Family with Young Children - The Games We Play
Nicolette Tanksley
United States
Jackson
Missouri
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Update 6/13/19
My daughter is now 8 and son is 7. I've not been the best about keeping this updated so I think I'll start a new Geeklist to focus on the middle school age journey that we are in playing board games now. I feel like age 7 or 8 is where kids jump to being able to handle some longer and more complex games, at least for my two who have been playing games since they were very young. However, we still enjoy playing some old favorites now and again. I'll add a link to my new list when it is ready.

Update 2/19/2018
We've been playing board games as a family now for around 3 years. My daughter is now 7 and son is 6. Though we've branched out to more family activities, we still try to do a game night at least 1x a week.

Update: My daughter is now almost 6&1/2 and my son is almost 5&1/2. We are still playing games and loving them.

Update: My daughter is now 5&1/2 and my son is now 4&1/2 and they are definitely vocal about their favorites. Many continue to be played regularly and some are becoming new favorites. I hope this list helps folks pick out great games for their kids, as the ratings on Bgg were little use to me.

OLD: I'm borrowing this rating system from several fellow Geeks with lists regarding children's games. My daughter is currently 4&1/2 and my son is currently 3&1/2. These are the games we've tried at our home. We generally game at least twice a week. I will attempt to edit this list to show changing attitudes through the next several years.


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)

Current Family Wishlist: More Haba games!

Projects in the works: Larger version of Mystic Wood to use with Schleich Knights and figures, ugh still in the works.

Games we own but are holding off playing for later: Starting to transition the 7 yo to more normal games, starting with Zooleretto and Forbidden Island

Games played soon to be added to this list: Heroscape, Kingdomino, Lost Woods, Catacombs, No thank you evil!
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1. Board Game: 3D Labyrinth [Average Rating:5.15 Overall Rank:17332]
Nicolette Tanksley
United States
Jackson
Missouri
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A simplified version of Amazing Labyrinth, has a sliding panel and 3D obstacles. My 3yo hasn't quite figured this one out but my 4yo is a master almost ready to try her hand at the original game. The 3D terrain is cool, though.

3yo son: Update 6yo - Son still finds the game enjoyable.
4yo daughter: kiss Update 7yo - Daughter has outgrown this game, trying regular Labyrinth now.
Mommy:
Daddy:
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2. Board Game: Akaba [Average Rating:6.35 Overall Rank:5753]
Nicolette Tanksley
United States
Jackson
Missouri
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A Haba game using a puffer to move around magic carpets so that they land in shops to pick up objects that hopefully fulfill what your customer cards are requesting. The motor skills required are the same as for the Black Pirate, so some 3yo and 4yo may have difficulty or need to use 2 hands. We find Akaba easier because the carpets don't flip over as easily as the ships.

4yo son: Update: 6yo - Puffer works fine at this point
5yo daughter: kiss Update: 7yo - Enjoys this one!
Mommy: kiss
Daddy: kiss
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3. Board Game: Alpen Express [Average Rating:6.37 Overall Rank:11990]
Nicolette Tanksley
United States
Jackson
Missouri
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An interesting train game that has a pick-up and deliver type mechanic. It is a longer game than my kids wanted to play though it has beautiful wooden trains and board. There is quite a bit of strategy involved, but also dice rolling. I think us parents liked it more than the kids. Skills involved - advanced planning for future moves, prioritizing which train to move/fill.

3yo son: for first 1/2 hour, but then wanted to do something else
Update 6yo - I need to bring this one back out, perhaps it is better now
4yo daughter: for first 40 min Update 7yo: Need to try this one again
Mommy: kiss
Daddy: kiss
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4. Board Game: Angry Birds: Star Wars – Jenga Death Star Game [Average Rating:4.98 Overall Rank:16821]
Nicolette Tanksley
United States
Jackson
Missouri
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I'm listing all of the Angry Birds games that we have under one listing. All of these games are games where players aim small slingshot catapults or a spring powered car launcher at a target and attempt to knock it down first. Yes, It's a take off of the very popular app. We have several- Star Wars Deathstar (easiest to build/hardest to shoot down-probably the best), Pirate Ship (harder to build/easier to shoot down), Star Wars AT-AT (hardest to build/easiest to shoot down). Works on aim, coordination, rudimentary physics, understanding cause/effect & building works on parent's patience.

