Your little one isn’t so little anymore, and you are ready to introduce more “grown-up” toys. Thinking back on family fun nights, you venture to a local store on the hunt for some new fun and find yourself staring at the wall of board games for young kids.
How do you decide between the vast array of games that are available and marketed to young kids? Some may seem destined for the top shelf of the toy closet, never to be taken out again. Others still may break after one or two uses. Some have complex rules that are difficult or boring for younger children.
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Benefits of Board Games
Board games are well-known for the fun and learning associated with them. Parents and kids spend quality time with each other away from screens..
Studies have consistently shown that board games are positive for other reasons as well. The website Parenting Science lists benefits like detecting patterns, learning deductive logic, planning several moves ahead. Kids also learn the value of being a gracious loser when they or their family members don’t like the outcome of the game.
Plus, board games are a great way for kids to have fun without screens.
Among the list of criteria for what games were included in this list are:
- Playability- how much will your kids want to play? How many variations can they develop to suit their tastes?
- Durability- will the game last, or will a piece be lost or damaged easily by small hands?
- Family Fun- Is the game fun for the whole family, or will you groan when your kids select it for the third time in a row.
This game is a surefire hit. This amusing game is played very much like bingo but played using beginning sight words and images. Taking turns, players use the “Zinger” to pick two Zingo tiles and hunt for a match. The first player to fill their cards wins!
Variations on this game include working toward filling only the four corners, a single line, or other shapes. The cards are also two-sided with varying degrees of difficulty to even the playing field when older children or adults play along.
- Teaches: Language skills, letter, and word recognition
- Ages 4 and up
- Number of players 2-6 (the number of Zingo cards)
This classic game has been around probably since you were a child, and for a good reason. It is fun, easy to learn, and can be played with as few as six cards, or as many as there are pieces in whichever of the countless varieties of this game that are now sold in stores.
- Teaches: Memory skills, visual recognition
- Ages: 4 to 6 years
- Number of players: 1 or more, but four or under is ideal
3. Apples to Apples Junior
Apples to Apples Junior is the simplified version of the popular game for older kids and adults. A topic card is selected, and then the players choose a word from their hand that is related to that topic. Hilarity will undoubtedly ensue as parents and kids alike make connections to the family inside jokes and funny images.
- Teaches: Language skills
- Ages: 8 and up (although younger kids who can read will enjoy it)
- Number of players: 3 or more
4. Hungry, Hungry Hippos
Hilarity is sure to ensure when families play Hungry, Hungry Hippos together. This game is simple in its concept– hit the lever on the back of your plastic hippo to open its mouth. Then, chomp down on as many plastic balls as you can.
Whoever’s hippo is the hungriest is the winner. Despite this simplicity, kids will want to play again and again.
- Teaches: Spatial recognition
- Ages: 4-10
- Number of Players: 2 and up
5. Connect 4
This game is a well-known classic. This is a great board game for young kids who are old enough to stop putting small objects in their mouths. The game is played by dropping colored checker pieces into an upright board. Whoever gets 4 in a row first wins. The youngest kids may enjoy putting their checkers in the slots without worrying over who wins or loses.
This game offers an excellent opportunity for growth over time. Older kids will enjoy the increased challenge as they strategize and think of how to block their opponent. Families can also change the required number in a row to suit their kid’s skill level.
- Teaches: Counting, spatial recognition, logic
- Ages: 4 and up
- Number of players: 2
6. Go Fish
This is likely one of the first games you learned as a child, and your own kids will love it just as you did. But in case you didn’t play this, each player is dealt a small number of cards. The objective is to look for pairs of the same card.
If a player does not have a match for one of their cards, they can ask the other players for one of their cards by asking for the specific number. If that player does not have the card in question, they shout, “Go fish!” and the questioning must take one of the unused cards and hope they get a match.
This classic game is flexible in its design in that it can be played with as simple tools as a deck of playing cards. There are also a wide variety of decks specifically made for this game, some featuring fish or other characters.
- Teaches: Number matching, planning
- Ages: 4 and up
- Number of players: 2 and up
Similar to Go Fish!, UNO teaches young kids colors and numbers. It may take a few rounds of teaching kids the rules and helping them understand the pace of the game, but they’ll get the hang of it very quickly.
There are many versions of UNO now, including an UNO Junior. In this version, players match either colors or animals rather than numbers. If you don’t have this version, even younger kids can play the original version with a little help from an adult.
- Teaches: Numbers, colors, planning
- Ages: 4 and up
- Number of players: 2 and up
Looking for more?
After reading this list full of fun game ideas, you are still looking for more? Join Twin Cities Kids Club for more fun ideas and activities around the Twin Cities. When you sign up for a FREE membership card, your whole family can enjoy exclusive discounts on a variety of events like magic and puppet shows, movies in the park, carnivals, and more.