16 of the best board games for children

From new arrivals to well-loved classics, we pick the most fun games to play as a family

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Sitting down to play a board game together is a great way to get some quality time as a family – assuming Dad doesn’t sulk too much if he loses… The best family games will combine some thinking skills, some luck, maybe some element of surprise or tension – and definitely a lot to laugh about as you play…

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Here are our top 15 board games, as rated and tested by kids…

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1. Make n break, £24.99

GOLD winner, Best Board Game, 2018 MadeForMums Toy Awards

Age: 8+

What it is: A game where you race against time to replicate, with 10 colourful wooden blocks, the structure on the card you’ve drawn. Come with an extra dice and extreme challenge cards if you want to take things up a level. For 2 to 4 players.

Why we love it: It sounds super-worthy but it’s actually huge fun – and requires steady nerves and fingers. We like the ways you can make it a teamwork challenge, too.

What our child testers made of it:

  • ‘I really have to concentrate but love the pace of this game. I’m exhausted after playing it but immediately want to play again!’ Liv, 10
  • ‘Olivia loves how this game makes you think. The race against the clock makes it more intense but she likes how you can work in teams, meaning that, as much as you are competitive, you must work together too. It’s the perfect game for us as we usually fall out because of competitiveness!’ Sarah, mum to Olivia, 9

Available from: Ocado and Amazon

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2. FReNeTiC, £22.99

SILVER winner, Best Board Game, 2018 MadeForMums Toy Awards

Age: 8+

What it is: A kind of timed Chemistry Scrabble: players race against the clock to create the highest-scoring words using the letters from the symbols for the elements of the periodic table. For 2 or more players.

Why we love it: It’s fun, educational, and very fast-faced. Probably best suited to age 10 and over.

What our child testers made of it:

  • ‘It’s really fun to play and compete with your family It makes you use your brain and search for the harder words, but younger kids won’t really understand. It helped me on my chemistry test too!’ Roma, 13

Available from: John Lewis and Amazon

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3. Lexicon-GO!, £9.99

SILVER winner, Best Portable/Travel Toy, 2018 MadeForMums Toy Awards

Age: 8+

What it is: A tile-based word game. Players vie to be the first to make words from every one of the tile letters they’re dealt. Comes in neat L-shaped canvas bag.For 2 to 5 players.

Why we love it: It’s simple and fast and, because you can attack other people’s words, it’s crafty and tactical, too. Great fun!

What our child testers made of it:

  • ‘This game is great!! I love the bag it comes in. It is easy to carry around and fun to play. We took it in the car and on picnics. I love the feel of the tiles’ Jessica, 10
  • ‘Zak loved playing this with his friends! Kept them busy for quite a while on several different occasions both at home and while out!’ Jadie mum to Zak, 9

Available from: Amazon and Robert Dyas

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4. Hamster Race, £24.99

BRONZE winner, Best Board Game, 2018 MadeForMums Toy Awards

Age: 4+

What it is: An action game in which your hamster figure race against other people’s hamsters to collect cheese, make its way to a big hamster wheel and see if it can stay on without being thrown off. For 2 to 4 players. Requires 4 AA batteries.

Why we love it: This game had us at hamster. Good silly family fun that had all our testers coming back for more.

What our child testers made of it:

  • ‘This game kept both my children entertained for ages: my older one loved that his little sister could understand and didn’t lose interest in the game. It’s great for families.’ Mary-Kate, mum to Oliver, 9, and Isabelle, 4
  • ‘Riley loves it and asks to play it every day. Hours of entertainment!’ Shannon, mum to Riley, 5

Available from: Crafty Arts, Smyths Toys and Amazon

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5. Outfoxed, £17.49

BRONZE winner, Best Board Game, 2018 MadeForMums Toy Awards

Age: 6+

What it is: A family game of cooperative deduction where players work together to find out which naughty fox stole Mrs Plumpert’s prize pot pie. For 2 to 4 players.

Why we love it: A game that looks worthy but is way more fun than you’d think. Plus, it looks lovely and our testers found the hand-held clue decoder thrilling.

What our testers made of it:

  • ‘This was an unexpected hit. It took a while to understand the rules of the game, so I thought my Laila and Leo would hate it. I was wrong! They play with it for hours on end, and really enjoy finding out who the culprit was.’ Anna, mum to Laila, 8 and Leo, 5
  • ‘Bobby and I have a laugh playing this, and it doesn’t get boring. Brilliant value for money. We must have played it 20 times now!’ Katie, mum to Bobby, 6

Available from:  Amazon and Urban Gifts

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6. Orchard Toys Cheeky Monkeys, £10

Age: 4+

What it is: A fast-moving game of chance – you race to collect the most bananas – with a (not-so-serious) element of strategy – you can steal bananas from each other. Includes a 2-part 3D tree, 32 monkey cards, a spinner board, a pool board and instructions. For 2 to 4 players.

Why we love it: It’s simple and really well thought-out game that’s fun to play – from hanging bananas on the tree to making monkey noises to – thrillingly – nicking other people’s nanas. Nice sturdy (recycled) cardboard playing pieces, too, which was one of the many reasons it won Gold in the 2017 MadeForMums Toy Awards.

Available from: Amazon and The Entertainer

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7. Monkey Bingo, £19.99

Age: 6+

What it is: A twist on the traditional bingo game with images of 64 different monkey, macaques, gorillas and other primates instead of numbers. Includes 12 game boards, a caller’s grid, a cloth bag with 64 monkey cards, 200 counters and a booklet with instructions and detailed information on each animal. For up to 12 players.

