The best cooperative board games for kids and families do a lot more than pass the time over a long weekend or on a vacation. Board games, in fact, teach children many valuable skills, like deductive reasoning, turn-taking, logic, and, most of all, cooperation between the players. For these reasons, experts say it’s never too early to try a board game with a preschooler, or with a child of any age. While playing, your child will also practice reading and math skills, and even boost language comprehension. It’s also a great bonding opportunity for siblings and grandparents. And since they’re having fun while they do it, it won’t “feel” like learning at all! In this article, we rank the five best co-op board games for kids and families. Choose any one of these games, and hours of fun could be in store for you and your family.
Our Top Picks
Roll the dice on the best cooperative board games for kids and families.
|Best Overall: Carrom Game Board Large|
Not only is the Carrom Board many games in one, including chess and checkers, but it’s also made in the USA!
|Best for Younger Ages: Hoot Owl Hoot|
Simple to play, Hoot Owl Hoot helps younger kids develop strategies and learn to cooperate.
|Best STEM Option: Robot Turtles|
For kids interested in STEM, Robot Turtles teaches programming principles. It’s also fun to play!
|Best 2-Player: Gamewright Outfoxed!|
For special one-on-one time, choose Gamewright Outfoxed!, the best 2-player co-op board game in our ranking.
|Best for Older Ages: R & R Games Hanabi Card Game|
Entertain kids of all ages (and even adults) with the Hanabi Card Game.
A Closer Look: Best Cooperative Board Games for Kids and Families
Open up the rule book. Up next we’ll tell you what we liked and a few things reviewers didn’t like about each game in our ranking.
1. Carrom Game Board
The best cooperative board games for kids and families overall
Brand: Carrom | Age Range: 14+ | Players: One-on-One/Teams | Play Time: Varies | Price: 💰💰💰💰
Here at Shelf, we believe in supporting American-made products whenever possible. For this reason, we were immediately drawn to the game board from Carrom. After examining the product closely, however, we found a lot more to like that.than just With the Carrom game board, you get many games in one, including classic cooperative games like chess and checkers. With the single board, in fact, you get up to 100 games to choose from, and all the game pieces are included with purchase, with instructions for how to play them.
Made from wood, the craftsmanship is superb, and the game pieces move smoothly across the board. It’s a great choice for something to do with children, or for kids to do amongst themselves. Parents and grandparents who had a Carrom board when they were kids say the quality holds up, but some things that were once made of wood are now made of plastic, according to reports.
- Good quality, sturdy
- Sits nicely on a card table
- Easy to set up and take down
- Shorter cues than classic versions
- Accompanying instructional Youtube videos might be nice
2. Hoot Owl Hoot
The best cooperative board games for kids and families with toddlers
Brand: Peaceable Kingdom | Age Range: 4+ | Players: 2-4 | Play Time: 15+ Minutes | Price: 💰
For younger children, learning the rules of a game can be a challenge. For this reason, it’s best to get them started with something simple. But just because Hoot Owl Hoot is easy for kids as young as toddler to learn, it doesn’t mean it isn’t fun, or that it won’t carry many of the educational and developmental benefits of other games.
In the award-winning game, players have the same goal: matching colors to help the owls get home before sunrise. With Hoot Owl Hoot, players win and lose as a team. Otherwise, no reading is required to learn how to play the game, and it also teaches great lessons about strategy and cooperation. Although the gamemakers say it’s appropriate for ages 4 and up, many who’ve played report children as young as three enjoying the game. It’s suitable for 2 to 4 players, or it can be played by just one child if necessary.
- Fosters empathy
- Work together to win
- Enjoyed by kids as old as 8
- Pretty basic for adults
- Not enough action for some kids
- Some shipped with missing pieces
3. Robot Turtles
The best STEM cooperative board games for kids and families
Brand: Think Fun | Age Range: 4+ | Players: 2-5 | Play Time: 15+ Minutes | Price: 💰💰💰
Careers related to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) are the way of the future. To foster or encourage these interests in boys and girls, we recommend the next game in our article, Robot Turtles. For kids ages four-and-up, Robot Turtles teaches basic programming principles and the basics of programming languages using playing cards. Move the robot, score the jewel, win the game. It’s tactile, easy to learn (for grown-ups, too) and reaches important skills and concepts.
Fans of the game call it great for families, but especially interesting for the littlest ones. Players can take risks and make mistakes without much penalty. In addition to a very basic introduction to programming, the game reinforces right and left and turn-taking, among other important concepts. Once mastered, there are even some ways for adults to make the game a little more challenging, with some opportunity to customize the game by personal preference. It can be played by as few as two or as many as five.
- Well-executed game concept
- Created by an actual software developer
- Really does teach programming concepts
- Too simple for some
- Does require adults to play along
- Not the best for repeat play, some say
4. Gamewright Outfoxed!
The best 2-player cooperative board games for kids and families
Brand: Gamewright | Age Range: 5+ | Players: 2-4 | Play Time: 20-30 Minutes | Price: 💰💰
Let’s face it, sometimes you want Johnny and Susie to play a board game by themselves and leave you in peace for a minute. In our estimation, the best 2-player co-op board game for this purpose is Gamewright Outfoxed!. In the game, players five and up use a strategy similar to the classic game Clue to track down Mrs. Plumpert’s missing pot pie. In the interactive and fun game players roll dice, uncover clues, and eliminate suspects. Best of all, it can be played by as few as two players, or as many as four.
Principles taught by the game include logic, deduction, and reasoning, and though the game mostly relies on luck, there are some ways to bring strategy into the mix. We liked to hear it called a fantastically designed game for small children, and more interesting to play for adults than other popular kids games like Candy Land. It’s otherwise a very cleverly-designed game, according to reports, and collaborative, teaching the importance of teamwork and turn-taking.
- Not overly long gameplay
- Pretty fun, even for grown-ups
- Great introduction to board games
- Game design not for everyone
- Not challenging enough, some say
- Some older kids outgrow it quickly
5. R & R Games Hanabi Card Game
The best cooperative board games for kids and families
Brand: R&R Games | Age Range: 14+ | Players: 2-5 | Play Time: 20-30 Minutes | Price: 💰
The best cooperative board games for kids and families are not just for the littlest children in your family. For a mix of ages, or for a pastime suitable for older kids and teens, we recommend the Hanabi card game from R & R Games. In the card game, players use cooperation and deduction to play cards in the proper “launch sequence.” The twist in this card game, however, is you can see everyone else’s hand except your own! What’s more, typical game play is about thirty minutes and as few as two or as many as five can play the game.
One strength of the game is that players don’t play against one another, but instead, work together in order to win. One family with college-aged daughters even liked the game, and overall, it’s easy to learn and can be played repeatedly. Or instead, it can be extended for longer gaming sessions. Some do caution, however, that the written instructions are a bit confusing, but everything becomes clear once you start playing. Otherwise, it’s a great strategy game at a price that won’t break the family budget.
- Well-paced gameplay
- Encourages communication and strategy
- Some luck and resource management required
- Too hard for younger kids
- Relies too much on luck, for some
- Some shipped with missing pieces
For this guide on the best cooperative board games for kids and families, our team spent 5 hours researching the most popular options from over 25 brands and manufacturers big and small. We then read about twenty-five user reviews (both positive and negative) to discover what shoppers thought about each cooperative board game. After comparing this data, we narrowed our list down to the top 5 cooperative board games for kids and families on the market. You can count on this research to guide you to a mindful purchasing decision.
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