I have written many times over about all the games my family loves. We are game players through and through. We have family game nights often, and we play games during “school time” in the days. (Some people call that gameschooling, a name that I love.)
Recently, I posted 20+ Best Adult Games for Date Night with the caveat that we don’t do the adult versions of games because they tend to be raunchy and borderline vulgar. That’s just not our style. We prefer to spend our money on games the whole family can enjoy. That post has been crazy popular, but I’ve also gotten a number of requests for a family game post that includes games for struggling readers.
We do have quite a few games that require tip-top reading and spelling skills, and our 6-year-old just isn’t there yet. She is quite good at math, though, and so we are able to play a wide variety of games without her needing any help at all.
If you have a wide range of ages in your family – including a kiddo who’s not yet a strong reader – you will find a lot of gems in the list below.
I will admit that some of these come directly from my other post. We love those ones, and they are classics that the whole family can enjoy
But there are a lot of new ones as well that didn’t make the cut for my adult list, things that my girls want to play over and over (and over and over) again.
As with my other list, our favorites are listed first.
Finally, don’t forget a card holder if you’re playing a card game with kids. They make a huge difference in the amount of fun kids have, reduce frustration significantly, and are very inexpensive. Buy one per kid.
Note: I have purchased every single one of these games (except for the wishlist ones which are clearly labeled) with my own dollars. Nothing was provided by a company. These are all games that my family owns and adores.
30+ Best Games for Family Game Night
Rat-A-Tat-Cat – This is Allie’s favorite game right now. It’s a simple game; you are dealt 4 cards in a line and try to trade them out for the lowest possible score. The catch is that you only get to look at the outside 2 cards and the inside 2 cards are a secret until you trade them for other cards, which you do get to look at. Many times, I have traded a card only to find out that the one I’m getting rid of is a 0 or a 1. Doh! Allie is amazing at this game. She never seems to get confused as I often do, and she wins almost every time.
Kitten Caboodle – This is Allie’s other favorite game, and she has loved it for years. It’s a little like Go-Fish in that you ask other players for cards and, if they don’t have the card you asked for, you have to draw a card from the pile. But unlike Go-Fish, you are trying to collect certain combinations of cards that will allow you to adopt a cat. Each cat needs a specific collection of items, like a brush, can of tuna, bowl of milk, cat bed, etc. The player with the most cats at the end of the game wins.
Pass the Pigs – This is one of my all-time favorite games. You have 2 little pigs, and you roll them like dice. Depending on how they land, you score points. You can keep rolling until you get the magic “zero” combination which means you lose all your points for that round or you can stop rolling at any time and keep your points. I think this game is super fun, and I play it with anyone who will play with me. The girls laugh and laugh when we play Pass the Pigs.
Sleeping Queens – Our entire family absolutely adores this game and plays it whenever we can. It’s a card game where you have to wake up the queens by playing certain cards. You can steal other players’ queens, put them back to sleep, and defend yourself. The game ends when the last queen has been awakened, and then the player with the most queen points wins. The version that I linked is the 10th anniversary edition which has extra queens and comes in a tin. We had the original before, but lost it, and then sprung for the one with the tin, and we were glad for it because the extra queens make the game a bit longer and a lot more fun.
SKIP-BO and SKIP-BO Junior – I love SKIP-BO. I love it so much that I found SKIP-BO Junior and taught my kids to play it. We call Allie The Card Shark because she never loses at SKIP-BO Junior. Never, ever. Basically, SKIP-BO is a card game where you have to make piles of numbers from 1-12 (10 in the junior version). You have a big pile of cards, and the first person to get rid of her stack is the winner. It’s simple and easy and depends way more on luck than anything else, which makes it perfect for families where one person can’t read and spell as well as the others.
Dragonwood: A Game of Dice and Daring – This is Grace’s favorite game. It’s a card and dice game where you have to battle against and collect foes. But then, you can also collect cards that help you to battle and make it easier to collect the monster cards. It’s a little complicated to explain but very fun. All 4 of us enjoy playing this game. In fact, the first time we played it, we were at a picnic at a baseball game. We got so into the game that we totally missed the ball game. Oops.
