Why we put together this guide on the best kids board games
We have always played board games with our children from a young age. The experience of playing games together has been really rewarding for us as parents and for our kids. It has been a great way to slow things down and just focus on our children and having fun together. Through the course of raising three children, we have found some kid friendly games we are particularly fond of and encourage learning too. We hope that you will find a few games that your children will enjoy in this article.
Why play games with kids?
Kids learn a lot through play, when parents play games with kids that existing connection makes learning so much more effective.
Some of the key benefits include developing social skills, building connection, and developing language skills. We have an in-depth article on the benefits of playing board games with children, check it out if you want to know more. Above all it’s a great way to have fun with your children and chat, you would be amazed what you can find out from your children once they relax and are having fun.
Some advice on picking games for kids
Every child has different interests and so it’s good to consider a few things before picking a game. There are several things we like to consider when we pick a game for our children. We like to consider what they are into, how simple the rule set is, and try to make sure the game isn’t too long for younger kids. There is a game to suit just about every taste so you will have no shortage of choice! We have a fuller beginners guide on how to get started you can read if you want more help.
How we picked our list of best kids games
Our criteria for a game to make this list include:
- Age suitability of course! – these are games that kids can pick up generally from 6-8 years old and up
- Simplicity – it’s important that the rules aren’t so complicated that a child will lose interest or not be able to compete with older kids
- Learning factor – we think board games are a great way to learn. Games that can teach kids key skills is another factor we considered
- Fun factor – while the above factors are important, they only matter if your child is having fun!
Our list of the best kids games
- Forbidden Island – Great intro to cooperative games
- Draftosaurus – Draft dinosaurs to make the best dino zoo
- Sleeping Queens – Beautiful card art and fun with card abilities
- Ticket to Ride Europe – For kids who love trains
- Castle Panic – For kids who like a fantasy theme
- Dungeon Mayhem – Dungeons & Dragons distilled in to a simple card game
- Monopoly Deal – The best way to play Monopoly
- Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza – Fast reflexes and plenty of laughs
- Sequence – Use your cards carefully to form a sequence
- Rummikub – Great combination of basic maths and number sets
- Monopoly Bid – Fun with secret bidding
- Yahtzee – Fun with dice and great for basic math
Forbidden Island – Great intro to cooperative games
Play Time: 30 Min / Players: 2-4 / Complexity: Low / Age: 10+ we think 6+ / Publisher: Gamewright Games / Designer: Matt Leacock
- Simple rules that are easy to pick up and suitable for kids
- Different roles with special abilities and variable tile set up add to replay value
- Great introduction for cooperative gaming for kids
- Artwork is great and consistent with theme
- Variable difficulty is great to keep it interesting.
- Can only accommodate four players. This might disappoint larger families.
Forbidden Island is the first kid friendly board game on our list. It’s a cooperative game that has players working together to retrieve four treasures from a mysterious island before it floods. There is some great replay value in this game with various roles to choose from and difficulty settings. Although the recommended age is 10+ we have found that our youngest was able to play from 6. She was able to enjoy this due to its cooperative nature and simple turn structure.
There are actually three cooperative games in the Forbidden series, but this is the easiest to learn and most suitable for younger kids. Forbidden Desert is a small step up in complexity and Forbidden Sky is the most complex and challenging of the series. We have a great comparison of Forbidden Island vs Forbidden Desert vs Forbidden Sky if you are interested in checking out the differences.
Our kids just love collecting the treasures and each has a favourite. The illustrations on the cards and island tiles are beautiful and really draw our kids in. We all really enjoy playing this one and it’s great to have a cooperative game that our youngest can fully participate in.
This game is great for teaching communication and teamwork.
See our full Forbidden Island review.
