There are several benefits to playing games with kids but it's important that kids play games that are appropriate for their age range. This means the best games are the ones that kids will be able to internalize the rules and be able to follow them while still having fun. According to Scholastic, encouraging kids to play games and follow the rules can help children "become more self-confident and ambitious and to enjoy playing with others." The challenge then becomes finding age-appropriate games that can be fun for kids but also fun for the whole family. We've developed our list of the top 7 strategy games that the little learners in your life will love, as well as players of other age ranges!
1. Catan: Junior
Catan: Junior by Catan Studios is an adventure for all ages! Fans of the game Catan will love the modified playing style that gives younger players the opportunity to experience the world of Catan. This game is designed for players as young as 5 and is a perfect introduction to the Catan series of games for kids and families. Catan: Junior takes place on a ring of islands where 2 to 4 players build hideouts, and the mysterious Spooky Island, where the Ghost Captain lives. Each island generates a specific resource: wood, goats, molasses or swords and players can acquire gold. Each player starts with two pirate hideouts, then builds ships in order to expand their network. The more hideouts you build, the more resources you may receive. Players can use their resources to build ships, hideouts or get help from Coco the Parrot. Just watch out for the dreaded Ghost Captain. Be the first player to control seven pirate hideouts and you win the game!
Qwirkle by Mindware is game that’s loads of fun, featuring a massive amount of in-game choices, including three tiles each of 36 possible color-symbol combinations. Qwirkle is the perfect game to hone players’ tactical maneuvers, strategical planning, and forward thinking. The rules of the game are basic: simply build lines by matching tiles based on either color or shape, and score points for doing so. The ability to build complex combinations will keep children interested and engaged, and challenge them mentally. Qwirkle is playable from early ages up, allowing young children and older individuals alike to develop and hone their special recognition, planning, and problem solving skills. Great for family game night! Ages 6 and up, 2 to 4 players.
3. My First Carcassonne Game
My First Carcassonne Game by Z-Man Games is designed for ages 4 and up and brings children into the fun of building the city of Carcassonne. It maintains the same core game design that makes the original Carcassonne a classic, while eliminating the need to count high scores. Simply place the tiles and as many of your pawns as you can. As the game progresses, the children of Carcassonne—illustrated on the cards—fill the streets trying to catch animals. Whenever you close a street with one or more children marked with your chosen color, you get to put pawns on the board. The first player to place all their pawns wins the game!
4. Fish Stix
Fish Stix by Peaceable Kingdom is a strategy game that takes minutes to learn and is a different game every time you play. Each player starts the game with a score sheet from the score pad, a pen or pencil and three fish sticks. Take turns matching fish sticks and counting fish—the board grows as the game goes! The game can be played with or without strategy, making it easier for different ages to play together! Although this game is rated for children 6-12, this game can be played by adults and younger children, too. It’s a lot of fun for everyone!
Outfoxed! by Gamewright is a game that reinforces deduction, visual discrimination, and cooperation. When Mrs. Plumpert’s prized pot pie has gone missing, it becomes a chicken chase to crack the case! In Outfoxed, you move around the board to gather clues, then use the special evidence scanner to rule out suspects. Players will have to work together quickly because the guilty fox is high-tailing it towards the exit! Will you halt the hungry hooligan before it flies the coop or will you be outfoxed? This game is for players ages 5 to 15.
6. My First Stone Age
My First Stone Age by Z-Man Games is based on the classic family game Stone Age. This stand-alone game combines elements of memory, resource gathering, and set collecting games into an experience accessible to players ages five and up. Players take actions based on the forest tokens they flip over each turn. But as soon as a hut is built, you flip those tokens back over and swap two of them. Pay careful attention and put your memory to the test as you search for the tokens that will lead you to the best resources. Enter the world of the Stone Age, develop your village, and let your imagination take you back to a time of wonder and fun!
7. Laser Maze Jr.
Laser Maze Jr. by ThinkFun is an exciting game that combines logic and lasers while also igniting problem-solving skills. The mission is to use science and logic to reflect the laser beam to the rockets. Strategically place satelittes throughout the maze game to guide the laser path, but watch out for space rocks that might get in the way. With 40 out-of-this-world challenges, this fun logic maze game gives little scientists a boost of 21st century thinking. Recommended for players ages 5 and up.