What Are The Best Board Games for Kids in 2020? (Reviews)
In this age of smart devices and video games, the idea of playing board games can feel almost quaint. But board games are actually better than ever. Today’s board games for kids aren’t just entertaining, they’re also excellent teaching tools. Plus, board games foster social interaction when kids play with their friends. Of course, board games are also fun for the whole family.
Here are 10 of the best board games for kids for 2020:
- ThinkFun Robot Turtles Coding Board Game for Preschoolers
- Tyto Games Elementos the Board Game
- Wonder Forge Richard Scarry’s Busytown Eye Found It
- WizKids Justice League Strategy Game
- SpinMaster Games HedBanz
- Hasbro Scrabble Junior Game
- Educational Insights Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game
- RoosterFin Monkeys Up Family Board Game
- Clue Junior
- Don’t Step In It
- What to Consider when Buying a Board Game for Your Kids
- Size and Quantity of the Pieces
- The Complexity of the Rules
- Recommended Ages
- Your Child’s Temperament
- What Does the Board Game Teach
- Best Board Game for Kids FAQ
- What Age are the Players?
- How Many People Will Be Playing?
- What Do You Want the Players to Learn?
- When Should Kids Play Games?
- How Should Board Games Be Stored?
- What Role Does the Adult Play in Kids Board Games?
ThinkFun Robot Turtles Coding Board Game for Preschoolers
The Robot Turtles are here to teach coding. Inspired by the Logo programming language, this card-based board games teaches programming fundamentals to kids ages four and up. Players use cards to move their Robot Turtle around the board in pursuit of jewels.
- Teaches programming in a fun, unique way
- Variable difficultly levels suitable for preschoolers and elementary aged kids
- Younger kids will probably need the help of an adult to play
Designed for up to five kids, this is a relatively non-competitive game where any Turtle who catches a jewel is a winner. Both basic and advanced programming ideas are taught in a subtle but effective way. Robot Turtles is actually the most-backed board game in Kickstarter history and has been featured on NPR, the New York Times and more.
Tyto Games Elementos the Board Game
A fast-paced strategy game which combines aspects of checkers, chess and paper/rock/scissors. Each game piece represents either fire, water or wood. The two players attempt to capture each other’s game pieces: fire overtakes wood, wood takes water and water takes fire. Each piece is flippable, which allows for surprise traps.
- Simple to learn
- Endless re-playability
- Beautiful wood game board and pieces
- Easy to transport
- Only for two players
- Pieces can be easy for little kids to lose
Elementos helps teach kids to think critically while planning for future events. Aside from family fun, many therapists and other child care professionals use the game to help kids with ADHA and other attention issues. A fast-paced game which helps develop strategic planning, Elementos is fun for adults and kids ages seven and up.
Wonder Forge Richard Scarry’s Busytown Eye Found It
Do your kids love Richard Scarry’s Busytown? They’ll feel right at home in Eye Found It, a gigantic interactive board game featuring Huckle Cat, Lowly Worm and other beloved Busytown characters.
- Tons of Busytown details sure to please fans
- Giant game board (which folds up to 16 inches for easy storage)
- Six-foot board requires lots of floor space
Young players can spend hours exploring the elaborate detail of Busytown. The game itself is a less-complicated version of Clue where you help Pig Will and Pig Won’t eat all of the food on Picnic Island.
Up to four players can explore the various puzzles and mini-games found in Busy Town. Helps improve observational skills, teamwork and the impact of causal relationships. Game is designed for two to four players ages three or older. A dream come true for Busytown fans.
WizKids Justice League Strategy Game
DC Comics superheroes are always popular with many kids of all ages. But instead of passively watching a movie or playing a video game, the Justice League Strategy Game helps players develop logic, problem-solving and reasoning skills.
- Fun strategy game which helps develop planning skills
- Play as Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman or Cyborg
- Includes five character miniatures
- Reasonably complex gameplay best for ages 12 and up
This is a card-based game where players use their superpowers, which involves understanding each character’s abilities and predicting the moves of your opponent. Helps improve deductive reasoning. Designed for three to five players.
SpinMaster Games HedBanz
This goofy guessing game features pictures games which are worn on a headband. Each HedBanz player takes turning asking “yes” and “no” questions as they try to guess what image is on their headband.
- Fast-paced fun for ages seven and up
- Improves critical thinking, communication and more
- Contains small pieces
Game includes a stack of picture cards with animals, food and household items. Two to six players each try to guess the item. Questions start very generally, such as “Am I an animal?”, and become more specific as the game continues.
