The Ultimate Guide to the Best Board Games

Reviewed & edited by Marcella Raskin. This blog is supported by its readers. If you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The Benefits of Playing Board Games with Your Children

There is a lot of debate among parents about the value of playing games with children. Some believe that it stifles creativity and imagination; others insist that it’s beneficial in teaching social skills, cooperation building, and responsibility. Some parents even find that playing games with their children help to improve the bond between them, and it’s an excellent way to top up on your child-rearing vocabulary.

When you’re playing a board game with kids, socializing is often part of the plan, talking face-to-face instead of online, building confidence when speaking in front of others (an important skill when growing up). But even with all of these benefits, playing games should never be seen as a chore. If your children are not into it, then they will view any game-time together as a drag.

Strategy is an integral part of gameplay in any game, but this is especially true in adult board games. Strategy isn’t a significant factor for children under four years old because their short attention spans keep them from having the patience to invest in thinking too far ahead during their turn. It’s not until children are about 5 or 6 years old that they can start to think strategically and comprehend the rules of a game well enough to plan ahead.

Playing board games with young children helps them learn how to take turns and share, which will be an essential social skill as adults working in collaborative ways. They also learn how to interpret rules and processes, follow directions, deal with winning and losing (relatively), but most importantly – have fun!

Older kids must play with their peers rather than parents because this teaches them how to think on their feet when competition is involved.

Best First-Time Board Games (3-4 years old)

Small children are often so excited about getting a new game that they don’t even bother to read the instructions. Chances are you’ll end up misplaying it from the start or risk turning them off of trying out anything new ever again in the future.

To help with this, here’s a list of the top 10 first-time board games for kids:

1) Snail’s Pace Race

Snail PaceThis family-friendly snail racing game requires no reading, tough decisions, or counting skills – just pure luck. The objective is simple – get your snail across the line before anyone else does! It uses a spinner and dice roll movement system to allow unstructured play and progress at a child's own pace. This makes it suitable for even very young children. Snail's Pace Race is also an excellent choice for non-gamers, as it doesn't require any prior gaming experience. 

2) Sushi Go!

Snail PaceIn this pick-and-pass card game, you are a sushi chef trying to build the best combination of sushi dishes that will score the most points when served. There is no time limit on each turn, so you don't have to feel pressured to play your cards immediately. Plus, there's no player elimination; everyone keep playing until the end. It's also a relatively simple game to grasp given its short duration –  2 minutes each turn.

3) Happy Bunny

happy bunnyThis cute game for kids places players in the role of bunnies looking to join Flower Town's "nicest family." Players must work together and use strategy in order to win each round. Given that this is a beginner board game, it's designed as more of an introduction into these types of games – so if you're looking for some tough competition, then look elsewhere. However, it serves its purpose perfectly if you want your kids to have fun while learning cooperative play.

4) The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel

the-sneaky-squirrellThis is a fast-paced card game where players race to fill their baskets with tasty nuts first. To win, you need to be the quickest on the draw and have a bit of luck on your side, too, as some squirrels will steal whatever's left in your basket if they can't find anything good. It even teaches kids how to add and subtract numbers for early math practice – bonus!

5) Spot It!

spotitSpot it can be played by a wide range of ages because there are only ever two cards that match at any one time. Players use 'action cards' or 'mystery cards' to modify the matches, but only an opponent can tell them the pair don't belong, and they must rely on their own observation. It's a good game for improving observation skills and is perfect for younger kids due to its simplicity.

6) Sequence for Kids

Sequence is an excellent first-time learning game that introduces children to strategic thinking by challenging them to spot patterns in sequential order to win. Players take turns adding cards onto the top of shared piles until one player runs out of cards. There are no turns – players can play onto any pile, as long as the top card is one higher or lower than the topmost card on the pile. It's easy to learn but requires some decent thinking skills to master.

7) Don’t Spill the Beans

dont-spill-the-beansThis fast-paced game involves a unique bean-spilling mechanic that requires careful planning and strategy - you can either win or lose by being a split second too slow. It's played in teams of two, so both players get to work together and cheer each other on – it's like playing against yourself!
Don't Spill the Beans is quite simple with its easy-to-follow instructions, and even younger kids who have never tried any board games before will be able to pick up how to play quickly.

8) Don’t Break the Ice

dont-break-the-iceThis is a top pick for preschoolers as it teaches a basic lesson without being overly educational – an important consideration with young children. It's also easy to learn and fast-paced, so there's no need to sit down and explain the rules before starting to play. All you need are some ice blocks (or something similar) and a plastic hammer included in the game box. The goal of the game is simple – knock out all of your opponent's ice blocks before they have a chance to do the same to you.

