The best simple and easy family game night board, dice, and card games for elementary kids and adults to play together. These games make great gifts to buy and are the perfect addition to any home's game basket. Great to play on Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Eve, or any holiday.
Elementary school kids need to play games. They need to play games because games reinforce math and reading concepts, reasoning and analytical skills, and good sportsmanship.
Not to mention that games are just plain fun. We all need to have fun and play just for the sake of playing. (Brené Brown talks about this in The Gifts of Imperfection.)
The 12 games that follow are my favorite elementary school kid games. Older kids and adults will like them all, too.
Because they're fun and interesting.
The best games for elementary kids and their families
There are 18 awesome games on my preschooler list plus:
- Guess Who Game – I am preferable to the old, original Guess Who with cards you can rearrange and switch out, so I found it on ebay for less than an arm and a leg. There is a new version that looks pretty cute, though, and it's supposed to be more durable than the old version. (We have purchased Guess Who Extra - a fully enclosed, very durable version of the game. I LOVE it, but it isn't made anymore, and I couldn't find it for less than $75. It's not worth $75, but I happily paid $40 for ours.)
- HedBanz – I feel like this is a new classic. Grace loves to play it, but Allie makes it a little difficult most of the time. The idea is that you wear a headband with a card in it, and you have to ask questions to figure out what your card is. It's like having something taped to your back and trying to figure it out. (Did you ever do that in team building camps?)
- Uno Card Game – You know, UNO. Match the number or the color and reverse and reverse again until you have to put out an arrow to remember which way the game play is going. I really love this classic card game.
- Skip-Bo – When I was a little girl, we played Uno, Skip-Bo, and Rack-O with Old Grandma pretty much every day. In Skip-Bo, you have to make piles of cards from 1 to 12 in the center of the table, and there's a certain amount of strategy and luck in trying to unload your cards onto those piles.
- Rack-O – In Rack-O, you have to put your cards in order from lowest to highest by switching them out and moving them around. It's great practice with numbers, but we always thought it was just fun.
- Rummikub – This version of the card game Rummy uses plastic tiles to make runs and melds. It was another of my favorites as a kid.
- Cranium Whoonu, which is crazy expensive, or Apples to Apples Junior which I imagine is pretty similar – My kids laugh and laugh and laugh when they play Whoonu. They see what everyone guessed they'd like, and they just find it so funny
- Boggle Junior – Boggle is one of my two favorite games of all time. In Boggle Junior, kids figure out how to spell words using letter cubes and pictures. It's not exactly like the original, but it's close enough. It's also great practice for phonics and spelling.
- Classic Yahtzee and Yahtzee Jr. – I lied just now. I have three all-time favorite games, and Yahtzee is one of them. (The other is Scrutineyes, in case you're wondering. It's hard to come by, but well worth whatever you have to pay for it. It's not exactly something kids could be competitive in, so not the best for this particular list. On the other hand, I never lose, so no one can be competitive in Scrutineyes where I am concerned. Maybe it would be good with some handicapping modifications. I digress...) In Yahtzee, you roll dice and try to get the highest score possible given the confines of your scoring pad. It's sort of hard to explain but very, very fun, and enough of it is luck to give even a younger kid a pretty equal chance of winning.
- Bingo or eeBoo Animal Bingo, which is more like Bingo Junior – What is there to say about bingo? It's bingo. Kids and adults love it.
- Pass the Pigs – This is an adult party game that my 7-year-old adores. You toss around two pink piggies and get points based on how they land. Fun times.
- Sleeping Queens – Like most of the games above, this one combines a mix of luck and strategy. The object is to be the player who wakes the most sleeping queens. It's a card game that you'll enjoy as much as your kids.
For the card games above, make sure you get some kind of playing card holder to make it easier for little hands to hold onto fistfuls of cards. We got these ones at a used toy store, but they're really cheap to buy from Amazon, too.
I had to stop at 12 because I am itching to go play some games with my kids. This list has totally inspired me to get out some old favorites. Bring on Pass the Pigs!
There are lots more fun family bonding games in these lists, too:
- The Best 45+ Tween, Teen & Adult Games for Family Game Night
- 30+ Best Games for Family Game Night (When You Have a Non-Reader)
- The Best 20+ Adult & Teen Games for Date Night
- 17 St. Patrick’s Day Minute to Win It Games for Kids and Families (can be adjusted to other times of year)
- 15 Awesome Thanksgiving Games for the Whole Family
That is a FANTASTIC list of games! We are a huge game family and I can't get my kid to play enough! I'm always begging him to play more! My friends all tell me that they can remember playing the old school Guess Who at my house for hours! What great game!
My boy is 5, but my sister has 3 middle schoolers that would love these! I'll share with her for Christmas!
Joanna @Makingmine says
Oh I LOVE this! We always got games for Christmas as kids, and I want to build my daughter a collection too! Thanks for sharing 🙂
Kim Hawkins says
I'm smiling ear to ear simply because you mentioned a game I absolution LOVE! Pass the Pigs!!! Oh, I could just squeal. Also a fan of Uno and Boggle but more people should know the simple joy of Pass the Pigs.
Tara Ziegmont says
Yay for Pass the Pigs! I really love it, too. It's cheap, and it's so much fun for people of all ages. I have passed many a New Year's Eve tossing those little piggies.
Absolutely love Boggle. Need to buy it for my kids as they grow older.
Awesome list, thanks for sharing
Out of these 12 games, I only know 5. I would like to try HedBanz and Pass the Pigs with my kids. Looks like they will enjoy these games.
My 5 yr old (and 10 yr old & my husband and I ) love monopoly deal. Its a card game using money and monopoly sets. He's learned strategy and the many ways you can add up to 5. It says for ages 8 &up, but 5 year olds can learn it just fine.