Bust out the board games! It’s time to play old school. Played among friends or family members, childhood board games are a rite of passage. We all have fond memories of playing Chutes and Ladders with friends or squabbling over Monopoly money with our siblings. Board games can teach our children invaluable lessons of morality, rule following, sharing, and decision making, not to mention they’re a great way to pass time when the weather is crummy. Some of these games will occupy your kids for at least 20 minutes, while others will take at least a few hours. Encourage your kids to unplug their electronics and exercise their minds. These 25 fabulous board games are fun for kids both young and old.
With a whimsical candy-themed backdrop featuring Lollipop Woods and an Ice Cream Sea, it’s no surprise Candy Land is a favorite childhood game. Players take turns moving their game markers along a colorful winding path on a quest to be the first to reach King Kandy, the lost king of Candy Land. Along the way, you’ll encounter sweet characters like Mr. Mint and Princess Frostine. Players take turns drawing from a stack of cards that tell them where to go on the board. Cards indicate the next move with either a color for the next square to move to or a picture of a Candy Land landmark. The premise of Candy Land is simple and the game requires no reading and very little counting, making it a great game for younger children.
Buy It: Candy Land, $13
Four very hungry hippos are in a race to gobble up the most marbles in this fast-paced game. The feeding frenzy begins when 20 marbles are launched into the middle of the board. Four colorful hippos fight over the marbles and start chomping as fast as they can. The hippos are controlled by a simple lever, which kiddos rapidly push in an effort to chow down on the most marbles. Pressing the lever causes the hippo’s neck to stick out toward the marbles and the jaw to open. When the lever is released, the hippo’s jaw closes—hopefully on a marble or two!—and the neck retracts pulling the marbles into that player’s possession.The game ends when no marbles remain in the center of the board; the player with the most marbles wins.
Buy It: Hungry, Hungry Hippos, $15
Your young ones will learn that good deeds carry you far in the preschool-friendly game of Chutes and Ladders. All players start in square 1 and race to be the first to make it all the way to the final square on a board numbered with 100 squares. A series of ladders and slides depicted on the board game represent good deeds and their rewards (ladders) or naughty deeds and their consequences (slides). A spinner tells each player the number of spaces to move in a turn. If you land on a square showing the base of a ladder, you get to climb the ladder and advance extra spaces. But be careful, if you land on a square with the top of a slide, then you have to slide down and are set back additional spaces.
Buy It: Chutes and Ladders, $15
With 108 wooden tiles bearing six different symbols in six different colors, children will learn to recognize patterns when they play Qwirkle. And they’ll have fun saying it too! To begin the game, each player draws six tiles at random from the tile bag. The players try to create lines by matching tiles of the same color or symbol and can earn one point for every tile played. Six tiles in a row is called a Qwirkle and is the longest line permitted. Players replenish their stash of tiles by drawing new ones from the bag until all the tiles have been used. The game ends with the first player to use all of his or her tiles, at which point the player with the highest score wins.
Buy It: Qwirkle, $24
See who can catch the most fish in a game of Let’s Go Fishin’. This battery-operated game can be played solo or with up to four people. As the pond spins slowly, 21 colorful fish open and close their mouths. When a fish opens its mouth, it reveals a magnet inside. Using the small plastic fishing poles provided, coordination is put to the test as players try to catch the moving fish. Get your timing right to catch a fish when its mouth is open. A small magnet on on the end of the fishing pole connects with the magnet inside the fish, allowing you to remove the fish from the pond. Play until all the fish have been caught. Who is the best fisherman?
Buy It: Let’s Go Fishin’, $28
In this sweet whodunit game, players put on their detective hats and work together to find out who stole Mrs. Plumpert’s prized potpie. There are 16 foxes who are all possible suspects, and the detectives start each game with two known suspects. Players begin each turn by deciding whether they want to learn clues about the suspect or have the opportunity to study a new suspect card, then they get three chances to land three dice on the desired combination. In this deduction-based game, players will be able to use the clues they’ve learned to eliminate suspects that don’t match. If the detectives can identify the guilty fox before the thief gets all the way across the board, everyone wins! Outfoxed is a playful way to learn about teamwork.
Buy It: Outfoxed!, $17
A fun game for preschoolers and older, Eye Found It! features everyone’s favorite friendly characters from Busytown. In this game, the players have to get to Picnic Island at the bottom of the board as fast as possible before Pig Will and Pig Won’t eat all of the food. Miniature objects are hidden on the board and special cards along the way challenge players to find as many of the hidden objects as possible for the opportunity to advance extra spaces. As a kid-friendly bonus, there are no winners or losers since all the players work together to reach Picnic Island. We will warn you: The board is 6 feet long, so it does require some space to play.
Guess Who? is an exciting guessing game filled with colorful characters. In this two-person game, each player has a tray with the same 24 characters on it. From an identical pile of cards, the players each select one card at random to be their character. You then take turns asking yes and no questions about the character, and your opponent must answer truthfully. “Is your character a man?” “Does he have glasses?” Based on these answers, players are able to eliminate the cards that don’t fit the criteria and can fold them down on the tray. After asking enough identifying questions, you will eventually narrow down who your opponent’s character is. The first player to correctly guess who is the winner.