9) Bluey

blueyThis game is perfect for kids who want to get involved in playing a board game but are too young to read. The box contains everything needed to create your own world; just add imagination! By following simple prompts on the cards, players come up with their very own creature designs and wildlife habitats - then play games with them. This helps teach early decision-making skills, and there are no restrictions or right or wrong answers. In other words, it's great for boosting creativity!

10) Diggin’ Doggies

diggin-doggiesA top choice for preschoolers, this game of skill and memory is a take on the classic peg solitaire. Players must roll three dice in order to collect as many dogs as possible around the board. The catch is that there are no turns, so everyone plays at once – which keeps children engaged and ensures they aren't stealing your chance at winning!

What are the best board games for kids (5-10 years old)?

Although there’s no age limit on board games per see top, most rated children’s board games are best for kids between five and ten years of age. This is the perfect time to introduce competitive board games because children are typically old enough to play and follow by-the-rules, but still young enough to be easily amused. There are games for kids that make great choices regardless of their skill or experience with tabletop gaming.

1) Labyrinth

LabyrinthLabyrinth is a family-friendly game for 2 to 4 players. Players take turns drawing from the deck and moving their playing pieces around the board, trying to find a way out of the maze before time runs out. This fun and challenging game will keep you on your toes as you try to escape. The first player who manages to get all four of their playing pieces out of the maze wins! A great gift idea for anyone with an interest in puzzles or games, this game is sure not to disappoint.

2) Trouble

TroubleBoth new players & experienced will enjoy the Trouble fun board game for kids; it's perfect as a travel or family game. Kids love this interactive strategy toy-for-all-ages! Our trouble board game has been a very popular item at preschools, elementary schools, summer camps & children's birthday 

3) Trivial Pursuit Family Edition

Trivial-Pursuit-Family-EditionTrivial Pursuit  Family Edition is a game for the whole family to play together, it is based on original Trivial Pursuit and includes over 1 600 questions which cover six different categories.
 Trivial Pursuit Family Edition was developed with help from teachers, parents and students in an effort to make trivia more accessible to everyone.
 

4) Lost Cities: The Board Game

Lost-Cities-The-Board-GameIn this cooperative strategy game, teams of two or more players embark on expeditions to find lost cities by playing cards from their hands onto numerical sequences on the tabletop. This stimulates memory and other cognitive skills as teams try to top one another to score ten points first. Players are also taught how to take turns and count out their moves as they work together – but this is a highly competitive game, so there may be some friendly arguments along the way!

5) Robo Rally

Robo-RallyIn this board game that's great for developing logical thinking skills, players control robots on a factory floor by programming them with cards laid face down; these commands will be executed in sequential order for players to win. It uses a 3D robotic board, so it'll feel like you're controlling your own robot. This is especially good for teaching children how to follow steps because every move must be made in the right sequence, and if you get it wrong, the robot will follow it incorrectly.

6) Qwirkle

quirkleQwirkle is one of those board games that involves a little bit of thinking, but not too much. It's an abstract game with tiles that are either blank or have colors and shapes on them. The object is to make lines in an effort to match more tiles than your opponents.
Qwirkle Board Game You can be aggressive or passive depending on the person you're playing with, but it's still fun for everybody and you don't get too invested in any particular game, since they're quick. 

7) Escape from ghost castle

Escape-from-ghost-castleEscape from ghost castle is one of the best board games for kids. This game is an edge-of-the seat adventure as you try to escape from a haunted house.  In this ability skill pathfinder rpg combat time trial board game, players have 9 minutes in which they are required to roll dice and walk around the board using paths that lead them out of the house. This game is simple enough that even young children can play it, but contains aspects that will challenge older as well.

8) Rhino Hero Super Battle

Rhino-Hero-Super-BattleIn this action-packed board game, players build a tower that's tall enough to reach the top of the screen because they need to rescue their superhero friends. This game can be played by two or more people and is an excellent way to help children develop logical thinking skills as they try to plan their moves. You'll also need good communication skills for this team-building activity to work well, so it's great for practicing the language at home!

9) Operation

operation-Electronic-Board-GamePlayers get to be "the doctor" and make Cavity Sam better or get the buzzer. Using magnetic wands or fancy tweezers, players carefully pass these pieces through the holes only to find out some don't make it all the way through! It can be quite challenging as there's often more than one piece on either side of the board so you have to pick and choose which piece gets chosen next. This makes for an interesting time especially if your little ones are competing against each other.

10) Connect 4 Grid Game

Connect-4-Grid-GameKids can develop many skills with this board game. Players use four different colored discs to try and get four in a row before their opponents do – vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. This board game builds critical thinking and problem-solving skills because players need to consider their strategy before making a move and visualize the best possible outcome. It's also great for teaching strategic thinking because kids learn to anticipate actions and block out opponents.

