Playing board or card games as a family is a good way to get everyone off screens and having fun. It’s a good way to get talking about what everyone has been doing. Weather doesn’t matter, and friends can join in too. Games can build skills or just be for fun.
If it’s too hard to keep people off their phones or tablets, you can add in your own special rules, such as “lose a turn” or other in-game penalty for the person who can’t leave their device alone. Sometimes these rules can be as hard on the parents as the kids.
What you play depends in large part on the age of the players. You wouldn’t play Cards Against Humanity with your kids in elementary school, and you probably wouldn’t make your teenage kids play Chutes n Ladders unless they have a much younger sibling. Here are some general suggestions that we enjoy.
All my kids, from my second grader to my teenager, love to play Googly Eyes. You roll the dice and move to a square to see which lenses you use – easy, medium or hard. You draw a card to see what you have to draw, and put on glasses that make it harder to see while you draw. Your teammates have to guess what you’re drawing. If they guess right, you roll and move again. Plenty of silliness ensues, and you get to blame the glasses for how badly you drew.
With younger kids, we sometimes go easy on the timer, or declare that everyone uses the easy lenses in the goggles.
The classics still work. Monopoly can be a little challenging for the youngest kids, but many will enjoy it well enough with some help. If not, give it a couple years and try again. I like the traditional version better than the electronic banking version – I think a part of the game is dealing with the money directly.
Make sure you have plenty of time to play Monopoly. As you probably know, it’s not a short game. We leave it set up overnight sometimes, which is risky with cats in the house.
The only bad part about Sorry is how seriously younger kids can take it sometimes. It can help to make sure that the older kids don’t target the youngest one too often. Don’t ignore the youngest either – they need to learn that it’s all a part of the game to have someone target them with a Sorry card at an inconvenient time. Sorry is great when you want a game that won’t take too long.
Uno is easy enough for even fairly young kids to play, although they won’t get the strategies very well until they’re older. Uno is highly portable, which is why we like to take it camping.
I usually have two decks combined for game play rather than use a single deck. Shuffling is a bit harder, but you don’t have to do it as often and you can have more people in the game.
Give Me The Brain
Give Me The Brain is one of several games my husband picked up during his college years from Cheapass Games. While some of our favorites, such as Bitin’ Off Hedz, are not currently available, some are.
In this game, you are zombies working in a fast food restaurant with one brain to share among you to get things done. It uses cards and a 6 sided die to determine what you’re going to do. You have to finish your work to win, but you need the brain to do that.
It’s a little complex for young kids, but a lot of fun as they get older.
Kill Doctor Lucky
The goal of Kill Doctor Lucky is clear from its name. You and they other players are competing to see who can kill Doctor Lucky first. The problem is that he is as lucky as his name implies. Once again, this one is best played with older kids, but you’ll have a lot of fun as you do. There will be laughter.
In Quirkle, you make patterns using the color coded blocks to make lines that are the same color or the same shape and earn points. It’s easy enough for ages 6 and up, but fun long past that age. The later part of the game gets complex for younger kids, but you can help them or cut the game short. There’s enough strategy that it won’t bore the adults, always a plus when playing with young children.
Be careful about letting kids play with the squares at other times. That’s how pieces wander off, and you know how hard they are to find later. Not that we’ve dealt with that. Nope. Well, not on this particular game. Might’ve happened to several other games of ours.
Mad Libs have been around for a very long time and have an incredible number of variations. You can find Mad Libs books for various shows and movies your family enjoys, as well as the traditional ones. As soon as your kids understand what adjectives, adverbs, verb and nouns are, they’ll probably enjoy playing this. There’s also a Mad Libs app if you want it to be even more portable. The basic app is free, but you have to buy story packs. It may involve using a device, but at least it can still be social.
My kids love to play The Game Of Life. The careers have changed from what they were when I was a kids, which is a good thing. Some people don’t like the action cards, but it’s fun overall. Expect your kids to roll their eyes if you go all Marvin and say “Life. Don’t talk to me about life,” especially if they get the reference.
Battleship may be for only two people, but it’s a lot of fun, and sometimes it’s nice having a one on one game. We had a little bad luck with our first copy of Battleship – half the ships went missing early, we think due to a younger friend of the kids, but it’s hard to be sure. It’s a nice strategy game that doesn’t take too long to play. As with Monopoly, there is a Star Wars version.
What games do you and your family like to play together?