This award-winning game help kids learn deductive reasoning and puzzle solving skills. Because each round depends heavily on talking with the other players, the game also helps kids improve their communication ability.
Hasbro Scrabble Junior Game
The classic game of Scrabble is an adult favorite but can be a bit too complex for younger kids. Scrabble Junior makes a few changes to the game to increase its value as a teaching tool – without decreasing the fun.
- Excellent way to improve vocab and spelling
- Fun kid-appealing design
- Lots of small pieces to keep track of
The two-sided game board adapts to two skill levels. One side is for traditional Scrabble where players build their own words. The other side is a bit simpler where players match letters to form words. Both boards include colorful picture clues as well as fun character tokens.
Scrabble Junior helps improve spelling, vocabulary and other linguistic skills. Designed for two to four players ages six and up.
Educational Insights Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game
Help your furry friends gather acorns from the forest floor. Players compete to match and collect acorns – first person to get five wins. The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game is a colorful, relatively simple game for kids as young as three.
- Fun, goofy cartoon squirrels which kids love
- Includes related Sneaky Snacky Squirrel book
- Helps develop both physical and mental skills
- Only entertaining for small kids
This fast-paced and fun game uses cartoon squirrels to teach fine motor skills, color matching skills and strategic thinking. Plus, the included kid’s book encourages kids to read in order to learn more about the squirrels from the game.
RoosterFin Monkeys Up Family Board Game
More fun than a barrel of… well, you know. Monkeys Up is a game where players flip, switch and steal plastic monkeys. Recipient of the 2017 Game of the Year Award from Creative Child Magazine.
- Fun for all ages over six
- Promotes dexterity and basic math skills
- Easy to learn
- Potential choking hazard for kids under six
Each monkey has a number hidden underneath its base. During play, players tried to score the most points by flipping their own monkeys and stealing monkeys from their opponents. Despite the competitive nature of the game, the wacky monkeys and easy-to-understand gameplay make this a great all-ages game for a relaxed family game night.
Clue is a complex board game, but with the Clue Junior set, your entire family can enjoy the whodunnit experience of Clue.
- Great for groups of four
- Non-violent alternative to Clue
- Supports up to six players
- Less deep than the original Clue
Unlike the adult-sized version of Clue, Clue Junior doesn’t feature any murder mystery. Instead, players must try to find out who stole a slice of delicious cake. In the name of making the game a bit friendlier for younger children, the Clue Junior set is also simpler.
These changes make Clue Junior great for parties and small groups of children. But, the gameplay of the junior version of Clue is also significantly less deep than the adult version.
Don’t Step In It
Board games that include active play elements, like Don’t Step In It, are a great way to spend a rainy day with the family.
- Humorous gameplay
- Includes board game elements and moving elements
- Simple to learn at any age
- Requires a lot of floor space to play
Don’t Step In It is unique because it requires players to physically walk around the board and avoid stepping on turds. The board game aspect of the game sets the conditions for each player’s treacherous stroll through the soiled garden.
The gameplay is fun, but you won’t be playing this game on a train or plane anytime soon: the mat takes up a lot of floorspace, so it isn’t great for enclosed spaces. Likewise, the requirement to move around during gameplay may dissuade some children or adults.
What to Consider when Buying a Board Game for Your Kids
Size and Quantity of the Pieces
A board game with a gadzillion pieces is bound to have fewer every time it is brought out and played. Keeping the parts in their designated storage spaces in the box will help reduce loss. However, having fewer pieces overall makes it easier to keep track of them.
The size of the pieces is also essential. Small parts are choking hazards for children of any age, not just children under the age of three. Smaller pieces are apt to get lost more quickly as well. Carefully consider piece size when choosing a board game for your kids.
The Complexity of the Rules
Board games are supposed to be fun! An overly complicated board game not only increases the chances of cheating but also the frustration level. Rules are essential guidelines and will help your child get the most out of the game, but they should be brief and precise.
While there are instances where a six-year-old completely masters a game designed for players eight and up, the recommended ages are provided for a reason.
Some games may not be appropriate for the developmental level of your child. They could be too easy, thus dull, or too difficult, causing frustration. For example, if the game requires reading and your child has not yet mastered that skill, it would not be the right choice for him or her.
Your Child’s Temperament
When choosing a board game for your kids, keep in mind their temperament and personality. Complicated games and volatile children are not a good match.
