We play a lot of games and with the holidays coming up, I thought I would highlight some of our favorites. DD absolutely *loves* board games so we have a huge selection of card games and board games in our cabinets!
I’m going to start with a couple of games that we use regularly in our homeschool, then will highlight some of the games we love pulling out for family game times, and will end with several of the cooperative board games my kids loved as preschoolers. At the bottom of the post, you’ll find a huge list of games that we use regularly.
Since we just finished our chemistry unit I definitely have to highlight Elementeo first!!
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Elementeo Chemistry Card Game: I got this game this summer because we were going to do a chemistry unit this fall. It’s been a great way for the kids to become more familiar with the elements and their characteristics! You can play it several different ways; each is increasingly more difficult. The cards have different elements and each card has creative names and characteristics that correspond with the given element. I’m really happy we got this game and when my friend checked it out when she stopped by, she decided to get one for her family too!
10 Days In Europe: We love this game. We’ve been using this (or the 10 Days in Africa and 10 Days in Asia) game regularly in our homeschool for years. It is a fun way for the kids (and me!) to become familiar with the basic geography of Europe. See a little more about how this game is played at this post:
Dixit: We have both Dixit Journey and Dixit Odyssey. They are played the same way; the cards are different. Right now it looks like Dixit Journey is more expensive than what we paid a few years ago, so I would recommend going with the more reasonably priced Dixit Odyssey. Here is a link to Dixit (International Rules Version).
The Settlers of Catan: Our family (and DD in particular) loves this game. Every time you play, it’s a different adventure as you struggle to get the logs, bricks, wheat and sheep you need to build roads, houses, settlements and gather development cards. We have the 4th version and the quality of the game board and pieces is perfect (I’ve heard that the 5th version isn’t as high quality). We love this game!
Q-bitz: Oh my goodness, I love this game! It brings out the singular concentration and competitive drive in me! I usually challenge the kids to finish a puzzle before I finish two. DD is getting so good at this sometimes she even beats me before I’ve solved one puzzle. I personally adore this game! DD’s favorites are Dixit and the Settlers of Catan, so they had to come first in the list!
Award-Winning Telepathy Game of Strategy and Reasoning: This game requires you to pay close attention and figure out, through process of elimination, just where your partner’s square is. My daughter is really good at this game (she’s 10 now and we’ve been playing it with her regularly since she was 8).
Acuity: This is another game that really challenges you to find patterns quickly. Players race against each other to discover and match hidden patterns.
After setting out the tiles (as you see below), one tile is turned face up (see the card with the red, 2 greens and a blue at the bottom of the picture?). The players have to search for matches. You can find a simple corner match (like in the photo below).
Quiddler: This is a really fun game for 4 or more players. Each round the players are given a certain number of cards (first round=3, second round=4, third round=5, etc.). You take turns either picking up a card from the discard pile or drawing a new card. You have to build word or words gathering as many points as you can each round. Since the words you build are generally 3 and 4 letter words, this is a game that 8 or 9 year olds can play with Grandpa!
Super Big Boggle: with 6 x 6 rows, there are lots and lots of words to find in this extra larger version of Boggle! This is frustrating for younger kids if you are actually “competing” to find the most words, but if you play it in a less competitive way it can be a lot of fun! I would recommend this for 10+ (because of the frustration factor I’ve noticed for the kids when they were a bit younger).
Exploding Kittens: The girls absolutely love this card game! We have brought this on a number of car trips lately! Here’s the description from Amazon:
In this highly-strategic, kitty-powered version of Russian Roulette, players draw cards until someone draws an Exploding Kitten, at which point they explode, they are dead, and they are out of the game — unless that player has a Defuse card, which can defuse the Kitten using things like laser pointers, belly rubs, and catnip sandwiches. All of the other cards in the deck are used to move, mitigate, or avoid the Exploding Kittens.
Set: The Family Game of Visual Perception: The premise of this game is to get a set with the all the same color, shape and number OR all different colors, shapes, and numbers.
See more about it in this post: Set
Chess: We’ve been playing lots and lots of chess. We have a big wooden set that has been in the family for ages. This version over at Amazon, No Stress Chess, has really good reviews as a version to help beginners learn to play. Or, just bring in the older cousin to play round after round with the kids!! My nephew was an amazing teacher and the kids can really hold their own against me (and Hubby)! We even play those giant outdoor chess games whenever we come across them!
I recommend these games for kids 3-6 year old or so.
These three games are wonderful because they are not competitive–no winner or loser. Everyone works together to win the game! When my girls were 4 and 6 they could play them happily together independently.
Hoot Owl Hoot! Award Winning Cooperative Game for Kids: The object is for the players to get all the owls home before the sun comes up. (The sun is at the top and moves across as players come across a sun card.) This is a game like Candy Land which only requires that the kids recognize their colors. They have to fly the owls around the game board from color to color back to their nest before the sun comes up.
Lost Puppies: Award Winning Cooperative Game for Kids: This is another cooperative game where all the players work together to get the puppies home. (I still play it with ED from time to time and she’s 7!!)
Each player takes a turn flipping over a card. If the player flips over a night (star) card it has to be placed on the corresponding number on the game board. Players use a flashlight card to remove the night/star card from the board. To take the puppy home there has to be a clear path (with no night cards in the way).
My kids also liked the Secret Door at this age:
Since we rotate some of these strategy games out on one of the small tables in our homeschool room, I have a list in my planning notebook of all of our games. I’ll share that list here if you want to browse through for some other game ideas.
Disclosure: Please note that links in this post are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase.