We're spending more time indoors with our families than ever, and board games are having a bit of a heyday. There are loads of new and reinvented board games for kids and families which will take this sometimes under-appreciated form of entertainment from last resort to number one choice.

Advertisement

If you've got little ones, you'll be looking at simple, bright and engaging games to help children develop their skills and get involved. For slightly older kids, the best family board games might involve a little strategy, inventive thinking or outright silliness.

We've rolled a lot of dice, spun a lot of spinners and had a fair few slightly over-competitive moments in our quest to find the best board games for children of all ages, from pre-schooler to teen. And after a lot of turn-taking and card-dealing – not to mention sock-exploring, kitten-paw-flicking and drawing upside down – we've found some brilliant board games to recommend...

Best family board games at a glance

  • Great for hand-eye coordination: Exploding Kittens: A Game of Cat and Mouth, £24.99
  • Great for dexterity: The Sock Game, £19.99
  • Great for quick-fire strategy: Flip Over Frog, £9.99
  • Great for suspense: Orchard Toys Dino-Snore-Us, £10.75
  • Great for pattern recognition: Ubongo Junior, £20
  • Great for quick thinking silliness: UpRoar!, £9.99
  • Great for serious strategy: Ticket to Ride Europe, £39.99
  • Great for eco-friendly messaging: Petit Collage Rush to Recycle, £14
  • Great for cross-generational laughs: Ravensburger #UpsideDownChallenge Game, £24.99
  • Great for non-competitive play: Space Cow Dream Catcher, £18.99
  • Great for creativity: Blank, £12
  • Great for quick thinking: 5 Second Rule Core Classic Buzzer, £12.99
  • Great for excitement: Drone Home, £19.99
  • Great for preschooler fun: Peppa Pig Muddy Puddle Game, £19.99
  • Great for quick-paced fun: Cobra Paw, £14.99
  • Great for hand-eye coordination: Cheeky Monkeys, £10.75
  • Great for early strategy skills: Froggit, £24.99
  • Great for matching skills and silliness: Uno Showdown, £19.99
  • Great for memory skills: Baffled, £21.99
  • Great for logic thinking: Dog Crimes, £19.35

Here’s our pick of the best family board games for ages 4 to teenagers, as tested by kids and rated by parents

1. Exploding Kittens: A Game of Cat and Mouth, £24.99

– Great for hand eye coordination

Exploding Kittens Cat and Mouth Game

Age suitability: 7+ | Best for age: 8+ | Batteries: None
Awards: Editor's Choice, Made For Mums Toy Awards 2021

What it is: A pinball-style game during which you compete to catapult the most balls into the open mouth of the board's cat centrepiece. Includes 24 balls, 2 magnetic Kitty Paw Flickers and 6 optional wall bumpers. For 2 players (or more if you download the special tournament app).

Why we love it: It's fun to look at and really unique to play – as our child tester Rosie, 8 said, "I love how you flick the paws with the balls inside: there are no other games like this!" It's also really good for for parents, as well as kids. Natasha, mum of another of our child testers, Anthony, 8, said, "Us adults had just as much fun as the children. All of us were cheering one another on and getting more and more competitive as the game went on!" We particularly like how you set up the game 'arena' just by opening up the box.

Available from: Exploding Kittens and Amazon

2. The Sock Game, £19.99

– Great for dexterity

The Sock Game

Age suitability: 8+ | Best for age: 8+ (or younger with adult supervision) | Batteries: None
Awards: Gold, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2021

What it is: A sensory-skills board game where, using touch alone, you race to be the first to retrieve a specific object (like a cork or a button) from a sock stuffed full of similar objects. Comes with 2 big socks, 60 objects, a spinner, 2 scoring counters and instructions. For 2 players or more.

Why we love it: The premise of this game is simple but it's good fun– and can get pretty competitive! Our child tester Maisie, 8, said, "I would definitely recommend it for other families as it is a fun game for all ages. I like finding the different objects as quickly as possible and I like that some of the objects have different rules like scoring 2 points or having your hand in the sock to start with." We also like that you can add to the socks some objects of your own – there are blank spaces on the board to write them down. Worth noting that, though it's marked for ages 8+, we think younger children would enjoy playing this too – as long as an adult is around to keep a watchful eye on all the little pieces.

