Finding games that are the right fit for children aged 5 to 7 can be challenging. As they move into school age they can begin handling more in games. Young children who are just learning to read or are beginning readers are often not ready for games with lots of reading or complex turns. Attention spans still tend to be short so game duration is a relevant factor.
Some game in this age range are part of a movement in the game industry to make simpler versions of their games. Ticket to Ride, and Catan have tapped into this age by creating “my first” or “junior” versions of their games.
The game Kingdomino took the boardgame world by storm winning the Spiel De Jahres in 2017. Now there is a My First version that is for players ages five and up, with a dragon theme. Dragonmino takes the same tile drafting and placement mechanism, and simplified it further for younger players. With each match with the tiles players earn a dragon egg and are trying to collect eggs with baby dragons inside.
Dragon’s Breath the Hatching
Dragon’s Breath The Hatching fits into two categories: Games for Young Gamers and If You Like. Haba took the popular Dragon’s Breath game, which is a great game for young gamers, to the next step. The Hatching is a versatile addition to any family’s game collection. It can be a stand alone game, or expansion to the original Dragon’s Breath game. As an expansion it adds a fifth player.
Throw Throw Burrito
Throw Throw Burrito is a ridiculous dodgeball card game by the Exploding Kittens team. Players collect matching sets tying to be faster than their opponents . Then you throw in burritos, literally! You collect cards and earn points, however those points are lost when you get hit by the flying burritos. There are three kinds of Burrito Battles: Brawl, War, and Duel. Each has slightly different rules and nonsense ensues regardless of the the kind of battle.
Zombie Kidz Evolution
Your successes or failures affect the game in your future plays of the game, in Zombie Kidz Evolution. This is a perfect first step into Legacy games. Legacy games are played over a series of sessions and what occurrences in previous sessions permanently changes the game and can influence the next events in the game. In Zombie Kidz Evolution you are working together to protect yourselves and drive off the zombies in the school. All the staff at the school zombies. The rules start off very simply, and as the game progresses new rules and abilities are added.
Shaky Manor is a game unlike any I have ever played before, where each player is given a tray containing eight square rooms each connected by doorways. Players place an meeple, a ghost, and three treasure chest cubes into the tray. They then shake the tray to try and get the meeple and the cubes into a designated room without the ghost. The first player to do it five times is the winner. The game is noisy, silly, and loads of fun!
Taco Vs. Burrito
Taco vs Burrito is a card game designed by a seven year old boy named Alex Butler. It is the ULTIMATE food fight on game night!
Game play is straight forward. Players draw cards and add wacky foods to their taco or their burrito to earn points. The player with the most points at the end of the game wins. There are gotcha cards that can mess with your opponents strategy so it isn’t THAT simple. I think the theme is funny enough and the cards are cute enough to keep me interested regardless.
Outfoxed! is a cooperative game deduction game for players ages 5 and up and for two to four players where the players are…chickens. Chickens chasing clues to catch a fox that has absconded with a prized pot pie. What family can resist working together to solve such a heinous crime? The game includes a special evidence scanner to rule out the different fox suspects by showing if the thief is wearing a particular object. On each players turn they declare if they will Search for Clues or Reveal Suspects. They then have three chances to roll the dice to get all three dice icons to match their choice. If they success they complete the stated action, but if not the culprit moves closer to escaping with the pie.
Too Many Monkeys
Too Many Monkeys A Totally Bananas Card Game is a playful, lively game is designed to appeal to young gamers and parents alike. It is a fast paced, simple game for ages 6 and up and for two to six players that subtly reinforces math concepts such as number sequencing and probability while still allowing kids to be silly and have fun.
Too Many Monkeys is played in a series of rounds. Players are dealt out 6 cards face down. Players draw from the discard pile or the draw pile and swap it face up with a card in the position that matches the number on the card they drew. The winner of the first round gets dealt one less card at the start of the next round. All other players have the same number as the previous round. Play continues as above with players’ hands getting smaller each round. You continue in rounds until one player is down to just one card and draws the number 1 card (with Primo asleep). When that happens, Primo is back to sleep and the game is over!