Draftosaurus – Draft dinosaurs to make the best dino zoo
Play Time: 15 Min / Players: 2-5 / Complexity: Low / Age: 8+ we think 6+ / Publisher: Ankama Games / Designer: Anotoine Bauza, Corentin Lebrat, Ludovic Maublanc & Théo Rivière
- You can play a fun game in under 15 minutes
- Very cool dino meeples and theme are likely to appeal to kids
- Simple and light gameplay make it a breeze to teach
- Some good replay value with two board options to choose from
- Two player rule variations work really well.
- Not a lot of depth here so older kids may find it a little too simplistic.
This game features coloured dinosaurs that you can draft and place in your dino theme park. The catch is that each pen has various scoring rules you must follow to gain points. Dice is used each round to place additional restrictions on players to spice things up. You can finish a game within 15 minutes which is great if you want to squeeze in a game before bedtime.
When my youngest daughter first tried this game, she had so much fun she insisted on teaching the whole family. The next morning the moment she got up she asked to play again. Although this is a simple game, the colourful dinos and simple drafting game play are a lot of fun. A great pick for younger kids as this game is super simple and so much fun.
This game will teach kids to be more aware of what other players are doing and the total numbers of dinos played. This also adds considerations of basic probability to figure out chances of getting certain dino types in future rounds.
See our full Draftosaurus review.
Sleeping Queens – Beautiful card art and fun card abilities make this a winner
Play Time: 20 Min / Players: 2-5 / Complexity: Low / Age: 8+ we think 5+ / Publisher: Gamewright / Designer: Miranda Evarts
- Easy to setup
- Quick to play
- Helps with basic maths – great way to learn those basic facts
- The lead can change quickly so keeps everyone interested.
- Highly recommend using card sleeves as cards bend easily and with the queens this can make them easily recognised.
Sleeping Queens is another great game for kids. It’s a simple card game that can be picked up quickly and played in less than 20 minutes. The object of the game is very simple, to awaken the sleeping queens to earn a certain number of points and win the game. According to the game rules it is first to 5 queens or first to 50 points in a game with 2 to 3 players or first to collect 4 queens or get 40 points in a 4 to 5 player game. In practice because my children love collecting the queens so much, we ignore the points target and just play until we have collected all the sleeping queens.
This game is so simple but so much fun for kids. The illustrations are beautiful, and our daughters just love them, they each have their favourite queens to awaken. Even our teen doesn’t mind indulging his sisters in a game of Sleeping Queens every now and then. There are some interesting cards with some neat abilities.
This game is great for teaching basic addition. Your kids Are able to play multiple cards if the math works. For example, they can play a 5, 3 and 8 because 5 + 3 = 8. This is a great way to make learning fun, our youngest daughter is always looking for opportunities to use cards like this.
See our full Sleeping Queens review.
Ticket to Ride Europe – For kids who love trains
Play Time: 30-60 Min / Players: 2-5 / Complexity: Low / Age: 8+ / Publisher: Days of Wonder / Designer: Alan R Moon
- Simple to learn
- Great components, the map looks great and the train pieces are nice
- The addition of tunnels and ferries makes the game more interesting than the original
- Great learning opportunities for kids in terms of forward planning and efficient route selection.
- City names reflect turn of the century naming and may confuse some people at first
- Luck involved in gaining train cards, sometimes the ones you need just aren’t there for a number of turns.
Our next game has a little more strategy to understand than the other games on our list, so we think 8+ is a safe age range for this one. Ticket to Ride Europe has been around since 2005 and we have had our copy for years. In Ticket to Ride Europe, you will draft train cards and use them to establish train lines between cities with the aim of completing secret personal objectives (destination cards). Essentially card drafting and route building are the key mechanics in the game. The Europe edition adds tunnels and train stations which spice things up a little but don’t add much in the way of complexity. The player with the most points at the end of the game wins.
