
Best Strategy: Days of Wonder Ticket to Ride: First Journey Board Game
Easy to learn
Great introduction to strategy games
Quick playing time compared to other strategy games
Holding and using multiple cards may be difficult for young players
First Journey is the junior version of the widely beloved board game, Ticket to Ride. Similar to the adult version, First Journey requires critical thinking and strategy, but this board is an updated map with simplified game rules to accommodate younger players.
Players race to collect train cards, claim routes, and try to connect cities coast-to-coast before their fellow players do. The game ends when one player claims the Golden Ticket by completing six tickets. It’s a game that encourages long-term planning and careful monitoring of your progress and the progress of those around you. Games last about thirty minutes, so it’s the perfect alternative to younger crowds who love genuine strategy but may not have the patience or understanding of a more advanced game of strategy like Catan or Risk.
Price at time of publish: $28
Best Cooperative: Gamewright Outfoxed! Game
Both skill and luck-based
Great introduction to board games
Fosters basic logic and memory
Little ones may grow out of it quickly
Cooperative games are great for younger audiences and families, because they allow players to work together as teammates and reduce the emphasis of competition between siblings or kids' and their parents. These games are ideal for families looking to keep family time to good, clean fun without any potential meltdowns or sore losers.
Outfoxed! is a collaborative game that requires players to work together to reveal clues and narrow the suspects to figure out which thieving fox stole Mrs. Plumpert’s prized potpie. It’s a non-competitive “whodunit” game of deductive reasoning, probability, and attention to detail.
Price at time of publish: $19
Best Classic: Hasbro Gaming Clue Junior Case of the Broken Toy
Non-readers can play
Fosters logic and strategy
Young players may struggle to keep up with clues
An old family favorite gets a fun upgrade with this newer version of Clue. It's a lighter lift (with less dark themes) than the original, making it a good pick for families that can handle a bit of competition without anyone getting upset. The score sheets are updated from the original to be mostly image-based, so non-readers can follow along, too.
The goal of the game is to get to the bottom of a broken toy mystery; what toy is it, who broke it, and when did it happen? Though there are a lot of rules to learn, once you've mastered the basics, this game is suitable for kids. Rounds can be on the longer side, so this pick is best for kids who can sit and focus.
Price at time of publish: $16
Best Educational: Underdog Games Trekking the National Parks
Mix of strategy and luck
Some found the instructional difficult to follow
Education doesn’t have to stop in the classroom. Games are a great way to get kids excited about learning, especially with kids spending more time at home these days. Trekking the National Parks is a game that teaches geography, cooperation, memory skills, patience, and sportsmanship.
Players compete for points by claiming Park Cards and collecting trail stones by racing across the country to experience U.S. National Parks. The game was specifically designed to be educational as well as competitive, so every Park Card features interesting facts about the park visited—meaning your child will learn a little something while they try to win.
Price at time of publish: $50
Best for Preschoolers: Wonder Forge Richard Scarry's Busytown, Eye Found It
Fun ends when players memorize the board
Preschoolers can be a difficult bunch to entertain, since their attention span and patience can be limited, to say the least. Richard Scarry’s Busytown is an ideal distraction for even the most fidgety of kids. The 6-foot long board accommodates requires a large playing space and consists of three folding panels that fit together like a puzzle. "My first-grader, his friends, and a few of their preschool siblings loved this game, and I genuinely enjoyed looking for the hidden pictures alongside them," said our tester,
Busytown is a winding road that stretches across a city, town, farm, construction area, airport, and harbor. Each player tries to move their game piece closer to the ferry boat that will take them across the water to Picnic Island. It’s a cooperative game that encourages kids to work together to find hidden objects on the game board, so it's a good pick for siblings to play together. It's also worth noting that a Disney-themed version of the game is available for a lower price, so fans of new and classic films can get into the action.
Price at time of publish: $60
Best Two-Player: Hasbro Guess Who Classic
Perfect for two players
High replay value
Easy to customize
Some reviewers found the newly designed characters too similar to each other
Finding a game that’s great for two people can be tough, as most board games are designed with “the more the merrier” in mind. Hasbro’s Guess Who is another classic game for younger ages that’s quick to learn, will keep them engaged, and easy to play on their own. Each player chooses a mystery character and uses “yes” or “no” questions to try and reveal clues about who the other player’s mystery character is. Once a player has guessed enough clues correctly and believes they know who their opponent’s mystery character is, then they can take a guess. If you guess correctly before your opponent, you've won!
This game is relatively easy, but it teaches problem solving, attention to detail, and categorization. This updated version of the game is more inclusive, with more variety in ethnicity and skin tone that the original game.
Price at time of publish: $12
Best for All Ages: Think Fun Zingo!
Suitable for kids who cannot read yet
Sturdy board and pieces
Kids can play independently
Reviewers wish there were more words included
Finding a game that can span all ages is tough, especially for the younger players. Zingo is a great game to add to your arsenal that’s fun for all ages. Zingo is basically Bingo with a twist, or “zing” as the game is so aptly named.
