Board games are a fun, easy and inexpensive form of entertainment for children. Many board games also help children to develop a variety of important skills, such as counting, concentration, strategy and memory.
Here is a list of 15 classic board games that your little ones – and perhaps the entire family – are sure to enjoy.
1. Candy Land
Created in 1949, Candy Land is for 2-4 players, approximately ages 3 and up. Players only need to be able to recognize and match colors to move along the candy-themed board until one reaches the end. There are no words or numbers to know. Candy Land is an excellent first board game for children, which encourages learning colors.
2. Hungry Hungry Hippos
Created in 1969, Hungry Hungry Hippos is for 2-4 players, ages 3 and up. Players only have to be able press the back of the hippos to open their mouths and therefore let the hippos “eat” the marbles. No reading, colors or counting involved. This is a very fun, easy, active and loud game that helps to develop dexterity in small children.
Created in 1959, Memory is for 1-6 players, ages 3 and up. Players make matches by flipping over cards with various brightly colored pictures. As the name suggests, this is a fun way to help young children develop concentration and memory skills.
4. Guess Who
Created in 1972 and introduced in the United States in 1982, Guess Who is for 2 players, ages 6 and up. Players try to guess the identities of the characters on each others’ cards by asking a series of questions such as, “Does this person wear glasses?” This game helps to develop concentration, memory, and process of elimination skills.
5. Hi Ho Cherry-O
Introduced in 1960, Hi Ho Cherry-O is for 2-4 players, ages 3 and up. Players either “pick” fruit or empty their baskets, depending on where the spinner lands. This game helps children to learn to count up to 10. This is another excellent first board game for young children.
6. Chutes and Ladders
A modern version of the game Snakes and Ladders, Chutes and Ladders was introduced in 1986, is for 1-4 players, ages 3 and up. Players move along spaces on the board, up ladders and down chutes (slides). This game requires no reading, but encourages counting and addition. Chutes and Ladders is another great first board game for kids.
7. Connect Four
Introduced in 1974, Connect Four is for 2 players, ages 6 and up. Players take turns dropping checker-like tokens into a vertical grid, trying to connect four of their pieces together without getting blocked by the opposite player first. This game can teach counting and strategy skills.
Introduced in 1983, Jenga is for 2-8 players, ages 6 and up. A tower is made from wooden blocks, then each player removes a block and adds it to the top, without making the tower collapse. This is a fun, interactive game that can be played with the entire family. It helps children to learn about balance and cause and effect, in addition to improving dexterity.
Created in 1965, Operation is for 1-6 players, ages 6 and up. Players use small plastic tweezers to remove various body parts without touching the edges of the cartoon character’s body. If the edges are touched while removing a body part, the wired board causes the character’s red nose to light up, and the player loses their turn. This game helps children to develop concentration and dexterity.
Created in 1967, Battleship is for 2 players, ages 8 and up. Players set up various ships on their grids, then take turns guessing where their opponent’s ships are located. This game encourages concentration, memory and strategy skills.
11. Monopoly Junior
A simplified version of the original Monopoly game, Monopoly Junior was introduced in 1990. It is for 2-4 players, ages 5 and up. The players take turns rolling the dice and moving the appropriate number of squares on the board, all the while collecting and spending money, attending various amusements and buying ticket booths. As in the original game, when a player runs out of money they are out of the game, and the last player left is the winner. This game helps children to learn about numbers, addition and subtraction.
12. Scrabble Junior
Created in 1958, Scrabble Junior is an easier version of the original Scrabble board game. It is for 2-4 players, ages 5 and up. Players use individual letter tiles to spell out words on the game board, which is a crossword-type grid. For greater options, one side of the board has some words already entered, while the other side is completely blank. The game can be played on either side, depending on the players’ skill levels. This game helps children to develop reading and word skills as well as counting.
A game that has been traced throughout history, Checkers is for 2 players, ages 6 and up, and can be enjoyed by the entire family. It is played using red and black tokens on a checkered board grid. There are no numbers or words to know. Players take turns moving their tokens across the board, jumping across their opponent’s tokens to remove them from the board. The last player left with tokens on the board wins. The game of Checkers helps children to develop concentration and strategy skills.
14. Chinese Checkers
Created in 1893, Chinese Checkers is for 2-6 players, ages 6 and up, and can be enjoyed by the entire family. There is no reading required in this game. The board is a 6-sided star pattern with various colored marbles. Players try to move all of their marbles completely across the board to the opposite side by jumping over their own as well as the other players’ marbles. This game helps children to develop concentration and strategy skills.
Created in 1966, Twister is not technically considered a board game by some, but still a much loved classic. It is for 2-6 players, ages 6 and up, and can be enjoyed by the entire family. The game is played by laying a mat with colored circles on the floor, then having a designated person spin the spinner. The spinner contains certain commands such as, “Right Hand Red” or “Left Foot Green.” The players must do as the spinner commands, working around the other players and being careful to not fall over. Twister helps young children to learn colors as well as left and right. Not overly educational, but nonetheless great fun for the entire family.
Maybe you have a closet full of games that hasn’t been opened in years or maybe you have none. Either way, pick a game or go buy one and start playing! You’ll not only be teaching your kids all sorts of skills, but you’ll be building great memories that last a lifetime.
What was your favorite board game as a kid (or adult)? Comment below.