Valentine’s Day: Think of the Children! Games for One Parent – and One Child

To some extent, the holy grail of board games is a title that one parent can play with one child… And both love just as much! Often, though, the gaps in age make questing for this grail very hard work. Fortunately, we’ve done a lot of leg work on this! Here, then, are some games that let you create terrific moments with children of every age. 

Spot it!

Kids love pictures. Kids love matching things. Kids love Spot it! The twin-it-to-win-it card game is a riot of fun for everyone with up to eight people playing… But it also works brilliantly as a head-to-head race. And because there are a number of variations, you can choose the game that best suits your child’s age and interests. For young kids, though, you can’t go wrong with the original. It’s a classic! Age 4 and up – depending on the version. 

Exploding Kittens 

A wonderful game with an unusual name! This sees you trying to pick up and put down a handful of quirkily drawn cards… Sounds simple. If, though, you pick up an exploding kitten, you blow up, die and are out of the game. Sounds tragic! But there’s more: each card shows a curious cat and an act that affects play. You can skip turns, reverse play, attack your opponent and – if you’re lucky – defuse the exploding kittens. A terrific game for sneaky parents and cheeky children. Ages 7 and up. 


If you think your kids are smart – and let’s be honest, most parents think their kids are smart – Carcassonne might be for you. Ideally suiting those aged 8 to 80, the game moves quickly, keeps you thinking and is easy to play. You collect points by shaping a medieval landscape while moving your ‘meeples’ around. 


This is a fast-moving card game set in India. The nature of Jaipur means it appeals to adults and slightly older children; usually 12 plus. The plot sees you buying, trading and selling goods while winning favour in the maharaja’s court. On top of the obvious benefits of having a child interested in trading gems and leather, Jaipur is richly illustrated. Oh, one more thing… The game also asks you to look after herds of camels – a bonus to which few games can lay claim. 


If the nature of Jaipur holds some appeal, but your child’s a little young for it, take a look at SplendorIt’s a little bit more straightforward. Here you have to collect valuable gems and buy cards to earn 15 points – and win. As you play, you get to make tactical decisions, so there’s plenty to do. And with each game lasting about 30 minutes, Splendor is ideal for playing a couple of rounds on any day – Valentine’s or not. 

Ticket To ride: First Journey

Someone once said, “Six is a difficult age. It’s too old for nursery rhymes, too young for Shakespeare”. Whoever said that may have made a similar point about board games! It seems there aren’t many ‘grown-up’ games that kids age six or seven can enjoy with one parent – and no problems. Happily, Ticket to Ride: First Journey is one of them. This superb adaptation is ideal for two to four players. You each aim to claim train routes, connect cities and collect tickets. Ages 6 and up.