Available at: Amazon and Argos

3. Flip Over Frog, £9.99

– Great for quick-fire strategy

Flip Over Frog

Age suitability: 6+ | Best for age: 6+ | Batteries: None
Awards: Gold, MadeforMums Toy Awards 2021

What it is: A brightly coloured 15 to 20-minute board game, made of recycled card, that tests both memory and tactics. Each player has a secret frog colour and the aim is to cover the board with as many of the coloured frogs as possible without anyone guessing what your colour is and without getting caught by a snake. For 2 to 5 players.

Why we love it: It's fast and funny – and actually puts adult players on a pretty level playing field with child ones. Our child tester Finlay, 7, said: "The best thing about it was keeping my frog colour secret and using the snake tiles to help beat Mum! It's fun pretending to be a different colour to trick other players."

Available at: Toy Street, Magic Madhouse and Amazon

4. Orchard Toys Dino-Snore-Us, £10.75

– Great for suspense

Orchard Toys Dino Snore-Us

Age suitability: 4+ | Best for age: 4+ | Batteries: None
Awards: Gold, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2021

What it is: A dinosaur-themed board game where the objective is to collect as many eggs as you can without waking the sleeping T-Rex (by landing on a dino footprint). Includes a spinner, jigsaw game board, 4 dinosaur playing pieces, a T-Rex character, 24 eggs and 4 nests. For 2 to 4 players.

Why we love it: It's a great-value, colourful, simple counting-spaces board game with a real element of suspense: who's going to wake the T-Rex next? "I get excited and nervous about waking the dinosaur up," said our child tester Avana, 5. "I really love this game!" We also really like the little twist at the end when you count up your eggs: you turn them over to see how many cracked ones you have and you can't count those in your total. This was the part that really got our child testers giggling in anticipation.

Available at: Amazon, Jojo Maman Bebe and Orchard Toys

5. Ubongo Junior, £20

– Great for pattern recognition

Ubongo Junior

Age suitability: 5+ | Best for age: 5+ | Batteries: None
Awards: Silver, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2021

What it is: A game where each player gets a puzzle board and races everyone else – and the timer – to place the correctly shaped animal tiles on their board, complete their puzzle and win 'jewels'. Comes with 50 double-sided puzzle boards (with varying levels of difficulties), an hourglass timer, animal tiles and plastic gems. For 1 to 4 players.

Why we love it: This junior version of the adult game is well pitched at the 5+ age range, and we like that different players can select puzzle boards with different levels of difficulty. Our child testers all grasped the rules quickly and got very excited when the timer was turned over and they started looking for the right animal tiles. "I like the animals and winning lots of treasure like a pirate!" said our child tester Zachary, 5. His mum Janet added, "I think this will become a firm family favourite in our house and last for many, many years. It is difficult enough for older children and adults to be challenged by the puzzles but not too hard (on the easier level) for little ones to be put off."

Available at: Amazon, Rules of Play and Thames & Kosmos

6. UpRoar!, £9.99

– Great for quick thinking silliness

UpRoar

Age suitability: 8+ | Best for age: 8+ | Batteries: None
Awards: Silver, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2021

What it is: A card game where you deal 2 cards out on the table, and everyone tries to spot the only matching pair of words and then be the first to sound out those words to win the cards. The player with the most cards at the end wins. For 2 players or more.

Why we love it: It's quick and simple – and "funny and brilliant", according to our child tester Stanley, 8. It certainly had us laughing as we tried to bray like a sad donkey, moo like an angry cow, whoosh like a firework and more. "It's easy and hard at the same time," added Stanley, "as you can know the words but not know the sound fast enough!" His mum Jolene says it's become a firm family favourite in their house now. It’s also the perfect size to take away on a trip, plus the packaging and cards are 100% compostable, biodegradable and plastic-free.

