The Best Board Games for Children 5-11 Years Old

By Mark Applegate
LWA/Dann Tardif/Blend Images/Getty Images

Toy makers have designed countless fun and brain-stimulating board games to match the diverse tastes of grade school children. These games, according to child researcher [Gwen Dewar](, have tremendous potential benefits for kids far beyond keeping them busy when it is raining or when a sibling is playing with their video game.

Friends and Family Bonding Games

Fun games that require teamwork offer bonding opportunities for friends and families. Psychotherapist Ivan Staroversky recommends The Settlers of Catan and the Junior edition of the game. Catan, and all of its many expansion packs and forms, involves exploration, strategic planning and loads of action for all ages. Hasbro and the Rhode Island School of Design studied the positive effects of play using the game Cranium. This game involves diverse activities from acting to drawing to sculpting. Variations, such as the team-formatted Cranium Family Fun Game, are available to include all age groups. Duke University's Talent Identification Program states that this game, while designed for children ages 8 and up, is suitable for all ages due to the teamwork nature of its gameplay.

Games that Let their Imaginations Run Wild

Some grade school games can develop the participant's creativity and imagination in unique ways. Apples to Apples and its Junior and Big Picture editions require players to choose from their hand of cards one that best describes the card the “judge” is holding. The judge chooses the one he likes best. This choice could be a "correct" match, a funny mismatch or an outrageous oddball. The Junior edition is suitable for children 9 and up while the Big Picture version works for kids starting at age 7. Scattegories Junior, designed for kids 8 to 11, also requires intense creativity. This word game has the child quickly draft a list of words in a category that start with the same letter, with the goal of offering the most unique words that others didn't choose.

Games that Require More Brainpower

Mastermind is suited for older grade school kids, 8 and up. This brainy game has been used to teach problem-solving skills in mathematics, science and other disciplines. One player creates a code from either four or five colors and the other attempts to guess the order of the colors using clues he gleans from asking questions of the other player. Blokus is designed for children 5 and up. It is a game that is similar to the iconic game Tetris, but with a twist: you must place your pieces so that each one touches a corner of one of your other pieces already on the board, without touching any sides or edges. This challenging game is easy enough for young children, but challenging enough for the smart 11-year-old, and even older children. Blokus won a Mensa award for promoting healthy brain activity.

Old School Games

Monopoly Junior is a true classic in board games and is appropriate for ages 5 to 8. There are even countless variations of the property-purchasing board game to suit the taste of any grade-school child. It teaches strategic planning, mathematics, sales and bartering skills as you move your game piece around the board, snatching up properties and trying to avoid the pitfalls of a ruthlessly fun capitalist world. This game can occupy grade schoolers for hours at a time. Twister, the body-contorting classic, will get your kids off of the couch and away from the kitchen table, and give them a fun, if somewhat challenging workout. With each landing of the spinner, your children must move the chosen hand or foot to the matching color on the floor mat, creating a veritable body pretzel in the process. The last one that hasn't fallen in a heap wins. This game can be used to help coordination and fine motor skills in children ages 6 and up.