Favorite Children's Games
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This my first GeekList! I'm just now getting into the hobby, but already am having a blast with my kids (both girls). Planning to use this list to keep track of the Children's games we play as a family. The goal is to update each item as the kids age to help show how age affects enjoyment of certain games.

Here's the ratings scale that I'll use to express their current enjoyment of a game:

kiss (loves it)
(likes it)
(doesn't like, but will play if others want to)
yuk (won't play)

Being that I'm pretty new to the hobby and BGG, I would love suggestions! The rankings on BGG for Children's games aren't very helpful, as many rate them poorly from an adult's perspective. I plan to go through the nomination lists from the Kinderspiel des Jahres and Kinderspielexperten 5-9 as well to get some recommendations.

UPDATE 7/15: Now that the kids are a year older, I've started going through and updating the ratings with new assessments, finally achieving the original intent of this list
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Popular Tags: 3yo [+] 4yo [+] 5yo [+] 6yo [+] Age:06 [+] Age:05 [+] Age:03 [+] Age:04 [+] Vaikai [+] [View All]
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1. Board Game: Alhambra [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:426]
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2. Board Game: Sushi Go! [Average Rating:7.08 Overall Rank:378]
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3. Board Game: Sleeping Queens [Average Rating:6.43 Overall Rank:1988]
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4. Board Game: Rhino Hero [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:664] [Average Rating:6.96 Unranked]
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An instant hit! Low price, great art, fun gameplay = winner.

Kid A @ 6yrs = kiss
Kid B @ 4yrs = kiss (needs help due to youthful clumsiness)
Dad = kiss
Mom = kiss
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5. Board Game: The Magic Labyrinth [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:909]
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Well...this was not the success I had hoped. Both kids seemed pretty frustrated with it. I'll keep it on the shelf and try again later.

Kid A @ 6yrs =
Kid B @ 4yrs =
Dad =
Mom =
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6. Board Game: My First Carcassonne [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:1317]
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Z-Man just republished this in the US as "My First Carcassonne," and I'm glad they did! Been waiting on it for quite awhile... As expected, it's well produced, with thick, sturdy tiles and chunky meeples. The art is wonderful as well. How did they like it?

Kid A @ 6yrs = kiss
Kid B @ 4yrs =
Dad = kiss
Mom = kiss

Kid A @ 5yrs = kiss
Kid B @ 3yrs =
Dad = kiss
Mom = kiss

Kid A took to it immediately, as she had already started playing a basic version of regular Carcassonne with me (focused only on cities). I was surprised that Kid B didn't like it, as she loves Richard Ritterschlag, another tile laying game. I don't think she quite grasps the meeple placing mechanic, whereas in Richard she just has to match colors to complete "quests." She gave up halfway through the first game and won't try it again Maybe in another year...

At any rate, I consider it a winner
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7. Board Game: Brandon the Brave [Average Rating:6.45 Overall Rank:4679]
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The US version is called "Brandon the Brave." We've played a few times now, and the 3yo has one every time (with a little guidance) Seems to be a hit with everyone. Has elements of Carcassonne, very light decisions. Great art and theme.

Kid A @ 6yrs = kiss
Kid B @ 4yrs = kiss
Dad = kiss
Mom = kiss

Kid A @ 5yrs = kiss
Kid B @ 3yrs = kiss
Dad = kiss
Mom = kiss
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8. Board Game: Spot it Jr.! Animals [Average Rating:6.33 Overall Rank:4023]
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Roundly enjoyed by all! Fast-paced, exciting, and usually has us all laughing by the end of a round.

Kid A @ 6yrs = kiss
Kid B @ 4yrs =
Dad = kiss
Mom = kiss


Kid A @ 5yrs = kiss
Kid B @ 3yrs = (a little young to keep up with the others)
Dad = kiss
Mom = kiss
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9. Board Game: Carcassonne [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:151] [Average Rating:7.43 Unranked]
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OK, here's the deal. I've been holding out for a re-release of Kids of Carcassonne for months. Supposedly they will do so sometime this year. But here's what happened. My 5yr old saw Mom and Dad planning the base game of Carcassonne (with River exp). The next day, she told me, "Dad--I WANT to play that "castle" game!!!!"

So, I figured, what the heck, let's try it. I decided to simplify it by removing the Farmer aspect completely, focusing only on Knights and Thiefs. We also made cities worth only one point per tile (plus shields), so that my 5yr old could count up points easier.

End result? She LOVED it! She even got our 3yr old playing (although she quits after a few minutes ). Now, I see no reason to pickup Kids of Carcassonne -- we'll introduce the real scoring and Farmers when she is able to understand them better.


