A Way to Slow: Family Game Night

by jessicaturner on February 3, 2014

Best games for toddlers
Matthew and I have really been working on being intentional at night with our kids.

After working all day, it would be easy to zone out and not really engage.

But that kind of night is not the evening memories we want to create.

One way that we have slowed is on having family game night on Thursday nights. After dinner, baths and jammies, the kids each get to pick one game to play as a family. Depending on the games and the amount of time we have before bed time, we might play them several times.

The kids LOVE it! Literally, when I pick them up from school and mention family game night, they jump up and down and start discussing what games we are going to play that night.

I believe that simple traditions like a weekly game night are incredibly important in nurturing a family.

Here are a few of our favorite games (affiliate links used – thank you for clicking!):

Uno : Uno has always been a favorite of mine and I am thrilled that my kids seem to love it as much as me. Adeline obviously needs help, but the four of manage to have pretty awesome competitions. This has been the game of choice for a few weeks. This is Elias’s favorite game, hands down.

Hungry Hungry Hippos: What kid doesn’t love this classic game?!

Candy Land: Adeline especially loves all the colors in this game. A board game that every family should have.

Hoot Owl Hoot! Cooperative Board Game: This is a darling cooperative board game, which means there is no one winner. Perfect for young kids.

Don’t Break the Ice: Breaking things is always fun. Adeline and Elias squeal when the man falls!

The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game: This game is ADORABLE. It is sort of similar to High Ho Cheery-O, but way cuter. It includes a big squirrel “squeezers” that you use to pick up different color acorns. I can’t recommend it enough.

The Ladybug Game: I bought this game at a garage sale and had no idea that it would become Adeline’s favorite game. She is OBSESSED with it. It’s a great learning game that teaches colors, numbers and symbols.

Elefun and Friends Game: This has been a family favorite for years. The elephant blows butterflies out of his trunk and it is always a free-for-all catching them!

Go Fish! Card Game: We love Go Fish. I especially like this version because the cards also have numbers on them.

Let’s Go Fishin’: The kids love to catch this fish in this battery operated game. Although, by the end, Adeline likes to try to grab them with her fingers. :)

Bonus: I also just bought these Gamewright Little Hands Playing Card Holders to help the kids when we play cards. My mom used to have something similar for my sister and me. I think they are going to love them!

Does your family enjoy games? What are your favorites?

This post was inspired by Tsh Oxenreider’s new book, Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World. This book was one of my favorites that I read last year (I received a pre-release) and it releases tomorrow. If you are someone who craves a slower, simpler life, you will be so inspired by this book. I highly recommend it.


{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Victoria February 3, 2014 at 6:33 am

I love playing Pictureka! with my 11 year old.


Jennifer Lee February 3, 2014 at 8:20 am

A friend gave me Tenzi, a dice game, for my birthday yesterday. Fun for adults and children.


Jessica Dye February 3, 2014 at 8:27 am

We love Zingo and a variety of Bingo games (horses, map, sea). I need to introduce Uno!


Melanie Routhier February 3, 2014 at 9:59 am

I loved Family Game night as a kid. We didn’t have it every week but enough that it was a “thing”. My son just turned 2 so I think he’s too young yet (although I haven’t looked into games for really young ones)but I can’t wait until we can make this happen. Thanks for the suggestions!


jessicaturner February 3, 2014 at 11:01 am

Yes, maybe too young for a planned weekly game night, but not too young to play games (Adeline is just 2 and a half). You will be shocked how quickly he picks up on them. :)


Glamamom February 3, 2014 at 10:53 am

My son loves the Lady Bug Game too. Also Zingo, Pop Up Pirate, Old Maid, any Matching Game, Monkeying Around. I’m sure he would love Hungry Hippos but I can’t have the marbles bc I’m pretty sure my littler guy would eat them! We have to try Uno together.


jessicaturner February 3, 2014 at 11:01 am

Yes, how did I leave off matching games?! We love them too. Hungry Hippos has a storage box built into the tray for the marbles and when Adeline was littler, we used to only play it at the table when she was asleep. :)


Amanda Serrano February 3, 2014 at 10:53 am

What a great list! I have really fond memories of game nights growing up and have been looking for ways to introduce it as a more regular thing to our girls. They love Hungry Hungry Hippo and Candyland, but a little variety would be nice :) especially since Old Man Winter doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to leave. I can’t wait until our girls are old enough for Uno, or, even better, Aggravation. I can still hear my mom’s laugh as she sent one of my marbles back “home” (no idea where my competetive nature comes from….). Simple things sure build great memories :)


jessicaturner February 3, 2014 at 11:03 am

Elias learned how to play Uno when he was 4. I would definitely check out Hoot Owl Hoot. It is a great!


