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Looking to have a family game night? Here are fun family board games for all ages, from little non-readers all the way to mom and dad. Our family has enjoyed these games and we bet your family will too!
I'll arrange these board games in order of age suitability, from youngest to oldest.
Best easy board games for the youngest kids - suitable for non-readers
A big dividing line when playing games is not purely age but ability to read. Here are the top family board games for non-readers - for example preschoolers and other young children.
As an added bonus, the rules to these tend to be very simple, so these are easy games that everyone else can learn in an instant too - no complex rules! Speaking from experience, nothing puts a damper on family game night more than an obligatory 20 minute session of figuring out the rules before playing. These easy board games work wonderfully for everyone - whether they're age 3 or 30. Your child doesn't need to be able to read to play these fun board games for kids! They're all available on Amazon - you can press on any of the images or links to go to the Amazon page for that game.
Spot It is in the number one position for a reason - it's still just as much fun for the older crew as for the youngest. I've even played it with all adults and it was just as enjoyable for all adults as it is for young children. This is rare for games for non-readers.
Spot It is a competitive matching game for 2 to 8 people - and it's completely different from the memory game. In Spot It, the aim is to be the first to match a card from your hand to another card.
There is no luck in this game - every card is able to be matched. The thing that makes it tricky is that the matching symbols may be bigger or smaller in one card versus its matching card, and the symbol might be rotated in a different direction, so you really have to use your brain. You'd think this would be a game where the fastest person to grab wins, but actually some of the matches are really hard to spot. Even with all adults, it takes a while longer than you'd think for anyone to spot the match.
There are several different modes of play in Spot It which are described in the rules, so you can really get several different games out of it. Each of these presents its own challenges. In the simplest mode of play you win by making the most number of matches after all the cards run out.
Spot It really makes everyone look and think - it's the perfect game for helping develop visual and mental acuity.
If you only have the space or budget for one game for your household, get Spot It - it's that good!
Suspend sounds so simple from the adult point of view that you might be tempted to dismiss it, but I can attest that it's the most popular game in our household when it's just the kids playing together. In Suspend, you have balancing sticks of different colors that you add to a framework. There is a die to roll that shows with a color dot what color stick each player needs to add next, which adds an element of surprise to it. It's perfect for non-readers. It's designed for 1 to 4 players, although you could play it with more people - you just don't get as many turns each before it ends.
Suspend is a much more interesting alternative to Jenga because it offers a bit more creativity in your strategy. Even as an adult, I much prefer Suspend to Jenga. Added bonus: it's so much easier to get the Suspend pieces back into the container afterwards than the Jenga pieces.
You win by being the last person to add a stick before the next person accidentally crashes it down.
As an added bonus, Suspend helps develop fine motor skills and planning skills. Although it is a competitive game, there is an element of co-operativity in the sense that everyone wants to see how big and interesting the structure will get before it crashes. The crash is not as loud or scary as Jenga, making Suspend perfect for very young or anxious kids.
Suspend is a reliably popular game for playdates and after school hangouts - much better for them than playing electronic games, and something the kids will still really enjoy.
Candyland is a traditional favorite that requires no reading. You probably already have it, but if you don't, you should get it. It's not the most exciting game for adults, but for many kids it might be their first board game they learn to play. It's based purely on luck, so there is no strategy. You win by making it to the end of the board first. You move ahead based on what color card you draw.
Most kids grow out of Candyland by age 6 or so, but there's no law saying you have to stop playing it by then! If you need to include a preschooler in a family board game, Candyland is a good choice. It's for 2 to 4 players.
Everyone knows the memory game, and it's perfect for any number of players of all ages. No reading is required, just matching two images on picture cards. The winner is the person with the most cards after all cards have been matched. You can play this with almost any number of people, but it's best for up to 6.
You can have plenty of choices when it comes to memory game cards. There's sets with various types of images - animals, tourist locations, and so on. If you have very young children I recommend getting ones that are made of sturdy material, for example very thick board that can't easily be folded or damaged. Wooden ones are perfect but would be more expensive.
Best board games for elementary school aged kids and up
These are games we recommend for young readers. A bit of reading is required in all these games, but everything is pretty easy - no complex rules.
Sushi Go is a super cute card game with simple drawings and fun colors in a sushi theme. You're trying to collect specific cards - you pick what you want to collect. It's for 2 to 5 players.
Cards are worth a certain number of points, and certain combos of cards will earn you more points. The best part is, everyone picks your favorite card from their hand, places it down to earn points, and then everyone passes their entire hand to the next person. And so on, until everyone's hand is used up. At the end of the round, the person with the most points wins. It's great for kids who want to make their own decisions, you're not railroaded into anything in this game.
It's fun for young players because there's not too many words and there's some planning but still quite a lot of luck and randomness. The fact of passing the rest of your hand along is quite fun, it's a game you can't get overly serious with because you never know what cards will come your way. If you're looking for a game that will appeal equally to children and adults, I highly recommend Sushi Go. It's one of our favorite board games for families.
