Card games offer a dependable, enjoyable, and instructive method to engage kiddos on a rainy day or during extended vacations. While your kids may be glued to a screen for most of their existence, when given the chance to play cards with the crew, they generally enjoy the experience, even if you have to force them at first. On this list of the best card games for kids, we’ve gathered some really fun options that will gather your family around the table and provide an evening full of brain teasers and laughs!
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The 13 Best Card Games for Kids
Reduce excessive screen time by introducing your children to fun card games that promise to enhance memory capabilities, stimulate critical thinking, and facilitate meaningful bonding. These card games for kids come with the added benefits of straightforward setup, uncomplicated guidelines, and portability for on-the-go amusement. Compare that to the bulkiness of board games! Not all kid-friendly card games will be appropriate for every family or age group. It’s essential to select a game that aligns with your kids’ ages to guarantee a balance between challenge, appropriateness, and amusement. Let’s get into the list!
If you share my sentiments, you both love and hate this classic card game. It’s been around for years, but it keeps reinventing itself and topping the charts. It’s prone to seemingly never-ending sessions, although there are worse culprits out there (Monopoly takes the cake on that one). Regardless, Uno stands out as a fantastic choice for a family card game, particularly during travels.
Players strategically lay down cards that match the color or numerical value of the card on the stack, with the objective of being the first person to exhaust their card assortment. Yet, the presence of wild cards and punishing draw cards inject an element of unpredictability and frustration into the gameplay. When you get down to one card, make sure to shout “Uno!” before your competitors, or you’ll be punished by drawing more cards. This easy card game is a favorite among kids of all ages.
2. Taco vs Burrito
Taco vs Burrito was crafted by a resourceful seven-year-old. This unexpectedly strategic card game offers enjoyment for the whole family. Every participant constructs a taco or burrito using ingredients depicted on their cards. The meal’s value can be diminished with a tummy ache card or amplified with a dash of hot sauce. When lacking a needed card, players deploy action cards to acquire cards from opponents or the discard pile, thereby creating their optimal hand.
Once all players have expended their cards, the victor emerges as the one who accumulates the most points on their taco or burrito. This swift card game only demands 10 to 15 minutes per round, enabling the possibility of engaging in multiple sessions within a single sitting.
This selection’s side-splitting content and replay potential have earned it top ranks for family game nights. It’s worth noting, however, that certain parents might find some content unsuitable for younger kids. As such, exercising discretion before introducing this game to your family is advisable.
3. Exploding Kittens
Speaking of discretion, Exploding Kittens is a card game that offers a super strategic twist on the game of Russian Roulette, powered by playful kitties. Players take turns drawing cards from the deck, hoping to avoid picking an Exploding Kitten card. If someone does, they “explode” and are eliminated from the game. But don’t worry—there are ways to prevent this catastrophe!
Players can use items like a laser pointer or a catnip sandwich to defuse the explosive kitty. They can also play action cards to move around or cleverly dodge danger. It’s a mix of strategy and surprises where you might even trick your friends along the way. The goal is simple: Be the last player standing without exploding to claim victory. This game includes some odd humor that might be appreciated more by older children.
Spades is a popular trick-taking card game played with a standard 52-card deck by four players in teams of two. The game is characterized by its blend of strategy, communication, and careful card management.
At the start, players are dealt 13 cards each. Players take turns in clockwise order, playing one card each to form a trick. The highest-ranking card in the leading suit takes the trick, and the winner leads the next trick. The game’s main twist is that the spades suit is always the trump suit, outranking all other suits.
Players can also play spades if they are void in the leading suit. Communication is pivotal, as partners need to work together to estimate and achieve their combined bid and the number of tricks their partnership aims to win. A partnership that fulfills its bid earns points, while failing to do so incurs penalty points. The game continues for a predetermined number of hands, and the partnership with the highest score at the end emerges victorious.
To master Spades, players must balance risk and reward, accurately assess their hands’ potential, and communicate subtly with their partners through their bids and plays. It sounds complicated, but after a round or two, it’s easy to pick up, and analytical older kids will love it.