I love watching my daughter plan her train routes diligently for maximum efficiency. This game really appeals to her logical thinking, and it provides some great learning opportunities as a result. She gets so excited every time she completes one of her destination cards. I would have thought the game would be a little long to hold her attention for the whole time, but I can see that she is constantly checking her routes, the cards available and adjusting her plans as needed. She definitely prefers this as a two-player game, as it’s shorter with two and there is less competition for routes.
Forward planning is probably the key lesson here, especially as it relates to planning the most efficient routes to complete objectives.
Check out our full Ticket to Ride Europe review.
Castle Panic – For kids who like a fantasy theme
Play Time: 60 Min / Players: 1-6 / Complexity: Low / Age: 10+ we think 6+ /Publisher: Fireside Games /Designer: Justin Dewitt
- Simple rules that are easy to pick up
- Great quality components
- Encourages cooperation by being able to swap cards
- Creates some tense moments but overall, not overwhelming for younger kids
- Some cool boss monsters to keep things interesting.
- Games can be inconsistent in difficulty due to a high degree of luck
- Older kids will start to find this less challenging from around 9 or 10 and up.
Castle Panic is a cooperative tower defence game that kids will love. To win you must defend your castle from rampaging orcs, trolls, goblins and a range of boss monsters.
Each player will receive a hand of cards that they must use to defeat the monsters charging at the castle walls. Cards can only be used to attack a monster if they have the corresponding colour and range. There are three different circles surrounding the castle, each requires a different type of card to attack a monster in those circles.
Each turn more monster tiles will be drawn to approach the castle from the outer forest and existing monsters will move one ring closer. The monsters’ tiles sometimes contain boss monsters with special abilities or have effects that will cause issues for the defenders. You never quite know what to expect! If the monsters reach the castle walls they will begin to destroy them, if you lose all 6 castle towers you lose the game.
Castle Panic is a great introduction to cooperative games for kids. The choices here are very straight forward and mean that young kids can play confidently without much help once they have a game or two under their belt. The game has some tense patches at times, for example when you pull a boss monster or a tile that requires you to pick up another 4 monster tiles, but it’s not overwhelming.
The age rating is 10+ but we think this game is better suited to an audience younger than 10. Not only are the rules very simple to pick up but the strategy and choices are very simple too. This makes the game more manageable for younger kids but may be too simple for kids 10 and up in our experience.
There is some nice variety in the deck and the fact that each card has to be matched to the monster’s location on the board means kids will learn to plan their turns out carefully. Both the colours and the distance to the castle needs to match the monster’s location to be able to deal damage.
Given Castle Panic is a cooperative game, kids will get some practice working together whether through deciding which cards to share amongst other players or on the best way to defend the castle.
See our full Castle Panic review.
Dungeon Mayhem – D&D distilled in to a simple card game
Play Time: 10 Min / Players: 2-4 / Complexity: Low / Age: 8+ we think 6+ / Publisher: Wizards of the Coast / Designer: Jordan Comar, Roscoe Wetlaufer
- Very easy to learn
- Plays quickly at two players
- Artwork is quite amusing and fits characters nicely
- Each character has some unique abilities making them feel different.
- No deep strategy here so better suited to younger players or as a filler game
- Can drag on a bit at four players for what it is.
Whether you are an avid fan or not you have probably heard of Dungeons & Dragons. Dungeon Mayhem takes some familiar D&D characters and attempts to create a simple, quick filler game that’s more accessible to a broader audience with the Dungeons & Dragons theme. My daughters just love this game and I really enjoy playing it with them, it’s simple, plays fast and has plenty of interaction which makes it perfect for kids.
The goal of Dungeon Mayhem is to be the last character left in an all out brawl between Paladin, Barbarian, Wizard and Rogue. Each character has a unique deck of cards with their own mighty powers to bring to the battle. Each card is easy to understand and the strategy is very straight forward which means kids will be able to be competitive quickly.
With four different characters to choose from there’s some nice variability as kids try using different characters. The cards are also very humorous and fit the theme well which is a big reason why my daughters love this game so much, they all have their favourite cards and look forward to using them in each game.
