10 of the best video games for children aged 5–8

We've picked out the best video games for older kids, including the winners of our 2019 Toy Awards

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When it comes to children’s entertainment, video games have historically got a bad rap, but choose wisely and the benefits are real. Played in moderation they can improve problem-solving skills, develop creativity and imagination and many are secretly educational.

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The game market is more conscious than ever of injecting learning opportunities into games – after all, the most effective way to learn is when you’re having fun and immersed in a task and video games are marvellous at doing both.

When picking a game for your 5-to 8-year-old child, look for the PEGI rating on the front, which will tell you the age range it’s aimed at based on its content and level of violence.

All the games on our list have been rigorously tested by the MFM team, toy experts and, most importantly, mini gamers just like yours. The following games have been given the seal of approval by our crack team, so dive in and get playing… 

Here’s our pick of the best video games for kids aged 5-8…

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1. The Lego Movie 2 Videogame, £24.99 – best for playing as a team

Age: 7+
Format: PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch 

What it is: For many years LEGO games have given parents and children the chance to dive into popular franchises, from Jurassic Park and The Incredibles to Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. The latest to hit the shelves is The Lego Movie 2 Videogame, released to accompany the film and it loosely follows the movie’s plot. Gamers can play as over 100 different characters to solve problems and build objects. There are themes of teamwork and friendship woven into the game. 

Why we love it: It’s a great starting point to get children interested in games as the characters are easy to control and frankly it’s fun to make them run around, bash stuff and collect coins! Kids love the chance to play as a number of different characters and there’s something to appeal in the gameplay for all ages – while playing co-op (where players can work together as teammates), younger children can run around and collect coins while occasionally helping older players solve problems and older children can take on the challenges themselves.

The game encourages creativity and players to use their building skills to overcome obstacles, plus it’s one of the better-value games on our list – a bargain considering the sheer potential for play. If you enjoy gaming as a parent, the LEGO collection is the perfect way to get the whole family involved.    

Available from: Amazon, Game and Argos

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2. Paw Patrol: On a Roll, £29.99 – best for TV fans

Age: 3-6

Awards: MadeForMums Toy Awards 2019 Best Video Game – Gold

Format: PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch 

What it is: The first ever Paw Patrol game to be made, this is a brilliant extension of the TV show for gamers – players step into the beautifully recreated Adventure Bay and embark on 16 adventures across 8 different locations and there are a number of micro-games, too. Collect pup treats and play as Ryder and all 8 of the Paw Patrol characters. 

Why we love it: When playing our Video Game Gold award winner, kids are enchanted by the experience of stepping further into the Paw Patrol world and going beyond their TV screens. Our testers enjoyed playing as each famous pup and the adventures were an achievable challenge for even the youngest of players, although older gamers may lose interest quicker.

It’s only a one-player game and some testers felt it would have been great to have a 2-player option, like some of the other great co-op games on our list, Lego Movie 2 Videogame and Yoshi’s Crafted World. It’s a lovely family-friendly game, though, that held the attention of children for a long time and kept them smiling. MFM tester, Jasmin, mum to Mckenzie, 9, says: “It’s exactly like the TV show and my son loved being part of the story – he was interested and excited the whole time he was playing.” 

Available from: Game, Amazon and Argos

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3. Dragons: Dawn of New Riders, £29.99 – best for a challenge

Age: 5-12
Awards: MadeForMums Toy Awards 2019 Best Video Game – Silver
Format: PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch 

What it is: An action adventure video game set in the How To Train Your Dragon universe. It includes new characters – Scribbler the scholar and Patch the Chimeragon – and some fresh locations as well as favourite places from the movies. Players solve puzzles, conquer obstacles and fly to new islands.

Why we love it: It has beautiful visuals and has received rave reviews from both dedicated gamers and entry-level players. How to Train Your Dragon fans are a meticulous bunch and they all agree that the game is a striking representation of the movie’s interesting scenery and the accompanying story runs alongside it well.