Buy It: Guess Who?, $10
We remember playing this game as kids and dreaming about all the possibilities (and responsibilities) that came with being a grown-up—college, marriage, kids, insurance! Life has long been a classic game teaching children the value of smart investing. In The Game of Life, each player receives a small plastic car with which to navigate the board. You get to move your car along the game board as you travel through many stages of life, from choosing a college, to marriage, to having children and adopting pets, and eventually retirement. As with real life, chance is a large factor in the game—a spinner dictates the number of spaces you are allowed to move each turn. The goal of the game is to be the player who retires with the most money.
Buy It: The Game of Life, $13
The poor patient in Operation sure has a lot of ailments: writer’s cramp, water on the knee, and brain freeze are just the start. Dexterity and fine motor skills will be put to the test as kids get to play the doctor attempting to remove the patient’s ailments. Draw a card to see which ailment you must retrieve using a pair of tweezers that are attached to the game with a wire. Carefully remove the designated icon without hitting the metal sides. If the tweezers hit the sides, the game buzzes, a red light on the patient’s nose lights up, and that player loses his or her turn. A fee indicated on the ailment card is awarded to each player after a successful extraction. After all ailments have been retrieved, the player with the most money wins.
Buy It: Operation, $20
Checkers is classic game of strategy that is perfect for two players. Don’t be fooled by the simple looks of this game, excitement awaits once game play begins. Each player is responsible for 12 uniform pieces that he or she tries to navigate across an 8x8 checkerboard. But wait a second, the pieces can only move diagonally. If you can move one of your pieces to the other side of the 8x8 checkerboard, you can crown that piece a king. But if your opponent jumps over one of your pieces on the way across the board, then that piece is captured and taken out of play. The object of the game is to either capture all of your opponent’s pieces, or block them from making further moves.
Buy It: Checkers, $8
In the game of Trouble, players try to be the first to successfully move all four of their colored pegs around the board. While the objective is rather straightforward, the more players you have, the more likely it is to find yourself in trouble. With only 28 spaces on the board, things start to get crowded when all 16 pieces are in play. Roll a die using Trouble’s Pop-O-Matic dice roller (fun in and of itself) to determine how many spaces one of your pegs will be allowed to advance. But watch out! If another player lands on a spot occupied by one of your pieces, they can kick you out and and send your peg back “home” where you will have to start again. The first player to maneuver all four pegs into the finish position wins.
Buy It: Trouble, $9
Filled with strategy and simple math, Blokus is a great thinking game for older kids. Best played with four players, but also good for groups of two or three, this game consists of a board of 400 equal-size squares and 84 game tiles. Each player receives a set of 21 different geometrically-shaped tiles in a specific color. To begin, you place any one tile of your choosing in your designated corner of the board. After that, things can get tricky. Tiles of the same color are only allowed touch at one corner, while tiles of different colors may share sides. As play continues you’ll need to evaluate your remaining pieces and strategically place them where they will fit best. The game ends when nobody is able place any more pieces; the player with the fewest pieces remaining wins.
Buy It: Blokus, $15
Connect Four is a quick and simple game. To play, you and an opponent take turns dropping plastic tokens into one of the 42 slots on the game. The goal is to connect four of your tokens in a row—whether vertically, horizontally, or diagonally—while also blocking your opponent from doing the same. Make sure to study the entire board before making a move. You just might need to use your next turn to drop a strategically placed token to prevent your opponent from getting four in a row. There’s always the chance that you and the other player will be so good at blocking each other that neither of you will connect four, in which case it’s a draw. Win or lose, we bet you can’t play just one round.
Buy It: Connect Four, $9
A great multiplayer game, Clue is a suspenseful whodunit where up to six players are tasked with solving the murder of the fictional character Mr. Boddy. The game takes place in Mr. Boddy’s mansion—its many rooms, corridors, and secret passageways are depicted on the game board. By rolling a die, kids get to maneuver their characters from room to room and use their powers of deduction to figure out who committed the murder, what weapon was used, and in which room the crime took place. A combination of three cards sealed in a case file in the middle of the board yields the answer to the mystery. The player to correctly solve the crime wins, so put on your sleuthing hat and get going!
Buy It: Clue, $9
One of the few games that is as easily played by one person as it is many, Jenga is fun for kids and adults alike. Players take turns removing one block at a time from a tower that is made up of 54 small wooden blocks. Each block that is removed from within the tower must get replaced at the top before the next player’s move. With each turn, the tower grows taller and more unstable. See how many blocks you can move before the tower comes crashing down. The winner of the game is the last person to successfully place a block atop the tower. As the tower grows taller, Jenga will have all the players on the edge of their seats.