Slamwich is a fast-paced, silly, and energetic card flipping game reminiscent of Slapjack, War, Uno, etc. The game is recommended for ages 6 and up for two to six players. Taking turns, each player takes the top card of their deck and flips it onto a center pile. If a set of criteria is met, players race to slap the pile. The combinations are easy to understand. A Double Decker-If the flipped card is identical to the card directly underneath. A Slamwich– If two identical cards have exactly one card in between them (like a sandwich). Special cards like a Thief or a Muncher add unique criteria and help to make winning more random. If a player runs out of cards, they are out of the game. Whoever collects all of the cards wins.
Super Tooth is, at its core, a matching card game for ages 6 and up for two to four players. Players collect matched sets of plant eating dinosaurs. Each turn includes a “landscape” of three cards on the play area. First, the player resolve event cards, such as the egg that lets the player bring back a card that had previously been discarded. Next, they player feed or chase away meat eaters, and then ultimately choose one type of plant eater from the board.
Super Tooth relies a little on luck, but it is important for players to choose cards carefully to build matched sets and not just random cards. Players cash in matching sets of cards for tooth tokens, and the more matching cards the more tokens they earn. The first player with 3 tokens in a three or four player game wins, and 5 tokens in a two player game wins.
Hoagie is a fast paced game for two to five players that is recommended for ages 5 and up. Each player is trying to build the perfect sandwich without any part getting spoiled by three oogies (pictured on the spoiled food and special action cards). Hoagie’s gameplay is very easy and takes just minutes to learn. Each player is dealt a hand if 6 cards to start the game. On each players turn they play a card from their hand on their sandwich or an opponent’s. Several actions with the cards can occur, but only one can occur per turn. In order to win, a player must begin their turn with a perfect sandwich, which consists of bread, meat, cheese, lettuce, and bread.
Tenzi is a super simple dice game for two to four players ages 7 and up that is very fast-paced. This is a great icebreaker, boredom buster, or introduction to kick off a bigger game night. The game is noisy, quick, and simple. The variations within the rules make it something that has a high replay value. It’s also nice the game does a tiny bit of teaching while still being fun. We found that it’s been playable by children as young as five while still being entertaining to adults.
Tales and Games
Iello games has produced a series of games based on classic children’s stories and fairy tales. The games look like beautiful hardbound storybooks with classically illustrated covers and spines. Each game takes about 20 minutes to play through and they all have different mechanics and designs. They and are designed to be played by players ages 7 and up.
We have included them here because they have sparked interest in the classic stories that they are based on in our household.
Rush-hour Jr. is one player, portable, colorful, and mentally wonderful for ages 5 and up. The board is small and packed with vehicles which have set directions that they can move. The goal is to move the vehicles in a particular order to get the little red car out of the traffic jam. A negative is that every piece is important. Don’t lose them! This game is great for waiting rooms or car trips as it comes with its own board and it small enough to hold in a child’s hand or lap. The junior version has 40 challenges and 15 blocking pieces
Roller Coaster Challenge
Roller Coaster Challenge is a single player STEM game focusing on engineering for ages 6. It come with 60 challenge card in a range of difficulty. The player sets up the posts and required pieces on the challenge card. They then need to design a roller coaster that travels to the bottom successfully using some of the additional posts, 39 tracks. The roller coaster is successful if the roller coaster car makes it to the end. This was a Toy of the Year Finalist in 2018.
Rhino Hero is a competitive 3-D stacking game for ages 5 and up and is for two to five players where players are building a tower of cards and moving Rhino Hero up the tower. This dexterity game directs players were the wall cards need to go on each turn. Players have wall and ceiling tiles. On their turn, the player first builds the wall in the place indicated on the ceiling tile and then place their ceiling tile. Actions indicated on some of the ceiling tiles and those benefit the player, such as skipping the next player. The game ends when the tower fall, a player places their last roof card, or all the walls are built.
Rhino Hero- Super Battle
Rhino Hero- Super Battle is the sequel to Rhino Hero. The game is for ages 5 and up and plays two to four players. This game adds three more superheros: Giraffe Boy, Big E. and Batguin. The walls now come in two sizes; tall and short and there is a superhero medal. Additionally there are spider monkeys which attack.
The gameplay has additional steps they includes: 1. Build!, 2. Spider monkey attack (place a spider monkey hanging from the floor if there is a spider monkey symbol and see if it makes the tower fall), 3. Climb the skyscraper! by using a die to determine how many floors to climb, 4. Super battle if two superheros are on the same level, 5. Superhero medal goes to the players if their super hero is the furthest up at this phase in their turn, 6. Draw another floor card. The game ends when all or part of the tower collapses or all the floors that are playable have been used.