Sorry is a well-known favorite for 2 - 4 players. Its simple strategy appeals to elementary school age children: to win, you need to get all 3 of your counters home first. It sounds simple, but it's not that easy depending on what card you draw! There is some strategy involved (which of your 3 pieces to move) yet it's straightforward enough that it won't overwhelm young kids.
Game of Life
Any adult playing The Game of Life is able to tell how unrealistic it is compared to the real world. That said, for some reason, kids just love this game! My kids loved the idea of choosing their own path, owning property, etc.
The winner is the one with the most money after everyone's playing token (a minivan) gets to the end of the game. Most of the game is based on luck, but it's so lighthearted and fun that the lack of strategy is not an issue. This game is for 2 to 4 players.
Best board games for middle schoolers and up
For middle schoolers and up, you'll want games that are fun yet are able to offer more in the way of strategy. These are the games we recommend for these older kids:
Galaxy Trucker is awesome if you have kids who have a short attention span but still want strategy. The game moves quickly onward to a final resolution, it's not something that takes ages. It's for 2 to 4 players.
Each player is a trader of cargo. To begin, each person constructs a spaceship out of parts, which they create on their playing board in front of them. Everyone then goes on the journey, picking up cargo (hopefully) if it is available. Unfortunately, there are also events such as meteor showers which will damage your spaceship. You might even lose bits of your ship or your cargo when that happens. If you built your spaceship well, it has a better chance of withstanding these events. Once everyone reaches the destination, they can sell their cargo. The person with the most money at the end wins.
There is quite a lot of strategy in building the spaceship, but the remainder of the game has some luck involved, so it's a nicely balanced game which goes over well.
Munchkin is a game for 3 to 6 players that I'd describe as mostly strategy with a social aspect and a bit of luck thrown in too. It's a card game loosely based on dungeon and dragon type of games - the cards are hilarious. Munchkin can be quite an adversarial game if you want to play it that way, so if your crew love to argue then they'll love this game. You can channel their arguing into a positive outlet!
The downside is that it can take quite a long time to play since it's possible to go backwards. But if you have a chunk of time to fill and a bunch of kids, it'll go over well.
The winner is the person who reaches level 10 first. It's not as easy as it sounds though!
Are your kids into coding or robots? Or are you looking for a truly educational game where your child has no idea they're even being educated because it's so much fun? Then Robo Rally is what you want. It's a board game for 2 to 6 players where you each have your own robot. The aim is to arrive first at a certain point on the board.
It's heavy on strategy, although there is a small element of luck involved with the cards you have. Even with bad cards though, you can still make progress - it teaches troubleshooting and figuring out a way to solve the problem with the resources you have. Everyone will wind up with bad cards at some point during the game so you're all on an equal playing field.
Getting your robot to drive to the end spot on the board is much more difficult than it first sounds! The tricky part is that each player has to lay out multiple commands ahead of time - and if you don't plan correctly, your robot might be heading off in a completely opposite direction to what you had intended. This also makes it quite hilarious. It's an awesome learning tool and a lot of fun for kids and adults alike. You do need quite a bit of planning skills for Robo Rally - for example the need to think multiple moves ahead, so that's why it's for middle schoolers and up.
If you have 6 or more people, CodeNames is the game for you. It's a fun and exciting word game played in teams. Each round is played by both teams, and a team wins by being first to guess all their words correctly. It's a really funny game where you can expect a lot of laughter. You shouldn't be too serious with this game or you'll lose all the fun of it, so don't over-think, just enjoy.
The main reason it's for older children and adults is that you need a somewhat decent vocabulary. It's educational because you really need to think about words and their meanings and it makes you group words according to their meanings or their connotations.
Ticket to Ride
The final game listed here is Ticket to Ride. You probably know of the app version of Ticket to Ride, but the board game came first. It's for 2 to 5 players, and you build up a network of railroads. Your aim is to successfully connect up certain routes - but it becomes quite tricky because other people are competing to connect up their (often conflicting!) routes. The longer your route, the more points you get. You can create as many routes as you want until the rail car pieces run low. There are other ways you can earn points too, but that's the main gist of the game.
The winner is the person with the most points once most of the rail car pieces have been used up.
Ticket to Ride is mostly strategy with a bit of luck. It's very popular across a lot of ages and a lot of people, so it's a solid choice - you can't go wrong with it.
For ages middle school and up, where they can handle more in the way of strategy but still want the game to be a ton of fun, you're looking for Galaxy Trucker, Munchkin, Robo Rally, CodeNames, and Ticket to Ride.
These fun board games for the family are perfect for your next game night. I also recommend having one or more of these on hand for playdates or as an after-dinner activity when relatives come to visit. And I've got kids and adults covered - these are the best family board games for all ages. They're all available on Amazon - you can see pricing by tapping or clicking on any of the links above.