Available at: Amazon and McMiller

7. Ticket to Ride Europe, £39.99

– Great for serious strategy

Ticket-to-Ride-Europe

Age suitability: 8+ | Best for age: 10+ | Batteries: None
Awards: Bronze, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2021

What it is: A game where you use the board to try to build railway tracks across Europe to connect the cities you draw (as cards) at the beginning. You score points for, amongst other things, connecting up all your cities and having the longest continuous track. Comes with an instruction books– that you will need to read carefully. For 2 to 5 players.

Why we love it: This is a really good game for older kids, with lots of scope for strategic (and cunning) planning. It also has great inter-generational appeal, with one of our child testers having hours of fun playing this with her granny. The secret's in the blend of luck and strategy – and how you're never quite sure who the winner is until you tot up the scores at the end. "This game was really hard when you start but when we got a little into it, it started getting really fun," said our child tester Emily, 9.

Available at: John Lewis and Amazon

8. Petit Collage Rush to Recycle, £14

– Great for eco-friendly messaging

Petit Collage Rush to Recycle

Age suitability: 4+ | Best for age: 5+ | Batteries: None
Awards: Bronze, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2021

What it is: An eco-minded board game all about recycling – and made with 50% recycled card. The aim of the game is to sort your cards (depicting household objects) into the correct recycling boxes before the recycling lorry reaches its destination. For 2 to 4 players.

Why we love it: It looks very sweet – with bright colours and illustrations – and, as well as having a worthy educational aim, the game is fun to play. The little recycling boxes (which arrive flat for you to assemble) are not super-robust, so this is probably a game for a more careful child. It was definitely a massive hit with our child tester Blake, 6, who said, "I like learning what goes into the bins and all the colours. I played twice and want to play again!"

Available at: Amazon

9. Ravensburger #UpsideDownChallenge Game, £24.99

– Great for cross-generational laughs

Ravensburger #UpsideDownChallenge Game

Age suitability: 6+ | Best for age: 6+ | Batteries: None
Awards: Bronze, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2021

What it is: A board game in which you take it in turns to complete simple challenges, such as writing your name or pouring water from one cup to another, while wearing a pair of plastic goggles that flip your vision upside down. For 2 to 6 players.

Why we love it: This game is all about silliness and laughter: it's impossible not to look ridiculous struggling (because you will!) to do a simple task with the goggles on. "Scarlett found it hilarious watching me and her dad trying to do some of the tasks," said Claire, mum of our child tester Scarlett, 8. Millie, mum of another child tester, Freddie, 7, said, "Freddie thought it was amazing and he kept the goggles on afterwards, trying to do other activities around the house!" Freddie himself rated the game "10 out of 10". Do note that quite a number of the goggle challenges involve household objects you need to supply (such as toilet roll tubes) so you may want to have a quick flick through the cards beforehand.

Available from: Amazon and Smyths Toys

10. Space Cow Dream Catcher, £18.99

– Great for non-competitive play

Space Cow Dream Catcher

Age suitability: 4+ | Best for age: | Batteries: None
Awards: Bronze, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2021

What it is: A 15-minute dream-themed board game, in which you see if you can win a dream token by covering up the 'nightmare' piece with the right-sized cuddly toy piece. The winner is the player who fills up their cloud base with dream tokens first. For 2 to 4 players.

Why we love it: It's a very simple and not at all competitive game, so it may not be everyone's cup of tea but our child tester Cassi, 6, really fell in love with it. She was drawn in by the stories you can weave around dreams, although she was keen to point out she didn't find the nightmare cards scary "at all"! "My favourite toy is the unicorn," she said. "And I added on to the game that we write down out stories from the dreams we make."