Jessica February 3, 2014 at 11:16 am

Of all the cooperative games, our favorite is “Race to the Treasure.” I think that’s the name of it–we just call it “Ogre,” because you are racing an ogre to the treasure. “Hoot Owl Hoot” is better for building strategic skills though. Games and puzzles are options every bedtime in our house for the kids’ “four things.” We’ve been back to four books lately, but for a while, it was four games every night! (Long games count as two :0)


Melissa February 3, 2014 at 11:19 am

Game nights are so much fun (well until you’ve played 42 rounds of Candy Landy-ha!). We have several that you mentioned, but also love Zingo and Disney’s Apples to Apples. Apples to Apples is a new one to us and has quickly become a family favorite.


Laura February 3, 2014 at 12:55 pm

My kids love to play Old Maid. My 4 year old is still too young to hold all the cards in his had so we flip over a board game box and he sticks his cards in the space between the top and bottom of the box. He can easily see all his cards that way. My daughter got Beat the Parents for Christmas and that’s a lot of fun for kids that can read.


Cerise February 3, 2014 at 2:51 pm

We love sneaky squirrel. So much fun. Totally need to get Candy Land. I can’t believe we haven’t tried it yet.


libbywilko February 3, 2014 at 3:25 pm

The boys recieved the kids card holders at Christmas this year and they have been a big success for our 7 & 5 year olds. We try to do family games night weekly too, its so much fun! My aunt and uncle used to play family games cards etc so I loved visiting them and joining in. It’s something I wanted to do in my own family too.

We play UNO, happy families (kids & us ❤ it!, phase ten(more for the older kids or grown ups), go fish, trouble, kerplunk, tried monopoly but its a bit long for the kids. They are also trying battle ship and rummikub the later is great for adults but long for kids. I’ll check out the ones you play too they seem quite different from what we have here in Australia. Thanks Jessica!


Lindsay February 3, 2014 at 8:26 pm

My little guy is obsessed with a game called Pop the Pig. It’s very simple and very silly, but it’s cute for teaching colors and counting. And when the pig “pops” from eating too many hamburgers, my son laughs and laughs like it’s the best thing he’s ever seen. :)


Virginia February 3, 2014 at 8:50 pm

We love, love Zingo! My 6-year-old daughter still plays it with us but our 3-year-old daughter is especially into it lately. Another favorite game for my 3-year-old is Cootie and for my 6-year-old Sorry. We had purchased Kerplunk from Amazon (I loved that game as a kid) but were really disappointed with the quality in the one we received…the sticks were too thin to stay in the holes, the base kept tipping over, etc. Some of the games don’t seem like they are made to the same quality as it used to be…I might need to look for a vintage set of that game on eBay. :) So fun to see all the great tips for new games – thanks Jessica for this post!


jessicaturner February 3, 2014 at 9:35 pm

My mom still has my sister’s and my Kerplunk game so my kids always play it at her house! I agree. Lots of childhood games aren’t nearly as nice today. Hungry Hippos isn’t, Candy Land isn’t, Don’t Break the Ice isn’t, etc. etc. Everything is made cheaper it seems.


Penelope February 4, 2014 at 11:05 am

Oh my word! Sneaky, Snacky, Squirrel is a favorite at our house.
We have a raccoon game that is for my nephew’s b-day if I can wait till June to give it to him—I’m dying to play!


Lei March 31, 2014 at 1:33 pm

I love your ideas! I need to make the time to slow down for my kids sake!

Aloha from Hawaii


Tara April 4, 2014 at 3:50 pm

As someone who works for Peaceable Kingdom, we’re so thrilled that your family loves Hoot Owl Hoot! It’s one of our favorites too. Keep up the cooperative gaming!


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