9 fun board games for kids

by | Family Games Night

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Introduction

It can be daunting trying to find some fun board games for your kids. There are so many out there and that is why I have put this article together for you. 

Obviously, this is totally dependent on the age of your kid. So I have games broken down for each age group. Each age group will have a few recommended board games that you can buy.

Here are my recommended fun board games for kids of all ages. From owning their own orchard and defending off cheeky crows through beautifully crafted Wingspan and finally the epic games of Terraforming Mars and Gloomhaven. These are some of the best games available on the market so let’s take a closer look.

Toddler (1-3)

Most of the games for this age group are very simple and designed to develop your kid in some way. My recommended fun board game for you kids is First Orchard.

First Orchard

First Orchard is about colour recognition and very rudimentary rules. The game is cooperative and your objective is to pick all the fruit in your orchard before the naughty raven makes his way down the path, into your orchard and eats all the fruit left on the trees. If the raven makes it you lose.

The game has a six sided dice with four colors, a basket and a raven on each side. There are 4 pieces of fruit in each color. Red, green, yellow and purple. 

Each person takes a turn at rolling the dice. If the dice rolls a color the player takes a fruit of the same color and places it in the basket. If the player rolls a basket they get to choose the color fruit they put in the basket. If the dice turns up a raven then the raven is moved one space down the path towards the orchard.

This is a great fun game with dice roll, color recognition and that naighty raven trying to eat your fruit. First Orchard is my recommendation for 1-3 year olds.
Players
1-4
Playtime (minutes)
10
Age
2-4
Difficulty
Easy

Preschool (3-5)

This is the age group where fun board games for kids really begin to become possible. The average attention span increases from around a minimum of 6 minutes at aged 3, up to a maximum of 15 minutes as the child develops into a 5 year old. 

This opens up the opportunity for more games to come into play. From Don’t Break The Ice and Disney Eye Found It! through to Outfoxed. At 5 your child may even be ready to enjoy games like Catan: Junior and Ticket to Ride: My First Journey.

Disney Eye Found It!

This is my recommendation for this age group. Whilst it is for aged 4 plus it is quite a simple game and is also collaborative which means that a child of 3 could easily join in with.

The game consist of an 6 foot jigsaw board with amazing art on it depicting various Disney scenes. The objective is to get all the Disney characters to the Castle ball before the clock strikes 12.

In the classic kids game there is a spinner that decides how many spaces you move. It also has two Mickey’s on it along with two clocks.

If you spin one of the clocks the clock timer is moved forward one or two hours depending on which clock the spinner landed on.

If you land on a Mickey then the fun begins. You take a card from the draw pile and whatever is on the card must be searched for within the scenes on the baord. It may be a Hat or a frog or balloons or even evil eyes!

Players
1-6
Playtime (minutes)
30
Age
4
Difficulty
Easy

Turn over the timer and you are off. If you find one of the images on the card then take one of the red plastic rings and place it so that it encircles the image you found.

When the timer runs out everyone must stop. You count up the number found and everyone gets to move on that many spaces.

My daughter and I love playing this game together and it is one she will often pick. It is very simple and easy to win together too.

The images that need to be searched for vary from very easy to quite tricky. We often come up with not finding any.

My only quible with this game is the sand timer as the sand often gets stuck. You are beavering away for 10 minutes trying to find a really hard image when you realise it has been going on too long!

This is simnply resolved as we now just use a minute timer on my phone.

Overall this is a great game with the fantastic Disney art and simplicity of play make it huge amounts of fun.

Grade school (5-12)

Aged 6 and up the potential games increase dramatically along with the choice. So I will break this down into 3 recommendations for 5-7, 8-10 and 10-12.

I have a great article on 9 of the best board games for 8 year olds where I go into more details and provide a wider choice of games. Including games that the whole family can play and your 8 year old will love. You can read that here.

Age 5-7: Ticket to Ride: First Journey

From 6 years old games such as Ticket to Ride: First Journey begin to become available to your child. This version is based on the award winning Ticket to Ride series of games and has been adapted for ages 6 upwards.

