These are child-tested by my 6 year-old who never seems to tire of them. Parents will enjoy all of the games once, but my money is on the card games for games that parents can endure time and time again.
1. Children’s Card Games – A four-pack of the classic kids games: Rummy, Hearts, Crazy Eights, and the very misogynistic, Old Maid. Younger kids will love Old Maid, which requires no reading ability and is easy to play. Kids advance to Crazy Eights, which requires understanding of numbers, and then to the more strategic Rummy and Hearts. While adults will tire after a few rounds of any of these games, kids will play again and again. If card-playing around the dinner table was part of your growing up experience, you will find these cards essential for family times, both at home and while traveling. We have 2 sets.
2. Monopoly Junior – Okay, so it’s not the full-on adult version, but at 5+, kids can play this simpler version of Monopoly. The board is smaller and the rents are cheaper (in single digits) so it’s simple to play, but still more challenging than the insipid Chutes and Ladders or Candy Land). Plus, since the game does use “dollar bills” in 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 denominations, kids actually get some practice in basic addition. The game comes in various other branded editions (my daughter likes the Disney Princess version, but it also comes in Star Wars among others).
3. Mouse Trap – Kids never seem to tire of the Rube Goldberg contraption and the mechanics of rolling ball bearings, the final falling cage that traps the unlucky mouse. Parents should be aware that the game includes many small pieces, all of which are indispensable to make the game work. Smaller brothers and sisters will enjoy watching the game, but inevitable tantrums will result while you try to keep them from destroying the edifice that is the center of the game.