One of the most important things we do as a family is eat dinner together at the table each night.  Sometimes it might be a little rushed if we have to be somewhere beforehand or after, sometimes one of us might even be missing but most of the time, we sit together to eat.  

My own children are now five, eight and ten so it's not always a quiet or even peaceful affair.  Everyone who has kids knows what I'm talking about and some of you might even be asking why I bother.  Why not feed the kids early, put them to bed then enjoy a quiet dinner with my partner.  The simple answer is because it's important to me to spend that time together as a family.

Most Friday nights we, as a family, also try to play a game together after dinner and board games are our favourites. Here are 8 must have family board games to play with your family.

Great family board games to play together!

Sometimes it's a drawing game, sometimes it's charades but more often it's a board or card game.  These games are great for developing short term memory skills, building spatial awareness, sportsmanship, turn taking and other social skills, early maths skills (like counting, 1 to 1 correspondence, doubles and simple addition) fine motor strengthening, colour recognition, reasoning and strategy.

Because we have a mix of ages playing I thought I share some of our favourites that both the youngest and the oldest amongst us still enjoy playing.

Sleeping Queens
Great family board games to play together!

A few Christmases ago, Santa brought this card game (affiliate link)Sleeping Queens to us.  It was played every day (and beyond) for the remaining five weeks of the summer holidays.  Basically you are trying to collect a certain number of queens to win.  The queens all begin lying face down in the middle while each player is dealt five cards from the pack that contains numbered (with pictures for support) cards and a range of picture cards (kings, knights, dragons, sleeping potions, wands and jesters).  A king will allow you to pick up a sleeping queen, knights can steal queens from one of your opponents but they can be stopped immediately by playing a dragon card.  Sleeping potions similarly can put an opponent's queen back to sleep in the middle but again can be stopped by playing a wand card. Jesters are a bit of a wild card.  The best part of this game is you can play just a single numbered card at a time or if you have a pair, you can play both allowing you to pick up two new cards, or you can play an addition equation - 2+3+4=9 which would allow you to pick up four new cards.  There's a few other quirky rules but none are too difficult to remember. 

Pros: You never have more than five cards at once making it perfect for small hands.  There's also enough luck required to make this challenging for older player which evens the playing field.

Cons: You might need to buy a second pack once this one wears out

Spot it!

Great family board games to play together!

Another card game we love is (affiliate link)Spot It.  One every card appears a collection of pictures.  At least one picture is a match to one on every other card in the pack.  The skill comes in being able to match your picture before anyone else.

Great family board games to play together!

You can play a few different ways either by having one card each to start with the remaining cards piled in the middle, you then collect the cards you matched or deal all the cards out leaving one in the middle with you trying to get rid of all your cards first.

Pros: great for visual learners and small hands.  You can play this by yourself or with plenty of others.  It's handy size makes it perfect to travel with.

Cons: if you have someone who is quicker at finding their match, it can become frustrating for the others.


Suspend(affiliate link) is our favourite game from two Christmases ago (you can see a pattern forming).  Everyone was playing this game, everyone!

Great family board games to play together!

It's an easy to play game.  Each player gets single rod of every colour to begin.  You take turns rolling a coloured dice to determine which rod you need to try and balance with the others.  If you don't have that colour as you go along you can take another player's.  Seems simple enough?  If you knock any off, they all become yours.

Pros: great for fine motor control, reasoning, predicting and colour recognition

Cons: there's only one dice so don't lose it like I did taking it to class one day 

Doodle Dice

Great family board games to play together!

Another Christmas game from a few years back, (affiliate link) Doodle Dice can be played more strategically than some of the others I've listed so far.  Inside the box are six dice, some colourful cards and a cup for the dice.

Great family board games to play together!
Each player is allowed to roll the dice three times, after each roll you can reserve the dice you want to try and match to a picture on the cards displayed in the middle.  You need to collect one card of each colour to finish.  As you can see from the picture, to collect the orange cards, you only need to make a picture using one dice but the purple one requires all six dice.  This is were the strategy comes in - you're better off trying to get the purple card with each roll and then by the third roll, if you still haven't been successful, you might still be able to make one of the other pictures.

Pros: good for colour recognition, spatial awareness (rotating) and one to one correspondence.  I also like how it encourages children to see things from less obvious sources.  Can be played by two people or more.

Cons: Can take a while to collect all six cards if you are relying just on luck.

UNO Attack

Great family board games to play together!

I probably don't need to say much about the card game UNO but we sometimes like playing (affiliate link)Uno Attack  instead.  It's the same game pretty much as UNO but the randomness of the dispenser makes it lots of fun.  In the card game version, you draw two or draw four cards from the cards from the centre.  In UNO Attack, the cards are in the dispenser and you then press the button twice or four times.  Sometimes this means no extra cards and then sometimes, it means ten extra cards.  You just don't know.

Pros: unpredictable making it fun

Cons: needs batteries and little hands can end up with a lot of cards


Great family board games to play together!

This is one of the games we got last Christmas (affiliate link)MindWare Q-bitz.  I'll say now that I like a lot of Mindware stuff and Q-bitz is no exception.  It comes with four trays and coloured blocks that have size different sides.  There are a large number of cards that you then have to match your blocks too.  As a visual person, I love this game, my partner not so much...

Pros: Great for spatial awareness.  Can be simplified for younger players (choose easier cards) or made harder for adults (you have to memorise the card and then match it)

Cons: only four people can play and the pieces are quite small making it more difficult to manoeuvre if you have larger fingers.


Great family board games to play together!

Blokus(affiliate link) is a must have game.  It's not like any other game.  There's no keeping score, no cards to juggle.  You each have the same set of odd shaped pieces, each one different from the other, to start.  You each start in a corner and try to put down one piece each turn.  I say try because depending upon who you are playing and what pieces you have left, putting piece on the board each turn can prove difficult but you keep going until you can't add anymore.  The person with the least amount when you stop is the winner. 

Great family board games to play together!

Pros: everything about this game.  It's quick to play, easy to set up.  It's great for spatial awareness, planning and building strategy.

Cons: better/harder with four players but only has a maximum of four players meaning one of us has to pair up

You probably have noticed that I haven't included any board games that require players to count on to move their piece - games like Monopoly, Trouble, Snakes and Ladders.  We do play those games too and enjoy them greatly.  As a teacher in a classroom with children beginning to count, you can easily identify children who have played board games at home as they know how to count on without starting on the spot they're on (it's a skill disappearing from classrooms) so I would continue to encourage you to play those sort of board games too but today I thought I share some of our new favourites.

What are your favourite board games to play as a family?