3yo son: kiss with car launchers, with slingshots; update 5yo: still kiss when he enjoys it on occasion and still prefers the car launchers
Update 6yo - Still enjoys this on occasion
4yo daughter: kiss; update 6yo: , will play but prefers other games; 7yo enjoys only very rarely.
Mommy:
Daddy: prefers the easier to build ones

 
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5. Board Game: Animal Upon Animal [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:837] [Average Rating:6.84 Unranked]
Nicolette Tanksley
United States
Jackson
Missouri
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This is a fairly new acquisition for us. We like the stacking possibilities and sometimes Mommy & Daddy play without the kids. whistle I can see us adding the Balancing Bridge and Around We Turn versions someday as the skill of our children improve. Game works on colors, animal identification, and fine motor skills.

3yo son:
4yo daughter:
Mommy:
Daddy:
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6. Board Game: Barbeque Party [Average Rating:5.13 Overall Rank:16380]
Nicolette Tanksley
United States
Jackson
Missouri
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Putting food on and off a touch sensitive plate much like Buckeroo. The food has eyes, though. It's kind of morbid from an adult perspective but funny for kiddos. It definitely works on motor skills.

3yo son: kiss
4yo daughter: kiss
Mommy:
Daddy: yuk
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7. Board Game: Best Treehouse Ever [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:1982] [Average Rating:6.61 Unranked]
Nicolette Tanksley
United States
Jackson
Missouri
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A neat card game that lets you build the coolest treehouse ever. I haven't played this with the normal rules yet, but the simplified version for young children works well for my 5yo. We pick the color that's going to get points for the round before we draw the 6 cards for our hand. The tree sway mechanism is cool and not too hard for them to understand.

4yo son: 6yo: Enjoys this one greatly, but doesn't understand how to win
5yo daughter: kiss 7yo: This is one of her most requested games; she enjoys just playing with the cards making up her most awesome tree house after we finish the game
Mommy:
Daddy: ?
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8. Board Game: Bob the Builder: Scoop's Construction Site Game [Average Rating:5.26 Overall Rank:15751]
Nicolette Tanksley
United States
Jackson
Missouri
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A cool game where you try to build a tower first hoping the bulldozer doesn't knock it over before you do. We've had a few problems with getting this game to work right as you have to sort of drop the battery operated dozer into the middle of the board. My son, who loves all construction things loves this game though.

3yo son: kiss 6yo: we've outgrown this one
4yo daughter: 7yo: definitely outgrown this game
Mommy:
Daddy: kiss
 
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9. Board Game: Buckaroo! [Average Rating:4.52 Overall Rank:18359]
Nicolette Tanksley
United States
Jackson
Missouri
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Putting equipment on a touch sensitive donkey. The equipment has to hang from the saddle and balance well otherwise the donkey kicks, tossing off all of the items. Skills: balance, light touch.

Update: The kids can now beat this game on the easy setting so we are making it more difficult

3yo son: kiss now 4yo son: kiss 6yo: enjoyed until it broke
4yo daughter: kiss now 5yo daughter: kiss 7yo: became too easy
Mommy:
Daddy:
 
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10. Board Game: Candy Land [Average Rating:3.19 Overall Rank:18438]
Nicolette Tanksley
United States
Jackson
Missouri
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Most gamers strongly dislike this game. We like it for color identification, counting, and matching. We actually read the story that goes along with the game so that the kids enjoy it more. My daughter loves Princess Lolly and Queen Frostine.

3 yo son: 6yo: still dislikes because of the random draw
4 yo daughter: kiss 7yo: still enjoys, mostly for the art, I think.
Mommy:
Daddy: yuk
 
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11. Board Game: Castle Knights [Average Rating:6.41 Overall Rank:5401]
Nicolette Tanksley
United States
Jackson
Missouri
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This is an interesting, cooperative building game. There are different difficulty levels and neat pieces to build with using the string and rubber band tool that two to four can manipulate to pick up, place, and drop the right blocks.

3yo son: kiss update 4yo son: kiss, even better
4yo daughter: kiss update 5yo daughter: kiss, even better they can play together with mommy/daddy.
Mommy:
Daddy: kiss
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12. Board Game: Catch me! [Average Rating:5.72 Overall Rank:12822]
Nicolette Tanksley
United States
Jackson
Missouri
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We have the Haba Mini Tin Version that actually says "Fang Mich!", we love to take it when traveling and to restaurants.

