I have three kids – ages six, four, and one. You’ll see them from time to time, popping into a photo for a post. We are a gaming family, but with some of my all-time fave games like Monopoly, Catch Phrase, or Scattegories, it can be hard to find games that include the littles while also being enjoyable for the adults.
Throughout the past few years, I’ve been on the hunt for family games that fall under this criteria: (1) it must be fun for EVERYONE and (2) it must be easy enough for the kids to play. That’s it! So, here’s my list of awesome games for kids (and their parents) that are sure to make game night, a great night!
(1) Straight Shooter. Originally, I bought this at Marbles: The Brain Store, at the Mall of America, but now, it seems to be available only from Amazon. So this game can be played with up to four players – you could even play solo if you wanted, but it’s definitely more fun with three other peeps! The object of the game is to be the first person to get your five “bullets” out of your colored section. It’s a quick game, but SUPER fun! If you have more than four players, make it a tournament! Once kids get the hang of shooting, the rest is all fun and games. 😉
Skills covered: Hand/eye coordination and visual perception.
(2) My Monster. This is a Simply Fun game that is SO perfect for little ones. It’s great for teaching kids their colors and shapes, but it’s fun just to see who can fill up their monster the quickest. My Monster makes the best I’m-a-kid-and-I’m-impatiently-waiting-for-my-food-at-a-restaurant activity. The game comes in a cute little baggy with a handle, and we put one child in charge of carrying it into the restaurant. It’s small enough, you could probably fit it into your purse.
Skills covered: Mental imaging, mind/hand coordination, probability, odds, and color and shape matching.
(3) Touchy Feely. Oh my goodness, this game is hilarious! I got it for Christmas last year and after only a week, we had ripped it. Seriously…. but it was so fun and everyone got such a kick out of it, that we got a little carried away (read: my brother’s family plays rough). 😉 I was pretty bummed that my game was broken, but I sent a quick email to Marbles, and they sent me a whole new game. Wow, what customer service! (Update: Sadly Marbles has filed for bankruptcy and has closed its doors.)
This game is simple, but only two players can participate at once (otherwise, your game might get ripped open or something – ahem…). Flip over the first card and race to be the first to find the item inside the pop-up “tube of touch.” Once you find the item, put it back in the tube, keep the card, and go on to the next card. There are a few different rules of play, and ALL are fun! Oh, and did I mention that you can add your own items to the game? Heck yeh, they give you blank cards and everything. Now Marbles has a Touchy Feely expansion pack – ABC’s! It’s currently on sale for $6.99 (regularly $14.99) and you better believe I’m gonna be ordering it!
Skills covered: Tactile perception, coordination, sensory perception, memory, and fine motor skills.
(4) AARGH! Have you ever been playing Memory with your kids and wish you were gouging your eyes out with blazing hot pokers? Me too, but thankfully Simply Fun has come to my (and my eyes’) rescue! The game AARGH! is a pirate-themed memory game, and it’s actually fun. The object is to collect as many gold coins as you can before all the treasure is gone. You get one coin for every matching card you find.
Beware! If you find the skull and crossbones card, your gold will be taken away. NOOO! My kids love this game and beg to play it every chance they get. And great news – it’s currently on sale for just $15 (down from $22). Stock up for Christmas, y’all!
Skills covered: Memory, concentration, attention, and focus.
(5) Bee alert. OK, maybe I fibbed a few moments ago. THIS is actually my kids’ favorite game, and they seriously beg me all. the. time. to play it! The gist of this Simply Fun game is pretty simple – you are trying to have the most beehives in your possession to win. To acquire a beehive, you must first draw a card and look under one beehive for the matching color. If it matches, it’s yours, but beware… the hungry bear wants the honey all for himself. If you find him, you must put one of your beehives back. For the game to end, all the beehives must be taken from the center or one person must have collected four – making them the automatic winner. If you need a quick game that everyone can enjoy playing, Bee Alert is a great choice!
Skills covered: Memory, observation, taking turns, patience, focus, and attention.
(6) Walk the Dogs. Tonight we had a family fun night, complete with a yummy dinner of Wildtree Java Foil Packets (mmmmm…….), a peach cobbler dump cake via Pinterest, and a rousing (and short) game of Walk the Dogs. This is yet another Simply Fun game, but it’s SO. FUN. Maybe my husband and I are still kids at heart and that’s why we love playing these games, but I really do think they would be enjoyable for most parents!
To play this game, you must randomly pull all the dogs from the “doggie bag” and place them in a line on the table. The line can wrap around, but it must be only one line and all dogs must be in single file. We tell the kids, the dogs can’t be kissing or bumping bottoms. 😉 On your turn, you draw a card and must pull that many dogs from the line and put them in your own line, which is separate. So the object of the game is to either get the most points once all the dogs are taken from the main line. However, if you acquire five dogs in your row, you are the automatic winner. We hate the dog catcher card, though, which means that everyone must put all the dogs from his or her own longest exposed line into the doggie bag. Boooo!
Skills covered: Strategy, patterning, counting, sorting, and risk & reward elements.
(7) Bringing Down the House. My kids adore this game, but I think my husband is the biggest fan. He loves to battle it out with me – seeing who can place all the pieces first! The game begins with all the boards turned face down. The youngest player yells out “Bringing Down the House.” With that, the game is on! All players must race to fill their card, one piece at a time. To do so, they must roll the specific piece, in numerical order – people first, then trees, and so forth. If you roll three of a kind, you must wipe your board.
It’s hilarious and very normal to hear people groan in the middle of the game, realizing they must start back at the beginning. As soon as you place the 13th piece, the roof, you can ding the bell and the round is over. I hope someday soon, Simply Fun comes out with an expansion pack, because only four people can play. However, it works awesome to pair one adult with one child – someone rolls the dice, and their teammate places the pieces. Perfect! And good news, it’s currently on sale for just $26 (regularly $38)!
Skills covered: Sequencing, quick reflexes, and making fast decisions.
(8) Zimbbos! Currently, this is MY favorite game. It’s super fast, but everyone (even our one-year-old) can participate. The idea is to build a tower using all 10 elephants, but there’s a catch – you must place them in the tower in numerical order without knocking the whole thing down. The person who places #10 is the winner. However, the game throws in a few curve balls. Why oh why?
If you roll a star, you have to place either a bar or a joker. Also, you can’t place any piece below the previous one – you can only play next to it or above it. This can get tricky, especially when my four-year-old decides to place a bar above a joker and we have no choice but to make a single, tall structure (see lower right photo). Our 12-month-old doesn’t actually play with us, but we give her the highly sought-after job of knocking it down at the end!
Skills covered: Number recognition, sequencing, hand/eye coordination, taking turns, patience, critical thinking, and good sportsmanship.
So, there you have it guys and gals – eight awesome games for families. What games do you play with your kids? I’d love to check them out and feature them in the future. 🙂