In the game of Snap, you have two options: You can either play with a traditional deck of cards or opt for a themed set of Snap cards. When using traditional playing cards, the objective is to match cards based on their numbers, disregarding their suits. The themed Snap cards align with specific interests and educational themes, like numbers, math, or vocabulary for children.
To begin the game, distribute the cards evenly among all players, ensuring each player has their own facedown pile of cards. The first player then reveals the top card from their pile, placing it in the center to start a pile there. Subsequently, the player to their left flips over the top card from their pile and adds it to the central pile, and the pattern continues.
Should two cards with matching numbers appear consecutively, the player who shouts “Snap!” first becomes the winner of the cards in the center pile. However, there’s a twist: If a player’s pile of cards runs out, they are eliminated from the game.
6. Old Maid (Donkey)
In this card game, players can use a standard deck of cards with the queen of clubs removed, or they can opt for themed sets, like Donkey or Old Maid cards, which all involve the same gameplay but with different visual themes.
At the start, the deck of cards is dealt out to each player one by one, maintaining the secrecy of the players’ hands. As players receive their cards, they pair up any cards with identical values and colors, placing these pairs face down on the table. In the standard pack of cards, pairs are formed by cards of the same value and color.
The first player offers their spread-out cards to the player on their left. The latter then selects a card from the spread. If this card matches one from their own hand, they place the matching cards on the table. The turn then passes to the next player on the left, and the cycle continues.
As gameplay progresses, players who run out of cards in their hands are eliminated from the game. The game continues until only one player is left holding the solitary queen of spades, Old Maid, or Donkey card, depending on the chosen theme. This remaining player is deemed the loser of the game.
7. Go Fish
To start, mix up the cards, and give them out to everyone playing. If there are two players, give each of them seven cards; for three players, give six cards each; and for four players, give five cards each. Put the leftover cards in the middle of the table randomly. Everyone can look at their own cards, but they can’t show them to others!
The game begins with the first player choosing someone else and asking if they have a certain card. For instance, “Do you have a queen?” If the player being asked does have the card that was asked for, they have to give it to the player who asked. Then, the player who asked can have another turn and ask for a different card. But if the player being asked doesn’t have the card, they have to say, “Go fish.” Then, the asking player takes a card from the pile in the middle.
As the game goes on, if someone collects four cards of the same kind, they can put those cards aside in their own pile. The game keeps going until all the sets of four cards have been found. The winner is the player who has the most sets of four cards at the end.
In the game of Slapjack, start by mixing up the deck of cards and giving all the cards to the players. One by one, each player takes a turn to flip over the top card from their own stack of cards, placing it face-up to form their own pile on the table. If any player reveals a jack card, all players quickly try to be the first to place their hand over the pile with the jack and shout out, “Slapjack!”
The player who manages to do this first gets to win the whole pile. They gather up all the cards from that pile, mix them up, and add them to the bottom of their own stack. If a player accidentally puts their hand over a card that isn’t a jack, they have to give one of their cards to the player whose card they mistakenly slapped.
The game keeps going with each player taking their turns. If a player runs out of cards, they get one more chance to get back in the game when the next jack card is played. If they miss this chance, they’re out of the game. The winner is the last player remaining in the game after all the rounds.
This game is a lot of fun, especially when you have a bunch of kids playing together. You can use regular playing cards or other sets with groups of four cards. Before you start playing, make sure you have sets of four cards ready, with only one set per player. For example, if there are four players, you’ll need 16 cards. Keep the extra cards aside for now.
Mix up the organized sets of cards, and give four cards to each player. During the game, every player gives one card to the person on their left while receiving one from the person on their right, all at the same time. Everyone has to keep passing cards quickly, creating a rhythm. As soon as a player collects four cards of the same kind (like four queens or four sixes), they stop passing their cards and touch their nose with a finger. Once this happens, all the other players need to notice and stop passing cards too, quickly putting their fingers on their noses. The player who’s slowest to touch their nose becomes the “pig.”
