In search of the perfect family game for young children…

After yet another mind numbing bingo type game involving a spinner that seemed to go on forever we decided we needed to find games that we could play with our then 3 year old son that were not totally irritating for the adults involved. We love boardgames, and as it was pretty clear our son would be expecting us to be his gaming companions for a good few years, we needed to find games we could all get enthusiastic about.

Fast forward a few years and we now have a bookshelf of games, regular family games nights, a game loving 5.5 year old (N) and Little Miss 9 months (obviously not quite playing yet).

Finding games adults and young children can play with a level of challenge and competition (or cooperation) for everyone involved is not easy given variance in experience. We therefore tend to look for one of three things in family games:

1. Adaptability: games where we can tweek the rules to even out the playing field so that we can play competitively straight away. These are also great for playing with kids of different ages/abilities.

2. Games to grow into: where kids learn the basics of strategy, planning ahead, and logical thinking as they play so over time they get to a level of play equal to adults.

3. Chance based games: where the higher ratio of chance minimises any advantages that come with age and experience. Most younger kids games tend to be like this and on the whole they are my least favourite, especially if they go on a bit. But there are some great exceptions, especially card games with quick rounds such as family favourite Too Many Monkeys.

Of course we also get given a lot of games through Birthdays and Christmas so we do end up with some of the more classic kids games: things like Hungry Hippos or Buckaroo. Kids love to play these, but while certainly enjoyable, they’re not exactly games I reach for when it’s my turn to choose what to play. I’d probably classify these as:

4. Classic kids games: Games orientated to kids that are not really challenging for genuine adult play but certainly fun enough to be on the shelves and children really get a kick out of them. They’re also great for when kids come round to play together without an adult.

Having spent hours searching online and reading reviews to find suitable family games to play with young preschool/primary age children, I decided we might as well share what we’ve found to make it easier for other families also on this elusive hunt. Obviously kids competencies vary wildly even if they are similar ages so our experience of what works for us may not work for others, but in this blog we will run through any modifications we’ve played with that seem to work and general pointers about the games we review that may help when choosing family games. In time we may even get in a few guest reviews from families with older kids!

And so as Sherlock would say, “the game is afoot”.

Happy family game hunting everyone.


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