Five Great Game Recommendations for Kids

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My family loves to play games: party games, board games, strategy games, and cards games. We love them all. Who better to give you game recommendations for kids than a family of gamers.

Yes, we are a gamer family.

At our house, we have family game night often. It’s not a set day of the week, but it happens often depending on Brian’s work schedule. Brian and I have both always loved games, and many of our “dates” in college revolved around playing board and card games.

Game recommendations for kids

It was natural that games would continue to be important in our family and whether our daughters like it or not they’ve become gamers too. So far, Cassidy has not resisted our love of game playing and only time will tell with Amelia.

Our love of games, also means that we own A LOT of games.

A wall full of game recommendations for kids

In fact one year, I put a moratorium on any news games in our house for Christmas.

Guess what happened that year. . .

There was a box under the tree

Darn that Santa, he never listens to anything I say.

Since my moratorium doesn’t work, I have at least tried to convince Brian that the game section of our house can’t grow any. This means that if a game comes in, one has to go out to make room for it on the shelf.

Given all of this experience and knowledge with games, I thought I should put it to good use.  Therefore, I want to share my top picks for games to play with kids.

Top 5 Game Recommendations for Kids:


I would venture to say that this is the game that is played most often in our house. When it is Cassidy’s turn to pick the game, you better believe Life is what she will choose. It’s a classic game that has undergone some changes from the game you played as a child. You may find that the spinner annoys you because it never seems to stay on, especially with little kids. This hasn’t changed since we were kids, but you can always exchange the spinner for a 10-sided die. If you’re not a big gamer, you may not have even realized the varying amounts of dice. Trust me they exist.

Life is good for ages…. And it takes approximately 30-45 minutes to play depending on the age of the children and how focused everyone is on the game (no distractions in the background- television, babies, cookies baking, etc.)

Ages: 9+ (Cassidy has been playing since she was 6)

Number of Players: 2-6 people

Approximate Playing Time: 45 minutes

Ticket to Ride

(Spiel des Jahres winner)

I believe this is the gateway game into all strategy games. I searched and searched for this game years and years ago when it was new to Brian for Christmas. My parents finally found it for me at a small game shop. Luckil the game is now very popular and can be found on Amazon and even on the shelves at Target. Ticket to Ride came out in 2004 and in that same year won “Spiel des Jahres.” That is the Best Board Game of the Year. We have many, many of the Spiel des Jahres winners over the years, and they never disappoint us.

Cassidy shows off one of our top game recommendations for kids

Ticket to Ride is a great family strategy games. You collect colored train cards (there are symbols on each card for the colorblind), and you build train routes across the United States. You earn points for every route you complete and for placing trains. To accommodate a younger child who may struggle with the geography and continually locating their routes, you can place a marker (dime) on the board for the routes they are trying to complete.

The strategy comes into play when deciding what route to take if you should block someone else’s routes, and when to attempt more routes. If you love the original Ticket to Ride, there are other versions in other countries that add in extra challenges.

Ages: 8+

Number of Players: 2-5 people

Approximate Playing Time: 30-60 minutes

Ice Cool

(Spiel des Jahres winner)

Brian bought this game and surprised us all on the first snow day of the 2016-2017 school year. Lucky for him, because there was only one snow day that year. We all ended up having the day off, and we stayed home and played this game for quite a while.

The idea for this game is that you are a penguin in school and you are trying to collect fish before you get caught in the hallway by the hall monitor. The rules are quite simple. The game is not a typical board game where you sit around the table quietly and calmly. When we play this game, we all end up on our feet and rotating around the room for our turns. You use your fingers to flick your penguin around the board. Caution: players may get loud and excited as they take their turns.

Ice Cool is good for all ages above 3 (choking hazard). The little ones may not play correctly, but they can have fun flicking/pushing their penguin through the rooms. It takes approximately 15 minutes to play this game.

Ages: 6+ (Amelia has played- not accurately, but she participated)

Number of Players: 2-4 people

Approximate Playing Time: 30 minutes

Break the Safe

Brian and I got this game many years ago – yes before we even had kids. I told you were really into board games. The game is geared towards kids, but competitive adults will like it just the same. As a team, you are racing against the clock to collect all the keys to the safe so that you can open it and collect what’s inside. You have to move around the game board trying to find the keys (some tokens are blanks) without being caught by the guard or the guard dog. The amount of time on the clock depends on how many players you have. This game continues to be fun every time you play because you are always trying to be faster.

Ages: 8+ (Cassidy has been playing since she was 6)

Number of Players: 2-4 people

Approximate Playing Time: 30 minutes or less

Candy Land

As a serious board game family, it was hard for me to admit that Candy Land should be on this list, but it’s well-loved in our family.  There is no strategy to the game, it is complete luck and can end in tears if you get the Gingerbread Tree right when you were nearing the end. However, a top 5 game recommendations for kids list would not be complete without it.

Candy Land provides a great opportunity to introduce board game playing to the youngest members of your family. The little ones will learn how to wait their turn and good sportsmanship. We are firm believers that if you start to complain or are a bad sport the game is over, and we don’t play any more games that day with you. Amelia at age three can play very well, and it helps her to work on her colors and counting (when she gets a double red).  Brian and I may not love the game itself, but we love that it allows us to share our love of games with Amelia.

Candy Land: a classic game recommendation for kids

Ages: 3+

Number of Players: 2-4 people

Approximate Playing Time: 15-30 minutes


You can pick one of these games up for your next rainy day, family game night or holiday gathering. They also make great gifts. Imagine the hours of fun that you’ll have sitting around the table playing a new game for years to come.


What other game recommendations for kids do you have?

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1 thought on “Five Great Game Recommendations for Kids”

  1. Great list Meg!
    Our house would have to pick Sorry over Candy Land. Isaac really enjoys drawing the sorry card and sending one of his parents “home”. That’s his “strategy” along with lots and lots of giggles. Can’t wait for some game time at Christmas!!

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