As a mother of 3 teens I have played a lot of games over the years. When my kids were young it was difficult to find fun games to play together as a family. My goal was to find games that were fun for both kids and adults. The main goal for family games is to keep play simple to learn, but complex enough to entertain all ages. There are many fun games to play with all age groups. Here are some of my favorites.
Best family games for preschool aged kids-Ages 3-5 years
This is a difficult age group to find fun games to play with. Candyland, Chutes and Ladders, or Hi Ho Cheery O are mind numbingly boring. I also can’t tolerate the simple card game war. After much research, I did end up finding a few fun games to play with preschool aged kids. My babysitters also gave some good suggestions.
Hullabaloo is actually a fun game to play with kids aged 3 and up. It was honestly my favorite for this age group. Families can hop, skip, crawl, jump and dance! The game comes with a bunch of different shaped pads with pictures on them, to place on the floor. The “announcer” will tell the players to “hop like a frog to a triangle”. Eventually the “announcer” will declare a winning pad, if anyone is on that pad they win and get to do a dance. It’s really fun!
Spot It Jr.
Spot it Jr is a fast paced card game with simple rules for kids 4 and up. It’s quick for their short attention spans. All you have to do is spot the picture that is the same on two cards. This is a great game for babysitters. Our best babysitter had it in her bag of fun that she always brought over.
Memory This game is pretty simple. You just place all of the cards face down. Then you take turns flipping 2 cards at a time, if they match you keep the match. If they don’t match, you flip them back over and try to remember what they were so you can make a match on your next turn. Kids are surprisingly good at this game.
Go Fish This is a very simple card game that can be played with a regular deck of cards, but it also comes in many different themes, sure to delight any preschooler.
The rules are simple: deal out 7 cards per player, then spread out the rest of the cards in the middle to make the fishing pond. The player to the left of the dealer starts by asking another player for all of their “kings” if the player succeeds in obtaining kings, they keep going until they ask for something another player can’t give them. That player will say “go fish” and the player draws a card from the “pond”. The object is to get 4 of a kind. Once a player has 4 of a kind they lay those cards face up in front of them. Once all of the cards have been laid down the winner is the player with the most cards in front of them.
Old Maid This game can be played with a regular deck of cards, but also comes in old maid decks with fun themes. If using a regular deck you just deal out all of the cards except one (usually a queen). Each player removes all of the pairs from their hand and places them down in front of them. Then the dealer offers their hand face down for the player to their left to choose from. If that player makes a match, they lay it down in front of them, then they offer their hand to the next player. The next player draws a card and play continues until all cards are matched except the old maid. The player left with that card is the old maid.
Best Family games for early elementary aged kids – Ages 6-8
There are a lot more really fun games to play as a family once your children are all over 6. Mostly because many fun games require reading to some extent. A few games from the preschool age are still appropriate for this age group.
Uno Roboto is a really fun spin on regular Uno. It comes with a robot that helps with game play. Each player records their name into the robot. Throughout play the robot calls players by name asking them to do things like discard 2 cards, or give all their yellow cards to another player. Sometimes the robot even instructs players to give each other different names.
SkipBo or Uno
Skip Bo or Uno These classic games have simple rules and are still fun even for adults. They are small and inexpensive. Easy to take on trips. Always a good time.
Throw Throw Burrito
Throw Throw Burrito is a crazy family card/dodgeball game. It is very competitive and fast paced. Play is similar to spoons because the cards are passed from one player to the next with each player attempting to make a matched set of 3 cards. Some of the sets cause players to grab the soft burritos and attempt to hit one another with them. It is a very active game, great for kids with lots of energy!
Best Family Games for late elementary aged kids-Ages 8-10
Finally your children are ready for fun games to play with a little more complexity. A little more math and reading will be required. More complex games can also be much more fun! Here are some of my family go to favorites.
