Kids love games, it’s a universal truth! Play is an integral part of how our little ones learn. Board games teach maths, communication, critical thinking, and loads more, in a way that’s also fun and engaging. They also allow us as parents to have an active role in this process, spending quality time with the sprogs and getting to know them better.
Great, so we all agree board games for kids are a must. That was easy. Here’s the sticking point. There are absolutely squillions of them! Is one children’s game as good as another? Not at all. Just like board games for grown-ups, some are better than others and certain games appeal to certain people. Let me share with you some of the shining stars that my two young ones enjoy and you can judge our top 5 board games for kids for yourself.
Kingdomino is a firm favourite in our house and we’ve played many times with our 5-year-old daughter. However, she does need little nudges to make the best decisions, guidance on strategy, and plenty of help with the scoring! Finally, Blue Orange Games have launched a game in the Kingdomino family specifically for kids. This adorable new addition, Dragomino, features simpler rules and gorgeous artwork.
While it maintains that strategic domino tile-laying we know and love, it also adds a field-levelling luck factor. Dragomino rewards players who wisely choose the tile that will give the most eggs. You can build your territory to facilitate this. But scoring depends on whether those eggs contain dragon babies, and you only know that when you flip the token. This gives a nice tension that kids really enjoy and it also gives everyone a decent shot at winning.
I love this game! I know I’m 36 and it’s targeted at a much younger audience, but it’s just so good.
Firstly, Loki produces incredible components and the 4 dinosaur sculptures in SOS Dino are some of the best yet. With the 3D mountains, volcanoes, and obstacles, this game has a presence that immediately draws you to it. Thankfully, the gameplay is as fun as the aesthetic is attractive. It’s a cooperative game. Any player can control any Dino, so there’s no player elimination. On your turn, you’ll draw a lava tile from a bag which will extend one of 4 colour coded lava flows.
The aim is to get all your prehistoric buddies to the safety of the mountains, bringing all the eggs with them. In practice, this is super challenging, but you earn points for every Dino and egg that you save so you can try and beat your score next time. SOS Dino is one of those games for kids that I’ll be happy to play whenever it’s suggested. It’s brilliant!
Stone Age is an excellent worker placement game that’s often used as a gateway to heavier games. It’s appropriate, then, that there’s a kid's version to ease young ones into the hobby too!
With the rulebook sharing the story of an adorable pair of cave kids and the gloriously chunky resource components, My First Stone Age has ‘cute appeal’ in spades. Employing a simplified version of the resource management and hut building of the original game, it’s quick and enjoyable. It utilises a tile flipping movement mechanism that trains young minds to engage their memory skills. The first to buy 3 huts is the winner. This doesn’t take long, generally. What that means in our house is that we often play several games back to back. There’s no more natural test of how good a game is than if you’re willing to play it again straight away.
Ticket to Ride is an award-winning, multi-million-copy-selling game that EVERYONE has heard of. For good reason, TtR is beloved in the board game community. Ticket to Ride First Journey and First Journey Europe are faithful child-friendly versions of the original. They contain smaller maps with shorter routes and a straight race to the most completed tickets, no points. Otherwise, the gameplay is completely recognisable. The board is beautiful and fantastic for teaching young ones geography. The art is gorgeous and the chunky little trains are perfect! It’s quick, simple and a great stepping stone to the full game, which is also pretty child friendly. First Journey is another one I’m happy to play whenever it’s suggested. It’s a feast for the eyes and a lot of fun to boot.
So Kraken Attack is the second Loki game on this list but, seriously, check out the production values! One look at the beautiful, chunky, bright components should tell you all you need to know. Setting aside for a minute how gosh darn good looking it is, Kraken Attack also boasts a world-class designer! Antoine Bauza of 7 Wonders, Tokaido, and Takenoko fame is the mastermind behind this tentacled masterpiece.
Another co-op, players control 4 shipmates as they attempt to fight off the nefarious appendages of the titular beast. Each character has their own deck of cards and unique ability they’ll use to defend the ship. Each turn, a pool of Kraken dice are rolled to move all the bad stuff, including the Kraken himself. The Kraken slides towards our heroes, unlocking more dice into his pool and eventually slipping into the waters around the boat. At this point, we can attack the monster directly and hopefully win the game. Kraken Attack is great fun and challenging enough to make everyone work together.
More Board Games for Kids
Well there we have it, 5 of the best board games for kids! If these were the only games specifically for children that we owned, it would be no hardship. They cover a nice range of themes and playing styles. They’re all lovely to look at and, most importantly, great fun to play. But don’t take my word for it, check them out for yourselves! Your little ones will thank you!
If you're looking for even more great games for kids, look no further! The Fun for Kids section right here on the Zatu website is jam-packed with great suggestions.
Editors note: This blog was originally published on November 4th, 2020. Updated on June 2nd, 2022 to improve the information available.