10. Crazy Eights
In this card game, each player begins with five cards. The extra cards are put in a stack at the center, and the top card is flipped over to make a face-up pile. During their turn, players can place a card on top of the face-up pile if it matches either in suit or number—or if it’s an eight. The unique aspect of an eight card is that it can be played on any card, and the person playing it gets to pick the suit that the following player must use. The main objective of the game is to be the first player to get rid of all their cards.
War is a simple yet exciting card game that can be enjoyed by middle schoolers. To play, a standard deck of 52 cards is divided evenly between the players. Each player keeps their stack of cards facedown, and during each round, both players simultaneously flip over their top card. The player with the higher-ranking card wins that round and picks up both cards, placing them at the bottom of their stack. In War, the order of card rankings follows their face value, with ace being the lowest and king being the highest. If there is a tie, that is, both players reveal cards of the same rank, a war occurs.
A war is the exciting part of the game. Each player places three cards face down and one card face-up on top of their existing face-up card. The player with the higher face-up card after this additional round of play wins all the cards involved in the war. In some versions of War, if another tie happens during a war, the process can repeat until one player wins. The objective of the game is to collect all the cards.
Rummy is a card game that’s played with a standard deck of 52 cards. The game is all about forming sets and runs of cards to score points. To start, deal ten cards to each player if you have two players and seven cards each for three or more players. The remaining cards become the draw pile, with one card placed face-up next to it to start the discard pile.
Your aim in Rummy is to create sets of three or more cards with the same rank or runs of three or more consecutive cards of the same suit. For example, you could have a set of three kings or a run like 5, 6, and 7 of hearts. On your turn, you can draw a card from the draw pile or the discard pile. If you draw a card from the discard pile, you must use that card in your current turn.
After drawing, try to rearrange your cards to create sets or runs. Once you have a valid set or run, you can place it face-up on the table. At the end of your turn, discard a card onto the discard pile. The game continues with players taking turns drawing and discarding cards, aiming to build sets and runs. When one player has all their cards in valid sets or runs, they can declare and end the round.
The remaining players then lay out their cards, and the ones with ungrouped cards lose points based on the total value of those cards. The goal is to minimize your points, and the player with the lowest score at the end of several rounds wins the game. Rummy is a great game for developing strategy, thinking ahead, and practicing math skills while having a lot of fun.
Solitaire is a card game you can play by yourself. To set up, shuffle the deck of cards, and deal them in seven rows, each with one card in the first row, two cards in the second, three in the third, and so on, until the seventh row has seven cards. The remaining cards form the draw pile.
Your goal is to organize the cards by suit, starting with aces and ending with kings, and alternating in color. For instance, one stack might go ace of hearts, two of clubs, three of diamonds… etc. To do this, flip over the top card of each stack, and rearrange as you can.
If you can’t move any more cards, draw cards from the pile, and see if they fit on the table. Use these new cards to make more moves. Keep working on the piles, moving cards around, and trying to uncover the hidden cards. If you manage to place all the cards in order from ace to king and separated by suits, you win the game! Solitaire is a fun way to challenge yourself and practice your thinking skills.
When it comes to the best card games for kids, the options are as diverse as they are engaging. These games provide more than just entertainment. They cultivate essential skills, such as strategic thinking, problem-solving, numeracy, and social interaction. Try timeless classics like Uno, Go Fish, and Crazy Eights that have stood the test of time. Even modern gems like Exploding Kittens can make a card game a rewarding part of family night.
Card games are still popular, but they aren’t the only classic games that are entertaining modern families. Check out “25+ Classic Outdoor Games That Are Making a Comeback” for more fun options!
Pack a few of these amazing travel games for kids in the car for your next road trip!
Frequently Asked Questions
Ever since 1971, Uno has maintained its status as one of the most globally renowned card games for kids and families. Its popularity is due to simple and exciting gameplay.