Games make an awesome gift, whether you’re shopping for the holidays or for a birthday. There are so many games for kids on the market it can be a bit overwhelming and hard to know which ones are worth getting.
With three kids (ages 5-12) we’ve tried lots of games over the years and we find ourselves playing the same ones over and over again. A great game is fair, easy to understand, challenging, fast-paced, and visually beautiful.
Instead of standing in the aisle at the toy store trying to guess which to buy, use this list of 15 of our absolute favorite board games and card games for kids ages 3-10. Thank you to Roxanne, Stella, and Josephine for helping me create this stellar list!
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Rat-a-Tat Cat – This is a card game of strategy and memory with lots of suspense built in. Each player is dealt four cards, but can only peak at two of them. Then it’s a matter of guessing and swapping to see who ends up with the best cards at the end. Fast-paced and fun, we often play this game in the evenings when we have just a little bit of time before bed. Ages 7-10.
Royal Rescue – A knight and a princess are locked in separate towers. Using logic you must help build a rescue bridges to bring them to one another. This wooden logic game is idea for kids in the older elementary grades (although my husband and I find the most advanced puzzles in this game challenging!). Ages 7-10.
Guess Who? – Guess Who? is all about the process of elimination. Does your character have blue eyes? Is he wearing a hat? Ask your opponent yes/no questions and use their answers to figure out which character they’ve chosen. Great for developing visual acuity and descriptive language while having fun. All ages.
Rush Hour – A logic game all about maneuvering your way through traffic, this is a game I totally relate to as a Boston resident. Choose a card (ranging from easy to very challenging) and slide your vehicles around so that the red car can exit the board. A great mind bender! Ages 7-10.
Snail’s Pace Race – This is a perfect first board game. Some kids can play this when they’re two, but three-year-olds really love this game. It’s collaborative so there’s no winner or loser. Instead, you work together to roll the dice and move the snails to the finish line. Ages 3-5.
Timeline – I first heard about this game from a home schooling family and bought it years ago for our history buff eldest child. Kids age 7-10 (and grown-ups) are challenged to put various inventions in chronological order through time. It’s fun and surprising and you don’t feel like you’re learning history even though you are. Ages 7-10.
Orchard – In this non-competitive board game for young children players work together rolling the dice and plucking wooden fruit off trees before the raven gets them. The game pieces are solid wood and beautiful to hold. This game can easily be played by kids who can’t yet read. Ages 3-5.
Set – Set is a game of visual perception. I first played this game with my sister-in-law (it’s awesome for kids and adults alike) and I truly love playing it. Perfect for groups large and small. There are no turns – everyone looking to make a “set” or a trio of shapes that belong together based on color, pattern, and design. So simple and so fun! Ages 7-10.
Zingo – Zingo is like bingo, but with a fun to use dispenser for yellow picture tiles. Perfect for pre-readers who are learning to take turns and understand, in a gentle way, what it’s like to win and lose a game. Having a playdate? Zingo has enough boards for up to seven players. Ages 3-5.
Wig Out – This fast paced card game has charming illustrations that make it fun and enjoyable to play. There is no taking turns in Wig Out. Instead everyone tries to place their cards in matching piles as quickly as possible with the first one done yelling, “Wig out!” Guaranteed to make you laugh. Ages 5-10.
I Never Forget a Face – My five-year-old loves to play this matching game. The rules are the same as playing a memory game (flip two tiles over and see if they match), but the illustrations of children from around the world evoke your imagination and the tiles are very sturdy. This is a quality game for all ages. All ages.
Forbidden Island – Part card game, part strategy game, Forbidden Island works when everyone works together. With great illustrations, an easy-to-learn and unusual style of play, this game is straightforward enough for a new friend or younger sibling to learn and feel included quickly. Encourages collaboration and strategy. Ages 7-10.
Fairytale Game – The most open-ended of the games in this list, the Fairytale Game has players selecting components of a classic fairy tale (hero, villain, magical object, magical helper) and then making up a story to tie them all together. My 12-year-old and 5-year-old love this game equally. Great for developing language and imagination with no competition. All ages.
Busytown Eye Found It – We love Richard Scarry’s Busytown books and the game is incredibly well-designed. An over-sized game board is full of the character’s from Busytown. Players work together to play eye spy and collect food for a picnic before the pigs get it all. The whole family can play this game with the youngest child able to fully participate. All ages.
Catan Junior – The faster-paced cousin of the game Settlers of Catan, this junior version has gorgeous graphics and an easily learned set of rules. A game can be set up and complete much more quickly than in the full version, but retains the engaging story line and strategic thinking. Ages 7-10.
Got a great game to recommend? Tell me in the comments. We’re always looking for something new to try.