The best board games for kids and young players

Here are the best board games to introduce kids to the fun and magic of tabletop gaming.
best board games for kids

Tabletop gaming is magical at all ages, but perhaps even more so as a bright-eyed child. I was introduced to board games early on, thanks to Cluedo at after-school care, and a well-battered copy of Monopoly Australian Edition that sat in our family cupboard. At the time, I loved the adventures board games took me on, and it’s a passion that’s continued well into adulthood.

Board games are an opportunity for kids to grow their imagination, to enter new worlds, and to connect with their friends and family. It’s a great activity for after school, on weekends, or during the school holidays. Board games can be both fun and educational, with many teaching important life skills, like good communication.

Beyond providing new worlds to kids, introducing them to board games also comes with an added benefit: you have another keen player for your roster, and more all-ages games to play. While you will need to be wary that kids have short attention spans and patience, there are plenty of board games that can serve as an entrance for keen young players.

Here’s the best board games to introduce kids to tabletop gaming.


Image: Hasbro

Players: 2-6

Cluedo is a game about murder, so you’ll need to use your discretion to determine when to introduce the game to a kid – but speaking to my own experiences, I fell in love with Cluedo from a young age, regardless of its subject matter. It treats murder very lightly, and in more “cartoon” fashion, so that the core gameplay loop shines.

In this mystery adventure, you are travelling through a mansion, searching for clues as to who committed a murder, with what weapon the murder was carried out, and where it took place. Players need to use clever thinking and patience to solve the mystery, and when it’s finally uncovered, it’s extremely satisfying. This game is great for older kids, because it teaches deep analysis and puzzle-solving, and everyone is on an equal playing field.

Mouse Trap

mouse trap board game
Image: Hasbro

Players: 2-4

Mouse Trap is the perfect board game to introduce to younger kids, because it combines tabletop gameplay with the look and feel of playing with plastic toys. In the game, you are travelling across a board, building a mouse trap with players, and then attempting to catch then in the trap, in an “endgame” scramble. It’s a classic board game loop, and one that’s been around for over 60 years.

Mouse Trap has maintained its popularity across multiple generations for its simplicity and its fun. It’s very easy to put together, there’s not a whole lot of rules to learn, and everyone gets a chance to “trap” the game’s mice in the rush to victory. Plus, it’s also very fun to see the game’s mini Rube Goldberg machine in action, as each piece of the game fits together for the final trap battle.

Monopoly (Hometown Edition)

monopoly sydney edition kids games
Image: Hasbro

Players: 2-8

Monopoly is another classic board game for kids that’s been around for decades, in a variety of forms. You can grab pop culture-themed versions of Monopoly, tiny versions of Monopoly, and dozens of spin-offs. What connects all the versions of Monopoly is that they’re all fun to play, easy to learn, and great for kids of all ages. Monopoly has stuck around for so long because it’s a good game – and as a first game, it’s even better.

I’d recommend grabbing your city’s version of Monopoly as a first-time board game for kids, as having familiar locations can help to engage kids – and while you play through the game, they’ll also be learning about their local surroundings. Nearly every major city around the world now has a Monopoly set, and even some suburbs – so you can get creative with your choices here.

MicroMacro: Crime City

Image: Pegasus Spiele

Players: 1+

MicroMacro: Crime City is a delightful board game that involves a giant paper map, and a variety of cartoon crimes. In the game, the point is to tackle criminal cases one at a time, and then search for solutions on the provided map. Tiny cartoon beings populate this map, and some are causing all kinds of chaos. It’s your job to get out the game’s magnifying lens and discover each hidden clue, and eventually solve the crimes present.

There’s a bunch of sequels to MicroMacro now available, and they all share similar ideas. In each box, you’ll find a range of cases explaining crimes taking place on a map, and then you’ll be sent to investigate. For young kids, there’s a high degree of delight in spotting each phase of the crime, and then using puzzle-solving skills to work out each riddle in the box. Like Cluedo, there are some serious themes in MicroMacro, but they’re all treated with a sense of fun that abstracts them well enough to be enjoyed by everyone.

Disney Villainous

disney villainous halloween board games
Image: Disney

Players: 2-6

Disney Villainous is one of the more complex games on this list, but if you’ve got a patient kid in mind, it’s a wonderful experience. In this game, each player embodies a classic Disney villain, from Maleficent to Captain Hook, to Ursula and The Queen of Hearts. These villains have their own nefarious goals which players must understand, and then in rounds of gameplay, they’ll work towards accomplishing these goals.