Available at: Board Game, Amazon and Firestorm Games

12. Blank, £12

– Great for creativity

Hub Games Blank

Age suitability: 6+ | Best for age: 8+ | Batteries: None
Awards: Bronze, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2021

What it is: A fast-paced card game, where you try to discard the 7 cards from your hand by matching the colours and numbers in the central pile and following rules (such as, 'if a 5 is played, the order of play switches direction). So far, so similar to UNO (below). The twist is that the 1st person to discard all their cards gets to create a new rule (and customise a blank playing card) for the next game. For 2 to 6 players.

Why we love it: It's an original concept that's lots of fun – and our child testers got very creative with their rule-making. One of our child testers, George, 9, said, "This game is pretty funny. I like trying to think of new penalties to write on the cards, to make it as silly as possible. I also like how the games are quite short, so you can play lots of different games in a small amount of time."

Available at: Amazon and Hub Games

12. 5 Second Rule Core Classic Buzzer, £12.99

– Great for quick thinking

5 second rule

Age suitability: 10+ | Best for age: 10+ | Batteries: 3 x AAA (not included)
Awards: Bronze, Made For Mums Toy Awards 2021

What it is: A fast-paced party game in which you race against the clock to name 3 things associated with a seemingly easy topic – such as 'things that go with chips'. Do it before the 5 second timer runs out, and you can give the buzzer a satisfying smash; have a mind-blank, and the alarm will go off. For 3 players or more.

Why we love it: "This game has everything that we look for as a family," said Eve, mum of our child tester, Arthur, 10. "It's easy to follow, simple to set up, has clear instructions and can be enjoyed over and over by adults and children equally." And we agree, especially as there are so many question cards (326 cards; 652 questions) that it'll be a long while before you play the same game twice. Arthur himself added, "I love it – it was so much fun! I found it exciting and challenging trying to answer in 5 seconds. Smashing the buzzer was great!"

Available at: Amazon and Argos

13. Drone Home, £19.99

– Great for excitement

Drone-Home

Age suitability: 6+ | Best for age: 6+ | Batteries: 4 x AAA batteries (not included)

What it is: A fast-moving action race game featuring an actual drone. Your aim is to launch each of your 3 aliens down a ramp and into the drone, which will then lift off into the air. But you have to watch out for other players, who can knock your alien out of the drone with their own. For 2 to 4 players.

Why we love it: Our child tester Wyatt, 8, got his whole family playing this game – and it was a huge hit, with all of them "screaming in excitement", according to mum Rebecca. "I like how the drone flies off with the alien inside it," said Wyatt. "It flies so high to the ceiling, it makes me laugh so much. I love this game!"

Available at: Interplay and Argos

14. Peppa Pig Muddy Puddle Game, £19.99

– Great for preschooler fun

Peppa Pig Muddy Puddle Game

Age suitability: 4+ | Best for age: 4+ | Batteries: None

What it is: A game where you vie to help George jump over muddy puddles to reach Peppa at the top of the hill – without falling through a puddle and having to start again. Comes with a green hill topped by Peppa, 12 playing pieces and 24 action cards. For 2 to 4 players.

Why we love it: Anything Peppa-themed is (obviously) a big hit in any household with small occupants but this 20-minute game is a good game in its own right. It's well designed and fun – and our child testers found the idea of falling in the deep puddles very amusing. It's definitely aimed at preschoolers but, according to Mackenzie, mum to our child tester Reuben, 4, it's a hit with school-age children. too. "The whole family joined in to play," she said, "and we all thoroughly enjoyed it!"

Available at: Very and Amazon

15. Cobra Paw, £14.99

– Great for quick-paced fun

Cobra Paw

Age suitability: 6+ | Best for age: 6+ | Batteries: None

What it is: A quick-paced game where you take turns to roll a symbol-studded dice and then try to the matching symbol tiles before your opponents can. The first to grab 6 correct tiles wins. For 2 to 6 players.

Why we love it: This is an easy-to-master, 5 to 15-minute game that encourages quick recognition skills, quick reactions – and a healthy competitive spirit! "Noah got the rules really quickly," says Sarah, mum of our child tester, Noah, 7. "It’s a fantastic, fun game. It's also really portable and excellent value for money."