Creature Clash! – This is another of Grace’s favorite games. It’s a card game where you have to collect pieces of creatures, put them together to get points, and battle against other players’ creatures. A card holder is an absolute necessity in this game because you have to hold 7 or more cards at a time.
Googly Eyes –This was Grace’s last pick for her favorites. It’s a lot like Pictionary except you wear these silly vision-altering glasses while you’re trying to draw. It’s very silly which is right up her alley. Great for family game night because you need quite a few people to form teams.
Zeus on the Loose – This game is super fun and your kids won’t even care that it’s 100% math. Each person lays down a card and adds it to the running total for the game on each turn. There are also special god and goddess cards that do funky things to the total. Every time the running total hits a multiple of 10, the person who laid down that card gets to steal Zeus. The person with Zeus at the end of the game is the winner.
Sequence Cats – My girls and I are hopelessly devoted to cats, so this is perfect for us. If you’re not a cat lover, there’s a dog version and of course a bunch of others including Bible Sequence, Number Sequence, and the original Sequence. Not sure what’s on the squares in the original version, but I think they might be playing cards. It’s a bit like Connect 4 in that you have to make a line of 4 tokens (or is it 5?), but your moves in Sequence depend on what cards you draw. I really like the cat and dog versions because they require some pretty serious attention to detail in order to distinguish between the animals on the board. They use real photos.
Rummikub – I love this one. It’s another luck game, this time where you use tiles instead of cards and basically play rummy. I played this as a kid with my grandmother (not Old Grandma, my dad’s mother), and I still laugh at all the weird things she said while we played on her front porch. There’s a good bit of strategy and creativity involved in Rummikub because you can shift around the tiles to suit yourself as long as everything is played at the end of your turn, but you are only making sets of the same number (3-3-3) and runs of adjacent numbers (3-4-5), so it is super easy for little ones to understand.
Uno – I love Uno. If you’ve never played it (where have you been all your life?!?), it’s a card game where you lay down number cards that either match the color or the number of the card played before you. Very simple, but there are also special cards that can thwart your opponent and mess everything all up. It’s another great game where the winner is mostly determined by luck, and it is super fun. I remember playing this with my whole family when I was a kid, and we had such heated battles that we had to make a little arrow on a piece of paper so we’d remember which direction the play was supposed to move. Great times.
Yahtzee – I love Yahtzee, too. I used to play Yahtzee with Old Grandma for hours. We both got really good at it. There’s a lot of strategy involved in Yahtzee although it’s a very simple game. You roll dice and add up the totals and record them on the score pad. You have to get certain combinations of dice in order to win. It’s super fun. We have a lovely Disney Princess Junior Yahtzee game that the girls started with, but it currently costs almost $40. It’s great, but not worth $40, so check for that on Ebay if you’re interested. I also got Yacht-See which is a handmade Disney Cruise version of Yahtzee. I ordered it from an Etsy seller, and we love it. I keep it in my purse, and we play it every time we go to a restaurant. It doesn’t have as many score categories, so it is nice to help the kids learn the game.
Tenzi – Tenzi is a fun, fast-paced dice game when you play the original instructions. Each person gets 10 dice and has to keep rolling them until she gets all 10 to match the number you’re playing for. There are dozens of additional games you can play with Tenzi dice, and they are all great fun. If your kids are small like Allie, you will want to invest in a couple of dice cups and a dice tray or two. It can be hard for littles to roll their dice and then keep them in a small space, so these are essential.
Left, Right, Center – My in-laws introduced my girls to this game where you roll dice based on how many chips you have, and you might have to give them to the person on your right, the person on your left, or into the center bowl. This can be used as a gambling game for an all adult crowd, but my kids love it. Even when you are out (meaning that you’ve lost all your tokens), there’s always the chance that someone will have to pass you one or more of their tokens, bringing you back into the game. It is a whole lot of fun when you play with 4 or more players. There’s also an LCR Wild Dice game that just came out, but we haven’t tried yet. I’m sure it’s awesome, too.
Farkle – We just recently discovered Farkle. It’s a little like Pass the Pigs which I wrote about above. I originally got Pocket Farkle to take with Joe and I on a date night. It’s the size of an old film canister, and it is fun. Farkle is a dice game where you have to get certain numbers in order to score points, and you can keep rolling as long as you’re earning points, but if you get a roll with no points, you lose all of your points from that round. We bent some of the rules to suit ourselves, but we all really liked the game. Note: The scores in this game go up to 10,000, so you may not want littles to keep score for themselves.
Rack-O – This is another super simple game. You have 10 cards, and you have to get them in order from smallest to biggest, except that you can’t actually switch them around. You can only change them out for cards you draw from the draw pile, so you have to be clever about where you put those cards in order to win the game. I used to play this with Old Grandma when I was a wee little girl, and I like playing it with my girls just as much.
Go Nuts! dice game – This is a game sort of like Farkle, but you roll squirrels and dogs and cars. If you roll too many squirrels, you GO NUTS! and have to beat another player by rolling as many acorns as you can before she rolls the magic combination to stop you. This is a really fast-paced game that’s super fun. Dice cups are also helpful on this one as there are quite a few dice to roll at once.
Go Nuts for Donuts – I ordered this game when it was on Amazon’s Deal of the Day, just on impulse. It’s a Gamewright game, so I knew it would be good. It’s a card game where you have to outsmart your opponents to collect the most donut cards, but you only ever hold 4 small cards at a time and most of your cards are laid face-up on the table. There is some strategy involved, but it is simple enough even for little ones. Also to note, it isn’t as much fun with 2 players as with 4. It gets better the more people are playing.
Jenga – If you’ve never played this stacking game, you are missing out. You stack these little wooden blocks in an alternating pattern and each player takes turns pushing out one block at a time and restacking it at the top of the pile without knocking the pile over. Both of my girls really love Jenga.
Nada – Nada is another dice game that you’ll want to have a dice cup for. Basically, you take turns rolling a huge number of dice, and players make a grab for any dice that have a matching picture on them. You have to really pay attention, because if you have a roll with no matches at all, whoever says Nada first gets to keep all those dice. The player with the most dice wins the game.
The Ultimate Book of Family Card Games and a deck of cards – This isn’t one game; it’s a book of games that you can play together. It holds rules and instructions for over 50 different card games, and you are guaranteed to find something that your family likes among its pages.
On our family game night wishlist:
5 Second Rule – In this one, you get a category and then have 5 seconds to list 3 things from that category. It’s fast-paced and funny because the players often get tongue-tied trying to spit out an answer in time. In such a short time period, all kinds of wrong answers will pop out. You’ll be amazed at how much you know but can’t think of in time! It’s especially funny with kids who make all kinds of crazy combinations of words.
Blokus – This is another simple game – you place colored tiles on the board, making sure that each one touches one of the corners of a tile you’ve already placed. It sounds easy enough, but like all the above games, there is a lot of strategy and planning involved. I’m really looking forward to getting this one.
Despicable Me Labyrinth – Grace asked her grandparents for Despicable Me Labyrinth this year for Christmas, and I’m hoping they get it for her because I think both girls will love it. (There’s also a regular, non-character Labyrinth game.) This is a strategy game where players place and remove and rotate wall tiles to change the labyrinth in order to thwart their opponents. I’m really looking forward to playing this game.
Toilet Trouble – Allie asked for this game for Christmas, and I bought it for her back in October. I don’t know much about it, but I’ll let you know soon! From what I gather, everyone takes a turn flushing the toilet and then someone gets sprayed with water from the toilet. My girls are toilet and poop and pee obsessed, so it’s right up their alley.
Soggy Doggy – Allie also asked for this one back in October, and I purchased it, too. Apparently, as you go around the game board, you have chances to wash the soggy doggy. Once he’s wet, he occasionally shakes off and sprays you with water. If you get sprayed, you have to go back to the beginning. That’s all I know about it, so I’ll have to let you know about this one later on, too.
Bounce Off – I have my eye on Bounce Off because the first review on Amazon says it’s like beer pong for kids, and that was one of my favorite hobbies in college. I was never any good at it, but the concept of bouncing balls into a pattern is intriguing to me. I’m sure it will be hilarious and a lot of good fun.
Even though we have shelf after shelf of games, I know there are lots of games that we don’t have. What have I missed on this list? Leave a comment below.
© 2017, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.