Update: Everyone still loves this game for travel and long wait times at restaurants.

3yo son: kiss Update 4yo: still kiss Update 6yo: still loves
4yo daughter: kiss Update 5yo: still kiss Update 7yo: still loves
Mommy: kiss
Daddy: kiss
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13. Board Game: Cauldron Quest [Average Rating:6.33 Overall Rank:10222]
Nicolette Tanksley
United States
Jackson
Missouri
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A co-op game from Peacable Kingdom, and a new one for us. This game is very luck-based with all of the dice rolling, but does require some planning as to selecting which ingredient to move. Depending on your first die roll, you may have to do many different actions. You may end up flipping over an ingredient to see if it matches the recipe everyone is trying to get into the cauldron at the center. You may end up moving the bad magician who blocks the way. You may end up moving the ingredient towards the cauldron in some fashion or another. I do think the rules for this co-op are a little more difficult to understand than some out there, so I wouldn't recommend this one as the first co-op to try out.
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14. Board Game: Caves & Claws [Average Rating:5.55 Overall Rank:14427]
Nicolette Tanksley
United States
Jackson
Missouri
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Another classic co-op game from Family Pastimes. My daughter liked everything about it except "the claw" which she proclaimed to be very scary. It is one about finding the treasures and getting past the monsters/setbacks by having the right tools. I personally love that the stinky sock and the broccoli can scare away monsters. Another very good co-op/adventure game for young kids.

4yo son: ?
5yo daughter:
Mommy: kiss
Daddy: kiss


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15. Board Game: Chicken Cha Cha Cha [Average Rating:6.59 Overall Rank:1617]
Nicolette Tanksley
United States
Jackson
Missouri
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This game needs more playtime from us. I think we've only played it a few times and it's not one that my kids request regularly. It's a matching game mostly but also a race. The chicken pieces are cool, I just wish they had more than 1 tail feather. This game works on matching skills, counting, and turn taking.

3yo son:
4yo daughter:
Mommy:
Daddy: ?
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16. Board Game: Chickyboom [Average Rating:5.76 Overall Rank:12437]
Nicolette Tanksley
United States
Jackson
Missouri
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A balancing game with very nice components. The chickens are super-cute and my daughter likes playing with them even if she's done with the actual game. Skills here include learning about levers and fulcrums. It is sort of physics based in understanding which object can safely be taken off and still keep the rest from sliding off. The interesting thing about this game is that you can make it much easier or much harder depending on the set-up you use. This one is actually the preferred stacking game right now.

4yo son: Daughter horded. Update 5yo: , has played a few times but he plays really risky and takes off the ones on the ends too early, still working on this balancing idea. He laughs when they slide off though.
5yo daughter: kiss Update 6yo: kiss Still enjoys the game and is getting better at it
Mommy: kiss
Daddy: kiss
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17. Board Game: Chutes and Ladders [Average Rating:2.83 Overall Rank:18439]
Nicolette Tanksley
United States
Jackson
Missouri
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I know lots of people hate this game because it can take forever, there's no strategy, etc. We do like it only very occasionally to show my kids how to lose gracefully and that we can all have fun losing sometimes. We have the Sesame Street version, which at least makes the game cute. We say WHEEEEE! when we go down that big slide!

3yo son:
4yo daughter:
Mommy:
Daddy: yuk
 
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18. Board Game: Click Clack Lumberjack [Average Rating:6.43 Overall Rank:1769]
Nicolette Tanksley
United States
Jackson
Missouri
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We have the Click Clack Lumberjack version of the game with the bug stickers on the inside of a few bark pieces. Essentially the object of the game is to hit the tree trunk with the plastic axe so that the bark pieces fall off, but the core of the tree does not. It works on counting, subtraction, aim, and motor control in tool use.

3yo son: kiss Update 4yo: still kiss Update: 5yo: still kiss
4yo daughter: kiss Update 5yo: still kiss Update 6yo: still kiss
Kids can usually beat Mommy or Daddy at this game now.
Mommy:
Daddy:
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19. Board Game: Coconuts [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:854] [Average Rating:7.06 Unranked]
Nicolette Tanksley
United States
Jackson
Missouri
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This is a recent acquisition that hasn't been played that much yet. The youngest has a hard time aiming and controlling the monkey catapult. The 4yo has won several times, so it is well within her skill level. This game works on aim and motor skills using a tool.