Available at: Waterstones and Amazon

16. Cheeky Monkeys, £10.75

– Great for hand-eye coordination

best-board-games_211627

Age suitability: 4+ | Best for age: 4+ | Batteries: None

What it is: A fast-moving game of chance – you race to collect the 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 a 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. Our child testers had a ball! From Orchard Toys, like Dirty Dinos (above), it features nice and sturdy (recycled) cardboard playing pieces, and it's a decent price.

Available at: Orchard Toys and Amazon

17. Froggit, £24.99

– Great for early strategy skills

Smart Games Froggit

Age suitability: 7+ | Best for age: 7+ | Batteries: None

What it is: A board game in which you try to be first to guide your frog family across the lilypads to the other side of the pond – without getting blocked by another player or scared back to the start by the big fish. Can be played at Junior or Expert levels. Comes with 6 frog families, a big fish and instructions. For 2 to 6 players.

Why we love it: This game is such fun and we love how you can adapt it to the age of the children playing: younger players will enjoy the thrill of a fast game, while older children can take their time to develop a winning strategy. "The game is easy to understand, fun to play and great of kids of all ages," says Becky, mum of our child tester Archie, 7. As for Archie himself? "This is a really cool game," he said. "I like trying to beat my brother and want to try playing it with 5 friends at the same time!"

Available at: SmartGames and Amazon

18. Uno Showdown, £19.99

– Great for matching skills – and silliness

Uno-Showdown

Age suitability: 7+ | Best for age: 7+ | Batteries: 3 x AA (not included)

What it is: A twist on the bestselling card game where you try to get rid of all your cards by matching the colour and numbers of the card on the central pile, only now there is a Showdown card which allows you – if you’re fast enough – to use an electronic unit to fire extra cards at your opponents. Comes with instructions. For 2 to 10 players.

Why we love it: The original UNO games is a deserved classic but this, according to our child testers, takes things to a whole new level. The tension as you wait to press the showdown unit when the completely unpredictable noise sounds is hilarious – and a fun counterpoint to concentrating on the cards in your hand. A great family game.

Available at: Smyths Toys, Argos and The Entertainer

19. Baffled, £21.99

– Great for memory skills

Baffled

Age suitability: 6+ | Best for age: 7+ | Batteries: None

What it is: A memory game in which you have 60 seconds to remember the position of 12 symbol tiles ­– which then keep changing position as you play. Includes a board, 12 symbol tokens and lids to cover them, ‘life’ cards and a dice. For 2 to 4 players.

Why we love it: Our child tester Thomas, 6, really enjoyed trying to remember where the different symbols are and even liked getting it wrong so he could "lose a life!" We reckon this absorbing 40-minute really game comes into its own, though, with children aged 7 or 8 and above. We rate it highly (and are trying to look past being beaten at it by our own children).

Available at: Cheatwell and Amazon

20. Dog Crimes, £19.35

– Great for logic thinking

Dog-Crimes

Age suitability: 8+ | Best for age: 8+ | Batteries: none

What it is: A logical-reasoning game where you work out clues to find out which pup committed the canine crime. Includes game board, 6 dog tokens, 6 crime tokens, 40 challenge cards and an instruction booklet. Also comes in a cat version. For 1 player.

Why we love it: This is a brainteaser game with a nice sense of humour: "In one challenge, I had to work out which dog had pooed!" said our delighted child tester David, 9. The various 'whodunit' challenges are graded from beginner to expert level, so you can increase the level of difficulty as you get the hang of it. Very nicely made, with good thick card and great illustrations. A great gift for a would-be sleuth.

Available at: Amazon

Advertisement

About the author

Helen is Deputy Editor of MadeForMums, the author of Parenting for Dummies (Wiley, £17.99) and the Head Tester for our MadeForMums Toy Awards. She has written about parenting for Mumsnet, Pregnancy & Birth, Prima Baby, Boots Parenting Club and She Magazine and she's also been Consumer Editor of Mother & Baby. She has 3 boys and a heavy-duty washing machine.

We've more top toys, all tested and rated by parents and children...

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement