Board Game Suggestions for Each Age Group + Tips for Game Night Success
We have 5 great tips for you on how to set up your family’s game night as well as a list of great games for kids of all ages, from teens all the way down to preschoolers.
The board game scene is nothing like it was when you were young. There are now board game stores in Grand Rapids, super cool games down the Target aisle and at Schuler’s and even a local convention where people create community around board games for a whole weekend.
I called Margaret Kleist, who owns Blue Bridge Games on East Fulton, along with her husband, Ken, to help with this list. While I can vouch for most of the games here, I needed a little help with the preschool age group, as we’ve been buying older-age games lately. She knew every game I pitched to her and even had a couple of new, super interesting recommendations. (Kind of wishing I still had a preschooler at home…)
While you can get board games from anywhere these days, I highly recommend a local shop like Blue Bridge. The staff are friendly and love their product, and they can help you whittle down that games list of 50 recommendations down to 2 or 3 solid hits.
5 Tips for Epic Family Game Night
Kids love getting in on the fun and it’s a perfect way to interact at home without screens. In fact, my kids are constantly begging us for game night!
Plan ahead with these tips and you’ll be set up for success.
1 – Let Each Child Pick a Game to Play
D on’t complain about their choice, even if it’s Chutes and Ladders. Pro tip: If you really don’t like a certain board game, hide it before it’s time to choose.
2 – Set a Time Limit
Game night can easily last for hours, which can spell disaster for little kids. Designate a specific game time, such as 7:00 – 8:00 PM, so they know what to expect. Be sure to schedule time for each child’s game.
3 – Prep Before the Big Night
Finish baths and get the kids into pajamas before games start and make popcorn or other snacks ahead of time.
4- Put Down the Cellphone, Dad! (You, too, Mom!)
Set it in the other room if you have to. Whenever you check your phone during game night, you’re sending the message that you’d rather be anywhere else but with them.
5 – Be a Role Model
They’re watching you! Keep your competitive side in check and don’t dominate every game. Give them chances to try new strategies and see what it’s like to have a strategy succeed or fail. There are so many life lessons waiting in Family Game Night!
Best Board Games for Kids (and a fun list for Grownups, Too)
Are you looking for some different, fun games for your game night? These are the games that local game night families love.
Exciting Board Games for Preschoolers
Valley of the Vikings (ages 5+) – Created by kid game pros Haba, kids can practice their dexterity and smarts in the annual barrel bowling contest.
The Magic Labyrinth (ages 4+) Gather magical objects in the labyrinth using memory and skill. But watch out! If you run into a wall, you go back to start.
Outfoxed – (age 5+) – This cooperative game of deduction is best played with the kids making decisions and adults playing along.
Click Clack Lumberjack (ages 5+) – Collect bark pieces as you carefully chop on the tree, but be careful – you don’t want an entire log falling off! A quick (10 minutes) dexterity game.
The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game (ages 3+) – Your forest friends are hungry and need help. Preschoolers learn about colors as they help squirrels find their acorns, as well as matching skills and taking turns.
Go Away Monster! – (age 3+) – Reach into the bag to grab a game piece for your board, but be careful – you could pull out a monster instead.
Animal Upon Animal – (age 4+)- This stack ‘em up game is super easy to learn and fun for even the youngest gamers.
Karuba Junior – (age 4+) – Work together to reach the treasure before pirates hit the island!
Go Cuckoo – (age 4+) – Carefully pull a stick out of the bird’s nest without letting the precious egg fall!
Rhino Hero: Super Battle – (age 5+) – Sequel to the popular 3-D stacking game Rhino Hero, the Super Battle edition includes the same stacking challenges, plus epic super hero battles.
Elementary Age Board Games
ICECOOL – (ages 6+) – This dexterity game has you either chasing or running away from fellow penguins. You’ll slide, jump and spin around the school in an attempt to gather the most fish. The simple mechanics of this game make it playable by most ages.
Quacks of Quedlinburg – (ages 8+) – Stir, stir, stir! Cook up a bigger, better secret brew than your opponents, without it blowing up.
Meeple Circus – (age 8+) – Use your collection of colorful meeples to create the most entertaining circus show in this fun dexterity game.
Kingdomino – (age 8+) – Even adults love the challenge of building the best kingdom with domino-like tiles.
Ticket to Ride – (age 8+) – Build train routes for points across North America, Germany, Europe, Swizerland and beyond. Ticket to Ride comes in many variations, each a little different, but all extremely fun.
Jungle Speed – (ages 7+) – Observation, quick reflexes and a steady hand are needed in this game that causes lots of laughter. A great challenge for any age.
Board Games for Tweens and Teens
Bohnanza – (age 10+) – Trade your way to bean farming greatness as you grow delicious crops like Stink Beans, Chili beans and the elusive Cocoa Bean.
Small World – (age 10+) – The world is too small – will you be able to acquire enough land for your civilization? Or will you let it go into decline and choose a new adventure?
Telestrations – (age 12+) – A great party game, Telestrations is a mash-up of illustrations meets the game Telephone. Draw a picture. Decipher your neighbor’s picture. Warning: most participants laugh until tears stream down their face.
Dominion – (age 13+) – Race fellow monarchs to create your own Dominion. A very popular deck building game.
The Resistance: Avalon – (age 13+) – This party game involves bluffing and deduction as you battle evil in medieval Britain. Can you figure out who the evil forces are?
More Games the Whole Family Will Dig
There are thousands of games out there, but we really love the ones that kids and adults alike can get into. Here are some of our favorites:
Codenames – (age 14+)
The Mind – (ages 8+)
Splendor – (ages 10+)
Azul – (ages 8 +)
Cockroach Poker – (ages 7 +)
Shifty Eyed Spies – (ages 9+)
Just One – (ages 8+)
Favorite Spots to Buy Board Games in Grand Rapids
Blue Bridge Games is a fun, friendly spot in the Uptown neighborhood. Head downtown to Vault of Midnight for games (also an excellent graphic novel store). Kentwood and Zeeland shoppers can try Out of the Box Games.