This is a fairly simple game but there are some great tactile opportunities to practice addition and subtraction using the health tracker and the tokens.
See our full Dungeon Mayhem review.
Monopoly Deal – The best way to play Monopoly!
Play Time: 15 Min / Players: 2-5 / Complexity: Low / Age: 8+ we think 6+ / Publisher: Hasbro / Designer: Katherine Chapman
- Easy to learn and suitable for whole family
- Lots of great variety in the cards and actions
- Card actions enable some good gameplay options
- Instructions on the cards are really clear and the colour scheme helps nicely to differentiate cards
- Plays really well with different player counts.
- No complaints from us!
I am not a fan of the Monopoly board game, but we love Monopoly Deal and it’s a great game for young kids. The object of the game is simple, collect three sets of coloured property cards to win. The catch is the large range of card abilities that can thwart your plans. You could have your sets stolen from under you, get slapped with rent to pay or have your prize properties swapped for duds.
This game plays very fast and is easy enough to learn that even young kids will pick this up and be very competitive! Our daughter gets so excited when she can get a set of cards in yellow (her favourite colour) or steal a set of properties out from under someone else using a deal breaker. There are so many cool cards that keep this game interesting for young kids.
There are some good opportunities to practice basic maths in this game when counting out money owed or doubling rent. Aside from that there is also some good basic strategy involved in deciding when the right time is to play certain high value cards.
See our full Monopoly Deal review.
Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza – For Fast Reflexes and Lots of Laughs
Play Time: 10-30 Mins / Players: 2-8 / Complexity: Low / Age: 8+ we think 5+ / Publisher: Dolphin Hat Games / Designer: Dave Campbell
- Very simple to learn
- Appeals to a wide age range
- Plays quickly
- Generates a lot of laughs.
- No deep strategy here, this is about awareness and quick reflexes.
This next game on our list of the best board games for kids is Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza. This game takes snap and adds some bells and whistles that add hand actions and a series of weird words to recite as you play.
To begin, 12 cards are dealt to each player if you are playing with up to 5 people, for up to 8 just deal all cards evenly. Each player will then place a card from their deck face up in the middle of the table. As players are placing their cards, they will recite one of the following words, Taco, Cat, Goat, Cheese, Pizza. They are said in order, so you must pay attention to the word recited by the previous player.
If the word said matches the card they played in the middle, then all players must race to slap their hands on the card like snap. The last player to slap their hands on the card takes the pile of cards and places them in their deck. Play then moves to the next player and they recite the next word in order. The goal is to be the first person to get rid of your cards.
The twist is that there are other cards that require players to perform an action and then race to place their hands on the centre pile:
- The gorilla requires everyone to beat their chest and then race to place their hands on the centre pile
- The groundhog requires players to knock on the table before they slap the centre pile
- The Narwhal requires players to slap their hands together over their heads to form a horn before they slap the card pile. This one is particularly amusing to watch.
Whenever we play this game, we all end up laughing out loud. The weird words and hand actions are aimed at confusing players and creating laughs. This is great for kids as it’s so easy to pick up the rules and quick to play but also leads to a lot of amusing situations. Especially someone has confused the actions on the cards, for example beating your chest like a gorilla instead of knocking the table while everyone else has already slapped the centre pile.
This game is all about quick reflexes and keeping track of the words being recited while you keep an eye on the cards. This should teach kids to maintain awareness of multiple things happening at once and stay focused.
See our full Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza review.
Sequence – Use your cards carefully to form a sequence
Play Time: 10-30 Min / Players: 2-12 / Complexity: Low / Age: 7+ we think 6+ / Publisher: Jax / Designer: Doug Reuter
- Card game and board game elements work well together
- Simple to learn but fun
- The one eyed and two eyed Jacks add some good options to the game.
- Can drag on if the right cards don’t come out for you
- We aren’t fans of the team play option.