Squirrels is a card game that is simple to learn and very fun to play. We stumbled upon this game because my daughter likes squirrels. It was a small and inexpensive game that made a cute stocking stuffer. It ended up being a family favorite. The object of the game is to collect nuts of the same color. There are also wild cards and attack cards that make play fun! You may end up stealing, hoarding, or dumpster diving during your quest to collect your nuts.
Slapzi is a fast paced game. There are several ways to play. Basically you are delt cards with pictures on them. When a clue card is flipped you have to be the first player to match one of your picture cards to the clue card. The faster and more creative you are the more likely you will match all of your cards first. Just be ready to defend some of your creative matches.
Ticket to Ride
Ticket to Ride is a great family board game of strategy. There are several versions of the game including maps from all over the world. Each board includes a map with train routes. Players are delt routes that they have to complete by obtaining the correct amount of train cards to complete each section of the route. Points are earned for each section and for each completed route. Watch out for your opponents stealing the route you need.
Rummikub is a classic game of strategy. It is similar to the card game Rummy but played with tiles instead of cards. Deal out 14 tiles to each player, then you have to match 3 different colored numbers or 3 same colored numbers in order before you can lay them down in the center. Each player can play on other sets of three or use numbers from other sets to make new sets. The object is to get rid of all of your tiles first. Simple but classic family fun.
Poetry for Neanderthals
Poetry for Neanderthals is a fun game where you have to give clues in only single syllable words to get your team to guess the word. If you say a word with more than one syllable someone from the other team can hit you with an inflatable caveman club and you have to choose a new word.
Butts in Space
Butts in Space is a slightly inappropriate butt totally fitting game for this age group. You get to play as a Classy, Hairy, Bow or Butt Butt. You try to collect the most toilet paper before the spaceship is repaired.
Mexican Train is a classic game played with dominos. It gets it’s name from the name of the train that all players can play on. Each player tries to get rid of their dominos first by placing them on their own train or the Mexican train by matching up the numbers. It’s easy to learn and fun to play. For full rules check out this site.
Best Family Games for Middle School Kids-Ages 10-13
Now for the real fun. Once you have middle school aged kids you can add more strategy and a little more offence. More fun games to play indeed.
Telestrations is a very fun spin on the classic telephone game. Instead of whispering something into the ear of the next player, you start by drawing a picture. The next player flips the page and writes down what they think the drawing is, the next player draws a picture and so on. The result is often something that is not at all what the original clue was, and lots of laughs!
Catan is an intense strategy game. The object is to gain the most points by building roads, settlements and cities. It’s best suited for people who love strategy games.
Codenames is a game of clues, quiet and calculating. 25 cards with single words are laid out on the table. Players take turns giving single word clues to try to get their teammates to guess the correct words. Be careful not to guess the wrong word, it could mean points for the other team or an instant loss.
Apples to Apples
Apples to Apples is a crazy game of comparisons. Each player is delt cards with words on them. A main category card is flipped over. All players except the judge chooses a card from their hand that relates to the main category card. The judge chooses which card they think best relates to the main card. The round winner keeps the card. The judge changes each round. It’s fun to see the crazy comparisons other people choose.
Exploding Kittens is a cut throat card game. It’s fun to play, but you do have to be a little bit mean to other players. In order to win all of the other players must draw an exploding kitten card with no way to prevent the explosion from happening. Once a player draws an exploding kitten they are out. Last player wins!
Dutch Blitz is a fast paced card game. the rules are simple, but in order to win you have to be fast. Or at least faster than everyone else. The object is to be the first player to get rid of all of the cards in your blitz pile.
Scattergories is a category game. There are several lists that come with the game. You choose a list, them roll for a letter. Start the timer and everyone must come up with a word starting with the selected letter for each item on the list. Double words like “Peter Pan” are worth extra points. Be careful not to choose the same word as another player, or there will be no points for either of you.
