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Where to start with your Board Game Collection?
There are so many family board games to choose from its difficult to decide what should be included in your game collection. The ages of family members are often the deciding factor but we have included Board Game reviews for kids and family below to help out. First lets discuss why board games are a great option for family bonding and youth development.
Start Them Young!
Growing up I always loved playing board games with grandma. Cards, Board Games, and Puzzles were one of our favorite pastimes together. Those memories will stick with me for a lifetime. For that reason I recommend a little healthy competition in the form of Family Game Night to develop a tighter bond and teach our little ones. There are many things for kids to learn from game night including:
- Word and Number skills
- Hand eye coordination
- Thinking quickly
- Strategic Thinking
- Memory Development
- Rule following
- Winning and Losing with Grace (yes we have winners and losers)
Don’t believe me? For an in depth look at the science behind board games and development in kids check out this article from ParentingScience.com.
The Traditional games of our childhood were great for their simplicity and they still hold up today. There were fewer tiny pieces, usually no batteries, and really not much to break. The exception to this rule was Mouse Trap, is there even a game in existence that has all of those pieces? The Traditional Games I’m thinking of were games like: Go Fish, Sorry, Trouble, and Checkers among many others.
However, a new era of games has come into existence and they are solid choices as well. Many of them do include moving mechanical parts or electronics but when cared for properly they will serve their purpose well. Just don’t expect the next generation to get any real use out of them as hand me downs.
In the next sections I’ve broken down the board games we have tried or I grew up with into age group categories with a little information about each.
First Board Game Reviews for the Littles:
Candy Land (3.5 / 5)
A traditional simple game. Draw the cards and move to the next spot of that color on the path. Unfortunately this game creates battles among our little ones for some reason. Our 5 year old decides to get overly competitive and doesn’t understand that its all just luck. I’m still trying to teach him that games (and life) can change in an instant and that once we start something we need to see it through to the end regardless of our position. I was always told “It ain’t over til the fat lady sings” but we are avoiding that one for PC reasons in todays day and age! Eyeroll. 2 – 4 Players with about a 10 minute playtime depending on focus level.
Memory (4 / 5)
Match the cards together to score! Its great for developing brain skills and focus. Fun for all generations and has a quick set up and clean up. It is surprisingly a bit difficult to find.
Hungry Hungry Hippos (2.5 / 5)
Needs no explanation. Yes, its traditional and everyone has played it. But its noisy, has a bunch of loose parts, and can only be played on a perfectly level surface or its gonna create frustrations. Fun for a few minutes… Watch the tiny humans closely with this one, you never know when they might decide they are a hippo and try to eat hippo food!
Beginner Board Game Reviews for the Non Readers:
Hi Ho Cherrio (4 / 5)
Spin a wheel, pick the number of cherries from your tree that matches the pointer. Watch out for critters or a spilled basket or you will have to start over! Its a fun simple counting game that our youngest can participate in too.
Busytown Eye Found It (4.5 / 5)
Set in the same world as a Richard Scarry’s book What Do People Do All Day where Huckle and friends discuss all of the different jobs and activities occurring in their fictional town. The game is a CO-OP where you spin the wheel and move your character down the road toward the picnic. There are 2 different loops and several shortcuts to choose from. When the spinner lands on a detective then its time to draw a card and search through the scenes for those items. The number you find allows every player to move that number of spaces. Everyone loses if the pigs eat all of the picnic food before everyone arrives. This has been a nightly request before bed for about 3 weeks since we opened it!
Jenga (4.5 / 5)
Traditional, exciting, but a pain to set up and put away. I still don’t understand why they never made a 4 sided sleeve for stacking and storage! This has been a popular game for us lately. Its teaching our 5 year old focus, decision making skills, and precise hand eye coordination. Our 2 year old was even successful in playing with assistance. Unfortunately she had an uncontrollable outburst and knocked the tower over on purpose one night. She was immediately embarrassed and hid, we haven’t talked her into participating ever since.
Guess Who (3 / 5)
Traditional, fun, quick, and clean. Can use it to teach kids attention to detail and how to ask direct specific questions. As a kid I never noticed the direction the characters eyes are looking or if their teeth are showing.
Old Maid, Go Fish, Slap Jack, Memory, Matching (4 / 5)
The classics! Old Maid and Matching are our favorites still! Slap Jack is fun for a round or two but dad gets pretty bored with it quick… Easy to find in a set but matching is surprisingly difficult to find on its own as a card game.
Trouble (4 / 5)
The poppable dice game was fun as a kid but I don’t have a lot of desire to play it with adults these days. I do plan to introduce it to the littles in the near future and I expect it to be a huge hit! ~30 min play
Zingo (3.5 / 5)
A new twist on Bingo, two numbered tiles are released at a time. The first player to locate that number on their board gets the tile. Boards have a number of images to count one one side, the reverse side uses simple math with the same images. Helps teach kids number recognition and quick counting skills.
Intermediate Board Games Reviews For the Early Readers:
UNO (4.3 / 5)
The classic game of playing cards that match the discard pile and trying to be the first to go out.
Out-Foxxed (4 / 5)
Reminds me of a kids version of Clue but mixes things up a bit. Randomly select the Fox Criminal card and insert it into the code reader without looking. Lay out all of the suspect cards around the board face down and select whether you are identifying suspects or searching for clues on your turn. Roll three dice. By the third roll attempt reveal a set of the symbol you are looking for and you may perform that action. Fail to get a set of 3 symbols and the Fox criminal moves closer to the fox hole (escape). Win by revealing enough clues and suspects to determine who the Fox criminal is.
On our first play through my 5 year old did extremely well on the logic portion of it by evaluating if the clues allowed a suspect to remain in the game or not. He struggled a bit with the movement of his detective and how to move toward clue locations. The ability to roll the dice up to 3 times per turn was a hit. And he loved loading the clues into the code reader though he needed a little assistance evaluating if the clue was a positive or negative match. Our 2 year old was very intrigued and insisted on sitting near by and watching. I expect she will want to give it a go soon!
Battleship (3 / 5)
Traditional. Tons of tiny pieces. Non Readers may need an adult on their side to help with strategy and grid reading. Good way to hone Letter and Number recognition in a more fun way. Requires a patient little one as its not the quickest game.
Advanced Board Game reviews for Teenage Kids and Family:
Chess (4 / 5)
A traditional game brought back to life by the Netflix show The Queens Gambit. Dive as deep into the world of chess as you desire. If you get so good that friends or family don’t want to play with you anymore you can go play chess online too.
Those 100% new to chess can start with a No Stress Chess or Fun Family Chess Set that makes learning the game fun by providing reference cards and can even tell you which piece to move as well as how that piece can be moved.
Checkers (3.5 / 5)
The traditional little sibling to chess. They use the same board but Checkers is far more simple. Great for casual play.
Board Games for the Parents:
- Check Out Mom and Dad’s Board Game Collection Here! Great for a Date Night in during the Pandemic or a long Winter Storm!
Own But Haven’t Learned Yet:
Our Wish List:
Everyone loves UNO but sometimes the littlest members of the family need a little easier version. This one allows for matching color, animal or number to help make things easier to comprehend.
Thanks for reading our Board Game Reviews for Kids and Family! If you found it helpful feel free to share, and if you have any suggestions of games we need to try leave a comment and we will add them to our wish list! Also, let us know which ones are your favorite board games from the list!