Some of the adventures can be slightly tricky for younger players, who might need help from parents to continue, so it’s a good one to play together. MFM tester Yvette, mum to Charlie, 9, says: “Once he got into it, Charlie seemed to really enjoy it. He liked the graphics and saving the dragons and enjoyed it when Patch the dragon was able to fly (he found it much easier from this point). Charlie will still have lots more hours of fun with this game.”

Available from: Amazon, Game and Smyths Toys

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4. Crayola Scoot, £34.99 – best for multiplayer battles / family fun

Age: 7-15
Awards: MadeForMums Toy Awards 2019 Best Video Game – Bronze
Format: PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch 

What it is: An extreme sports game that seamlessly merges children’s love of scooters and making a mess! Create your own Crayola Scoot character, then perform tricks and jumps to splash colour, activate traps, boosts and shortcuts. Splat friends with the 4-player split-screen battle option.

Why we love it: Scooter jumping and Crayola seems like a strange combination on paper but this rainbow-bright game just works. Testers enjoyed the challenge of mastering tricks and splattering the surrounding surfaces with paint was a bonus. It’s certainly an explosion of colour and our little gamers were captivated by the vibrancy that filled the screen.

Jasmine, mum to Kaidyn-lee, 4, says: “We will definitely play this as a family game on the weekends as the multi-player mode is great and very competitive.

There aren’t as many challenges and things to do in this game, compared to some of the story-based games, like Dragons: Dawn of New Riders, but the option for scooter battles in 4-player split-screen mode is a big plus. Unlike many other 1-player games on our list, this adds a social element and a dash of competition.

Available from: Amazon, Game and PlayStation

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5. Super Mario Odyssey, £49.99 – best for parent nostalgia

Age: 7+
Format: Nintendo Switch

What it is: A 3D platform game that sees Mario and his talking hat, Cappy, fight to save Princess Peach, kidnapped by Bowser. The game is a series of open-ended worlds complete with jumping challenges and puzzles, in which Mario collects rewards – Power Moons – to charge up his ship to explore more worlds.

Why we love it: Super Mario has a special place in the hearts of many a parent and the gameplay and visuals of Super Mario Odyssey feel warmly familiar yet honed for a younger, more tech-savvy audience.

We really rate the Assist Mode, in which Mario’s health doubles, it’s difficult to die and a marker leads you to an objective – it helps focus younger players to complete the task at hand. Even smaller players can also play as Cappy in co-op mode while another more experienced player can take Mario.

Children love the fun of being Cappy, jumping high and collecting Power Moons. The game nods to all those that came before it but it feels fresh and new.

It’s difficult enough to be a challenge for most 7-year-olds, much like Dragons: Dawn of New Riders, but it has options for parents to step in, which is a great feature.

Available from: Amazon, Game and Argos

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6. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, £49.99 – best for racing

Age: 3+
Format: Nintendo Switch 

What it is: A go-kart-style racing game with major nostalgic charm – it was first released 27 years ago and has come a long way since then. Race on your own or with friends – up to 8 players can connect – and there are 48 brilliant tracks to drive on. Players drive over items like mushrooms for a speed boost and can scupper another racer’s chance of winning by throwing banana peels and shells.

Why we love it: Fact: all kids love racing car games and if there’s ever one to get them started on, it has to be Mario Kart. Racing friends and zooming Mario cars is a beloved memory from many a childhood and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the biggest and best incarnation yet.

It has all the bells and whistles you want it to – up to 8 players can play, a range of excellent tracks and many new elements like anti-gravity racing, 200cc mode and HD graphics.

You do pay for these extras though and it’s one of the priciest on our list. Like the Paw Patrol On a Roll game, it’s brilliant for younger players, but the potential for fun has no age limit in this game and many adults will find themselves as hooked as their children!

