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If you feel like your kids are spending all day in front of the screen, you're not alone. 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 to find the ones that are most likely to grab your kids attention, whether you're looking for a game to play on family game night or just something they can play amongst themselves or with friends.
Here, the best board games for kids.
Best Overall: Catan Studio Settlers of Catan: Family Edition
If you're a Catan fan, you'll be happy to know that this strategy-based game comes in a kid-friendly version that's suited for players 10 and up. 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.
Best Strategy: Days of Wonder Ticket to Ride: First Journey Board Game
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 ages 6 and up.
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.
Best Cooperative: Gamewright Outfoxed! Game
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. Game time averages 20-30 minutes total and can be played by groups of two to four players, ages 5 and up.
Best Classic: Hasbro Gaming Monopoly Classic Game
An old family favorite gets a fun upgrade with this newer version of Monopoly. With the exception of some fun, kid-friendly tokens like a T-Rex and a penguin, this game remains largely the same, making it a good pick for families that can handle a bit of competition without anyone getting upset.
The goal of the game is to bankrupt your opponents in order to run the entire game board. Though there are a lot of rules to learn, once you've mastered the basics, this game is suitable for kids 8 and up, and can be played by up to eight players. Rounds can be on the longer side, so this pick is best for kids who can sit and focus for an hour or longer.
Best Educational: Underdog Games Trekking the National Parks
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.
Best for Preschoolers: Wonder Forge Richard Scarry's Busytown, Eye Found It
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 two to four players ages 3 and up, and consists of three folding panels that fit together like a puzzle.
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.
Best Two-Player: Hasbro Guess Who Classic
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.
Best for All Ages: Think Fun Zingo!
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 . 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!
What to Look for in a Board Game for Kids
Age level 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.
Skills 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 skills. For older players, consider ones that help them hone their strategic skills.
Fun 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. How long does it take to play the game? Young children with short attention spans won’t enjoy games that last an hour. How competitive is your child? 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.