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When family game night comes along, catering to the oldest or the youngest is not too difficult.  If you can read fluently, like creativity, and appreciate a challenge, then games like Balderdash or Quelf are a blast.  If you are still working on fine motor skills and colors, then games like Let’s go Fishing and Sneaky Snacky Squirrel fit the bill.  Finding something that includes the best of both worlds can be tricky.

There are times when separating ages and stages is possible.  First I’ll play Uno with you, then I’ll play Rummy with you.  But sometimes it’s fun to play with everyone at the same time.

Playing games is a great way to spend time together as a family and boost your sense of unity and positive morale.  Here are three games that we have successfully played with everyone (kids from 11 down to 2 with a baby in tow).

Spot It

In it’s basic form, Spot It is a matching game.  You play by matching a picture on your card to a card face up in the game area.  There are multiple images on each card and there is always only one match per card.  You call out your match as you play.  Several variations of game play keep it a fresh choice.

Sometimes the bigger kids can get competitive with this one and make it hard for the younger ones who are just learning how to play.  But one of the other great things about this game is that you can buzz through a round in no time.  You can have bigger kids hold back a little every other round to allow youngers to get in some practice and increase their skill.  Or you could play a team of littles alternating with a team of older kids.

We love that this game can be played quickly and it’s easy to sneak in a round in the in-between times while waiting or as a brain break during the school day.  There are also versions with different card images to keep it interesting.  We only own the original, but we plan to invest in more.  I think the water proof cards version is particularly clever and appealing.  It could be great for camping, poolside, and protection against spills and grubby fingers.



Qwirkle pairs something basic like matching shapes and colors with opportunity for strategy and skill for the older kids.  Throw in a healthy dose of chance and you have the game.

I love the simplicity of the game design.  It’s a bag of high quality wooden tiles with various shapes and colors that can be played in rows of certain combinations for points.  Playing the tiles to maximize points is appealing to the older crowd while matching shapes and colors is appealing to the younger.

When first learning the game, it’s helpful to just play without keeping score to get a feel for how it works.  It’s also quite easy to team up a younger child with an older child so more kids can participate.  The older kid can spot the most advantageous place to play, and the younger kid can place the tiles and draw new from the bag.


Picture Charades

We love this simplified version of charades with a fun board game feel.

It can be a challenge to play charades with kids who struggle to read the clue or prompt that they’re supposed to act out.  Yes, you can whisper in their ear.  But honestly, if you whisper clearly enough for your 3-year-old to understand you, then everyone else hears too.

This game comes with a set of picture cards to use as prompts.  You take turns using the spinner then chooseing your card from the corresponding category.  There are suggestions easy enough for the youngest kids (like cat or dog) and challenging enough for the older kids (like hamburger and bed).  We also appreciate that the cards are thick and sturdy so they aren’t easily bent by little hands.

Sometimes we even ditch the spinner and the taking turns all together.  We choose one or two designated guessers and everyone else tries to go through as many cards as they can.  Yes, all at the same time.  It’s mass chaos and hilariously great fun.


What games do you like to play with your family?


Let’s do this thing!

Heather Tinker

Photos from Unsplash