Remember how you felt when your parents played games with you? For me, it wasn’t so much about the game we were playing but the simple fact that the whole family was participating and having fun together. Creating those memories with your children can create lasting lifetime memories.
Not only is playing with your child an excellent way to bond and connect, but family-style playtime also has many positive psychological and developmental benefits, such as social skills and regulation training, self-esteem building, and physical and mental stress relief.1 As parents, we can build togetherness by cultivating an attitude of play. The big question is: what should we play so everyone can participate?
The Best Family-Friendly Games
Here are some games the whole family can enjoy, both young and old.
Classic Family Games
Let’s face it. There are games that children need to be introduced to simply because it is a rite of parenting passage. There are so many classic games families have played together and passed on from generation to generation. Here is a list of games that are necessities for your household.
1. Chutes and Ladders
This classic game is easy for kids to play because it’s only based on images and numbers — no reading is required! Landing on good deeds, such as gardening and mowing the lawn, means you can move your pawn up the ladders. If you land on a bad deed, like grabbing a cat by its tail, you slide down the chutes instead. The goal is to land on the 100 spot! This game is for ages 4 and up.
2. Hi-Ho! Cherry-O
Hi-Ho! Cherry-O is a fun counting game you can play with your children. Kids learn to add and subtract as they remove cherries from the trees to fill their baskets. This game is for ages 3 and up, as the cherries can be choking hazards for smaller children.
Families have been playing this classic strategy game for years. Arrange your ships on the board, try to avoid enemy strikes, and sink your opponent’s ship to win! Only two people can play at a time, but you can hold a Battleship tournament to get the whole family involved. This game is for ages 7 and up.
Yahtzee is a fun game of chance that involves simple math. Your family takes turns rolling the dice, with everyone trying to score the highest combos. There are 13 rounds total, and the person with the highest score at the end wins! This game is for ages 8 and up.
Monopoly is one of the first games that comes to mind when you hear “board game!” Everyone picks a token and tries to buy, sell, and trade properties to win. You can play this game with up to six players, and it’s for ages 8 and up. Besides the classic version, several variations exist, such as Monopoly Junior: Bluey Edition and Monopoly Ultimate Banking Edition.
This one is for the wordsmiths! Scrabble is another family game night staple that involves building words on the board for the most points. Seeing the longest, most complicated words you and your kids can think of is super fun! This game is also for ages 8 and up.
You can put your family’s drawing skills to the test with Pictionary! This guessing game involves splitting into two teams and drawing pictures based on clues. Your team members will try to decipher your drawing to guess the clue correctly. This game is for ages 8 and up and will create lots of laughs!
Twister is a hilarious game that will help get your kids’ energy out! Everyone takes turns using the spinner to see what color they must place their hand or foot on — all without trying to fall on top of each other! You need two to four players and can play indoors or outdoors. This game is for ages 6 and up.
This is a timeless game where the goal is to get rid of all your dominoes! It’s for ages 8 and up, and you can have up to four players. There’s also a Mexican Train Edition for a fun twist on the classic game that allows up to eight players. You could even eat Domino’s pizza while playing Dominoes for added fun!
10. Connect 4
The object of this game is right there in the name — you need to connect four discs to win! This is a quick game, so you could do multiple rounds with different family members and crown the ultimate Connect 4 victor! This game is for ages 6 and up.
11. Guess Who?
Guess Who? is an exciting game where you try to guess the other player’s mystery person based purely on descriptions! You can only ask “yes” or “no” questions to get clues and determine who the mystery character is. Once you think you know who it is, you can make your guess. But if you get it wrong, you lose! This game is for ages 6 and up.
Outdoor Family Games
There are many benefits to playing outside, which often requires little preparation. Enjoying the outdoors with games is a great way to bring the family together while taking advantage of long summer days. (See also these best outdoor games for kids and families)
1. Play Ball
Whether it’s a game of baseball, soccer, basketball, or dodgeball, it’s easy to get outside with children of any age to enjoy a simple family favorite.
2. Water Balloons
Children love to splash and play with water. And what child doesn’t love to throw water balloons at their parents? This is a fun game that’s sure to include lots of laughs! (best outdoor toys)
3. Hide-And-Go-Seek and Tag
Family Card Games
In my family, all generations love to come together for a good card game. Card games are an easy way to get everyone around the table. There are many games to play, depending on the age group of your children. You can even get a simple deck of playing cards to play easy games with children under age 5, such as Go Fish, War, Rummy, Pig, Snap, and Crazy Eights. Here are some other fun card games for the family:
Who doesn’t love UNO?! It’s a great card game for the family that involves matching colors and numbers. This game is for ages 7 and up, and you can have up to 10 players. There are also many variations of UNO, such as UNO Deluxe, UNO Flip, and DOS!