If you have played Ticket to Ride then you will know what a fun game it is to play. Now you can play with the whole family.

The game is based in North America and covers all the great cities from Calgary, New York and Washington all the way down to the south and Miami. It follows on from the original in that you try and complete tickets.

Each ticket shows a route between two desitinations e.g. New York to Miami. To complete a route you need enough train cards of the routes color to be able to discard them. You can then lay one train on each position on the route.

Players
2-4
Playtime (minutes)
15-30
Age
6
Difficulty
Easy

Ticket To Ride First Journey Board Game
If you manage to have one single route from the East Cost to the West Coast then you get bonus points. The game has been simplified from the adult versions and so is not only easy to learn but quick to play at only 15-30 per game.

Ticket to Ride: First Journey is a great introduction to this award winning series of games and is my recommendation for this age group.

Age 8-10: Toy Story Obstacles & Adventures

Toy Story: Obstacles & Adventures is a superb collaborative game. It follows the movie franchise in that there are 6 adventures for you to complete. Each adventure is one game so you won’t have to play all 6. They are designed to be played in order as items are added with each new adventure. For example Jesse arrives in adventure 2 which also follows the movies.

An adventure has a goal card and in the first advenutre it follows the first movie in that you have to escape from Sid. Each adventure has a track that acts as a timer. If the token reaches the end of the track before you have escaped Sid then you lose.

You must complete adventure 1 before starting adventure 2 and beat adventure 2 before starting 3. So, if you fail the objective in adventure 1 then you must replay it until you have escaped Sid.

Players
2-5
Playtime (minutes)
45-90
Age
8
Difficulty
Easy

Each player chooses a Toy Story character to play. These come with their own deck of cards specific to each character and a health bar that starts at 10. To start everyone draws 5 cards from their character draw pile.

The game also has hazard cards and danger cards that have a negative effect e.g. reducing the health of a character or moving the time token on down the track.

The game turn first requires that a danger card is turned over. The player(s) then apply the affect of the card. Now they play the cards they have in their hand which may earn Imagination or Insight.

Insight is saved up and used to overcome hazard cards whereas imagination can buy cards to add to your character deck or have other actions. If a character loses all their health then they are shelved.

So you don’t die but are being repaired. This does mean that the time token is moved along the track 1 space and you lose all your imagination and insight tokens.

Which I think is a great way to handle this and keeps the player in the game with the character they have chosen.

This game is fun and is a great family game that you can enjoy with your kids. Toy Story: Obstacles & Adventures is a must have for 8-10 year olds.

Age 10-12: Wingspan

I decided to go with a theme that is a little different and unique. If you have any interest in birds at all this is the game for you. Or if you want to introduce a little wildlife into your child’s gameplay then this is the game for you. 

It has a very unique theme and won the 2019 Kennerspiel des Jahres award. You play bird enthusiasts that want to attract the best birds to your reserve. 

Each person has a bird reserve with three different kinds of habitats for the birds they attract. There are 170 unique birds and you can gain food tokens, lay eggs or draw more bird cards to add to your reserve. 

After 4 rounds the player with the most points wins the game. If you think Terraforming Mars would be a good game for your 12 year old in a few years then this will be a great precursor.

Players
1-5
Playtime (minutes)
40-70
Age
10
Difficulty
Easy/
Medium

Teens (12-18)

The games really open up for the teen years and so does the price. The best rated games are kinda pricey but are the best you can buy. If you are on a budget then I have also thrown in some equally amazing games into the recommendations here too.

Age 12+: Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate

Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate is a cooperative exploration game that has roots from the very successful Betrayal at House on the Hill game.

This is a standalone game set in the town of Baldur’s Gate within the mythical fantasy Dungeons and Dragons like world. It is a classic dungeon crawler and a good introduction to the genre.

Players start in the classic genre start position of the tavern tile. As play proceeds players will lay down tiles on two levels: Street and Catacomb level.

This opens out the town which will consist of buildings and streets along with the catacombs below. Each time you play the town and catacombs will be different.