Kid A @ 6yrs = (lost favor due to Richard Ritterschlag)
Kid B @ 4yrs = (same)
Dad = kiss
Mom = kiss

Kid A @ 5yrs = kiss
Kid B @ 3yrs = (for short time, likes to put tiles down)
Dad = kiss
Mom = kiss
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10. Board Game: Viva Topo! [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:1776]
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Our absolute favorite right now. Beautifully designed with high quality pieces. The kids adore the cute little mice and the funny cat. This is the first children's game I've played that has an element of real suspense, as you never know when the cat will suddenly go on a rampage!

Kid A @ 6yrs = kiss
Kid B @ 4yrs = kiss
Dad = kiss
Mom = kiss

Kid A @ 5yrs = kiss
Kid B @ 3yrs = kiss (needs help but still loves it)
Dad = kiss
Mom = kiss
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11. Board Game: Monster Chase [Average Rating:6.37 Overall Rank:3490]
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A pretty fun memory-style game. The kids like the funny artwork and the theme of banishing monsters is very appropriate for their ages. The rules state that you must say "get back in the closet, monster!" (or somesuch) when sending a monster away.

We added an extra house rule that requires an additional descriptive jab, such as "get back in the closet, you polka-dot bellied monter!" Adds a bit more fun to the game and lets them be a bit creative in the process. Definitely not a brain burner, but fun and short enough that it doesn't wear out its welcome.

Kid A @ 6yrs =
Kid B @ 4yrs = kiss
Dad =
Mom =

Kid A @ 5yrs =
Kid B @ 3yrs = kiss
Dad =
Mom =
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12. Board Game: Spooky Stairs [Average Rating:6.44 Overall Rank:2356]
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I was able to find an out-of-print US version of this called "Boo Who?" As far as I know, gameplay is identical. The kids love it - this is another that usually ends with everyone in laughter. Like Chicken Cha Cha Cha, adults don't really have an , as it's a memory game at heart. Usually by the end of the game, no one has any idea where their piece is, especially if you play at a fast pace. Still a bit too competitive for our youngest (I picked up Snail Pace Race for her for that reason...more on that one later ), but the eldest loves it. The games are quite quick so it doesn't have time to get boring for the adults.

Kid A @ 6yrs = kiss
Kid B @ 4yrs = kiss
Dad =
Mom =

Kid A @ 5yrs = kiss
Kid B @ 3yrs =
Dad =
Mom =
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13. Board Game: Magician's Kitchen [Average Rating:6.22 Overall Rank:5928]
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An interesting dexterity game. The kids both enjoy it, but the adults find it a bit boring. Kids also tend to get frustrated easily by the invisible stumbling stones.

Kid A @ 6yrs =
Kid B @ 4yrs =
Dad =
Mom =

Kid A @ 5yrs =
Kid B @ 3yrs =
Dad =
Mom =
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14. Board Game: Max [Average Rating:6.54 Overall Rank:4063]
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Played this for the first time tonight--kids loved it! A good example of a game with low production values that's still a joy to play. This is the first co-op children's/family game we've played, and I really enjoy this style. My eldest has especially gotten very competitive lately with the other games we play, so it's nice to have a shared experience. Definitely helps the younger one feel more included. For such a simple game, there's actually a decent bit of decision making, too. Should we go ahead and lure the cat back to the house now, or risk another roll or two before using up a treat? Which animal should we move this time--should we move one two spaces, or two one space each? The perfect amount of analysis for our eldest. Will be curious to monitor the replay value.

Kid A @ 6yrs =
Kid B @ 4yrs = kiss
Dad = kiss
Mom = kiss

Kid A @ 5yrs = kiss
Kid B @ 3yrs = kiss
Dad = kiss
Mom = kiss
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15. Board Game: Chicken Cha Cha Cha [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:1513]
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A great idea for a memory game. Excellent components, with big fat chickens that are easy for the kids to move around. This is another example of a game where adults do not have an advantage. In fact, kids may have an advantage with their sharper memory. Our 5yo routinely destroys us! The 3yo is still a little young for it. Her memory is fine, but she does *not* like the idea of someone stealing her tail feathers. She'll actually pull her chicken off the board and hide it when someone gets close to her!

Kid A @ 6yrs = kiss
Kid B @ 4yrs = kiss
Dad =
Mom =

Kid A @ 5yrs = kiss
Kid B @ 3yrs =
Dad = kiss
Mom = kiss
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16. Board Game: Animal Upon Animal [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:787] [Average Rating:6.85 Unranked]
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A fantastic dexterity game. Another that everyone enjoys. Games are short and there's lots of player interaction.

