Our family has always loved playing card games and board games, and we try to have at least one “Family Game Night” a week. From our humble beginnings when Candyland and Go Fish were our only options with small kids, we’ve graduated to strategy games where everyone – kids included – has a fair shot at winning and there are often bragging rights involved!

Many of the games on our list say 8+ on the box, but our youngest is a quick learner and loves games of strategy, so he has been playing most of these games with us starting at age 6. Every child is different so don’t assume you have to wait to try a new game just because they don’t match the age on the box.

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means we will receive a small commission when you make a purchase by clicking through our links. Thank you for supporting Lakeland Mom! We only recommend games that we play and love ourselves.

Below you’ll find our 10 favorite kid approved AND parent approved games that we play on a regular basis. (It’s now actually 12 because we added a few favorites since this article was originally published in 2018)

Ticket to Ride

The objective of this train board game is to see who can travel by rail to the most cities in North America in just seven days. You’ll try to fill up train routes across the US, earning points as you go. Not the easiest game to explain, but we all picked it up easily the first time we played and it is now a favorite. Over 4,000 reviewers on Amazon seem to think so too!  Variations include Original Ticket to Ride (North America), United Kingdom, Asia, Europe, Heart of Africa, Nordic Countries, and First Journey for kids ages 6+.

Number of Players: 2 – 5
Age listed on box: 8+
Time required: 30-60 minutes (we say at least an hour, especially while learning)

Exploding Kittens

I don’t know if I can even explain this game. But we all love it! From the website “In this highly-strategic, kitty-powered version of Russian roulette, players draw cards until someone draws an exploding kitten, at which point They explode, they are Dead, and they are out of the game — unless that player has a defuse card, which can defuse the kitten using things like laser pointers, belly rubs, and catnip sandwiches. All of the other cards in the deck are used to move, mitigate, or avoid the Exploding Kittens.”

Number of Players: 2 – 5
Age listed on box: 7+
Time required: 15 – 30 minutes


The instructions on this game make it sound WAY more complicated than it is. Basically, you lay out a grid of 25 random words. There are two spymasters who have a secret pattern of 8 words they are trying to complete. The spymaster gives one word clues to their teammate(s) trying to get them to guess specific words in the grid, preferably multiple words that are connected in some way.  Does require some complex thinking as you also are trying to avoid them guessing other specific words on the board.

Number of Players: 2 – 8
Age listed on box: 14+ (my kids are 8 & 10 and totally get the concept, there are some words in the box they don’t know and we just set those aside)
Time required: 15+ minutes per round, can play multiple rounds


This game is FAST PACED and EXCITING! Start with a handful of cards and trade anywhere from 1-4 cards at a time while trying to secure a full set of identical cards. Much like the stock trading floor you’ll find yourself yelling “two, two!” as you try and make a trade. First one to collect all the same commodity cards wins the round.

PS – We discovered in the Smithsonian Museum of American History in DC that this game was invented in 1904!

Number of Players: 3 – 8
Age listed on box: 7+
Time required: Each round takes less than 3 minutes (the fewer players the shorter the round) so you can control how long you play. We usually set a limit like “first person to 6 hands wins”


Nicknamed the Bean Game, my husband and I played this game 12+ years ago before any kids, back when we’d have game nights with our friends! We just introduced it to our kids and they are hooked. Players trade, collect, and plant varying bean cards to earn coins. Rare cards – like the 4 Cocoa Bean cards – earn more coins, but the common Coffee Beans cards are easier to collect with 24 in the deck. Again, not the easiest game to explain, and it will take a few rounds for everyone to learn, but it is unique and interactive as you try to trade and make deals with fellow players!

Number of Players: 2 – 7
Age listed on box: 10+
Time required: 60 minutes


As a “spin off” of sorts from the card game Rummy, we all love this game of numbers and strategy. Players take turns placing numbered tiles in runs (2, 3, 4, 5) or groups (all 4’s in different colors). You can play on other people’s tiles, and even rearrange tiles that have already been played. The first player to use all of their tiles wins! Reinforces STEM skills like sequencing and pattern recognition.

Number of Players: 2 – 4
Age listed on box: 8+
Time required: 30-45 minutes

Shut The Box

This dice rolling game seems like a game of luck, except there is strategy in deciding how you’ll use your dice! Be the first person to flip down all of your numbers – 1 through 10. Roll an 8? Flip down the 1 & 7, 2 & 6, 3 & 5, or just the 8. This is a great tool for teaching basic addition. The player rolls the dice, adds up the values, and then lays down the tiles that have the sum.

Number of Players: 2 – 4
Age listed on box: 8+
Time required: Varies – a single round can be as short as 10 minutes, or longer depending on how a player wins it all.

Apples to Apples Junior

Apples to Apples is a fun group or family game, but the challenge with using the original game is all the cards kids might not understand. Enter the Junior version! The box says ages 9+ but we’ve been playing this since my youngest was 6. Players take turns being the judge. The judge begins each round by playing a Green Apple card that features a one-word characteristic, such as Crunchy, Smelly, or Excellent. The other players must then look at the Red Apple cards in their hands and select the one they think is best described by the judge’s card. It’s a game of crazy comparisons!

Number of Players: 4 – 8
Age listed on box: 9+ (we disagree greatly and think you could start playing as soon as your child has a vocabulary to work from)
Time required: 30-60 minutes

Apples to Apples Disney Edition

Another favorite for the Disney fans! Cards include movie characters and references.


It was Miss Peacock… in the Kitchen…. with a Rope! This classic game has plenty of spin-offs including Harry Potter Clue, Big Bang Theory Clue, Clue Junior, Star Wars Clue, and many more. The concept remains the same! Using your guesses and the process of elimination, the detective in you will enjoy figuring out the culprit and the scene of the crime.

Number of Players: 2 – 6
Age listed on box: 8+
Time required: 30-45 minutes


This game is actually funniest if you can’t draw very well! Using a handheld white board and erasable marker, create your best masterpiece and hope your partner has good guessing skills. The game includes both adult and junior cards so the whole family can play. We’ve gotten a LOT of laughs out of this game – the best one being when my 7 year old had to draw the word “bikini.”

Number of Players: 2 teams (minimum of 4 players)
Age listed on box: 8+
Time required: 20-45 minutes

Scrabble Junior

A friend gave this to my son as a birthday gift and we love it! While it includes a blank side to play regular Scrabble, the “easier” side has all of the words already laid out and the exact number of letter tiles to match what is on the board. This means anyone who knows their letters can participate. Still requires some strategy as you only get points for completing a word, so hold onto your rare letters until the time is right!

Number of Players: 2 – 4
Age listed on box: 5+
Time required: 30-45 minutes

UNO Attack

A variation on the original game of UNO, instead of a draw pile you use the card shooter. Sometimes you get nothing, sometimes you’ll be adding 6+ cards to your hand! Offers an exciting new way to play a familiar favorite.

Number of Players: 2 – 10
Age listed on box: 7+ (anyone who can play regular UNO can play UNO Attack)
Time required: 30-45 minutes

Family Game Night Favorites for Kids & Adults

April Mucci Lakeland Mom
April Mucci Lakeland Mom

About the Author: April Mucci

April is the owner of LakelandMom.com. She has lived in Lakeland since age 2 and is passionate about our community and connecting people with local resources. She is a mom to 2 boys and a mini goldendoodle, wife to Matt. You can often find April at the baseball field where she cheers on her baseball loving 10 year old, or home building Legos with her 8 year old. She loves reading, saltwater fishing, and working on Lakeland Mom!