Buy It: Jenga, $17
Your mission: Take out your opponent’s fleet of battleships. In this naval combat game, players secretly place their five ships on a lettered and numbered 10x10 grid and then try to locate and destroy their opponent’s ships. There are two grids for each player. The first grid is where you place your ships and mark the shots fired against you. The second grid is for tracking the hits and misses you make on your opponent. Take turns firing shots by calling out plot points. A shot that hits nothing is marked with a white peg, but a shot that hits a target is marked with a red peg. Once you have an idea of where the enemy ships are on the grid, try and sink them before it’s too late.
Buy It: Battleship, $15
Players will be twisted up in knots in this hilarious game that also helps kids learn left from right. To play, a large vinyl mat with four rows of colored dots is spread out on the floor. A spinner board broken up into quadrants for left and right, feet and hands, dictates which body part goes onto what color of dot. Players may find themselves in silly positions as they twist and reach and bend to accommodate the latest instructions. The Twister mat becomes crowded with the more players involved, which only makes it trickier to move around. Players are eliminated if they fall over, or even if an elbow or knee touches the mat. The last player on the mat is the winner.
Buy It: Twister, $12
Try to avoid capture in a game of Mouse Trap. Players move their small plastic mice around the board first, working together to build a Rube Goldberg-like mouse trap, but before long players start turning on each other. Roll the die to scurry along the board and collect cheese, but be on the lookout for the other mice. If other players are in a position to do so, they will not hesitate to turn the crank on the mousetrap to try and capture you when you are on the cheese wheel. Players can also spend a piece of cheese to move another mouse closer to the trap. One winning mouse will be able to avoid capture, but the others won’t be so lucky.
Buy It: Mouse Trap, $24
Get the kiddos working both the left and right sides of their brains in a game of Cranium. This game is an exercise for the whole mind and it’s a whole lot of fun. To play, roll a die to move along the game board where different colored squares will require you to complete a challenge. The colors coordinate with four different kinds of cards that ask you to either sing/hum, sketch, solve, or word play. If you want to win, you must make your way around the board and complete all of the challenge activities. The very last step is to enter Cranium Central. Here the other players get to choose the final challenge which you must complete to win.
Buy It: Cranium, $40
Monopoly Junior is a kid-friendly version of the classic property-buying board game. The basic premise of Monopoly still applies: players buy and trade properties and try not get thrown in jail. Using your Monopoly money, you can purchase available properties along the board and make an income by charging rent to any player who stops there. But that works both ways. If you land on a space owned by another player, then you owe them rent money. Kids will get to brush up on their math skills as they manage their bank notes, buy properties, and pay rent. A smaller board uses city attractions like the zoo and a pizzeria instead of street names to make this game more approachable for younger players.
Buy It: Monopoly Jr., $15
Hedbanz is a guessing game that both kids and parents will enjoy. The game comes with six adjustable headbands and 74 cards denoting different animals and objects. To play, clip a card into your headband but don’t look at it. The game card faces out so that everyone but you can see it. Ask the other players yes or no questions to try and figure out what is on your card. Repeat this with as many cards as possible in the given time. Playing chips help keep track of correct guesses and can be counted to determine the winner at the end of the game. You can practically hear the giggles that will ensue as kiddos attempt to answer the question, “What am I?”
Buy It: Hedbanz, $12
In this award-winning strategy game, imaginations can run wild as players act as settlers who must build up armies and settlements on the fictional, resource-rich island of Catan. The game board is made up of 19 different hexagonal tiles that allow for a different layout each time, so no two games are the same. Kids will learn about basic economics as they grow or mine the resources that are available on their land and trade and barter for those that are not. Resources are used to acquire more land and build up settlements. Victory points are accrued for creating settlements or cities and for having the largest army, and the first player to earn 10 victory points wins. But watch out! There are wiley robbers on the island of Catan and they just might try to ruin your victory.
Buy It: Catan, $44
Relive the great Western Migration on The Oregon Trail with this card-based version of the beloved educational computer game. In this game, you are a pioneer in a wagon party headed west on a perilous journey from Missouri to Oregon. The trek is long and any number of calamites await to waylay the journey. There are rivers to ford and rattlesnakes to avoid. Try to make sure you and your oxen don’t run out of food, and oh, try not to die from dysentery. Some members of your party won’t be strong enough to make the trip and you will lose some them along the way, but the goal is get at least one member of your party to the end of the journey alive. Can you survive The Oregon Trail?
Buy It: The Oregon Trail, $15
Boggle is like a giant word jumble. In this game, players try to create as many unique word combinations as possible from the letters on 16 six-sided dice. Give the Boggle box a good shake first to scramble the dice, then start the timer and begin. Search the letters to find words that can be made out of adjoining cubes and write down every word that you can find that is longer than three letters. Once the time is up, compare your list of words with the other players. Any word that appears on more than one list is crossed off, but points are awarded for any word not duplicated by other players. Play as many rounds as you’d like and tally up total points at the end to determine the winner.
Buy It: Boggle, $10