There are also over 50 end game scenarios making plenty of replayability in this game. It is a great game for the price. 

This is a perfect alternative to Terraforming Mars or even Gloomhaven for those with a budget.

Players
3-6
Playtime (minutes)
60
Age
12
Difficulty
Easy/
Medium

Betrayal at Baldur's Gate Board Game

Age 13+: Terraforming Mars

Terraforming Mars is a strategy game that can be played solo and so this could be a great option that you kid wants to play a game on their own.

Each player is their own corporation. They are working tirelessly together to terraform Mars.

In the solo game you must work to complete the winning scenario within 14 generations. This is achieved by maxing out the temperature and oxygen and laying down 9 ocean tiles.

In the 2-5 version the game is competitive. As you terraform the landscape and build infrastructure you accumulate victory points. At the end of the game the corporation with the most victory points wins.

The game was released in 2016 and is still the 4th best board game on Board Game Geeks website. There are also currently 5 expansions to the game so this will be a game that will last and is my recommendation for 13+.

It is a little more complex than Betrayal at Buldur’s Gate hence the recommendation for a slightly older age.

Players
1-5
Playtime (minutes)
120
Age
12
Difficulty
Medium

Age 14+: Gloomhaven

We have reached the mighty 14 years old and up and what better way than to recommend the campaign based dungeon crawler, Gloomhaven. As far as fun board games for kids go this is epic. Gloomhaven raised over $4 million dollars through two kickstarter campaigns. In 2017 it hit the highest ranking board game on Board Game Geeks and is still there.

You are mercenaries and you will be hired to go on quests to improve your prosperity and reputation. You pick your characters from These quests are also contained within a wider campaign around Gloomhaven. 

As you commence each quest you set up the dungeon as described in the manual. This consists of connecting floor tiles to build rooms. On the tiles are hexagonal spaces in which your characters and opponents move around. There may be doors and other items in the room too.

Players
1-4
Playtime (minutes)
60-120
Age
14
Difficulty
Medium/
Hard

Moving through quests you have to make decisions which will impact the story and dungeon you are working through making each game unique as you play through. There are also 5 expansions to this game if you ever get bored with the base game.

This game may be expensive but it brings huge rewards and hours of playability. I highly recommend this game. However, if you want something a little lighter and definitely easier on your pocket then take a look at Codenames below.

Gloomhaven Board Game

Age 14+ Budget: Codenames

Players
2-8
Playtime (minutes)
15
Age
14
Difficulty

Easy

I couldn’t leave you with just Gloomhaven. Whilst it is an epic game and definitely my recommendationas it is pricey and if you need something a little more within budget then this game will be great choice for you. 

One of my favourite games Codenames objective is to delve into the depths of the spy world and your spies who are out in the field before your opponents. 

This game works with 2 players but is more suited to larger numbers and ideally 6 or 8 players. It is a good party game for when friends are over. You have a grid of 5 x 5 words each representing a possible spy, innocent bystander or the vengeful assassin. For 4 or more players they are split into two teams and then one person in each team is designated as the spy master.

Players
2-8
Playtime (minutes)
15
Age
14
Difficulty
Easy

The spy master reviews the secret card which shows which words in the grid represent their spies. They must now describe one or more of these words and how many words the clue relates to.

Their team then has a certain amount of time to guess the words. As an example, if there were two words: Moon and Stars. Then perhaps the spy might say ‘Celestial objects, two.’

If the team guesses correctly then they have identified two of their agents. First team to guess all their agents wins. Or if a team incorrectly guesses the Assassin then that team instantly loses.

This is a great game and if you are not into the 2 hour Gloomhaven then this will be a great alternative. Although it is rated as 14+ the game is pretty easy to learn and so should be playable for 12+ players too.

Conclusion

This wraps up my recommendations for fun board games for kids. There are some epic games out there for you to introduce to your kids but it is often difficult to know which are best. The games above are some of the highest rated games available and will sure to put a smile on your kids faces for many hours.

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