3yo son: ; Update 4yo son: but still difficult
4yo daughter: kiss ; Update 5yo daughter: kiss
Mommy:
Daddy: kiss
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20. Board Game: Cranium Cariboo [Average Rating:6.10 Overall Rank:6511]
Nicolette Tanksley
United States
Jackson
Missouri
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This is a fun game with a few modes, beginner and expert. The game involves trying to find a door that has a matching characteristic with the card you drew and opening that door with a magic key. Hopefully you find a ball that can be used to open the treasure chest. Beginner cards list "A", "B", "C", red, blue, yellow, green, circle, triangle, square, or 1, 2, 3, 4. Advanced cards go further in counting and letters. The game was designed to learn basic colors, shapes, counting, and beginning letter recognition.

3yo son: kiss; Update 4yo: kiss; Update 5yo: still kiss, but becoming too easy as he can count to 30 and knows all colors and shapes well. The mechanism and treasure chest are still neat though.
4yo daughter: kiss Update 5yo: kiss, but becoming too easy for her
Mommy:
Daddy:
 
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21. Board Game: Crash Cup Karambolage [Average Rating:5.94 Unranked]
Nicolette Tanksley
United States
Jackson
Missouri
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This is sort of a flicking dexterity, but uses a string to snap the pieces forward. We've only played the intro game. My kids found it difficult to manage this mechanic and ended up flicking with their fingers instead. I may put this up for a few months.

3yo son:
4yo daughter:
Mommy:
Daddy: ?
 
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22. Board Game: Da ist der Wurm drin [Average Rating:6.36 Overall Rank:4684]
Nicolette Tanksley
United States
Jackson
Missouri
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My son loves bugs and worms...so does my daughter. This game is a race game where each person tries to get their worm to the end first. It also has a small amount of betting about whose worm will reach certain milestones first. It does have a dice-rolling mechanic so it is partially random, but there is a lot about learning measurement/length, estimation of length, all with a cute theme.

4yo son: kiss
5yo daughter: kiss
Mommy: kiss
Daddy: kiss
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23. Board Game: Dancing Eggs [Average Rating:6.41 Overall Rank:2110]
Nicolette Tanksley
United States
Jackson
Missouri
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If you need a game that makes you laugh and gets everyone running around, this is probably it! The premise of this game is to roll the dice, take the articular action indicated...then if you succeed in getting the egg you roll another dice to see where you must tuck it for the rest of the game. Under the chin or in the elbow might seem easy, but try that with more than 2 and it becomes crazy. Add a run around the table and it is insanely funny. A new favorite for us...and one that requires a table. I mention this because most of our other kid board games we play on the floor for easy of reach for the kids.

4yo son: kiss, dropped several but laughed the whole time
5yo daughter: kiss, got dismayed when she couldn't run fast with all of those eggs.
Mommy: kiss
Daddy: kiss, didn't mind acting crazy
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24. Board Game: Dig Down Dwarf [Average Rating:6.25 Overall Rank:6125]
Nicolette Tanksley
United States
Jackson
Missouri
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A cool push-your-luck dice rolling game. It's playable by kids that like to roll dice and collect pretty gems. The rules are pretty simple but they many need some help learning what the different terms mean. Ex. - What's a straight? Enjoyable dice rolling fun. We did have to explain the options to the kids at this age with every dice roll they did. We had them announce what gems they were wanting before they rolled so we could help them work towards that goal. Game works on matching numbers on dice, counting, coping with luck, practice dice rolling with more than 1 dice, risk/benefit analysis.

3yo son: kiss
4yo daughter: kiss
Mommy:kiss
Daddy: kiss
 
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25. Board Game: Disney Pixar Cars 2 Sorry Sliders: World Grand Prix Race Edition [Average Rating:6.07 Overall Rank:7318]
Nicolette Tanksley
United States
Jackson
Missouri
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This is a cool finger flicking game that has lots of neat traps to avoid - oil slicks, tires, cones. It uses ball bearings to move the pieces. Unfortunately, the track can warp badly - as is the case with ours, which makes it hard to play the game when the pieces get stuck on the joints. Daddy finds it frustrating to put it together.

3yo son: kiss
4yo daughter:
Mommy:
Daddy: yuk
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