The best board games for older kids, teens, and adults (11-99 years old)

Do you like playing board games with your kids? If so, this section is for you!

Board games can provide hours of entertainment. They teach children a great deal about the world around them and also develop their thinking skills. Games such as Scrabble lay the foundations for literacy skills; games such as chess are good for problem-solving; Monopoly improves maths skills, and snakes & ladders reinforce simple arithmetic.

In addition to these educational benefits, board games encourage social development in that they involve face-to-face interaction with other players. These interactions often lead to friendships which may even last throughout adulthood. Unfortunately, by the time a child reaches the age of 10, they will have likely outgrown many of the children’s available board games. Luckily for us, some new games on the market can keep older kids entertained! Here is my top ten list of board games for kids (and not so kids!) older kids:

1) Scrabble

ScrabbleScrabble is not only fun, but it can also help develop language skills. Kids use their vocabulary to create the best words and ideas for winning this classic word game. This game for older kids improves spelling ability as well as general literacy and problem-solving skills. For a twist on this family favorite, try Junior Scrabble instead!

2) Chess

ChessChess is known as "the game of kings" because of its historical origins in Persia, where it was played by royalty exclusively. It teaches children how to think strategically and logically, and its rules are easy to learn.  
Chess is played by more than 600 million people worldwide, making it second only to Go as the most popular board game. It has been claimed that chess improves cognitive ability, preventing Alzheimer's disease.

3) Monopoly

MonopolyMonopoly is a classic board game that can be played by the whole family, making it a top choice for our top 10 Board games for kids! Players travel around the board, buying up properties they hope to develop and renting out later to make money. It's great for teaching counting skills and strategic thinking; however, this game can also cause arguments if players cannot agree on trade offers, just like in real life! For a variation, on because it is an incredibly long game.

4) Power Grid

Power-GridA top ten strategy board game for adults and teens. It's one of those games that's easy to pick up but challenging to master, making it perfect for older kids who are starting to think strategically rather than tactically. It is based on the price of power plants and how many cities they can supply. An absolute top 10 classics!

5) Snakes & Ladders

Snakes-LaddersAlso known as Chutes and Ladders in North America, Snakes & Ladders is a board game that has been around for years because it teaches counting and taking turns while being a lot of fun too! Players progress their pieces up the ladders, which correlate to the numbers on the board, and down the snakes, which correspond to multiples of six, to win. If children land on top of another player's counter, that piece must go back to the beginning.

6) Dominion

DominionDominion is a top ten classic deck-building card game to build the best deck of cards through purchasing from a central supply. It's easy to learn and interesting enough for adults but complex too, making it great for older children (and adults!) who love top ten strategy board games. It's not only top for older kids, but top for adults too!

7) Settlers of Catan

Settlers-of-CatanAnother top ten classic that has won the prestigious Spiel des Jahres award (the top board game awards) three times! Settlers of Catan involves resource management and trading to build roads, settlements, and cities. As well as being top on the list of top 10 Board games for kids, this is top on the list of top 10 strategy board games for adults, so be careful - it's addictive!

8) Risk

RiskTop war strategy board game for teens and adults. It's the perfect classic game for older kids because it offers good strategy without being too heavy with rules. Players must work together and individually to invade territories, build armies, and take over the world. Although it can take a while to finish, Risk is top fun and top challenging too!

9) Bananagrams

BananagramsIn this top board game for older kids, players race to build crossword grids with their letter tiles. Kids can learn how to construct words using phonics and properly place punctuation marks as they become familiar with the conventions of written English. Bananagrams is a game for older kids that the entire family can enjoy.

10) Chinese Checkers

Chinese-CheckersThis board game for older kids or adults can provide hours of entertainment, and the entire family can enjoy it. Players in Chinese Checkers collaborate to use strategy to get all of their game pieces across the board and into their home space before anybody else. This game is great fun and also teaches children to work together as a team.


Conclusion

The best children’s board games are always a topic of conversation among parents. There is no shortage of opinions on the subject, and it can be hard to figure out which games are worth buying or borrowing from friends. We hope this guide will help you find that perfect game for your child, whether they like strategy-based puzzles, cooperative play with adults, or something silly and fun! If you have any questions about these recommendations, please don’t hesitate to contact us at any time. And if there’s another great kids’ game we should know about, let us know in the comments below so we can add it to our list!

Author

  • Lenny Terra is the co-founder & reviewer. He’s a life coach, software engineer, freelance writer, and has a diploma in Modern Applied Psychology. Lenny has a passion for great living & beautiful design. He is married and is the father of two beautiful girls. His life’s mission is to help people improve their lives, become happier and more productive. This blog is his contribution to that goal and to the empowerment of his readers. Lenny and his family live in Texas with their two dogs.

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