Kid A @ 6yrs =
Kid B @ 4yrs =
Dad =
Mom =

Kid A @ 5yrs = kiss
Kid B @ 3yrs = kiss (we let her use two hands)
Dad = kiss
Mom = kiss
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17. Board Game: Aquarius [Average Rating:6.01 Overall Rank:3704]
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Not a Children's Game, however there is a preschool variant in the rules that removes all the Action cards and essentially makes it a simple dominos game. We actually enjoy this quite a bit with adults as a light game as well.

Kid A @ 6yrs =
Kid B @ 4yrs =
Dad =
Mom = kiss

Kid A @ 5yrs = (sort of understands the action cards)
Kid B @ 3yrs = (only enjoys if no one "picks on her" with action cards)
Dad =
Mom =
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18. Board Game: Hey, That's My Fish! [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:726]
8bg
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I didn't think my eldest would be able to play this game. She saw the box in the closet and demanded to play the "penguin game"! So, we played, and she loved it! Obviously she's not playing several moves in advance or strategically placing penguins at the start, but she loves the components (I actually just ordered the much nicer deluxe version for that reason) and gets a kick out of stranding dad's penguins on small ice floes. This is a great game to grow into, as it can be played on several levels.

A great family game!

Kid A @ 6yrs =
Kid B @ 4yrs =
Dad =
Mom =

Kid A @ 5yrs = kiss
Kid B @ 3yrs = haven't tried
Dad =
Mom =
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19. Board Game: Snail's Pace Race [Average Rating:5.23 Overall Rank:16683]
8bg
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I picked this one up to add more age-appropriate games for Kid B. I think it's a bit too simplistic at this point, however. She will play it occasionally, but definitely not her first pick. I would say this is best for 2-3 year olds. Not surprising that this is very boring for adults. I'd rather play CandyLand.

Kid A @ 6yrs =
Kid B @ 4yrs = kiss
Dad =
Mom =

Kid A @ 5yrs
Kid B @ 3yrs
Dad =
Mom =
 
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20. Board Game: Mummy's Treasure [Average Rating:6.51 Overall Rank:6280]
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I've only played this one with Kid A @ 5yrs. It's too much for the younger Kid B (3yrs)--she'd rather play Viva Topo or Animal Upon Animal!

Kid A @ 6yrs =
Kid B @ 4yrs = yuk
Dad =
Mom = still hasn't played

Kid A @ 5yrs = yuk
Kid B @ 3yrs = yuk
Dad =
Mom = hasn't played yet

Downgraded this. Hasn't been played in ages now, and yesterday Kid A said she "doesn't like it." We'll see if it gets any attention in the next couple of years from the kiddos...
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21. Board Game: Zoo Panic [Average Rating:4.12 Unranked]
8bg
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Mom and Dad despise this game! It takes forever to play, and often you simply wait many turns trying to roll the perfect number to land on the tile you need. I avoid this one at all costs. The kids like it pretty well, mostly because of the cute art and the theme of helping animals.

<-Removed from collection!

Kid A @ 5yrs =
Kid B @ 3yrs =
Dad = yuk
Mom = yuk
 
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22. Board Game: Monkey Dunk [Average Rating:4.22 Unranked]
8bg
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A simple dexterity game that no one seems to enjoy. Too hard for Kid B (3yrs) and even Kid A (5yrs) gets bored with it very quickly. We got rid of this one...

<-Removed from collection!

Kid A @ 5yrs =
Kid B @ 3yrs =
Dad = yuk
Mom = yuk
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23. Board Game: Sequence for Kids [Average Rating:5.73 Overall Rank:9732]
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Kid A (5yrs) likes the animal artwork and seems to enjoy playing, but doesn't really have a feel for the strategy (or doesn't care and just likes placing the chips). Really easy for adults to win this one, compared to a game like Viva Topo or Animal upon Animal where the kids actually have a good chance!

Kid A @ 5yrs =
Kid B @ 3yrs =
Dad =
Mom =
 
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24. Board Game: Chutes and Ladders [Average Rating:2.82 Overall Rank:17011]
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We've got a thrift store version from the late 90's, but I guess they're all pretty similar. This is one of those common retail store games that gets a lot of play. It's simple, there's no decisions to be made, but it at least teaches kids how to take turns and how to win/lose graciously. Also a bit of a lesson on cause-and-effect through the positive and negative consequences of different actions.

Kid A @ 5yrs = (used to love it, starting to fade)
Kid B @ 3yrs = kiss
Dad =
Mom =
 
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25. Board Game: Candy Land [Average Rating:3.17 Overall Rank:17010]
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Another common retail game like Chutes and Ladders. Ages quickly. The board itself is lively and cutesy, so it probably gets more play than it would otherwise.

Kid A @ 5yrs =
Kid B @ 3yrs =
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Mom =
 
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