Why we love it: This Silver winner in our 2017 MadeForMums Toy Awards is beautifully designed and is very simple to play, working equally well for just 2 children (with an adult caller) or a full family gathering. We like how the pictures on the cards mean a child does not need to be able to read the (sometimes complicated!) names of the different monkeys to be able to play. And, for those who can read, the additional info about the animals is top-notch.

Available from: Amazon and Laurence King

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8. Buggaloop, £29.99

Age: 6+

What it is: The aim of this 20-minute game is to get your bug pieces across the yard to the finish line without running into the path of the fearsome (battery-operated) Hexbug, who can scurry out from one of the drainpipe loops to catch you at any time. Includes a board, 2 plastic 3D loops, a dice, a Hexbug nano and 12 playing pieces in 4 different colours. For 2-4 players. Needs 1 LR44 battery.

Why we love it: It’s fast-paced and action-filled, and doesn’t go on for hours and hours (Monopoly, we’re looking at you…). The slightly scary-looking Hexbug nano adds a brilliant element of danger, which got our child testers very excited. So much so, they awarded it Bronze in the 2017 MadeForMums Toy Awards.

Available from: Amazon and John Lewis

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9. Peppa Pig Party Time Race Game, £26.00

Age: 4+

What is it: A bright, snakes-and-ladders-style board game, where you race to be the first pig to make it with the party invitation to Susy Sheep’s house. For 2 to 4 players; comes with dice and instructions.

Why we love it: We really liked simplicity of this game, the clear instructions and the humour of the obstacles you encounter (from having a flat tyre to running out of petrol). Our family testers all had a very competitive half an hour or so – and, afterwards, the children were keen to show their friends how to play, too.

Available from: Amazon and OnBuy

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10. Stoopido, £18.00

Age: 8+

What it is: A fast turn-taking game, in which each player wears a pair of Stoopido glasses and then races to load everyone else’s spec with silly eyes, noses, ears, pirate hats and more. Includes squeaker, dice and rules; for up to 4 players.

Why we love it: This game is silliness personified. All our tester families found they spent pretty much all the 25 minutes or so it takes to play laughing their spec-laden heads off. One of our child testers, in particular, says he will always treasure the sight of his granddad looking like ‘a cross between a pirate and a girl’.

Available from: Game and Amazon

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11. Bananagrams, £14.99

Age: 7+

What it is: A banana-shaped pouch containing 144 letter tiles you use to create words and anagrams and build them into a kind of crossword grid – and race to be the ‘top banana’. For 1-8 players.

Why we love it: We like how this easy this word game is for even fairly young children to grasp (much easier than Scrabble), and there’s no hanging around waiting for your turn (you all play at once). All our judge families agreed this is good, mind-stretching fun and gave it Bronze in the 2016 Toy Awards.

Available from: Amazon and Argos

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12. Pie Face Sky High, £13.99

Age: 5+

What it is: The most recent Pie Face game stands 3ft tall and challenges players to test their strength while trying to give their opponent a face full of whipped cream. One player stands, looks through the face hole, while another player tries to hits the base plate with the plastic hammer hard enough to ‘pie’ their opponent. Includes an easy-to-adjust difficulty setting, and comes instructions and all you need bar the whipped cream. For 2 players or more.

Why we love it: We love the incorporation of the classic ‘test your strength’ fairground game into the phenomenon that is Pie Face. Loads of messy fun for all the family.

Available from: The Entertainer and Amazon

The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game

13. The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game, £22

Age: 3+

What it is: Spin the wheel and then follow the instructions to lose, steal or pick acorns, using the special Squirrel Squeeze tweezers. The first person to fill their tree stump with an acorn in each colour is the winner. For 2 to 4 players.

Why we love it: It’s a colourful, engaging that encourages counting, matching and fine motor skills – with a real sense of fun. Simple, easy to follow rules – younger children can easily join in with older siblings.

Available from: Amazon and John Lewis

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14. Buckaroo, £18.00

Age: 4+

What it is: A test-of-skill game where players take turns to load up the mule with kit before he bucks and throws everything into the air. Includes 3 skill-level options. Comes with the mule and 12 game pieces. No batteries required. For 2 to 4 players.

Why we love it: Every home needs Buckaroo! It’s a classic jeopardy game that even big kids will enjoy revisiting and lots of cheering (or booing) is guaranteed when that mule finally bucks.

Available from: Amazon and Smyths

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15. Charades for Kids: The Board Game, £12.95

Age: 4+

What it is: The classic parlour game gets the child-friendly treatment, with cards suitable for younger and older kids to act out. Each player gets a guess and the person who is correct moves ahead on the board. Includes a board, 50 picture charade cards, 100 non-picture cards, a dice, a 1-minute egg timer and 4 player pieces. For 3 or more players.

Why we love it: This simplified version of the traditional family party game is a great way to allow little ones to get in on the fun. The picture cards for the youngest players is a nice touch, too.

Available from: John Lewis and Amazon

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16. Foxy Pants, £22.99

Age: 4+

What it is: A game where you save the chickens from the hungry fox – by watching his pants. The Fox runs round stuffing chickens down his pants but, when he’s collected too many, his pants fall down – and there’s your chance to rescue as many of your chickens as possible, and return them to your coop! No batteries needed. Up to 4 players.

Why we love it: It’s all very silly but tremendous fun. And the pants-falling-down moments tickled our child testers pink!

Available from: Amazon and Smyths Toys

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This article contains affiliate links, which means MadeForMums may earn a small amount of money if you click through and buy. All our toy content is written independently (we’ll include the best toys whether we can include an affiliate link or not) and pretty much all of the toys are tested and rated by our child toy testers, as well as our editorial team. 

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