Similar to Bingo, players try to cover all the spaces on their Zingo card with tiles, which are the same format as the tiles: a noun with its name underneath. Tiles and cards feature both images and words so it’s helpful for younger players, especially pre-readers and early readers, by helping kids learn how to use, spell, and read different words. First player to cover their entire Zingo card yells “Zingo” to win.
Price at time of publish: $22
Best Fantasy: Hasbro Dungeons and Dragons Adventure Begins
Great introduction to Dungeons and Dragons
Easy to learn
High replay value
Not as tactical or deep as the original game
If your child is interested in fantasy, but not quite ready for the magical world of Dungeons and Dragons, opt for this easier-to-learn cooperative board game. Players work together to tell stories, battle monsters, and journey through the world of Neverwinter. Similar to the original game, players customize their heroes, introducing young ones to the creative and social aspects of the game.
Players experience a new story and journey every time, earning a high replay value for this pick. While it is definitely not as detailed or tactical as the original game, players get to know the characters and monsters of the classic Dungeons and Dragons and practice their skills before graduating to more intricate storylines and battles.
Price at time of publish: $25
Best Physical: Goliath The Original The Floor is Lava! Family Edition
Physical movement required
Can be played indoors and out
Playing in small spaces may feel cramped
Stepping stones made of foam
For an activity that requires kids to get out of their seats, The Floor is Lava is hard to beat. Take the classic color spinning of Twister, expand the board to include the entire room, add in extra challenges, and you have this energetic game.
It's great indoors on rainy doors, or outdoors when it's time for a fresh air break. Just be warned that the stepping stones are a lightweight foam, so it's not ideal for a windy day (or underneath heavy boots). The other potential challenge is when your gaming space is on the smaller side, but you can adjust accordingly when setting up. Kids of all ages (and their grown-ups) will likely enjoy getting their wiggles out as they play.
Price at time of publish: $25
Best for Families: Mattel Games Blokus
Perfect for various ages
Some reviewers were disappointed with the board size
Finding a board game that all members of the family will enjoy is a difficult task. Luckily, Blokus is the perfect board game that is sure to please at the next family game night. Players take turns placing their 21 game pieces on the board ensuring each piece touches another of the same color. Strategically build your claim on the board while blocking opponents.
The game ends when there is no more room to place pieces on the board and the player with the lowest number of their pieces remaining wins. This pick is extremely simple to grasp, but strategic enough for the whole family to enjoy.
Price at time of publish: $25
What to Look for in Board Games for Kids
Most games are best chosen depending on your specific audience. Some may be too advanced for younger players, while older players may want something that’s more of a challenge. Make sure to check out a game's recommended age range, but also consider the maturity, attention span, and skillsets of individual players.
Sure, it’s all fun and games, but it's great for the players to learn something, too. For the youngest players, look at games that teach counting and reading comprehension. For older players, consider ones that help them hone their strategic skills.
Of course, first and foremost, games should be about enjoyment. From those that will leave your sides aching from laughing so much to others that are more competitive, there’s a board game out there for every family and occasion. Consider who'll be playing—as well as their interests and senses of humor—when choosing one for maximum fun.
Where can you find board games that are easy for kids to play?
When looking for board games that are easy for kids to play, consider your child’s age and personality. Like toys and books, most board games list a recommended age range. To ensure the game will be easy enough for your kid to play, look for board games intended for your child’s age or younger. Also, think about your child’s maturity and temperament. Simple games with only a few rules will be easier to play than complex games with many rules.
What kind of board games do kids like to play?
Different kids like to play different types of board games depending on their age and personality. Start by looking at games aimed at your child’s age group, then take a close look at the game itself. How difficult is the game to play? Some kids like games that don't have many rules, while others enjoy playing complicated games with twists and turns. Pay attention to game duration too, as young children with shorter attention spans won’t enjoy games that last an hour. In regards to competitive play, some kids get upset if they don’t win, which can take the fun out of playing board games. Cooperative board games encourage players to work together to complete the game—everyone wins together, which means no one ever has to be the sore loser.
What are some board games that kids can play in large groups?
Some board games are designed for a maximum number of players and can’t be played with large groups. Some board games are designed to be played by eight to 10 players, and others are open-ended, with no limit to how many people can play. For large groups of kids, look for board games with higher player designations, such as Apples to Apples or Telestrations, or board games that use teams, such as Pictionary Junior.
Why Trust the Spruce?
This article was written by Meredith Hurd, a freelance writer who has contributed to The Spruce since 2019.
Additional reporting was done by Julia Fields, a lifestyle writer for The Spruce covering all things surrounding toys, gifts, and the holidays. She's also covered similar topics in other roles, including toy reviews, product round-ups, expert-focused articles, and more.