Good Board Games for Kids …By Age
This is the time of year when I get asked A LOT… “what are good board games kids THIS age can play?” It’s not that easy… you have a niece or nephew who you want to get into board gaming… maybe it’s a secret Santa donation for a kid who asks for a board game. You want to introduce them to the hobby, but realize that Blood Rage might be a tricky place to start.
After years of gaming with kids (3 of my own and various other young people who have wandered through my world) I’ve got an idea about what works, and what doesn’t work for young board game players. When choosing board games for kids, the single most important factor is this-Who is the child playing with? What I mean is, Will the child be playing alone? With Peers? Or with Adults? And are the Adults board game fans?
As an example- My youngest has been playing Ticket to Ride since she was 5. She’s not a genius (although, she is a sharp cookie), she started out playing as my partner. Her older sibs were playing, and she wanted to be involved. She could understand basic rules, and I did the reading. This doesn’t mean I could hand a 5 year old Ticket to Ride. In fact, my 10 year old still needed some guidance. But, since I was there, moderating and playing along… the game went smoothly.
Giving a child a game that they can’t play is a drag. If a child wants a board game, there are plenty out there that encourage good gaming habits, like taking turns and thinking critically… that maybe aren’t for adults. But that’s ok. We have to walk before we can run. And it’s sad to give a kid a game they can’t play because the “adults” in their world don’t have the time to play along.
These games all have fairly simple rules, and can be played with our without adults. (Remember the days when you would just play a board game with your friends… and not your mom? Let’s start there). All have re-playability… and all should get kids excited about taking on other new games.
(As for the “classics”… don’t scoff… they are still out there for a reason… and some are well worth playing! And you can find them at a low price in loads of stores.)
Best of all! None of these games need batteries!
Good Board Games for Kids- By Age
I broke these down by age group… but note that a lot of these games can be played for years! So a game like Karuba says 8 and up… this means start with 8, then go up to 99. Don’t be BOUND to the age on the list, you can slide up or down a bit if you feel like the kid can handle it.
Board Games for 4-5 Year Olds
When you are shopping for Board Games for younger players, Haba and Ravensburger games are a good bet. The components are made to last, they are colorful, the games are simple and engaging… and the kids can play with or without adult supervision. These games teach matching skills, colors, and the fine art of taking turns!
HABA Animal Upon Animal – Classic Wooden Stacking Game Fun for the Whole Family (Made in Germany)HABA My Very First Games – Here Fishy Fishy! Magnetic Fishing Game (Made in Germany)Ravensburger Snail’s Pace Race – Children’s Game
Board Games for 6-7 Year Olds
At this point, kids are reading, and should have the patience to sit still for more than 37 seconds…
You can start introducing memory, strategy, reasoning and other fun and interesting skills into the games. (Disclaimer… I never need to play another game of Monopoly for the rest of my life… HOWEVER! Monopoly Jr. is a great starter game for kids… and like Trouble, you can find it pretty much anywhere for a low price)
Card Games for 6-7 Year Olds
This is also a great time to start introducing Card Games… the cool thing is they tend to be small and inexpensive (so you can gift 2)
Board Games for 8 -10 (and UP)
Now you are starting to look for games that are a bit more engaging. Games with more strategy and planning. Clue is a classic for a reason, it’s THE game to teach logic. I’ve always enjoyed Gobblet (it’s far more interesting than checkers). Our family just started playing Karuba, and honestly, it’s easy to pick up, and is great for kids. Ubongo is not a huge game in the US, but my daughter’s friend (who loves abstracts) enjoys the heck out of it (warning, the scoring is a bit odd, so we skip that part when teaching it). And I firmly believe Splendor will become a classic in time.
Card Games for 8 – 10
A bit of reading is required… but these are more interesting than Go-Fish! Plus.. I’m betting that an adult will play 5 Crowns too.
Board Games for 10 – 12 (and UP)
Ahh… finally, we are getting to board games that even adults will play. But, sticking with the theme, these games are the ones with straight forward game-play and rules that kids can work out alone!
Carcassonne is a great Tile Placement game. And Imhotep is a basic worker placement. Both Imhotep and Adventureland have multiple levels, so as the kid grows up, he/she can make it more complicated. Small World is just fun, and with all the different characters/characteristics, it’s never the same game twice.