Monza is a racing game for ages 5 and up and plays two to six players. Movement of your race car in this game is based on rolling six color dice. Players must utilize strategic thinking to use the colors you roll to plan the path for your car. Players can only move to a forward space and may not enter a space with an obstacle.
This game is more thoughtful than a straight roll and move because you need to plan your path based on the colors you roll. With a luck roll and good planning a player can move six spaces. Any die that do not correspond to a color ahead of the player on the board are discarded for that turn. The first player to the finish line is the winner.
Brandon the Brave
Brandon the Brave is a tile placement game for ages 5 and up for one to four players, where you are a knave desiring to be a brave knight like “Brandon the Brave”. Knaves prove their intuition and skills by completing tasks. To do this players place field tiles and are trying to match colored crosses. These crosses represent a location of a completed task and the color needs to match one color of the task card. As players lay tiles a jousting arena may be build. The player who places the sixth tiles completing the arena gets to place a task card in the center. The game ends once a player completes all their task cards or all the field tiles are placed.
Coconuts is a dexterity game for ages 7 and up for two to four players where you are launching coconuts with your monkey and trying to land them into baskets in the center. When you land a coconut in a basket you get to place the cup on your game board. To win you need to collect 6 baskets and stack them into a pyramid on your board, but there are not enough baskets in the center for everyone to collect. You need to try and steal from your opponent by landing a coconut in their basket. An added component is the basket are red and yellow. Should you land in a red basket you get to take a additional shot.
The Magic Labyrinth
The Magic Labyrinth is a memory and grid movement game for ages 6 and up and plays two to four players. In this game you are playing apprentices that have lost various objects, which are now in the Magic Labyrinth. The twist is there are invisible walls! Players must move and remember where the wall are when they or a competitor hits a wall. A series of wooden blocks in a grid under the gameboard create the walls. The walls are movable so the maze can be different each time you play. The pawn is magnetic and a ball sticks to it. If you hit a wall the ball falls off an rolls to one of the trays on the side and you go back to the start corner.
At the beginning of the game players draw a few lost objects tokens and place them on their corresponding picture throughout the maze. A players landing on the space with a token they get to keep it. A new token is then drawn out of a bag and placed on the board. The first player to collect five objects wins.
A popular game which has been simplified for younger gamers is Catan Junior. This is a route building resource management game for ages 6 and up and is for two to four players. Like the original Settlers of Catan you are collecting resources based on the numbers that come up with each roll. These resources used to build or get Coco the Parrot cards which provide resources or the ability to build at no cost. Instead of building settlements, cities, and roads in the full version you are building pirate ships and hideouts. The first player to build seven pirate hideouts wins.
Ticket to Ride: First Journey
Ticket to Ride: First Journey takes the formula of its predecessor and strips out several of the more complex concepts in favor of a streamlined experience that can be played by kids who are even younger! We have always said that the Ticket to Ride series was accessible to savvy kids, but this new version is even better.The map is simplified also. The game board is large, and the various cities are larger and more defined. Each of the cities includes a colorfully illustrated image associated with it. The winner is the first person to finish six routes. This game teaches players the general flow of a game of Ticket to Ride without the burden of some of the finer details of the senior game.
Dr. Eureka is a logic and dexterity game for ages 6 and up and is for two to four players. It was originally published as an 8 and up game, but in later publications changed to a 6 and up game. In this game you are taking molecules (balls) in a test tube and need to combine colors to correspond to a challenge card. The dexterity challenge is you can not touch the balls and cannot drop them! The round ends when one player has their molecules match the formula exactly, and they call out “Eureka”. That player gets the cards, but players do not reset their test tubes. The players begin the next round with the configuration the ended the previous round.
This game is great for multiple ages and skills because you can scale the rules to add challenges for more advanced players, and eliminate rules as needed. There are also several variants that add different challenges to the game.
Cauldron Quest is a cooperative game that will fit right at home in any house full of Harry Potter fans. It is for players 6 and up and plays two to four players. Players are working together in Cauldron Quest to brew a magic potion that their kingdom needs to break a magic spell cast by an evil wizard. They do this by trying to move special barrels of ingredients from the outside of the board into the cauldron in the center. This might SOUND easy, but the evil wizard is trying to stop them by putting magic barriers in the way. Players need to get the correct three ingredients to the center before the wizard blocks all six paths.
What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!
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