Ah, the joy of playing games with kids! Even greater is when you find those board and card games that are fun for both parent and child. My younger son turned 7 earlier this year and we love playing games together. On top of that, I have a niece who will be turning 7 soon (she’s a smartie, so in my mind she’s “practically 7”)
With those two in mind, I have put together this list of great games you can play with the early elementary kids in your life. Let’s get started!!
#10 – Catan: Junior
Catan: Junior is a great way to get young kids introduced to the world of modern gaming. This Junior version feels just like Catan but at a simpler and quicker pace. My son has played and enjoyed this one along with my nephew who is a year younger. Great place to start!
#9 – Disney Apples to Apples
In theory, I could just include Apples to Apples, but I find that this Disney version works even better at a young age. As my son has learned to read, there are many times he could just simply rely on the picture to get the point across. Apples to Apples is a fun game and I find that since not everyone has a perfect card to play — and since everyone takes turns picking — gaming experience and age don’t always matter that much. This is a great title in which anyone has a chance to do well.
#8 – My Little Scythe
Awesome, cute miniatures. Pie fights. Friendship. Trophies. I am blown away at how Scythe was able to be streamlined into this super-kid-friendly iteration that holds true to the core concepts of the original game. This is a wonderful family game that does an outstanding job of teaching young ones bigger game concepts — action selection, track management, card-based battles, and variable player powers. Love this game!
#7 – Tiny Park
Tiny Park combines Yahtzee-style dice rolling with Tetris-style map building. Each player has a 4×5 “tiny park” that they need to completely fill. There will be pieces ranging in size from 1-grid to 4-grids. Each different shape will have its own stack. The top pieces from each stack are ‘available’ during a player’s turn. Using your 3 rolls, you are trying to leave visible on your dice the park icons that match a piece from the stacks. Obviously, the better you match, the bigger piece you can add to your board.
My son has loved playing this game and the excitement that comes with trying to get that perfect roll to get a big 4-grid piece. The theme is very fun and this is another great introductory title for young kids to play.
#6 – Drop it
Drop it is one of those games that could easily state an age range of 5-99. The game play is simple enough for just about anyone to pick up on, but the little nuances make this a more thrilling game than you might imagine at first glance. Will you get a lucky bounce or will physics mess you over? Kids will love playing with the shapes and the fun action of dropping them into play and seeing what happens! You and your 7-year old NEED this game!
#5 – Untold: Adventures Await
Now, this may not be perfect for your family if you and/or your child do not like story-telling. But both my sons (15 and 7) do, as well as their dad (moi!)
This game uses Rory’s Story Cubes, but I prefer Untold to the Cubes alone, because the game provides a structure (very loose and basic) with which to frame and create your story [helping keep the littler ones from running completely wild with a story]. The three of us are currently creating a reality TV show pirate competition and having a blast creating and telling our wild story!
#4 – Rhino Hero: Super Battle
Every time my son and I get this game out to play, the following things happen: a) there’s excitement over the window pictures on the cards, b) excitement over the dice rolls to see which animal super hero will move furthest up the building, c) enjoyment in figuring out the best way to place a new floor, d) tense thrill over seeing the tower rise and reach double-digit floors!, and e) a slo-mo video of my son knocking over the tower when the game is finished. It may play the same each time through, but there are plenty of great moments and we love each of them every time!
#3 – Dream Home
Dream Home has a very kid-friendly theme –> that of building out the rooms within a house. This relates well to kids and becomes a fun experiment for them to imagine creating their own house. Furthermore, the artistic depth on the cards is top-notch. My son enjoys examining the details of each card he selects for his house, looking for children that are hiding, weird collectibles, or cats (that seem to be everywhere).
From a gaming standpoint, Dream Home is also a good way to introduce set collection to your child and the concept of greater rewards for larger collections. Dream Home also includes a simple, market draft for cards each round. One of the spots gets you access to the first player marker, giving children a new decision to consider that they may not have come across in games previously. Great theme, great art — Dream Home is quickly becoming one of my son’s favorites!
#2 – Downforce
This is one of my top games to play personally and I love that my 7-year old gets excited about Downforce as well. Now, there are some intricacies to the game that he still needs to figure out better –> such as the beginning draft and the concept of not “overpaying” for a car. That said, he has picked up on the racing portion of the game very quickly! The fun of getting in your opponents path and blocking them, plus the thrill of zooming and zagging vehicles around the board. We currently have four different race boards to play with, which gives us great variability each time we get Downforce out to play. This game is incredibly fun, but also great because young kids will care less about who wins and much more about the thrill of the gameplay itself.
#1 – ICECOOL
Now, I must admit — ICECOOL is not a game I would generally choose to get out if I’m picking something to play. That said, I absolutely love getting to play this game with my 7-year old to see the enjoyment he derives from it. Flicking penguins around the board is fun and we always have a blast moving around the table to try and get our penguins to slide around the board — twisting and turning through hallways — to escape or capture the opposition. I would love to get the sequel to this game just to be able to create a larger arena for us to flick penguins around –> hooting and hollering about amazing shots and silly misfires.
If you are looking for a great game to get your early elementary-aged kid, I would guess that you can’t go wrong with my #1 pick for this list, ICECOOL.
How about you? What are some kid favorites that you would suggest?