With reduced options for things to do this summer, my family ended up buying and trying a lot of board games. Here’s a list of games that I enjoyed playing with my 5 year old son and 7 year old daughter. These all make great gifts or just a something-to-do on those long pandemic nights.
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- Zombie Kidz Evolution
- Catan Junior
- Ticket to Ride: First Journey
- Ghost Fightin’ Treasure Hunters
Honorable mentions: Uno & Skip-Bo (bundle)
Zombie Kidz Evolution
What kids like: My kids loved picking which character they will be, and using the characters’ special powers to kill zombies. They looked forward to opening the secret envelopes that cause the game to “evolve” over time.
What parents like: I like that there’s a lot of strategy to the game. It’s not just rolling dice or drawing cards and seeing what happens. Co-op is great, too, because kids work together rather that getting upset about competing.
What kids like: For my kids, this game is all about the Coco (parrot) cards. Being able to spend resources on almost every turn kept them engaged. Even though they were competing with each other, there isn’t a lot of doing bad things to each other — so play stays amicable.
What parents like: There are different strategies you can use to win the game. Counting and resource management seemed to provide some educational value, which was a nice unintended side-effect. I loved seeing my daughter take on the role of “banker” and doling out resources with each player’s turn.
What kids like: All the dice-rolling makes this game feel more active and engaging despite being so simple and straightforward. Kids love using the clue finder to find out details about the suspect and solve the mystery.
What parents like: This is an ultra lightweight version of Clue. It’s very easy to play, and it’s cooperative — so less fighting! Despite being really easy, my daughter still really liked playing. This is perfect for kids who are just getting started with games, but I’m not sure it would hold the interest of older kids.
Ticket to Ride: First Journey
What kids like: My son loves trains so for him, that’s most of the appeal. Both kids love collecting cards and using them to put trains on the board. They especially loved getting the “golden ticket” for winning at the end, which doesn’t make sense to me since the game is over and you just put it back in the box. But, hey — I’m not a kid.
What parents like: This kid version is very similar to the regular version, it’s just simplified and has less points for contention. Similar to other games on the list, I like that you can think and make choices versus just blindly following mechanics to see what happens. (Looking at you, Candy Land.)
Ghost Fightin’ Treasure Hunters
What kids like: The game pieces are really cool, and it’s fun for them to put the pieces out on the board and have something to interact with. The kids loved being able to put the treasure jewels in their characters’ backpacks while they tried to escape.
What parents like: This is a fun game for 3 or 4 players, but I don’t like it for just 2. I also don’t like how much shuffling is required with the small deck of cards. But, those things aside, it’s a cooperative kid-friendly game that’s a bit more challenging than the others on the list.
Uno & Skip-Bo
Throughout all the board games coming and going, these classic card games saw the most play. My son’s a little young to play on his own, but my daughter was very into them and very competitive with them. You can’t go wrong with these — not joking when they say fun for all ages!