2. Old Maid
Old Maid is a super easy card game for everyone to play! It’s all about matching colors, numbers, and pictures. Players draw cards from each other’s hands to make pairs while trying to avoid the Old Maid! This game is for ages 4 and up.
3. Memory Games
There are tons of memory games out there for families to play! These types of card games require players to find as many matches as possible. On each turn, you flip over two cards; if they match, you get to keep them! The age recommendation may vary based on the specific game, but this Toy Story 4 matching game is for ages 3 to 5.
From the makers of UNO comes Skip-Bo, another exciting card game! This card-sequencing game requires you to arrange stacks of cards in ascending order (smallest to largest). The first person to use up all their cards wins! Skip-Bo requires two to six players and is for ages 7 and up.
Games That Help Develop Visual and Fine Motor Skills
Playing games helps build skills in children, including developing their fine motor skills. Fine motor skills are achieved when they use and exercise smaller muscles in the hands, fingers, and wrists.2 These are some great family games that help enforce fine motor skill development:
Here’s another family favorite! Operation requires players to extract Cavity Sam’s many ailments and avoid the loud buzzer noise, allowing kids to practice their precision. If players are successful, they collect money — and whoever racks up the most cash wins! This game is meant for children ages 6 and up.
This is another fun game that requires a lot of precision. The whole family can build the tower together, then take turns pulling out individual blocks without knocking over the entire thing! This game can help kids practice using skills and strategies to remove blocks. Jenga is for ages 6 and up.
3. Hungry Hungry Hippos
In Hungry Hungry Hippos, players try to feed their hippo the most marbles! You can also try to get the golden marble first to win! The fun chomping sounds, bright colors, and fast-paced nature of the game will entertain kids. It’s meant for ages 4 and up, and you can have up to four players.
Here’s another fast-paced game that requires players to be quick! Perfection challenges kids to match shapes in the shortest time possible. As the clock ticks down, players must put each piece in the correct spot before the tray pops up. The pressure is on! This game is for ages 4 and up.
This one has a similar concept to Jenga! To set up Kerplunk, everyone can help put the sticks through the tube, then place all the marbles on top. Your family takes turns pulling out the colorful sticks while trying not to let the marbles escape and land in their compartment! Whoever has the least marbles in their compartment at the end wins! This game is for ages 5 and up.
6. Don’t Break the Ice
Here’s another suspenseful game for the family to try! Players use their mallets to tap out ice blocks without letting Philip the Penguin fall through the ice. Your family can take turns challenging each other. It’s super fun, and your kids will love the cute penguin! This game is for ages 3 and up.
7. Ants in the Pants
While having ants in your pants wouldn’t be very fun in real life, that’s the goal of this game! On the count of three, players will launch their ants toward the bunny’s pair of pants to win. It’s harder than it sounds! Ants in the Pants is for ages 3 and up.
8. Legos and Block Building
Building things with your child is a great way to help them improve their fine motor skills! Younger kids will love playing with wooden building blocks of all shapes, colors, and sizes. And older kids can play with LEGO sets to build more complex structures, such as cars and buildings. These building blocks are meant for kids ages 2 and up, while the LEGOs are for ages 4 and up.
Puzzles are also great for family game nights with kids of all ages! Whether you do a simple puzzle or a complex one, your family will have lots of fun bonding while working toward a shared goal. This underwater puzzle is colorful and engaging, and kids can explore their creative and logical sides while trying to put all the pieces in the right place. It’s recommended for kids 3 and up.
Check out more fun learning games that help with development.
Your family game night doesn’t necessarily have to include a board game. You can have a ton of family fun simply by being creative. Here are some popular games that don’t require gadgets and stuff!
1. Family Talent Show
One of the best ways to build self-esteem is to help your child figure out what they are good at. One way to do this (while having fun) is to hold a family talent show. Each family member can have a turn showcasing their unique talents and gifts. You’re sure to have loads of entertainment!
2. Family Dance Party
Do you know why everyone is going crazy for TikTok? It’s because people love to sing and dance. What better way to have fun as a family than crank up the music and dance together? I have solved many bouts of boredom with my children by turning on “Cha Cha Slide” and dancing like a maniac!
3. Would You Rather
This is a game that young school-aged children like to play. It’s always interesting to pay attention to the things children think are crazy wild. As your child grows and matures, this game can get quite entertaining!
Playing games as a family has so many positive benefits! What parents should understand is that it comes down to quality over quantity. Even playing for 15-30 minutes per day with your child can allow you to create so many memories. As we learn to appreciate the value of spending time together, incorporating a family game night is undoubtedly a great way to stay connected and grow your family ties. After all, your children just want to be with you!