I know we’re all glued to our screens, but what do you do when you want to unplug and connect with your family (or when you live in a location where the power goes out quite frequently and you actually have nothing left to do but talk to each other… doh!)? We’ve come a long way from Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders, so when we moved to Nicaragua I had to pretty much start over and figure out what family games were great for teens and tweens. After much testing, here are our favoritest, most fun family games.
#1 – The clear winner at our house is Dutch Blitz. This is often our go-to game when we can’t agree on another one. It’s a fast-paced card game for up to four people. You can play a round in a few minutes, or keep going for as long as you want. The instructions specify ages 8-12, but we’ve taught kids as young as 5 or 6 to play successfully. And why put an age limit on fun? We all love it, even those of us who are a tad bit over 12. We recently bought the expansion pack (Dutch Blitz: The Expansion Game), so we can have up to eight people join the game.
#2 – After Dutch Blitz, we love a bunch of games from a company called Think Fun. Most of their games are awesome for a few key reasons:
- They are fun for all ages (well, all school ages).
- They don’t require a ton of time (a.k.a. they aren’t time hogs like Monopoly or Life).
- They don’t break the bank in terms of cost (less then $20).
Here are our five favorites from Think Fun:
- Word A Round Game — This is another fast-paced game, only this one challenges our ability to quickly read a word when you don’t know which letter comes first. I’m convinced some people are just born good at this, because it’s amazing how fast they can see the words. Others, not so much. Still fun, though. My only complaint is that after a while you tend to memorize some of the cards, so we’re looking forward to an expansion pack or second set of cards at some point.
- Thinkfun Distraction Card Game — Ever tried to remember a phone number by repeating it over and over again until you find a pencil… only to lose it when your kid asks what you’re making for dinner in between repetitions? Yeah, that is the basic premise of this game. It’s definitely a great work-out for your brain, and pretty fun at the same time.
- Spot it! Hip Card Game — This is a great game to play when you have a wide age range in the group, because it does not require any reading. The goal is to quickly spot matches in sets of cards, like this:
This is also a fun party version: Spot It Party Board Game.
- Ooga Booga Card Game — Here’s another game that tests your memory. But to keep it fun, you must repeat ridiculous made-up phrases like ooga booga, plus some silly gestures thrown in so we all look completely looney. My kids particularly enjoy watching their grandparents attempt to follow along ;-).
- Laser Maze Logic Game — OK, this one breaks our rules a bit because it’s $25, but if you have a science or logically-minded kid, it’s an awesome game. The goal is to bounce a laser beam around a series of obstacles in such a way as to achieve a particular pattern. I’ve watched young kids (6-9) sit for hours with this game and not want to stop.
#3 – Next up, Rummikub, which is similar to the rummy card games. You essentially combine tiles into sets with either matching colors or numbers, then play them into the middle to clear your rack. I find this game to be especially addicting… you can’t play just one round. I love that our whole family can play, with the kids kicking our tails as much as we come out victorious. I also enjoy the fact that you can actually hold a conversation while playing this game (i.e., it’s not as fast-paced as some of the others I already mentioned).
#4 – Bananagrams is like personal Scrabble without the board. You get a bunch of letters, and then try to make your own Scrabble board with those letters before anyone else. It’s fast and furious. Younger kids definitely need some help, but it’s a great way to expand their vocabulary. We also have the Spanish version (Spanish Bananagrams), which we use bilingually (except for those darn ñ’s!).
#5 – For many years, our family has enjoyed Blokus, which reminds me a lot of a board game version of Tetris. You have a set of pieces (shapes) you must try to get on the board. As each person places more pieces, the board fills up… Can you place all your pieces before you run out of room? This game has easy rules and requires no reading, making it great for all families with school-age kids.
#6 – Finally, I can’t neglect to mention Apples to Apples. This one has been around for a while, but is great for groups of all sizes. A topic is read, and players then have to select the card in their hand that most closely matches the topic. The cards are passed to the “reader,” who then selects his favorite “match” for that round. Note: We bought the junior version because the topic cards are more family-friendly, but they are fun for everyone.
Well, those are our favorites. What about you? Comment below to share other games that keep your family laughing and learning together.