11 Great Family Board Games To Get The Kids (And You) Off Of The iPad

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11 Great Family Board Games To Get The Kids (And You) Off Of The iPad

We all pretend to love board games but when it comes to sitting down and playing them most of us are remiss. The solution? Pick up any of these fun games for the family and see eyes light up, spirits rise, and iPads get shunted to the side. While we can’t promise there won’t be fights, you will be able to spend a few good hours with the little ones thanks to these games. I’ve played them all and ordered them from easiest to most advanced.



Blokus is like Tetris but for four people! It’s a real brainteaser and requires little reading.





The easiest game in the bunch. Zingo is basically bingo with pictures and simple words. The best part is the tile system: when you slide the little plastic container like a credit card machine two fresh tiles pop out ready to play.


Oh Snap!

Oh Snap! takes just seconds to understand, but is wonderfully (re)playable with groups of all ages.

It’s sort of like Jenga, but on a flat surface. Every mistake you make changes the game, but, unlike the ol’ wobbly tower, doesn’t end it entirely.

The goal is to take any piece on the board without any of the other ones moving. A spring-loaded red bar pushes against all the pieces — so you’ve got to find the one that’s not holding everything together. Once you touch a piece, it’s yours (no looseness-tests allowed). Big pieces are harder to pull, and thus worth more.

So simple, yet so, so fun. (And it’s easy to turn into a drinking game once the little ones head to bed!)



Labyrinth is great for nearly every age (as long as the kids won’t swallow the pieces). This game involves moving wizards and witches around a constantly-changing maze. The images are the best part, making the game like Dungeons & Dragons for the wee ones.



Carcassonne is a great game for the 4-10 year old members of the family. Because there is no reading, this map-making strategy game can be fun for the littlest folks (just give them a bunch of tiles and let them go wild) and the early readers who will love the concept and design. It’s one of our family favorites right now.


Forbidden Island

Escape from the island before it sinks! How? With cunning and multi person strategy. Forbidden Island requires you to work together to find the magical treasures and get back to the chopper before the island dips underwater.


Cargo Noir

Cargo Noir is a trading game based around a black market. You move goods around the world, amass a fortune, and the one with the most clubs, yachts, and henchmen wins the day. It’s a unique game with plenty of fun stuff for older kids.


Exploding Kittens

Get Exploding Kittens. Right now. It’s a great game and a crowdfunding darling that was drawn by The Oatmeal. My kids like to play it without us adults, which is a true first.


Small World

Small World pits various factions – vampires, ogres, and elves – against each other for control of the map. This game is quite complex but also quite fun. There’s a bit of setup involved but nothing a dedicated pre-teen can’t handle.



Dominion is an addictive card-based game that is sort of a gateway drug for Magic: The Gathering. Every game is different and because it uses cards you can reduce the board footprint when traveling. It’s a fascinating and complex game for older kids.



A game like chess might be a no-brainer but teaching a child how to play is one of the most rewarding experiences ever. The rules aren’t complex, the pieces are amazingly totemic and evocative, and there’s definite fun to be had when they beat you handily in a few games. Well worth picking up a set when you can.


The Result? The Great Games Pile

Eventually you’ll have a collection of boardgames so vast and wide-ranging that you won’t know what to play anymore. It will end up on a shelf somewhere and the kids will glance over at them randomly wondering if you’ve hidden their iPhone charger up there. The key? Make sure you have a board game night every week or so and make sure that kids understand that games exists outside of the world of Minecraft. It’s easy if you try.

Some gifts in this guide are available on Amazon:

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