Family game nights will create memories and lots of laughs for you and your kids. Try out these exciting new and traditional games to find one that’s fun for your whole family. Don’t be afraid to change the rules to make the game a better or more entertaining fit for everyone who’s playing.
Games for ages 3-6:
- Be the first to reach the top with Chutes and Ladders by moving pawns up the ladders and down the chutes.
- Race to the castle in sweet Candy Land, where players will meet King Kandy, Queen Frostine and more.
- Dress and match Nancy to the most fashionable outfit in Disney Junior Fancy Nancy: Find Your Fancy.
- Dress up and collect a complete set of jewelry to win Pretty Pretty Princess.
- Be the first player to get a full card with Zingo, a twist on Bingo, where the Zinger dispenses tiles players have to match to their card.
- Make a match and build the tallest stack with Clack!
- Search for hidden objects as you drive through streets, a farm, an airport and a harbor in Richard Scarry’s Busytown.
Games for ages 7-9:
- Race against each other to build crossword grids in Bananagrams.
- Use evidence to find the crime scene, weapon and the killer in Clue.
- Match one of your cards with the card at the top of the deck by color or number to get rid of your hand and win Uno.
- Try to send all your pawns home and get revenge on your opponents with Sorry.
- Complete 10 different phases that require different cards, such as two sets of three, one run of seven or seven cards with the same color, in Phase 10.
- Strategize to get your blocks off the board in time with Deblockle.
- Build a tower without crashing it in Jenga.
- Build houses and hotels on your properties while bankrupting your opponents to win Monopoly.
- Get moving and test your balance and flexibility with Twister.
- Beat your opponent by racing to fill the board with The Genius Square.
- Draw cards and try not to explode in the Russian roulette-like Exploding Kittens.
Games for ages 10 and older:
- Use your laser to eliminate the enemy king in Laser Chess.
- Play as the seeker or as the hider in the flashlight tag game, Shadows in the Forest.
- Travel along the path of life filled with work, family, taxes, unexpected surprises and more in Life.
- Make the craziest and most hilarious comparisons to win Apples to Apples.
- Use the alphabet tiles to make the most complex words with Scrabble.
- Work together to keep the world safe from outbreaks and epidemics with the cooperative strategy game, Pandemic.
- Race to be the first person to sing a song containing the special word to move forward in Spontuneous.
- Impress the king by building landmarks in his domain and beating your opponents in Architects of the West Kingdom.
- Find Harry, Ron, Hermione, Professor Dumbledore and more as you search through the moving maze of Harry Potter Labyrinth.
The Benefits of Playing Games Together
Here are five reasons to start a family game night:
Entertainment without a Screen
Playing board or card games entertains without requiring a working electronic. “Screens are not by definition evil,” says Marie Hartwell-Walker, a psychologist, author and feature writer for PsychCentral. “What is a concern is how much time people spend on screens at the expense of connection with each other.”
Learning Life Skills
Turn family game night into a teaching opportunity, as you can teach your kids life skills, including healthy competition, strategy, taking turns and more. “Regular family game night can establish healthy positive routines, and routines are good and helpful for young children’s development,” says Ted Futris, a professor in the College of Family & Consumer Sciences at the University of Georgia. “It may also help children learn boundaries, rules, social norms, turn-taking and how to interact with each other.”
Engaging as a Family
Family game night can start a tradition of bonding and enjoying each other’s company. “This tradition is an opportunity for connection,” says Futris. “It gives parents the opportunity to listen to their children and hear what’s going on in their life, as there are lots of chances for parents to engage children, not just playing the game.”
Games can help all the members of the family sharpen their brains by engaging their strategic skills, language skills, memory and more. Games will also help younger children develop hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.
Practicing Teamwork and Sportsmanship
By working together, your kids will learn the value of teamwork, strategizing and communicating with each other with the common goal of winning. You can encourage this concept by picking strategy games, where the whole family works together, by pairing the older child with a younger sibling in a game, or by playing games competition-style parents vs. children. Family game nights give children another opportunity to watch how their parents behave. You can set an example and show them the appropriate way to act while winning or losing a game. “Parents are role modeling for their children the values they want their children to emulate and practice in their own lives,” Futris says.
How to Start a Game Night
Start it by announcing it, suggests Hartwell-Walker. “If parents are enthusiastic, little kids will get right on board,” she adds.
Help kids choose the games you’ll play. Or indulge your own nostalgic by telling the kids about a game from your childhood that you’d like to play with them, she suggests.
What if your oldest child thinks they’re too cool to play with their parents and baby sibling? “Reinforce to your older children that as a family, we’re going to do this together. You can sit and play, or you can sit and watch, as this is a time for us to be together,” Futris says.
He also suggests being wary of competitiveness. “As a parent, be mindful of that balance of making something too competitive, as children may lose interest. If it’s too competitive, it’s not fun,” he adds.