Happy Little Dinosaurs
Happy Little Dinosaurs is a disaster avoiding game. You try to avoid disasters by getting other players to take the hit. You can also gain points for being the best disaster avoider. The cards are really cute, each one with adorable descriptions, yes even the disasters are creative and humorous. A really fun game to play with family or friends.
Best Family Games for High School aged Kids-Ages 14-18
Beyond Balderdash is is a game of fibbing. What can be more fun than making up definitions, weird laws, Acronyms, movie plots or reasons for fame? Give it a try and you will not be disappointed. You will probably get a few laughs too.
Coup is a game of strategy, lies and influence. The object is to be the last player with a character card, your influence. In order to win you may have to use another character’s influence, which is perfectly legal if you get away with it. Who is the best liar in the family? Find out by playing Coup.
Here to Slay
Here to Slay is a competitive strategy game that involves slaying monsters and collecting heroes. There are two ways to win, slaying 3 monsters or collecting all 6 types of heroes. Watch out for your opponents who are all out to stop you!
The Resistance is a game of deception. Sometimes you have to lie to get others to trust you. Each player is secretly assigned a role, either an operative or a spy. Good guy or bad guy. Either way you try to convince the group that you are indeed good and trustworthy. Lots of accusations and pleas for trust ensue each round as players attempt to work together or secretly against each other to win!
Taboo is a word guessing game with certain words that are taboo and cannot be used to describe the word you want your team to guess. If a player uses a taboo word an player from the other team will buzz them and they must move on to the next word. The team with the most guess words wins.
Dominion is a deck building game with plenty of expansions to keep the game interesting. What I love about this game is the endless changes that keep the strategy changing every time you play. The base game set comes with 25 different cards that can be swapped in and out for each game. Each game will use only 10 of the base cards. There are 3 different victory card types and 3 types of treasure, that are used in all games. Additional base cards, victory cards and treasures are available in expansion packs. The fun never ends.
Fun games to play with a standard deck of cards
Spoons is a easy card game to play with young kids. The rules are simple, it’s fast paced and lots of fun! All you need is a regular deck of cards, at least 3 people, and one less spoon than the number of players you have. For example: if you have 5 people, you will need 4 spoons.
How to play spoons
Deal out 4 cards to each player. The object of the game is to get 4 of a kind. The dealer starts by drawing a card, they can choose to keep it or discard it or another card to the person to their left. The next person picks up the card and discards to their left. The cards continue to round the circle until someone gets 4 of a kind. When they do, they grab a spoon. Once a player takes a spoon, all of the other players can grab a spoon. The player who does not get a spoon, gets an S. Each time a player does not get a spoon they get another letter until they have spelled SPOON. Once they spell SPOON, they are out.
Trash is a game that can be played with a regular deck of cards. If you have more than 2 players use 1 deck for every 2 players.
How to play Trash
Each player is delt 10 cards (2 rows of 5) face down cards in front of them. The remaining cards are placed in a draw pile in the middle.
The object of the game is to get all 10 cards in front of you flipped over in order Ace-10. Jacks are wild. Kings and Queens end your turn. The dealer starts by drawing a card from the top of the deck. If it is an Ace or 2-10, they replace the corresponding card in front of them, with the correct number face up. If the card they replaced can be used for another card in front of them, they can continue to use them until they end up with a King, Queen, or a number they don’t need. They then discard face up. The next player can draw from the discard pile or the draw pile. Continue until one player has A-10 face up in from of them.
Collect all of the cards and re-deal. The player who won the previous round gets 1 less card. Each time a player wins a round they get 1 less card until one player only has 1 card and replaces it with an Ace or Jack.
Euchre is my favorite card game. I do understand that it is a midwestern game, but I think anyone could enjoy it if you try. In Michigan learning to play Euchre is a rite of passage.
How to set up for Euchre
Start by removing all cards less than 9 from the deck, leave the aces. The object of the game is to be the first team to gain 10 points. Euchre is played with only 4 players, 2 teams. Your partner sits across from you. It is a trick taking game.
