We’re here to help you decide which games are worth trying out, and learn about new games we might enjoy! During this 5 Days of Games for Kids series we’ll be sharing some of our favourite games, and ones recommended by friends that we’re just dying to try out. If you’re ever stuck for a birthday or Christmas present for anyone on your list, this guide is chock-full of ideas for all age ranges.
Keep checking back for updates and additions as we try more games.
(Text links are to Amazon.com when available, photo links are to Amazon.ca if available there. As always, keep checking your thrift stores, garage sales and online for great deals on games!)
Games for Kids Ages 7 and Up
Most of the games previously mentioned in Games for Kids Ages 5 to 7 are suitable still – you’ll start to see them get clever (and sometimes a little under-handed :D) in their strategy as they mature and fully grasp the idea of making certain plays at strategic times.
Backgammon – Our boys have really gotten into this one during camping as they played with their Grandpa. It involves simple strategy – roll the dice, move your pieces based on the numbers rolled and spaces available. It’s simple enough for younger ones to understand it, and could easily be one of our favourite games.
Battleship – Call out your moves and sink your opponents ship!
Chess – The basic moves and steps can be taught even sooner, but the full realization of strategy and moves can take a bit longer to grasp – heck, I still struggle with how it all works! How to Teach Your Kids the Basics of Chess
There’s a great version called No Stress Chess that involves using playing cards. Each depicts a chess piece and how it moves. Once you become comfortable with the moves and powers of each chess piece, you can flip the two-sided board over and play standard chess.
Dixit – This game is a bit like Apples to Apples and Balderdash where you have to guess what the “active player” would choose as the correct answer, then vote for which one in the pile was theirs. But in this case, you’re using pictures (so it’s great for non-readers) and verbal descriptions.
The players have hands of oversized cards with various artistic pictures. The active player secretly selects one of his cards and gives a very brief description. The other players secretly select their own cards which match the description. The chosen cards are shuffled and revealed, then players vote on which was chosen by the active player.Each correct answer gives points to the guesser and the active player. Each incorrect answer gives points to the player who submitted the guessed card. However, if all of the guesses are correct — or none of them are — then the active player gets no points and all the other players get points.The game ends when the deck is empty. The greatest total wins the game.
It definitely sounds like a lot of fun and would be a great addition to any game cupboard!
My Word! – Search for words and call them out while letter cards are dealt on the table.
Perplexus – Perplexus is a maze game where players maneuver a small marble around challenging barriers inside a transparent sphere. Unlike traditional flat-surface mazes that are composed of one path, PERPLEXUS houses various challenging tracks with 100 barriers providing a frustrating three-dimensional experience. Players select the track they would like to attempt and must work with gravity to carefully shift, flip and twist the sphere to guide the marble. Players can race each other or the clock.
This is one I’ve been skeptical about, but have it on good authority that it’s a game that lasts and is lots of fun! Costco has had them in a 2-pack before, so keep your eyes open for that steal of a deal.
Pit – Oh how we used to love playing Pit at our homeschool play dates. Fast moving, loud and silly!
The simple goal is to be the first person to trade your cards to end up with a hand of just one type of commodity. To trade, you call out what you want and trade with other players. Since different commodities have different point values, you keep score based on the value of commodity that you acquired, beginning a new round after each successful “win”. You can set whatever point value you want to make the game last as long as you want.
You can buy just the cards with updated commodities, or a set with the original, classic commodities (I prefer this one). Or keep your eyes peeled for second hand sets!
Qwitch – Get rid of your cards by building sequences of numbers and words. Fast and fun!
Rush Hour – Hands on logic game. Get your vehicle free from the traffic jam in as few moves as possible. This is a favourite for the boys to pull out and play through on their own.
Set – We’re getting this one for Christmas and I can’t wait to play!
SET is a card game of quick recognition and deduction. Each card contains one of three symbols (squiggles, diamonds, ovals) in varying numbers (up to three), colors (purple, green, red), and degrees of shading. A dealer arranges 12 cards, face up, and the players–without taking turns–hastily scrutinize the images for logical “sets” of three cards linked by combinations of sameness or difference.
Spot It (full version) – Find the matches before your opponents do!
Wooly Bully – This plays a bit like Carcassonne in the way the tiles are laid out and the strategy is based:
You have one shepherd with the color of the sheep on the opposite side. You may declare that sheep color early in the game for a bonus tile. However, you may want to keep the color secret for a long period.
Your objective is to provide the largest sheep pen and achieve the victory points. The tile you place has to match the sheep’s color and the terrain on at least one side. You strive mightily to achieve a match on two sides or more to enable the drawing of more tiles. For example, if you can match the village terrain and one other sheep’s color, you may draw two tiles (instead of one) from the bag provided.
Games to Introduce Around Age 7:
We have a nice pile of games that we’ve enjoyed as adults. As our kids have gotten older we’ve realized it’s very feasible to teach them these games as well. Some require modifications, others bending of the rules or teaching steps individually, but these are all definitely doable and fun for kids to learn.
Settlers of Catan – Portable version – The smaller game board and pegs on the pieces makes this easier to play with younger kids. The number circles stay the same for each game so they can quickly learn how to recognize the best combinations for obtaining commodities.
Ticket to Ride – To play this with our kids we have them complete one route at a time until they begin to understand how the strategy works. Believe me, we’re already starting to see them pick up on blocking other people’s train routes :D
From what I’ve heard from others and in my opinion, The Europe Edition is the best edition to play with.
Carcassonne – Like Catan, there are MANY expansions to this game, but the basic edition is a great way to start teaching kids the simple strategy of the game. Because the play is based off random draws of the tile, even young kids have a good chance to winning.
Clue – Ah, the classic game of Clue! Enough said :0)
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