25 Great Games for Family Game Night
So the packages have been unwrapped, the pies and cookies have been eaten, and one more week away from school beckons!
With much of the hubbub behind us, yet with the holiday spirit in full swing, I am reminded how special it is to be happy and healthy and together this time of year. We often spend so much time rushing around during the holidays, that we overlook the greatest gift we can give our children — our attention. Don’t forget to take a break from your list of activities and to-do’s this holiday and play some games with your kids. (Ask any parent of a graduating senior and they will tell you this special time we have with our kids goes way too fast!)
25 Great Games for Family Game Night
That said, here is a list of our family’s favorite games I’ve organized the into two groups: those for little kids and those for big kids. Then, the teacher in me couldn’t help but group games by the skills they promote. For little ones, games can be a great way to practice fine or gross motor skills, social skills and taking turns, and learning about cause and effect. For older kids games can expand strategic thinking and problem-solving skills. Kids and adults of all ages can exercise their creativity while reinforcing math facts and building vocabulary.
Games to Play With Little Kids
- Twister (5+ years) – Come on, this game is ridiculous… ridiculously fun! What kid can resist the entertainment of watching Mom or Dad stick their butt in the air while trying to put left hand on green and right foot on red… all very un-gracefully I might add. 🙂
- Pick up Sticks (4+ years) – Great for fine motor skills. Older kids practice mental math while adding up their scores.
- Jenga (3+ years) – Great for future Master Builders! Also reinforces cause and effect and fine motors skills for young ones.
- Guess Who (4+ years) – My kids love this game which is really good for younger kids.
- Sorry (4+ years) – A great board game, and a regular on our Family Game Night roster. My kids just LOVE to beat me!
- Go Fish (3+ years) – Even little kids can play this fun game while learning colors and taking turns. There are lots of different versions out there, but the one shown above is definitely a family favorite with colors like “Warm Red” and “Eggplant”.
- Uno (5+ years) – I love this game… just not when I have 20 cards in my hand.
- Swap (7+ years) – This is basically a variation of Uno, except it gets a bit more evil when you can swap your ridiculously large hand for that of another player. Lots of groans and laughs here!
- Candyland (3+ years) – Of course!
- Spot It (4+ years) – There are a variety of games you can play with this picture matching card game. And even though it’s simple, it’s a great game for little ones to play with big kids or adults.
- Chutes and Ladders (3+ years) – A great board game for little ones. This game is a great way to build early skills in addition and subtraction. It was also one of the first games we used to talk about winning and loosing (and being a good sport!)
- Ladybug Game (4+ years) – This game was actually invented by a kid (!) Addition and subtraction skills are reinforced… And it’s so fun!
- Connect Four (4+ years) – Can you get four in a row? This is great strategy game.
Game Night Favorites for Big Kids
- Balderdash (11+ years) – This game requires a decent vocabulary an an ability to make stuff up. I knew this game as “Dictionary” when I played it at parties using an old dictionary in my early 20’s. This is game gets even better if you are good at making s!*# up while bluffing about it.
- Story Cubes (5+ years) – Play by the rules or just make stuff up… it’s always lots of fun. Great for getting your creative writing juices flowing!
- Taboo (9+ years) – This lists the game age as a bit older, but you can always skip words you don’t know… And it’s oh so fun to buzz that buzzer! I only wish I could carry that thing around with me when I’m listening to ridiculous news reports…
- Apples to Apples (7+ years) – This game is really geared for older kids. That said, my kids love language and have enjoyed playing this fun word game for a long time with assistance on the words they don’t know.
- Pictionary (7+ years) – Super fun! Just don’t ask me to draw an armadillo.
- Jacks (7+ years) – I don’t know if this is technically a game or a toy, but I listed it anyway. The rules are simple, but it takes quite a bit of skill to bounce that ball and pick up scattered jacks. It’s a classic.
- Charades (5+ years) – You don’t have to buy a packaged game, especially if you are playing this game with little kids. Just make up your own clues.
- Cranium (11+ years) – Can’t decide which game to play? Do it all: draw, sculpt, hum, pantomime… test your knowledge about the world! Kids need to be old enough to understand cultural references. That said, there is also a kids version which I’d like to try. (Add alcohol to adult games and the creativity can definitely get a little out of hand!)
- Life (5+ years) – Try to become a millionaire! As with Monopoly, with money is a great way to reinforce mental math skills.
- Pass the Pigs (7+ years) – This game packs up into a nice little pouch which makes it great for traveling. Some math skills are reinforced but mostly it’s just fun.
- Monopoly (7+ years) – As anyone knows who’s played this game, it can last a while. That said, kids learn some basic concepts of business.
- Clue (7+ years) – This is a good game for teaching problem-solving and strategy . Older kids will have more fun when they learn how to make guesses to throw other players off track.
- Shut the Box (5+ years) – This game can go in either category. Great for reinforcing simple addition and subtraction of numbers under ten.