game recommendations for 6 year olds

The changes as children move into their 6th year is impressive, Many 6-year-olds are in first grade and there is a huge amount of growth over the year. (I have a soft spot for this age as a first grade teacher for over 20 years!) At the age of 6 children begin to be a little less literal and see that some words have more than one meaning. This allows them to better understand jokes and puns. Attentions spans begin to lengthen and they can sustain for 15 to 20 minutes more easily.

They are learning at an incredible rate and just seem to be soaking up information and skills. This is also the point where most children begin reading beyond the very beginner books and by the end of their year, are often into beginning chapter books. Games can begin having some text, but it should still be limited. There can be a huge range of reading skills, so recognizing what is comfortable for the individual child is critical.

Ticket to Ride: First Journey

Catan Junior

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 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.

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.


Slamwich - family card game

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.

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.

I also created an article that explains how to play step by step if you want more information. You can go to the article Step by Step How to Play Roller Coaster Challenge by Thinkfun here.

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 walls 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 and 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 player 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.

Cauldron Quest

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.


Our favorite family games are easy to learn and hard to master. This is the case with Qwirkle, the rules are very simple, but there is so much strategy at play each turn. Players build lines of matching attributes without repeating. They may match either the shape or the color. With a bank of six different tiles to choose from each turn and refill from a bag of tiles.

One of the challenges with the original game was there was no way to tell tile colors apart in poor lighting or if there was colorblindness. Mindware released a Color Blind Friendly version which has a shape in the center that matches the color. Buy Qwirkle Color Blind Friendly here on Amazon

Beat the 8 Ball

Challenge your patience and test your timing with Beat the 8 Ball. Players need to time when they will release their ball after the 8 Ball is sent into the funnel. If you beat the 8 Ball you score points, but landing after the 8 Ball will cost you. The challenge is to be the one closest without getting behind the 8 ball. See if you have the skill to beat the 8 Ball!

Candy Conquest

Making sets and getting four in a row is a classic mechanism that works well for young children. Candy Conquest adds a three dimensional aspect to the set making. Players can stack their pieces on top of other ones regardless if the bottom piece is theirs or an opponents. Since squares are never taken and closed off, it opens up significantly more strategy and options.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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By Linda Wrobel

Managing Editor: Board Games Mother, Educator, and Board Game Editor.

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