The best way to prevent your family members from retreating into separate rooms with separate screens the moment dinner is over? Play a game together. Games are a great thing to do with your kids for one reason: There’s absolutely no practical point of doing so. It’s purely, sheerly, delightfully something you do just for fun. And I don’t know a lot of people who don’t need more fun in their lives.
So try these 11 games (or any family game you like) on for size some night soon.
1. Doggie Doo
No one’s going to accuse this superhot-with-little-kids game of being classy. But it absolutely cracks up young children, and adults might get some giggles too at all the farty sounds. The game is simple enough for the youngest members of the family. Roll the die and pump the handle on the dog’s leash that number of times. The pumps push poop through the doggies, and whoever is pumping the leash when the poop falls out the rear wins that piece. First one to pick up three pieces of poop with their poop shovel wins the game.
Play with: 2-4 players, age 4+
Buy it: $24.40
The solid, fun-to-handle wooden blocks stack into a solid rectangle. Players remove them one by one and stack them on top. First one to knock over the blocks loses — and in my family, they have to be on the one to put the blocks neatly away (or build the next tower). The game packaging says 6 and up, and maybe that’s when players get good, but as soon as your children are out of the “chew on everything” stage, they can play — even some 2-year-olds can get in on the action, if you don’t mind them knocking the tower over repeatedly.
Play with: 1 or more players age 6+
Buy it: $14.76
3. Watch Ya Mouth
Children think this game is absolutely hilarious, and it’s a great one to play with the whole family, including grandparents. Put in one of the included mouthpieces (they come in big and small sizes for the big and small people in your family), then try to read a phrase off a card while everyone guesses what you’re saying. Laughter ensues. At the end, the mouthpieces are dishwasher-safe. If the adults are still feeling like playing after the kids are all in bed, there’s an adult expansion pack for another $13 with 18+ (instead of family-friendly) phrases.
Play with: 2 to 10 (or more) players age 8+
Buy it: $14.99
4. Shark Bite
Little kids will be fascinated by this game, and the SNAP! it makes when the shark closes his wide-open jaws. Players put 12 sea creatures inside the shark’s mouth, then take turns rolling the die and fishing for the creatures using a fishing rod. But you never know when the shark’s going to bite and end the game! This game requires no batteries and makes no annoying noises, making nearby adults very happy.
Play with: 2 to 4 players age 4+
Buy it: $16.99
5. Connect 4
Parents probably played many a game of this Hasbro classic at their own kitchen table, and it’s just as fun these days. Line up four of your game pieces in a row and you’re the winner. Kids love the action of releasing the checkers at the end of the game, which can sometimes be enough to short-circuit any sibling arguments about who did what to whom. Besides, each game goes quickly, so they can always play another round.
Play with: 2 players age 6+
Buy it: $7.99
6. Bugs in the Kitchen
Players take turns rolling a die, then turning game pieces on the board to create a path to your trap. When the HEXBUG is released, it scampers all around the board until it falls into someone’s trap. If it’s yours, and you collect all 5, you win the game! This is a popular one with both kids and adults, because the HEXBUG moves somewhat unpredictably, which cracks up players young and old. The board requires no set-up or break-down each time, which makes parents happy.
Play with: 2 to 4 players age 6+
Buy it: $15.99
It’s kinda like Pictionary, but with clay. One player picks a card and sculpts the object shown on that card, using the included Cranium Clay, while the other players try to guess what it is. The first player to get 4 correct guesses wins! This game builds fine motor and visual skills, and it’s one of those games that people of any age can be good at — and you may surprised by which members of your family are particularly skilled!
Play with: 2 or more players age 5+
Buy it: $19.99
8. Journey Through Time Eye Found It! Game
Set up the giant 6-foot game board (it’ll take up your whole dining-room table!), and work your way through time before your Timecraft runs out of fuel. When players spin and get a search symbol, they all hurry to find tiny objects hidden in the board — find them, and you move ahead. Small children are surprisingly sharp-eyed and observant, and this game that capitalizes on those skills will have them chuckling with glee when they’re able to beat the adults.
Play with: 1 to 6 players age 4+
Buy it: $15.77
9. Melissa & Doug Suspend Family Game
It’s like Jenga, but played with weird, squiggly pieces with bends and jags that can be hung on each other and sometimes swing back and forth while you’re playing. Even small children get the hang of this game quickly, while older players will enjoy the planning and strategy that goes into successfully adding new pieces. The person who sends it all crashing down, loses — but that could just as easily be Mom, Dad, or Grandma. When smaller kids ask their middle school or teen siblings or cousins to play a game with them, this is likely to be the game the older kids choose.
Play with: 1 to 4 players age 8+
Buy it: $13.59
Kids go absolutely bonkers over this game, which is a great way to keep them active, busy, and laughing when they can’t go outdoors. Spin the dial to find out what color you have to put a hand or foot on. Then twist yourself up like a pretzel as the other players contort around you to get to their color. It’s a guaranteed laugh for anyone limber enough to play.
Play with: 2 to 4 players age 6+
Buy it: $18.39
11. Toilet Trouble
It’s no secret that kids love any kind of bathroom humor. So this tiny toilet with a miniature roll of toilet paper that players spin to find out how many times they must flush — always risking a sudden spray of water from the toilet — is an endless thigh-slapper for them.
Play with: 2 or more players age 4+
Buy it: $15.97
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