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Family game night is about to get far more fun. To encourage slightly less screen time (tough, we know), treat your kiddos to an entertaining card game everyone will love. They're an inexpensive way to encourage memory skills, critical thinking, and, best of all, quality time.
From the time a little one reaches toddler age, there's a lot to learn from a card game: strategy, for one, as well as how to be a graceful winner and a good sport loser. For a parent, they can be a godsend on rainy days and road trips, too. Ready to unplug and challenge each other to a friendly card game? To kick-start a fun family game night tradition, scroll on for the best card games for kids.
Best Travel: Briarpatch Travel Scavenger Hunt Card Game
Road trips can be a headache, so why not keep the family entertained with some old-school travel fun—a scavenger hunt! 54 question cards have you looking for license plates with the letter Z, a home with clothes hanging outside, and much more. This is suitable for children 7 and up but little ones can chime in on the fun too.
This Amazon bestseller has tons of rave reviews from parents who said this helped burn through the miles while keeping kids (and parents) distracted throughout traffic and endless roads.
Best Competitive: Hasbro Gaming Monopoly Deal Card Game
If your family has a bit of a competitive streak, they'll flip for the card version of the classic board game Monopoly. Unlike the board game, each game only takes around 10 minutes, so you can play as many rounds as you like without going into the wee hours of the night. The objective is the same—buy real estate and collect money—but you'll have to be smart while you build your empire.
The game is suited for children 8 and up, but plenty of adults will find themselves playing this when the kids go to sleep. This can be played with as little as two players or as many as five, making it a great family game option to keep in your arsenal.
Best for Toddlers: ThinkFun Roll and Play Game
For the youngest card sharks, this Roll & Play game is a hit. Designed for kids ages 18 months and up, they don’t have to be able to read or count to play, but it does teach important skills while you have fun.
Included are one plush, colorful cube, and 48 game cards. Players roll the cube, then choose a card that matches the color to find out which activity they will have to perform. The cards fall into one of six categories, each of which promotes a specific area of learning, including emotions, body parts, animals sounds, counting, colors and actions. The actions are simple and fun, such as “Moo like a cow” or “Find something blue.”
Parents rave about this game—more than 85 percent of people who reviewed this award-winning game on Amazon gave it five stars. Many say it’s hands down their toddler’s favorite game.
Best for Preschoolers: Stages Learning Materials Picture Memory Pets Card Game
Pet lovers will adore this memory game that’s fun for the whole family. You don’t have to be able to read or count to play, it’s all about how well you can remember. The set contains 50 cards featuring adorable pets like kittens, puppies and hamsters. There are two of each, and the goal is to find and match them when they’re turned over and mixed up. The player with the most matches wins.
The game is designed for two to six players, and these cards can also be used to play other games such as Go Fish and Old Maid. While the pets can be easily identified through the sweet photographs, the word for each is also printed on the card, which is a great way to introduce early learning skills too while you’re having fun.
Best for Grade Schoolers: Arizona GameCo Smack it Card Game
This fast-paced, fun card game is designed for ages 6 and up, but it's as much fun for the kids as it is for mom and dad. You need two to four players, and it’s easy to learn so anyone can jump in.
It’s somewhat of a cross between the classic card games War and Slap Jack. Players take turns laying down cards in the middle until a “Smack It” card is overturned. That’s when the smacking begins, and the one with the fastest hand wins. “Challenge Cards” also throw a twist into things. Customers say this game is fun, simple, and a great addition to game night.
Best for Tweens and Teens: Gatwick Games Goat Lords
There’s just something about goats that make everything more fun, and this Goat Lords card game is no exception. Designed for two to four players, the goal of the game is simple: become the Goat Lord. To do this, you stack pairs of matching goats with varying point values to build your goatherd. But, it’s not that simple, as there are opportunities to attack, magical flower goatees, atomic goats, cards that give you magical goat powers (who doesn’t want magical goat powers?), and more crazy twists. The first one to 1,000 points wins.
The game promises much whooping, shrieking, and general goat good times. Most customers rave about it. While there may be a little ramp-up time, once everyone learns the rules, there’s nothing but fun to be had.
Best Communication: TaliCor Ungame Families
When you’ve got nothing but miles ahead of you, this fun Pocket Ungame can make the miles pass more quickly. It’s just the thing to get everyone to unplug and interact to make those fun memories family vacations are all about. There are no winners, it’s all about answering intriguing questions, such as “Who do you look up to most in your family?” and “What is the proudest moment of your life?” Kids will surprise you with their fascinating answers, and they’ll probably find yours interesting as well.
This card game is small and easy to take on the go to pull out whenever you want to start the conversation flowing.
Best Strategy Game: Nexci Scrimish Strategy Card Game 2 Pack
If you’re up for a challenge, this Scrimish strategy card game delivers. Two decks of cards are included, each of which contains 50 cards so that multiple people can play. The goal: To uncover and attack the other players’ Crown Card. To outsmart them, it takes strategy and memory skills.
Designed for ages 5 and up, it’s easy to learn but delivers a challenge for players of all ages. Customers say the game is easy to learn and great fun. One compared it to a card version of the board game Stratego.
Best Multi Pack: Hoyle Fun Pack Kids Card Games
When you want to go old school and back to the basics of fun, this set from Hoyle will take you there. It comes with six decks of themed cards to play Go Fish, Memory, Old Maid, Crazy Eights and more. The games all need to be played with two or more players and most are suitable for the ages of 3 and up.
With so many games to play its a great pack of cards to have in your rainy day tricks basket to pull out when you all need to do something to do that doesn't involve technology. Keep a deck or two in the car for road trips and you'll always be prepared.
What to Look for in Card Games for Kids
Even though every little one thinks they're a big kid, glance at the age rating on the card game you’re considering to make sure it’s an appropriate fit. If you age up too much, the kiddos could become disinterested or discouraged by complex rules or above-their-heads topics. Imagine the disappointment they'll have when they realize you gifted them something they don't understand.
"All fun and games?" More like "all fun and games and learning." Find the delicate balance of fun and education in your kiddo's card games, so they can become more confident in reading, counting, and strategy—all while having a blast. Best of all, they'll be having such a great time playing they won't even notice they're learning. Win/win.
One-on-one time with a kid and a card game is something special, no doubt about that. But to include more family members, or be able to bring the game to a picnic or friend's house, choose a game that supports more players. If it's a flexible game that can be played with two players or more, all the better.
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This article was written and researched by Julie Evans, a writer and editor whose work covers topics including health and wellness, parenting, and technology. Her writing has appeared on USA Today, Realtor.com, Brit + Co, and CafeMom, among others. She has nearly 20 years of experience. Additional research was done by Megan McCarty, a writer for The Spruce and MyDomaine with more than 13 years of experience in both print and digital media. She regularly contributes to design-focused outlets such as Architectural Digest, Domino, House & Home, and Hunker.