When our kids were old enough to stay focused on a game, for more than 10 minutes, we instituted family game night. The kids love it, we love it. It is a time to bond, be silly, and rise a little above our inside voice. We bought a trophy, the person that wins the game keeps the trophy for a week. That lucky person also gets to chose the game next time we play. That in itself is incentive to win. With short games we use: best of 3 wins. Play three games and the person who won the most wins the trophy.
This is our list of the best games for family game night. Starting with the easiest and shortest games.
1. Hi Ho Cherry O (3+)
This is an easy game. It is quick and no reading is required. It’s perfect for even the youngest players. Counting is involved. Just spin the wheel and either take cherries off the tree or out of your basket. It all depends on your spin. On rare occasions the game can get a little long.
2. Candy Land (3+)
Another classic that is easy, quick, and requires no reading. Just draw a card and move to that color or picture. Simple. The fun for the kids comes in when mom and dad gets sent back to the beginning.
3. Monopoly Jr. (5-8)
There are several versions of this game. We have the theme park based game. This is a great game for those that love Monopoly, but their kids aren’t ready to play. It has some of the same characteristics. You roll the dice, buy property, and pay rent. There is some reading involved. It also helps kids with counting money, adding and subtracting. This version has less rules and a smaller board. Monopoly Jr. last longer then the other 2 games mentioned, but it is a lot of fun. Kids love it when their parents have to pay them rent.
4. Yahtzee (8+)
This is the new house favorite. My 6 year old doesn’t care for this game, so she plays on a team with someone else. My 7 year old is the Yahtzee queen. She rolls 2 or 3 yahtzees a game! The idea of this game is to roll 5 dice to make certain combinations. You have 3 rolls per turn. After each turn you add up your dice and mark them on your scorecard. This game requires reading, math skills, and critical thinking. Each player must fill the scorecard up with the required combinations, or a zero will be placed in that spot. The game doesn’t take too long to play, maybe 30 minutes tops, depending on the number of players.
5. Clue (8-12)
This was my favorite game as a kid. I always wanted to be Scarlet. Until Yahtzee, it was the house favorite. So much so that my eldest daughter is having a Clue birthday party! It is still one of my all time favorites, even though I never win. The idea behind the game is that Mr. Boddy has been murdered and one of the guests is the killer. The players must figure out who killed him, what room he was in, and what weapon was used. This is done by making suggestions as you move through the rooms. The game lasts 20-30 minutes. The more people that play the harder it is and the longer it takes. But it is so much fun. Reading is involved as is critical thinking skills.
6. Fast Play Monopoly (8+)
I grew up in a family of serious Monopoly players. It was cut throat, loud, and so much fun. I married a man who didn’t quite have the same passion for the game as I did, and he played by the wrong rules. Luckily, we found Fast Play Monopoly. It doesn’t last as long as the original, plus it allows you to buy more property, more often. This game is not quick, you still need to start early, but it does not take as long. We have actually been known to finish a game! It requires reading, basic math skills, and critical thinking.
Tips on planning your own family game night.
Choose a day and time when you have time to play. School nights may not be the best time if your kids have lots of homework. Saturday morning might work best for you. Turn the cartoons off and play. Choose games that your kids will enjoy and you don’t hate. Adults are better equipped to play a game they don’t like than the little ones. Choose games that are appropriate for their age and attention span. If your kids vary in ages, then try playing in teams, or slightly change the rules. Remember, keep it light and fun. Be kind to the loser and no teasing. The goal is to enjoy playing with your kids. And have them enjoy playing with you.
Family game night can be a real force to bring your family closer together.