As a mom of six kids, ages 11-16, I know how it is. We spend all week long in “chauffeur mode” driving our offspring to school, sports and activities while also helping with homework and trying to put together a dinner that everyone will actually eat. We’re exhausted and it’s hard to find the time to re-charge. So, it’s no wonder that once we finally make it to the weekend, it’s tempting to allow everyone to spend a few mindless hours in front of some sort of electronic device. But one quiet hour leads to the next and before you know it, your family has spent half the day apart from one another. That’s not how family life should be!
It’s time to put some fun back into the weekend—and to do that we need a “game plan”. Literally. We’re here to help you make a plan to play some fun family games together. Getting everyone around the kitchen table or out into the backyard doing something the whole family enjoys is the best way to re-connect and check in with each other. Whether your kids are preschoolers, grade schoolers, tweens, or teens, these games will get you all laughing and engaging and feeling like a cohesive family unit again. Bonus: If you're looking for gifts for nieces, nephews or your friends' children, the below list is a helpful cheat sheet!
My kids love playing this game…although not necessarily by the rules! Every player dons a headband to which a card is attached that the other players can see, but the wearer cannot. Your job is to guess what is pictured on the card you are wearing by asking questions of the other players. But you can also play this charade-style (like my kids do) so players act out what is on your card.
Let’s Go Fishing
Kids think this game is hilarious and you’ll hear their squeals and giggles as they try to catch a fish with their mini fishing poles. The motorized base spins and the fish open and close their mouths—making this a perfect game for little ones to work on hand-eye coordination!
If your kids already enjoy playing tic-tac-toe on restaurant placemats as they wait for their meals, here’s a game that takes the concept to the next level because larger pieces can “gobble up” the smaller ones as they move across the board.
Your husband’s first reaction might be that you accidentally purchased beer pong for the kids. But honestly, this is a fun game that is super easy to learn—always a plus when teaching kids something new! Bounce Off comes with nine pattern cards that you try to match as you bounce the balls onto the grid. First player to earn three cards wins.
This game never gets old, we still take it on family vacations to play together! It’s as simple as first building a tower out of the blocks and then players take turns removing blocks from the bottom and placing them on top without causing the tower to fall. Though when it does come crashing down, that’s half the fun.
Anyone else remember this game from their own childhood? There’s a reason it’s a classic...it is still so much fun to play! Get four checkers in a row to win, and you can play one-on-one or create teams to battle it out.
My kids loved using the “pop-o-matic” to roll the die before they were even old enough to play the game! The object is to get your four pegs around the board before anyone else, but if someone lands on your peg’s spot- you are “in trouble” and get bumped back home!
This was a game that our family discovered on a rainy vacation day last year and we’ve been hooked ever since. Players use letter tiles to form words on the board, but tiles can also be played “up” forming new words over previously played words. (The hard part is keeping my teens off of their phones to look up words based on the tiles they have!)
This is an awesome strategy game that we have played together for years. Players take turns placing pieces on the board, but pieces can only touch other pieces of the same color and only at the corners. The best part is watching your kids’ little minds trying to come up with a winning solution.
Settlers of Catan
My son came home from a friend’s house after playing this game with their family and immediately begged us to buy it for our own home. He then proceeded to teach all of us how to play this one-hour game of strategy—and now we’re all addicted!
Another classic board game that has stood the test of time, and for a good reason. Our entire family loves to play, buying up the real estate and collecting $200 when we pass “Go” is the perfect way to spend a winter day indoors.
Cornhole is one of our favorite backyard games EVER—and we’ve been known to cart ours to the beach or even set it up in our unfinished basement for some winter-time play. Teams of two players take turns tossing beanbags towards the hole in the “pitching box” and points are awarded based on whether the beanbags make it through the hole or simply land on the board. Adults and kids will love this game equally!
To sum up this game: Think volleyball meets four-square. Two teams of two players take turns bouncing the ball off the net set in the middle, and teams have three volleys to get it back to bounce into the net and over to the other team. If the other team misses, you score. Perfect for the backyard or the beach!
This is another game that our family discovered when one of our kids played it over at a friend’s house. Teams take turns throwing a Frisbee towards their “kan” (a.k.a. bucket), earning points for landing it in the can. Team members can help the thrower by deflecting the Frisbee into the bucket for points. The best part? Your whole family is breaking a sweat while laughing non-stop.
AGES: 10 +
Hook & Ring
So, you know how much easier it is to get your kids to talk when you are driving the car and there’s no eye contact going on? It’s the same thing when you play this hook and ring toss game! We take turn swinging the ring trying to land it on the hook—and we talk about so many things all the while. Two birds, one ring!
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