Board games can help your child learn how to strategize, wait for his or her turn, and lose gracefully. However, these are processes that are learned over time, not overnight. Introduce the social graces needed to play with less complicated games.
If your kid has difficulty sitting still, consider board games that incorporate movement, like charades. Also, give some thought to the playing time of a game in this case. Games that last more than an hour might be too demanding for a child that is restless, no matter how fun it is.
On the other hand, studies show children with autism find board games particularly entertaining. Because there are set rules that are followed and specific moves made, they find board games less complicated than regular social interactions.
What Does the Board Game Teach
There are board games that teach manual dexterity and others that teach spelling concepts. Then there are board games for improving math skills and still others for critical thinking, reading comprehension, and strategy. Board games for preschoolers focus on colors, numbers, and classifications.
You should examine the concepts needed to successfully win the board game to determine what your child may need assistance with when choosing a game for family night.
For example, if your child is still learning the alphabet, practice the letters with him or her before introducing the game. Then practice after playing and see the increased motivation in their efforts.
Best Board Game for Kids FAQ
There’s certainly no shortage of board games designed for kids. More than just fun for a rainy day, board games can be excellent teaching tools. Finding the right game depends on the age of the players, their interests, the subject matter you want them to learn and more. Here’s what you’ll want to ask yourself when selecting a board game for kids.
What Age are the Players?
Some games will have a minimum age but can be enjoyed by anyone older. For instance, the Justice League Strategy Game is too complicated for kids without strong reading skills. But it’s also a game pre-teens, teens and older adults can all play together. If your goal is family game night, the minimum age of the youngest member in the household should be considered.
Instead of a minimum age limit, other games will have an age range. For instance, while the word matching game in Scrabble Junior is fun for younger kids as they learn to read and write, it might be a bit too simple for older kids. Some games with an age range might only hold a kid’s interest for a few years, but they can still teach valuable skills.
Other types of board games are made to grow with the player. Elementos is simple enough for even young ones to learn, but the game can become very complex and strategic once players gain experience.
How Many People Will Be Playing?
Some games are strictly one versus one while other can accommodate many more. If your goal is family game night, you want a board game which everyone can play together. Don’t worry if you have a large family – forming teams is often a fun option. In my family we often pair older kids up with younger kids to help create an even playing field.
Be careful when selecting one-on-one competitive games, especially if you have two children. You don’t want a game where one kid consistently beats the other. For instance, nothing kills the fun quicker than a game where the younger sibling always loses to the older one. Some good alternatives are either board games where there can be more than one winner, such as Robot Turtles, or cooperative games such as Eye Found It.
What Do You Want the Players to Learn?
According to research from Michigan State University, games are an effective teaching tool for a variety of subjects. Almost 70% of students learn actively and visually, two elements at the heart of just about every board game.
Many games are overtly educational. For example, Scrabble Junior teaches about spelling and words. Finding an appropriate game can even be an effective way to help out a struggling student.
Don’t discount games which have no obvious educational value. Parenting.com explains how basically all board games teach young children how to follow rules, take turns, self-regulate and more. Plus, games help increase communication skills because players have to talk to one another while playing.
When Should Kids Play Games?
Kids find comfort in predictability. Planning a game night is often a fun routine which can bring the whole family together. Game nights are often a great way to bring younger and older siblings together who might not have a lot in common otherwise.
You also want to make room for kids to approach you when they want to play a board game. Games can even serve as a comforting distraction. Sitting with your child while playing a board game is often a great way for them to feel comfortable enough to talk about issues in their life.
How Should Board Games Be Stored?
Kids aren’t generally known for keeping track of small items very well. Many board games contain a variety of small tokens, dice, cards and other objects which can easily become lost. However, this can also be a teaching opportunity.
The number of small pieces in a board game usually corresponds to the appropriate age of the game player. Board games can always remain an age-appropriate way for kids to learn how to keep track of their toys and store them properly when not being used.
What Role Does the Adult Play in Kids Board Games?
As every parent knows, children are like little sponges. Kids look to their parents for cues on how to act in practically every situation. Board games are a great way for adults to model good behavior in a variety of situations.
If you lose a board game with grace and humility, the younger players can see what good sportsmanship looks like. Kids can also learn the difference between good-natured ribbing and inappropriate trash talk. Even the most competitive board games can help kids learn positive values.
When kids play board games, everyone wins. Games help teach general abilities such as logic, communication and strategy. They can also teach math, reading, programming and other specific skills. Of course, board games are also plenty of fun, too. The best board games bring the whole family together for learning, laughs and love!