Sequence is a game played with a deck of cards, counters and a board. The aim is to create two sequences to win. Each sequence requires five counters to be placed in a row, a little like Connect 4 with the lines being made on a board instead of a vertical grid. Kids will find this game simple and engaging.
You start the game with a number of cards in your hand dependent on the number of players. Sequence can accommodate up to 12 players but after three players teams must be formed as there are only three colours of counters.
Turns are very simple and consist of selecting a card from your hand and playing it to the discard pile. You then place a counter in the corresponding space on the board. At the end of your turn, you pick up a card.
Game play is very straightforward. The main strategy revolves around selecting spaces that are as close together as possible (there are two on the board for each card) to enable a sequence to be formed. There are also some choices to be made around when to play any Jacks you may have collected.
This is a game that both our daughters really enjoy. They like the satisfaction of getting patterns to work on the board and there is enough luck here to mean that younger players will have a good chance of being competitive.
The main learning in this game is in being able to make the most efficient use of your cards to enable sequences to be formed.
See our full Sequence review.
Rummikub – Great combination of basic maths and number sets
Play Time: 60 Min / Players: 2-4 / Complexity: Low / Age: 8+ we think 6+ / Publisher: Pressman / Designer: Ephraim Hertzano
- Helps kids to recognise potential patterns
- Really gets kids thinking for such a simple game as there are lots of ways to make a combination
- Keeps older kids engaged too due to the challenge. My teen really enjoys this game too.
- You may need to help younger kids out with this one at times
- This game can sometimes drag on if you don’t draw the tiles you need to complete sets. You will notice it has the longest play time in our list.
Rummikub is a numbers and patterns game. Players agree to a point total that will end the game. The object of each round is to be the first to play all of your tiles, so you have an empty rack, when this happens you declare ‘Rummikub’. At the end of each round the losing players count the total of all the numbers they have remaining and these count as negative points. The winner receives a positive score equal to the total of all the loser’s points. The first player to reach the agreed point target wins the game. Rounds continue until one of the players reaches the agreed point value to win.
Players can make patterns by either playing 3 or more tiles of the same number but different colours (there are four different colours) or the same colour but in a run of numbers (for example 2,3 and 4 in blue). As the game progresses and more tiles are played, more opportunities open up for making tile combinations.
Our daughter gets so excited when she figures out a challenging combination of tiles or just manages to play a tile she has been hanging on to for a while. Although one of the more challenging games on the list to get good at, kids who like numbers and patterns will enjoy this one. Our advice when playing with younger kids is to start with just one round instead of playing to a points target, they might not have the attention span for multiple rounds.
Great for teaching kids to recognise potential number patterns. It also tends to encourage kids to slow down and think deeply about their turns. The main benefit though is in problem solving, each turn presents them with an evolving challenge to find ways of rearranging tiles to place their own tiles on the board. This problem-solving element is great for older kids too.
See our full Rummikub review.
Monopoly Bid – Fun with secret bidding
Play Time: 20 Min / Players: 2-5 / Complexity: Low / Age: 7+ / Publisher: Hasbro
- Easy to learn
- Clever adaptation of Monopoly as a card game
- Secret bidding is a lot of fun
- Encourages player interaction
- Quick to play.
- Card design is a little plain.
As a family our preference is to play Monopoly Deal, but our youngest daughter loves both equally, so this one makes it on to our list of best children’s games.
In Monopoly bid players start with a hand of cards consisting of money and action cards. Each turn will involve a property card being revealed that players can bid on. The bidding is secret and so this is where the strategy comes in. The aim is to guess what other players will be bidding so that you can purchase the property without overpaying.
There are also action cards that allow you to draw extra cards and steal cards for example. The person who collects three coloured sets first wins the game!
The secret bidding in this game is a lot of fun for our kids. They really love the challenge of guessing the right amount to bid for each property. It’s always so satisfying for them bidding just enough to snare a prized property that’s in hot demand or bluffing well enough to force another player to vastly overpay.
