Billed as “the game for your whole brain,” it combines a mix of favourites, including Trivial Pursuit, Charades and Pictionary (including a clay sculpting challenge). Cranium is recommended for ages eight and up, for a simpler version try Cranium Cadoo.
2. Apples to Apples
Each player in the card game is dealt seven cards, with a noun printed on each. Each round a judge is chosen, and lays down a verb card face up. Players then pick a card from their hand that matches the verb best and lays it face down. The rules state the judge to pick “the most creative, humorous or interesting” response, encouraging kids to use their imagination.
3. Mouse Trap
Build up a maze of traps on top of board spaces in an effort to catch the other player’s mouse game piece. A retro Rube Goldberg machine-type favourite, the game’s 3D aspect is fun to build and a good way to keep younger kids entertained.
This battery-operated game features a patient on an operating room table and is a test of hand-eye coordination. Players use a pair of tweezers to extract objects from the patient, Cavity Sam. If a player touches the edge of the incision while extracting the object Sam’s nose lights up, and the player losses their turn. If a player is successful they collect the number of points on the instruction card.
5. Candy Land
A simple game, there is little to no strategy or decision making in Candy Land, making it a fun game for kids who are just starting to play board games. Players draw cards and try to reach the end square to find the lost king of the sugary empire. Recommended for ages three and up.
6. Settlers of Catan
A board-game nerd favourite, each player is a settler on the island of Catan and must build up resources by drawing cards and trading with other players with the goal of creating cities. The concept is simple and no player is elimanated, making it a great game for players of all ages. If this turns out to be a family night hit, there are expansion sets where you can create different scenarios like hitting the high seas or building the Great Wall of China.
7. Twister Hopscotch
A new take on two old game, you attach different coloured rings together and spin the colour wheel to identify what colours to avoid while hopscotching. You can customize the game by adding silly activities to each hop, like high-fiving or doing a secret handshake with other players, or by hooking the rings together in new ways.
Players add words (which must appear in a standard dictionary) to the tiled board with letters they are choose randomly. Players must build on the letters already played on the board. This word game, recommended for ages eight and up, encourages kids to broaden their vocabulary and improve spelling skills. For younger kids try Scrabble Junior.
The only supplies needed to play are a deck of playing cards and a cribbage board or a pad of paper to keep track of who scores 121 points first. A great way to reinforce counting skills, points are earned in two stages of each round; the play, where players lay down one card at a time until the cards add up to 31; and the show where players retrieve the cards they laid in the play round and count the cards in different combinations for points. Commonly played with two people, cribbage can be played with three or four players.
In this turn-based strategy game players aim to take over the six continents on the board, eliminating the other players. Although this game will be hard for elementary-school aged kids, there is a high level of randomness (the game uses five die and cards), helping to level the playing field.