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Board Games Give Us the Distraction and Quality Family Time We All Need Right Now

Playing board games helps reduce stress and encourage social-emotional learning. Take a look at some of the best board games chosen by Let Grow staff.

Been waiting for an excuse to bust out your favorite card or board game? With social distancing being a good thing to do right now, now you have one. And board games are beneficial for lots of reasons. We could give you about a dozen, including that they increase brain power in kids, lower the risk of dementia in adults, and encourage good social and communication skills for both.

With everything going on right now, we’re seeing lots people bringing out their favorite card and board games to have some good old-fashioned fun with their family. We love seeing this. It’s such a good way to encourage free play while spending quality time with family. Plus, studies show playing games can actually reduce stress, improve social-emotional learning in kids, and reduce feelings of isolation.

Think about your favorite game and the skills you use and lessons you learn with it. Card and board games almost always have natural learning opportunities and life skills built in—negotiation, determination, math, problem-solving, strategy, creativity, and even teamwork.

Here are the games, in alphabetical order, that top the list for the Let Grow staff. Did your favorite make the list?

Apples to Apples

This is a go-to favorite when it comes to playing with a larger group. It encourages creativity and thinking outside the box.

Battleship

You need strategy and a good game face for this one. Yes, there’s some luck involved, but you can learn a lot by watching your opponent. Encourage kids to be perceptive and pick up on subtle clues.

Clue

It seems like people either love Clue or they hate it. For kids, there’s definitely mystery and magic involved, trying to figure out the “who done it?” first. We encourage you to really get involved in this one and to encourage dramatic play in your kids.

Exploding Kittens

This card game broke Kickstarter records several years ago, and it’s delightfully quick and simple. You’ll definitely need to practice your strategy skills and game face for this one.

Go Fish

This game proves you don’t really need much to have a good family game night. All it takes is a deck of cards. This is one that our VP of communication, Seamus Condron, recommends because he remembers playing it lot as a kid.

Life

It’s a fun game to directly teach kids about life skills and responsibility. This is a pick from our VP of school programs, Andrea Keith, and she says it’s great for teaching kids about finances.

Monopoly

This classic game is great for building confidence and teaching kids how to take smart risks. Our own Irshad Manji says she always goes bankrupt, but she loves it anyway.

Pictionary

You don’t have to be a budding artist to enjoy a good game of Pictionary. This is a favorite of Tracy Tomasso, our executive director. Don’t have the game at home? No problem. Just make up your list, gather up crayons/markers/colored pencils, form teams, and start drawing.

Risk

This will definitely build your child’s independence along with their patience and conflict-resolution skills. Good luck building your army!

Sequence

You can play solo or in teams. Build your strategy skills as you try to create a sequence of cards in a row to win. It sounds incredibly easy, but it’s a favorite because it’s so fun to play over and over again. By the way, since the Sequence board game is essentially made from cards, this would make a great DIY project for making your own game.

Scrabble

You need to have a good dictionary or similar source on hand to play this game. Our president, Lenore Skenazy, says this is her go-to game, and it’s a great one to encourage critical thinking and literacy skills.

Settlers of Catan

It seems easy at first, but then it quickly gets more difficult. This game from the 1990s is still popular today, and it’s very addictive. It’s also great for building strategy skills.

Skip-Bo

This card game is one Stacy Tornio, our director of content, used to play with her great-grandmother when she was a little girl, and she still plays it with her kids today. It mixes luck with good planning skills.

Sorry!

One of the best things about Sorry! is that you can play it with just about anyone. For those younger players, it’s a perfect game to practice counting.

Uno

This could either be the shortest or longest card game of your life. You never know with Uno. But it’s good for both hope and patience.

Werewolf

It’s a mix between a card game and role playing. Our designer, Kristen Brittain, suggested this game. It’s great for older kids (13 and up) and large groups (7 to 30). What a great reminder that you can play pretend at any age.

Wits and Wagers

This is a hidden gem of a game that is also great for groups, big or small. You have to try to guess the answer to fun and random questions. It’s good for critical thinking, and it’s truly anyone’s game to win!

Yahtzee

This is another game you could DIY if you have enough dice around. If you’re feeling really creative, you could make a giant game set out of cardboard and take it outside. This game definitely encourages strategy and independence.

What did we leave off the list? Do you have a family favorite that you want to share? Leave it in the comments!