There is an old Italian proverb that rings “bend a tree while it is young”. Sure, that goes for teaching kids’ good habits and respect, but this is also the time to teach them the way of the boardgames. Foster a love for board games from a young age and you will enjoy a lifetime of family game nights to come.
Here are the best board games to play with your kids at any age.
- 1. Best for Young Kids: Busy Town (Ages 2-5)
- 2. Best for Early Elementary: Sloth In A Hurry (Ages 6+)
- 3. Best for Older Elementary: Apples to Apples Junior (Ages 9+)
- 4. Best for Middle School: Catan (Ages 10+)
- 5. Best for High School: Pandemic Legacy (Ages 13+)
- 6. Best Board Game for the Whole Family: Dixit (Ages 8+)
Best for Young Kids: Busy Town (Ages 2-5)
Richard Scarry’s Busytown board game is a nostalgia-fueled larger-than-life board game that will be your child’s gateway into the world of tabletop games. This board is probably bigger than most toddlers and playing pieces don’t hold a choking hazard.
It continues Busytown’s legacy as a seek-and-find adventure with a few basic board game principles in the mix. A spinner shows how many spaces to move and the cards are illustrated to include players who can’t read yet.
Best for Early Elementary: Sloth In A Hurry (Ages 6+)
Not all board games follow a linear structure and this is the time to introduce alternative games to kids. Sloth In A Hurry is a hoot and a half for the whole family and young readers will love the fact that they can participate without much help.
The game consists of various cards giving you the “who” and the “what” instructions and a sinner explaining “how”. Players then improv the concept and get the rest to guess. Ever wonder what a penguin making a sandwich in slow motion looks like? Now you will find out!
Best for Older Elementary: Apples to Apples Junior (Ages 9+)
Apples to Apples is a hilarious board game for the whole family, specially designed to include younger members of the family. Many describe it as Cards Against Humanity for the whole family.
The “judge” picks up one adjective card and each player hands them a noun card that they think best matches the adjective. Players then get turns to defend their play, proverbially comparing apples to apples. It forces players to think outside the box and improve their debate skills, all while having a laugh.
Best for Middle School: Catan (Ages 10+)
By now, you have your kids well and truly hooked on board games and it is time to bring out the big guns. Catan has become a staple among many boardgame tables but few people ever consider roping in children for the game. Catan is a surprisingly family-friendly game that is all about building and developing rather than the usual “pillage and conquers” approach of most medieval games.
If your kids seem a bit overwhelmed by the game, consider a round or five of Catan Kids to ease them in. But with some patience, most kids will be able to grasp Catan, making it your new staple at family game night.
Best for High School: Pandemic Legacy (Ages 13+)
Once your kids hit high school, it is time to graduate them onto the next level of board gaming. Legacy games completely transform what they know about gameplay and prepare them for the real world (of board games that is).
Pandemic Legacy is played over multiple sessions which can be anywhere between 12 and 24 sessions. Each time you play, you will try to complete the objective that represents one month in game time. If you fail, you will have one more chance to complete that objective in your session. The game starts like a normal game of Pandemic but soon, viruses mutate, and traveling gets increasingly hard. This might sound a little too familiar by now, but at least here it is all fun and games!
Best Board Game for the Whole Family: Dixit (Ages 8+)
Dixit is the ultimate family-friendly game and players of all ages love to join in. The playing cards are picture based so players don’t have to read to play. Players simply give one-word clues to help each other identify images. It sounds basic, but there is a fine line between gaining points with a good clue and losing it all with an obvious clue. It is good clean fun for the whole family and the better they know each other, the easier it is to play well!