Fun Activities for a Rainy Day: Classic Board Games For Kids

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What to do with the kids on rainy days:

How about playing some good old-fashioned classic board games for kids?

OK so it’s raining – and you want to find some fun activiies for a rainy day that will keep the kids happy. It rains a lot here in the UK so we’re used to it and I have a whole gamut of things to fall back on.

But what if the latest X-box game has worn everyone’s thumbs out, the only thing on the television is a rerun of El Dorado, and you had to use the batteries from the TV remote to so power one of the children’s robots which have now run out too.

No one actually remembers that they can get up out of their chair to change the channel (or even turn the TV on) so this begs the question:

What do we do now?

Well, back in the ‘olden days’ as my kids sometimes call it, we used to spend some good quality family time and play board games.

“A bored game?” the kids ask – “what’s that?”

“Not ‘bored’ as in ‘I can’t find anything of interest to do here’ but ‘BOARD’ as in there’s usually a piece of cardBOARD to play the game on, some counters……a dice……and of course, a RULEBOOK!”

“Oh, like Jumanji?” enquires one? (Obviously they’ve seen the latest movie release).

“Yes, a bit like that” I reply with a slightly concerned look.

“Cool, I want to get sucked into the game and metamorphose as someone else” says the other.

“Well not exactly like Jumanji” I backtrack, “but there is a board and you can get really engrossed in it. Come on, it’ll be FUN!”

“And by the way, where did you learn the word ‘metamorphose’?!”

All joking aside, classic board games are great family fun.

It’s such a pity that in today’s fast-paced, electronic work, that most of our family entertainment revolves around electronic devices. If this is you, and you are looking for something else to do, then read my top 10 classic board games list. I’ll bet you remember some of them from your own youth, and you may find that bit of nostalgia leads to a whole lot of fun. And you know what – in an hour’s time, I bet the kids agree too.

The list is in no particular order. My children and I have spent time playing all of these games (some of them are the original ones from when I was a lass), and it’s been great to see how we can enjoy some wonderful family time together.

I hope you have many hours of fun playing these with your own children if you have them, or just remembering a simpler time and playing them with your spouse or friends.

1. Trivial Pursuit (2-6)

This was the must-have game of the early 1980s and everybody had one. It’s a simple game of general knowledge in which you travel round the board answering questions from a question pack until you have filled your ‘cheese’ with triangular-shaped coloured pieces, thus winning the game.

In the original version there were 6 categories of questions to choose from including: Art & Literature (my favourite), Science and Nature (another good one for me), Geography, History, Entertainment, and my least favourite one – Sports and Leisure. Since then however, there have been numerous versions with different categories of questions.

The game is really a glorified pub quiz, but we all like to show off in pub quiz, right?! Well, we do if we get the answers right but if we have emphatically told the rest of the group that the capital of Peru is San Salvador because we remember seeing a documentary on the subject once, we might want to keep a lower profile when the answers are read out!

Adults usually have an advantage when playing this game with children unless you go for some of the child-friendly editions, such as the junior edition where there are questions that the kids are likely to know. Other editions include the Baby-Boomers, All about the 80s and 90s and All-Star Sports! (And no I don’t have that last one, sorry!)

It is a great game though and well-deserves it’s place in the list of top classic games.

Where to get it

2. Risk (2-6 players)

This is a game that can make or break relationships a bit like Monopoly, depending on the alliances you choose to make and then break.

In essence, you are trying to take over the world which has been split up into 42 territories, spanning 6 continents. The object is to capture as many territories as you can using your armies. Disputes are settled by roll of the dice (or a divorce! :))

One of the good things about Risk is that it is often really seen as an adult game because of the complexities of the relationships it encourages. Children can play it sure, but adults are much more devious and duplicitous in their interactions with other players leading to deceit and betrayals as they try to eliminate the competition. It makes for wonderful family dynamics as your son teams up with your daughter to bring you down!

You can get different editions such as the Captain America: Civil War Edition or my favourite is the Game of Thrones Edition.

Risk can also take a long time depending on the amount of negotiating time that is allowed although you can shorten it in some versions by completing your secret missions. Either way, it will put your diplomacy skills to the test and you may never trust you partner again!

Where to get it

3. Scrabble (2-4 or more)

I have never been very good at Scrabble but my mum and sisters were masters at it.  It’s basically a word game in which you have to take random letters and then place them like a crossword on the board, linking up with other words and trying to get those all improtant triple scores.

Scrabble is an educational game as well as being fun so you can teach your children to spell at the same time.  We used to play it in teams with an adult teaming up with a younger child so that things were fairer and that way, they kids had some chance of winning.

Where to get it

4. Monopoly (Up to 10 players depending on the version)

Monopoly is one of my favourite board games, ever. I always wanted to be the “top hat” and to this day I love playing Monopoly. It can take a bit of time to set up and you have to agree amicably who is going to be the ‘banker’ but it’s great fun when it gets going.

