This blog is a guide to some of the best games to play with adults and children. They encourage strategic thinking and are mostly small, lightweight games that are perfect for taking on holiday. They are also the sorts of games that have simple rules and don’t take long to play. These appeal to me because I have the attention span of a gnat.
- OK Play
- Genius Square
- Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza
- Herd Mentality
- The Sock Game
- P For Pizza
- Top Trumps
- Pass the Pigs
OK Play is the perfect travel game for up to four players. It even comes with a carabiner to clip onto you backpack, belt or coat. It might be lightweight but it’s also an excellent strategic challenge for all ages. I’ve played this with my children and groups of adults and everyone finds it engaging.
It’s basically Connect 5, only, without the frame. Each player gets a set of coloured squares and attempt to make a row of 5 connected vertically, horizontally or diagonally. As you all get better at the game, eventually you’ll run out of square. Fear not, the game isn’t over. You can then pick up and move other squares. In theory the game could go on forever, but it never does. I’m usually busy trying to stop someone while someone else quietly wins on the diagonal.
OK Play is great for anywhere between 5 minutes or an hour.
This game requires strategy and a steady hand. Take turns to place the magnetic pebbles inside the orange rope. If any pebble touch each other (or Kluster) on your turn, you must pick them up. The first person to get rid of all of their pebbles wins.
We found that, if you’re really careful, you can get all of the pebbles inside the ring of rope without causing a Kluster. This led to us tying a knot in the rope to make it a little smaller and add a bit more jeopardy.
This game is fun, quick and people of all ages are able to play, although it says 14+ on the box. I’m not really sure why. Unless the magnet are so powerful, they mess with the minds of the younger and more impressionable players. Or maybe they are worried that children aged 13 or younger might try to eat the pebbles. Either way, be warned.
I adore Genius Square. I don’t think you necessarily need to be a genius to play it, but it was certainly created by a genius. With over 62,000 possible puzzles to solve, each with a least one solution, you’ll never get bored of this game.
It comes in a decent sized box, which makes it the least travel-friendly games on this list, but you could pop the pieces into bag to make it more compact.
Genius Square comes with two grid boards, 9 coloured different-shaped blocks and 7 ‘blocker’ pieces for each player, as well as 7 co-ordinates dice. Roll the co-ordinates dice, place the ‘blockers’ on the corresponding squares on your grid and then race your opponent to fill in the rest of the grid with the coloured shapes.
TACO CAT GOAT CHEESE PIZZA
Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza is silly, funny and very intense. It’s sort of like Snap! for the 21st century. Each player has a pile of cards and takes turns to turn them over and place them on the pile in the middle. While placing the card down they must say the items from the name of the name in that order. So the first players says ‘Taco’, the second player says ‘Cat’ and so on. If the picture on the card matches the word being said, then everyone has to put their hand on the centre pile, last hand on the pile picks up all of the cards and adds them to their stack. The winner is the first to get rid of all of their cards.
That, in itself, would be fun and intense. However, there is another twist. There are also 3 other cards. The narwhal, gorilla and groundhog. If the groundhog card appears, you all need to bang the table and put your hand in the middle. If you get the gorilla, you all beat your chests before putting your hands in. Finally, if you get the narwhal, you clap above your heads before putting your hands in.
This game is simple, silly and a whole lot of fun. The aim of the game is to not stand out from the crowd. The question wrangler reads out a question and you have to pick the answer that most other people will say. The players who choose the most common answer all get one cow token – first to 8 tokens wins. If you are the only player who gets a uniquely unpopular answer, you have the pink cow. You cannot win while you have the pink cow.
This game can lead to interesting and enlightening conversations with your friends and family. But more importantly, we laughed a lot while playing.
Another great game for getting the conversation started is Sussed. Sussed is an effective way to getting talking, laughing and sharing with your friends and family. Each player gets A, B and C cards and places them down to guess what the person asking the question would answer. I’m sure there could be a way of winning and losing and scoring points with this game, but we just enjoy having a few goes each and finding out about each other.
The Sock Game
The Sock Game has been a firm family favourite in our house for the past few years. Each team gets a sock filled with stuff and the players take it in turns to put a hand in the sock to try and retrieve the named item, without looking.
It’s great fun but can get rather intense. Also, look out for everyone’s sock-face. We’ve all got them. It’s the face we pull when our hands are furiously sifting through ping-pong ball and marbles to find a small spring.
The Sock Game came about when a couple of brothers crowd funded a game that their family had played for years. Find out more here.
Sounds Fishy is a great game of bluff and double bluff. One player reads a question, but does not know the answer. The other players can see the answer, but only one of them reads it. The others all need to make an answer up. If their answer is picked by the questioner, they get a point. The questioner is looking for little clues in the reactions of the other players and the more you all play it, the harder it gets to spot the truth.
P For Pizza
This is a really simply one, but it does get you thinking. You get a letter and a category and you simply have to think of something in the category that begins with that letter. As in, name a food that begins with a P and then you get P is for Pizza.
The winner of each hand gets a triangle and once you’ve got 9 triangles and made them into a pizza slice, you’ve won the game.
We found this very quick to play and my youngest did get a little disheartened initially when she wasn’t able to get an answer quickly enough. This led to us adapting how to play the game slightly, but it was still loads of fun.
Boggle is an oldie but a goodie. I used to play this with my grandparents many years ago and play I it my own children now. You shake up the box of 16 lettered cubes, flip the egg timer and write down as many words as you can before the timer runs out. Words can be 3 or more letters long and can be made up of letters that connect horizontally, vertically or diagonally.
If I’m entirely honest, I wasn’t overly keen on Boggle as a child because I wasn’t the most confident speller. This may have been because I was the youngest child playing against older siblings and adults. You can tweak the rules for younger players if you like. You might allow them to submit two letter words or accept phonetically plausible attempts to encourage them. The more time spent playing word games and discussing spellings the better with when helping children learn to spell.
By this points its clear that you can get a set of Top Trumps for pretty much any interest you might have. If you chosen niche is catered for, you can always download a template and make your own. Like this one from TES.
Top Trumps are great for younger children to help them develop a their basic number and place value knowledge. Beyond that, they are fantastic to use as a teaching and learning device for any given subject whether history, geography, science or sports related.
Pass The Pigs
This one is fun and silly but can be brutally harsh as you can be winning for the whole game, only to lose it all on your final go. I play Pass the Pigs at school as well as with my children at home and I’ve written about it before here.