The Best Brain-Boosting and Age-Appropriate Board Games

You can never go wrong with a board game. It’s the perfect gift — for Christmas, birthday, celebrations, or just because. Board games boost brain activity, helping kiddos exercise their skills and smarts. Board games also teach teamwork, patience, taking turns, and how to be a good winner and loser. And who could forget the times together laughing, competing, and talking — all around a board game. Board games? GREAT idea.

Then you walk through the board game aisle. What to choose? What’s age appropriate? Which games are actually worthwhile? Which are just fluff? What’s the best board game for _____?

Fret no more, dear reader. These are Fort Worth Moms favorite board games to get that noggin’ working, the kiddos (and you!) having fun, and a whole host of memories making.

Games for Preschoolers

Elephant’s Trunk (ages 4+). Help Emmet the elephant pack his suitcase for vacation, but watch out for the mouse who keeps dumping out Emmet’s bag! This game teaches color and pattern recognition, as well as fine motor skills.

Feed the Woozle (ages 3+). There’s so much to love about this game! From the developmental skills, such as dexterity, body awareness, creative problem solving, and more, to feeding a very hungry woozle, this is a must for family game night. With three different levels, your family will enjoy this game for years to come. 

Hoot Owl Hoot (ages 4+). Cooperative game to get all the owls back to the nest before the sun comes up. This teaches strategy and cooperation with all players in the game and includes two levels to grow with your child.

Ladybug Memory Game (ages 2-6). Age appropriate for the smallest of gamers, lift the adorable ladybug’s dots to find the matching pair. Made of wood and includes three levels of difficulty in the laminated cards. Both precious and fun!

Macaron Matching Game (ages 3+). Add a little dessert to game night with this colorful card game designed for everyone. Increase memory skills by finding the matching pair of mouth-watering macaron illustrations, but please refrain from licking or tasting the cards. A tasteful game for even the pickiest gamers. 

Sneaky Snacky Squirrel (ages 3+). Spin the wheel and remove the colored acorns from the tree, without the wind blowing all your acorns away. My kids LOVE this one. It teaches colors, counting, and fine motor skills.

Snug as a Bug in a Rug (ages 3+). Players cooperate to hide bugs under the rug, teaching colors, numbers, shapes, and matching. It has multiple levels so the game can increase in difficulty as your child grows in knowledge. Love that!

World of Disney Eye Found It (ages 4+). Disney fans unite! Improve object identification by taking an adventure through Disney. Find all your favorite characters as you travel across this six-foot game board towards Cinderella’s castle. Enjoy this game with everyone in your family this holiday season!

Games for Elementary

Apples to Apples Jr. (ages 9+). Just like you loved the adult game, kids and parents alike will love this child-appropriate game of funny comparisons!

Blokus (ages 5+). Each person selects a color and attempts to place all his or her puzzle pieces on the playing field without being blocked. We love this strategy game as a family and can sometimes be found playing it after the kids are gone to bed!

Exploding Kittens (ages 7+). This top-selling card game combines the luck of the draw with imaginative scenarios full of unique characters (think goats, pig-a-corns, and bear-o-dactyls). There will never be a dull moment in this game, unless you cross an exploding kitten, then . . . sorry friend.

Forbidden Island (ages 10+). Work with your favorite team of explorers to retrieve treasures on the sinking island. Easy to learn and simple to play, this makes a great family game.

Race Through Space (ages 6-10). Space travelers fly their rockets through the Milky Way heading to the moon. Dangers abound as players take turns rolling the dice and collecting galaxy cards. As the galaxies are collected, the universe shifts, changing the game. If you have a space-loving kiddo, check this one out!

Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza (ages 7+). Suitable for any table you find your family gathered around, this card-slapping, mind provoking, hilarious game will bring a smile to everyone’s face. Slap the pile of cards and win the stack only if your spoken word matches the drawing. The rules are simple but these five words become their own jambalaya.

Throw Throw Burrito (ages 7+). When dodgeball meets a card game, you find yourself outside testing your reflexes as giant three-foot inflatable burritos are being thrown at you while you search for a set of three matching cards. This game is a great way to incorporate some fun exercise and strengthen hand-eye coordination with spacial awareness. Play long enough and you might build up an appetite. 

Zingo (ages 4-8). The manufacturer describes this as “BINGO with a zing!” Grab a card, slide the zinger, and try to match the word to your card. Teaches language and matching skills, with a side of fun!

Games for Jr. High and High Schoolers

Balderdash (ages 8+). In this game of bluffing, players make up fake answers to questions and read them along with correct answers, while the other players vote on which one is real. Creative thinking and a good poker face will be an asset for this one!

Catan (ages 8+). There’s a reason people talk about the game formerly known as “Settlers of Catan” now just “Catan.” No two games are ever the same, and it’s fairly easy to learn. Form strategy and alliances to settle the land of Catan, building properties, trading for goods, and winning points. Bonus: there are expansion packs available for future gifting opportunities!

Codenames (ages 14+). Choose your words carefully as you don’t want to tip off the bystanders or others with alternative motives to your mission. Test your deductive reasoning and play the role of a spy trying to reach your team of agents with only one word clues. Find your team first to complete the mission. 

Mastermind (ages 8+). This classic game of logic requires two players: one creating secret codes while the other must break the code. If your recipient loves brainteasers, this one is sure to be a hit.

Qwixx (ages 8-15). A simple roll of the dice will start you off nice, but from there time is your challenge and numbers are your friend. In this timed game, strategy is key. Keep your mind quick with Qwixx. 

Scrabble (ages 8+). According to Time, the world has been playing Scrabble since 1931. Give this gift for a quintessential family game night opportunity to put away social media and challenge creative vocabulary and spelling prowess. Bonus: it’s only $14.99 at Amazon.

The Mind (ages 10+). Play your cards right, without speaking or making large gestures, by reading each other’s mind. A card game like no other that teaches you to pick up on body language and find new ways to communicate with each other. 

Ticket to Ride (ages 8+). Based on “Around the World in 80 Days,” players must collect train cards that enable them to travel around the United States, connecting through cities. The player that travels through the most cities in seven days wins. As with Catan, there are expansion packs available to increase the fun.

Joining Janie on the pursuit of life’s adventures while laughing along the way are Janie’s husband, Jared who is a flight school director and pilot, their angel baby, Jackson (2016) who passed away shortly after birth, and newest crew member, Jensen (2018). With an undergraduate degree in communication from UTA and a master’s in health communication from the University of Illinois, writing has been a creative outlet for Janie. Working full-time in healthcare, being involved at her local church, and volunteering with the Junior League of Fort Worth, Janie is passionate about serving people and holds a special place in her heart for women and children. When they are not headed to their next adventure, you can find Janie and her family creating their own adventure as proud Fort Worth residents.


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