How to deal in Euchre
The dealer deals 5 cards to each player going around only twice: dealing 1-4 cards at a time to each player each round. For example deal 2-3-2-3 then 3-2-3-2. Then the dealer sets down the remaining cards and turns over the top card.
How to play Euchre
After the deal, the player to the left is the first to choose weather or not he/she wants the suit of the flipped up card to be trump. If he/she wants it to be trump, they tell the dealer to pick it up. If they do not want that suit they say pass. All player in turn choose this way. If the dealer is told to pick it up, or chooses to pick it up, they must discard a card so they only have 5 cards. If nobody wants that suit to be trump the dealer passes by turning over that card. Now the person to the left is the first to choose any other suit to be trump, or pass. Each player is given this option until trump is selected. If nobody chooses the dealer must choose trump.
During the trump selection phase any player can choose trump and choose to go alone. In this case their partner does not play and they must win at least 3 tricks to score a point, but if they win all 5 they can score 4 points.
The player to the left of the dealer leads a card. All other players must follow suit, unless they do not have that suit, then they can play any card including trump. The trick is won by the highest card played
Rank of cards in Euchre
The highest card is the Jack of trump also called the right bower. The second highest card is the jack of the same color as trump also called the left bower. For example if spades is trump the jack of spades is the highest card followed by the jack of clubs, then the Ace, king, queen, 10 and 9 of spades. For non-trump suits Ace is the highest followed by King, Queen, Jack, 10 and 9. But Trump always beats non-trump.
How to score in Euchre
- Team get 3-4 tricks = 1 point
- Team gets 5 tricks = 2 points
- Team gets 3 or more tricks when the other team called trump (a Euchre) = 2 points
- Lone hand wins 3-4 tricks = 1 point
- Lone hand wins 5 tricks = 5 points
Spades is another trick taking card game. There are 4 players (2 teams) partners sit across from each other. Use a full deck with or without the jokers. If you choose to use the jokers remove the two red 2’s. The jokers are high, make sure you determine which joker is the highest before you start (usually the colored one).
How to play Spades
The object of the game is to be the first team to score 300 points.
Start by dealing out all of the cards equally to all 4 players. Spades are always trump, jokers highest (if used) then Ace, king, queen, jack and all the numbers in descending order. The player to the left of the dealer leads and all others must follow suit unless they don’t have that suit. Highest card wins the trick. Play until all cards are used. During the first round each trick won is worth 10 points.
After the first round the deal moves to the left and after the cards a delt the team that did not deal has to bid how many tricks they think they can win. The minimum bid is 4. Then the other team bids. Once all bids are in play starts. At the end of each round the count up the tricks and score.
How to score in Spades
- If you did not get at least as many tricks as you bid: loose 10X the number bid. For example bid 4 win 3 -loose 40 points
- Score 10 points for every trick you bid and won and 1 point for every trick you win but did not bid. For example bid 5 win 6 – score 51 points
Up and Down the River (aka: Oh Hell)
Up and Down the River is another trick taking game. You need between 3 and 7 people.
How to play Up and Down the River
The dealer deals 1 card to each player in round one then places the next card face up, the suit of the turned u card is trump. For each subsequent round deal moves to the left and 1 additional card is delt up to 7 cards then back down to 1 card.
Each round players must bid how many tricks they think they will win from zero to the number of cards delt, starting with the player to the left of the dealer. The dealer bids last and his/her bid cannot make the number of tricks bid = the number of cards delt. For example if 1 card is delt to 3 people and the first two players both bid zero, the dealer cannot bid 1, because only one card was delt. In this case the dealer must bid zero.
The player to the left of the dealer leads, other players must follow suit if they have that suit, otherwise they can play any card. Highest card wins. Trump beats other suits, aces are high.
How to Score Up and Down the River
1 point for each trick taken + 10 extra points if you bid correctly. Highest score wins
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualified purchases.