Available from: Nintendo, Currys and Amazon

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7. Minecraft, £24.99 – best for long-term play

Age: 7+
Format: PC, Xbox, PS4, mobile, Nintendo Switch

What it is: It’s an open-world building-block game – imagine a limitless supply of Lego where the options for creation are endless. Players have an avatar and can create anything they like from textured cubes. There are no structured tasks to complete and players are encouraged to roam free, with the only responsibility to feed their avatar, build shelter and ward off enemies – or, parents can set the game to ‘peaceful’ mode, so no monsters are encountered. There are two main game modes, Survival and Creative.    

Why we love it: A worldwide sensation, the Minecraft phenomenon has captured the imaginations of children for the past 10 years and its popularity shows no signs of slowing.

It’s a game with many positives – it encourages creativity on an epic scale, teamwork, geometry skills, problem-solving and parents and friends can get involved and play, too. It’s even being used as a teaching aid in some UK schools.

One of the best things about Minecraft is it evolves with the child – while they may begin playing just by wandering around the scenery, as they get older and more familiar, they can create elaborate worlds. One of the most popular games in the world, it pushes kids to their creative limit and there’s not much else like it. 

Available from: Minecraft, Amazon and Argos

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8. Rocket League, from £19.99 – best for value

Age: 3+
Format: PS4, Xbox One

What it is: A compelling combination of rocket-powered cars and football that enthrals from start to finish. The aim of the game is to drive your car around and get the ball in the back of the net – simple, right?

Why we love it: It appeals to all ages and the escapades you can get yourself into during a rocket-powered car game of football are hilarious for everyone involved! Younger kids will love blasting the cars around without much regard for the game, while older children who can master the controls will enjoy the thrill of beating opponents as it offers a 4-player split-screen.

The concept is deliciously simple, but therein lies its charm – it’s really easy to pick up and play and the high-octane fun of flying cars and shooting balls never gets old.

Slightly similar to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe in that you have a car to control, it doesn’t have the same play potential, but it is the cheapest on our list and the fun of this football reimagining is undeniable. 

Available from: Game, Amazon and Argos

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9. Just Dance 2019, from £25.99 – best for getting kids moving

Age: 3+
Format: Wii, Wii U, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3, Nintendo Switch

What it is: A hugely popular musical game franchise first released in 2009, it’s back with 40 new tracks to dance to. Players mirror the movements of the dancers on the screen, scoring points based on how well the moves are matched.

Why we love it: Unlike all other games on our list, and many on the market, Just Dance actually gets children moving. The new selection of songs, featuring Bruno Mars, Ariana Grande, David Guetta and many other popular stars, really bring the party to your living room and kids love the challenge of getting the moves right.

The Kids Mode was a genius addition to the 2018 game, and it’s been included in 2019’s version, too – songs and movements are adapted and the game’s scoring system is replaced with words like ‘Yay’ and ‘Wow’ and rainbow stars are given out.

It’s a positive and supportive interface that encourages kids get moving – what’s not to love?

Available from: Amazon, Game and Ubisoft

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10. Yoshi’s Crafted World, £49.99 – best for young players

Age: 3+
Format: Nintendo Switch

What it is: An easy-to-play, cutesy 2D platform game that stars Yoshi as its protagonist, making his way through the Yoshi universe, a whimsical wonderland made of discarded household items. You can leap high, gulp down enemies, find collectibles and complete easy tasks.

Why we love it: The charm of this game is in the adorable environment in which you play, perfect for younger players – it’s a whimsical scene with bouncy floors, ramps made from folded cardboard, roads marked with chalk, sunshine-bright colours and adorable Yoshi – it’s a lovely aesthetic that embodies a crafty vibe.

Gameplay is straightforward and unchallenging – exactly what you’d expect for one aimed at 3+ and sits alongside Paw Patrol and Mario Kart for an entry-level gaming experience.

There’s a slow pace and little risk of death and other players can jump in with co-op mode if things do get tricky. It’s one of the most expensive on our list, but this is a treasure of a game that will enchant little players.

Available from: Currys, Amazon and Nintendo

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