Find Fun at Home with Board Games the Whole Family Will Enjoy
Step aside movie night, family game night is back and ready to win.
Game night used to be about Chutes and Ladders, The Game of Life and Monopoly. We still rock these games in our house, but if you’ve ever taken a gander down any store toy aisle, you’ve discovered it brimming with all kinds of board games – from silly to educational.
Board games are a great way to connect families and take a much-needed break from electronics. Not only that, board games can improve math and fine motor skills, along with building cooperation and teamwork.
The board game scene is nothing like it was when you were young. There are now board game stores in Lansing like Game Stop, Replay, Summit Comics & Games, and Evolution Games even has an area dedicated just for kids! There are super cool games down the Target aisle and at Schuler Books and even a Michigan convention where people create community around board games for a whole weekend.
This week I talked with Summit Comics & Games located in downtown Lansing and although they are not open during the Covid-19 stay-at-home order, they recommended some lesser-known games for young kids to try out and order online if you don’t have them. Thanks Summit!
“Lesser known kids games that get overlooked are Rhino Hero: Super Battle and Happy Salmon. Rhino Hero is a dexterity game where you build and climb a skyscraper. Happy Salmon is a fast-paced card game that is over in two minutes.” – Summit Comics & Games
5 Tips for a Successful Family Game Night
1- Let Each Child Pick a Game
No complaining about the choice, each kid gets a chance to pick a game. Every time my daughter has a turn, it’s Ticket to Ride. Not my favorite game, but a deal’s a deal. And, make sure everyone is clear on the rules of the game – especially if you haven’t played it in a while.
2 – Set a Time Limit
Designate game time, say 6:30 PM – 8:00 PM and stick with the allotted time. Otherwise, the game may drag on f-o-r-e-v-e-r. Resume the game the next night.
3 – Ban Cell Phones and Remove Electronic Distractions
Set cell phones and other electronics aside. That way you won’t be tempted to check in between rounds.
4 – Snacks for the Win
Is it really a family game night without snacks? Let older kids prep the snacks ahead of time.
5 – Finally, Be a Role Model
Keep your competitive nature in check. Give kids a chance to try new strategies and figure it out. I’ve been guilty of jumping in to help and not letting my children problem-solve.
Popular Board Games Listed by Age Range
Try one of these board games to jazz up family game night. Who knows, these cool kid-friendly picks may challenge mom and dad too.
Dragon Snacks – (ages 4+) – Wave your hand to magically reveal the treasure in the dragon’s belly. Collect the treasures to win.
Hoot Owl Hoot – (ages 4+ ) – The owls have ventured out to explore the dark forest at night. Players cooperate to help the owls fly back to their nest before the sun comes up.
The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game (ages 3+) – Your forest friends are hungry and need help. Preschoolers learn about colors as they help squirrels find their acorns, as well as matching skills and taking turns.
Go Away Monster! – (age 3+) – Reach into the bag to grab a game piece for your board, but be careful – you could pull out a monster instead.
Animal Upon Animal – (age 4+)- This stack ‘em up game is super easy to learn and fun for even the youngest gamers.
Karuba Junior – (age 4+) – Work together to reach the treasure before pirates hit the island!
Go Cuckoo – (age 4+) – Carefully pull a stick out of the bird’s nest without letting the precious egg fall!
Valley of the Vikings (ages 5+) – Created by kids game pros, Haba, kids can practice their dexterity and smarts in the annual barrel bowling contest.
The Magic Labyrinth (ages 4+) – Gather magical objects in the labyrinth using memory and skill. But watch out! If you run into a wall, you go back to start.
Exploding Kittens Card Game – (age 7+) – Take turns drawing cards and avoid drawing the exploding kitten. All ages will love the quirky and funny illustrated cards. Kids can play on the same level as adults.
Spontuneous The Song Game (ages 8+) No musical talent required. The designated tunesmith announces one word and the race is on to sing (or shout) at least five words from a song containing that word.
Rummikub – (agest 8+) – A family go-to, this game is easy to learn and fast-moving. Players take turns placing numbered tiles in runs and groups, rummy style.
Rush Hour Traffic Jam Logic Game (ages 8+) – The goal is to slide an Ice Cream Truck past blocking vehicles to the exit. Encourages kids to problem-solve. With 40 challenges ranging from beginner to expert.
Rhino Hero: Super Battle – (age 5+) – Sequel to the popular 3-D stacking game Rhino Hero, the Super Battle edition includes the same stacking challenges, plus epic superhero battles.
Outfoxed – (age 5+) – This game of deduction is best played with the kids making decisions and adults playing along.
Qwirkle (ages 6+) – Like Scrabble, with symbols. Build lines of tiles that are all the same color or shape, with no duplicates. This is a game well-suited for families.
Meeple Circus – (age 8+) – Use your collection of colorful meeples to create the most entertaining circus show in this fun dexterity game.
Kingdomino – (age 8+) – Even adults love the challenge of building the best kingdom with domino-like tiles.
Ticket to Ride – (age 8+) – Build train routes for points across North America, Germany, Europe, Switzerland and beyond. Ticket to Ride comes in many variations, each a little different, but all extremely fun.
Tweens and Teens:
Bohnanza – (age 10+) – Trade your way to bean farming greatness as you grow delicious crops like Stink Beans, Chili beans and the elusive Cocoa Bean.
Catan Junior – (ages 10+) Players compete for map positions and barter goods with their opponents.
Codenames – (age 14+) – This party game involves 2 teams. Try to get your teammates to guess the right words, without tipping off the other team.
Dominion – (age 13+) – Race fellow monarchs to create your own Dominion. A popular deck-building game.
Escape Room Game – (ages 15+) Teens learn to keep your cool under pressure. With the clock ticking you have just 60 minutes to solve the clues and escape one of four different scenarios.
Small World – (age 10+) – The world is too small – will you be able to acquire enough land for your civilization? Or will you let it go into decline and choose a new adventure?
Telestrations – (age 12+) – A great party game, Telestrations is a mash-up of illustrations meets the game Telephone. Draw a picture. Decipher your neighbor’s picture. Warning: most participants laugh until tears stream down their face.
The Resistance: Avalon – (age 13+) – This party game involves bluffing and deduction as you battle evil in medieval Britain. Can you figure out who the evil forces are?
Starting your game collection from scratch? Here is a list of kids’ favorites that never go out of style:
Chutes & Ladders
The Game of Life