Not only does Disney Villainous feature great theming for kids, it’s also a game that allows players to focus solely on their goals. While you are able to disrupt other players by drawing certain cards, most villains achieve victory by focussing on their individual moves and making clever plays. You can essentially grab a villain, focus on your own game board, and achieve your goals without paying attention to what other players are doing.

Pictionary Air

pictionary air gameplay
Image: Mattel

Players: 3+

Pictionary Air is a family-oriented game that genuinely feels like magic. It’s essentially a modernised version of classic game Pictionary that uses an app and a digital wand for gameplay. Wielding the wand, players are able to draw images in the air, with these turning up as an Augmented Reality (AR) image via the app.

In each round, as in classic Pictionary, one player will get a particular word to interpret and draw, and then other players around them will attempt to guess what they’re drawing. The added twist here is that the drawing is done digitally, and the illustrator can’t see it – so you can end up with some very funny messes which make the game even wilder than it normally is. This game requires zero teaching, which makes it great for kids of any age.

Once Upon a Time

best board games for kids
Image: Atlas Games

Players: 2-6

One Upon a Time is a lovely board game that tasks its players with creating a story, using card prompts (images and sentences) to guide the narrative. Players will work together to craft this story, using their imagination to fill in the blanks, all while trying to guide the main plot towards their allocated Happy Ever After card. It’s best to think of this game as an imagination battle, with each player taking the role of a Storyteller as they attempt to deploy all their story cards, and “win” an ending for the characters.

Kids love to make up stories, and using this card game, they can craft their own fantasy adventure while also learning tactical strategy skills, and how to best their competition. The other thing this card-based game has going for it is that it’s very simple, and also eye-catching. Each card is illustrated like a story book, and the tropes will be familiar to kids who love fantasy storytelling.

Rory’s Story Cubes

Image: Zygomatic Games

Players: 1+

Continuing the storytelling theme, Rory’s Story Cubes is another great tabletop game that encourages kids to use their imagination, and create their own worlds. This game essentially involves players rolling a bunch of dice, and then creating an improvised story, using the images presented. Each story starts with “once upon a time” and then images on the rolled die will form the next stages of the narrative.

This game is a bit looser than Once Upon a Time, as there’s no real “win state” in Rory’s Story Cubes, and it’s more about having fun and telling a tall tale – but for the right kid, it’ll open their eyes to the possibilities of tabletop gaming, and to the possibilities of storytelling.

Cat Crimes

cat crimes board game
Image: ThinkFun

Players: 1+

Cat Crimes is a light puzzle game that features a bunch of naughty kittens, doing things they probably shouldn’t. To solve these cat crimes, delivered on story cards, players will analyse a range of clues, and use the game board set-up to analyse the actions of each cat. If you’re keen to use your tabletop gaming time to teach kids new skills, then Cat Crimes is the perfect game.

As you tackle each case, you’ll use visual aids to determine each cat’s location, and then by process of deduction and logical reasoning, you can start ruling out particular cats. As you solve each case, the puzzles will get more difficult, until you’re really testing your mental muscles.


best board games 2022
Image: Smirk & Dagger Games

Players: 2

The wonderfully-titled Boop is another game starring cutesy cats, although this one is a bit more wholesome. In this strategy-based game for two players, you’ll need to place kittens on a bed, while also ensuring they don’t “boop” other kittens off the bed. Every time you put a kitten token down, it will “boop” another kitten, moving them one space away. Your goal is to have three kittens in row, to form a cat, and then to put three cats in a row.

As you’d anticipate from that description, there’s a fair amount of planning and logic that goes into creating your rows of cats. You’ll need to ensure your kittens “boop” other kittens in the right direction, and that you’re thinking carefully for every kitten and cat placed. The game is absolutely adorable, and with its strategy twists, it’s also another great tabletop game for learning puzzle-solving and strategy.

Monopoly Knockout

monopoly knockout games for kids
Image: Hasbro

Players: 2-8

Monopoly Knockout is one of those aforementioned Monopoly spin-offs which are great for family gameplay. In this variant of the classic money-making game, you’ll be purchasing properties (and paying fines on other people’s properties) based on how far you can slide a token across a game board. As you can imagine, this leads to absolute chaos. Knockout is a wild interpretation of Monopoly, and one that’s ripe for silly fun.

It’s best not to be too invested in victory while playing this game, as elements of chance will come into play as you slide your tokens across the board. If you can let go of any ideas of winning, then Monopoly Knockout really is a blast. You can argue that it teaches kids about money, and about dexterity – but really, it’s just a fun, over-the-top way to spend an afternoon. What more can you ask of a good board game?

If you’re looking for more board game recommendations, check out the following GamesHub lists:

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Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.