We play A LOT of games. It was our main form of entertainment while we lived on the road, and now that we’re homeschooling, it’s one of the big ways we learn and practice skills from math and reading to geography and logic. I’ve been meaning for a while to post about our favorite games for kids, but in light of COVID-19 shutting down so many schools and keeping people at home, I definitely wanted to get this post up now!
Games are such a fantastic family activity—a way to bond, to learn, to pass long rainy (or quarantined) days. There are games for every interest, every age and every ability.
Our Favorite Card Games
Card games are the BEST for travel. Compact and usually easy to play just about anywhere, we always bring along one or two wherever we go. But these are also the games we play most often at home. Anything from Gamewright is usually a winner. Here are our favorites:
A modern classic that’s easy to adapt to kids as young as 3, but is really fun for adults too.
Switch out cards from your hand until you think you have the lowest score. A great way to work on numeracy. It’s also very quick to play.
We played this game in just about every national park we visited. Fast-paced and fun for everybody. You might have to help younger kids (as in, let them win sometimes) until they get the hang of spotting which image the cards share.
The Scrambled States of America:
We loved the book first, then tried out the game and it’s been a winner too! You’ll need to help non-readers, but it’s a good way to enforce U.S. geography for anyone.
SO much fun, for just two people or for a group. It takes a little time for the younger set to learn what each card will mean for their final score. Recommended for 8+, but our 4-year-old can play on her own and loves it.
Like a very simplified version of Dungeons and Dragons, in which you roll dice to capture monsters. In theme, it’s right up our 6-year-old’s alley.
A classic card-stacking game, this one moves pretty quick so it might be frustrating for very young kids.
Copy That Face:
Same rules as Go Fish, but instead of asking for a specific card, you make the silly face pictured on the card you want. Great for very small kids and an easy one for grandparents (or anyone) to quickly learn and play with them!
Match cards with the same hairstyles, as quick as you can! Easy for kids as young as 3 to catch onto, but it might be tricky for their little hands to manage all the cards.
Board Games for Kids 6 and Under:
Ticket to Ride:
You’ve probably heard of this one; it’s super popular and comes in a million versions. It’s recommended for kids 8 and up, but Graham got really into it at age 5. If your young kids are patient enough to sit through long game-play, you can play on teams and help them learn about strategy, planning, geography, etc., until they’re ready to play on their own.
A classic and a great one to practice number sequencing.
Peaceable Kingdom makes a bunch of cooperative games where everyone plays as a team and there’s no winner. For kids who are new to games or are very competitive, cooperative games are a great way to ease into other kinds of games. Many of the Peaceable Kingdom ones are very similar in their gameplay, so choose the theme your kids will be interested in and just get one.
Snail’s Pace Race:
Another cooperative game where the snails compete instead of the players. A great early game for kids from 2 years old.
Sums in Space:
Practice a variety of math skills, which you can tailor to your kids’ ability.
Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel:
As easy as it gets, this makes a great first board game. The little “squirrel grabber” helps with fine motor skills.
A solo game with increasingly difficult logic puzzles to complete.
Another great solo game with different levels of logic puzzles.
There are two sides to this board; the easier side can be played by kids as soon as they’re identifying letters, and it’s a great way to practice phonics.
There’s a national parks version too!