This really teaches kids to have more awareness of others and themselves. They have to try to interpret the table talk and manner of other people each time bidding commences as well as making sure they don’t give anything away themselves.
See our full Monopoly Bid review.
Yahtzee – Fun with dice and great for basic math
Play Time: 30 Min / Players: 2-10 / Complexity: Low / Age: 8+ we think 6+ / Publisher: Hasbro / Designer: Edwin S Lowe
- The dice add enough luck to make it interesting but there are also enough decisions that you don’t feel like it’s totally luck driven
- Great way to teach addition and introduce probabilities
- Lots of fun.
- Can get frustrating for little ones if the dice don’t go their way.
Yahtzee is a classic and it is currently our 7-year-olds absolute favourite game. To win you need to score the most points before you run out of rounds. Each turn you will be rolling 5 dice and trying to make different dice combinations that earn you points. The points are different depending on the combination you make (straight, four of a kind etc). Scoring 5 of a kind is called a Yahtzee and nets you 50 points. Once you claim a dice combination you can’t use that same scoring spot again. You get to re roll twice, so the trick here is trying to play the probabilities based on your first roll and which combinations you have still available to you.
Our youngest daughter is in love with this game. She goes nuts whenever she scores a Yahtzee and I don’t think I have ever seen anyone as lucky as she is at this game.
This is a great way for kids to start to judge probabilities as well as practice addition by adding up their dice. Our daughter has got progressively better at deciding what dice combination she should be going for based on her first role. She has started talking about the fact that she has say a 2,3 and 4 so she will go for a low straight which only needs a 1 or a 5.
How to make the most of game time with your kids
When children are young being able to play games with their parent and have focused attention enables them to open up and also improves learning opportunities. Here are some tips we learned to help make the most of the time you have set aside:
- Set aside distractions – try to stay away from phones and other distractions while you are enjoying game time. It will help you and your child relax. It will also make your child feel valued
- Stay alert to frustrations – every child can get frustrated if a game doesn’t go their way. By staying calm and empathising with your child you have a better chance of averting tantrums. We have a full guide on helping kids who really struggle with losing
- Try to keep everyone involved – it can be really easy for older kids to dominate a game, especially if it’s cooperative. It can make younger or more introverted children feel like they are left out. Try to keep alert to this, and include younger children in decisions. Even in competitive games I still like to ask my children about ideas they might have for my turn. It’s amazing how it boosts a child’s confidence to have their opinion valued
- Remember it’s about having fun – if your child is getting really frustrated with a game, it might not be the right game for them. The aim is to have fun and bond, it might be time to try a different type of game or have a break for a bit until they have calmed down
- Kindness is key – when children play together it’s important that they know the way they treat each other is more important than winning the game. At our house kindness is a basic requirement for playing games. If any of our children isn’t respecting their siblings when they are playing games then they know they will not be able to continue playing
- Don’t rush it – there are lots of teaching and learning opportunities available when playing games with your children. These can easily be missed if you rush through turns. Give your child the time to think about their moves, count their own score, think out loud or whatever else the game requires. It’s also good to explain what you’re doing during your turn, to help with learning. Do addition out loud or talk about why you made a certain move. It can mean the game takes a little longer but your child will get a lot more out of it.
We really hope this article has given you some ideas for games that your children will enjoy and some tips on how to get the most out of it. Remember regardless of what sort of games you like to play with your children, the key is to be present and value the experience. If you do, your child will pick up on it and you will be surprised at what it can do for your relationship.
About the Authors
We are parents who love board gaming. We have three children and have been enjoying board games as a family ever since we had our first child. We share our real unbiased experiences and opinions on board games so you can decide if they are right for your family. We also write guides and articles to help you get the most out of your family game time. If you enjoy our content and want to support us you can do that through our Ko-fi page by clicking on the button below.