The objective is to travel around the board buying up property that you land on so that you can charge other people rent if they land on your property later. You can even build houses and hotels to earn more, but be warned, and be careful who you play with because they may not like your strategy for winning.

I have found there to be 2 types of monopoly players: those who will help a friend in need and those who will ruthlessly hunt you down for every penny they can get!

I’m not saying which one I am but suffice to say that my sister has refused to play Monopoly any more with any of her in-laws after one insanely competitive game!

I like the fact that Monopoly is one of those games that you can play in an hour, or it can last a week. Cunning and negotiating prowess are useful skills to have too if you want to swap Leicester Square with 2 houses, for Park Lane, just to complete your set!

The game I played showed streets in London, but over the years there have been other editions featuring streets and landmarks from different cities and countries so you can tailor your game to your local situation.

A little known fact: On Wikipedia, it claims that during WW2, the British Secret Service made special editions of the game in which they hid maps, real money, compasses and other objects that prisoners of war could use to escape.

These ‘special’ editions were then sent over to the prisoners by fake charities. There’s no mention if anyone actually managed to escape using the items included but what a great story!

Where to get it

Was it Miss Scarlett in the Library with the Candlestick?

5. Cluedo (3-6 players)

Was it Miss Scarlett with the candlestick or Professor Plum with the revolver? The library, the dining room or the Hall? This is a wonderful game of detective work and your job is to work out who committed the murder, in what room and with which murder weapon. As you travel from room to room, you get the chance to offer suggestions and by a process of elimination, come to the right conclusion….hopefully before anyone else.

Some elements of luck (as with any dice game, you need some luck to move around the board easily) but a lot of deduction and old-fashioned ‘sleuthing’ too.

There a World of Harry Potter version nowadays that you can get too which is a great gift for all HP fans.

Where to get it

6. Battleships (2 players)

Strictly speaking this has an upright board rather than a flat, horizontal one but I think it can get away with it.

Battleships is a game a bit like mastermind where you have to guess where your opponents ‘battleships’ are on the pegboard and try to sink them by calling out coordinates. But you’d better be quick because they are trying to sink your battleships at the same time.

A great game of strategy with a little bit of luck thrown in. It can also be educational as you are teaching the 2-dimensional, XY coordinates at the same time.

You can play this easily by printing out a grid on a piece of paper and marking the rows and columns alphabetically and numerically but it’s not the same as the joy of sticking a red pin in the board when you get a ‘hit!’

Where to get it

7. Mastermind (2 players)

This is a great game of strategy as is says on the box. You are trying to work out the colours and orders of pegs that your opponent has chosen and which lay hidden behind their shield. You guess and they respond by telling you whether you are right or wrong using smaller black and white pegs. But they only tell you in code – not which colours or which order. From there, your job is to accurately break the ‘code’ and work out which pegs they choose.

This is a simple game and it really gets your logical brain working so great for children that like logic or maths puzzles.

You can only really play with 2 people but it used to keep my sister and I happy for hours.  You can still get the vintage version or more modern copies are available too.

Where to get it

8. Guess who? (2 players)

This is a classic detective game based on a process of eliminating the people who don’t match up to the facial features you have described.

One player selects a mystery person and their opponent tries to discover who has been selected.

So if the mystery person does not have black hair, then you knock over all the people that do. If they don’t wear glasses, then you knock those over too until you are left with only one!  But you only have limited number of guesses so you need to think strategically and have your observation skills tuned.

After all, ‘there can be only one!

Where to get it

9. Boggle (any number of players)

Bat, Cat, Battle, Tat, Beat, Bait…….How many words can you make in 3 minutes using only 9 letters – of course they have to be the 9 letters that come up in the random letter generator. And how many words can you make if the letters you get are only Zs, Ts and Ws?

Again this is not stricly a ‘board’ game although I used to love pressing the letter-generator and seeing them all jump around.

This is a great one to play with all the family and we always end up with a few ‘that’s not a real word‘ arguments which is half the fun! And you can always resort to a good old dictionary to settle any disputes if your WiFi is down and you can’t ask ‘Uncle Google”.

You could even make your own version of this by writing out the alphabet a few times, ripping up the pieces of paper, turning them over and choosing 9 at random. Quick, easy and endless fun.

Where to get it

10. Compendium of games (Various players)

This was the big one – a collection of the all the best games: ludo, chess, backgammon, draughts. I remember spending many a rainy Sunday afternoon playing our way through these games. I also remember that I didn’t know what the word ‘compendium’ meant for ages, but I knew that it was important when my dad said we would get the ‘compendium’ out!

So if you can’t decide on which of the other classic games to go for, I suggest investing in a good compendium. Make sure you read up on the rules though as you can’t really go backwards in backgammon and you need to set your board up properly for chess (Queen goes on her own colour!)

Many compendiums now have nearly 100 different games so there’s plenty to choose from if the weather really sets in. Some of these are easily played with a deck of cards but other include things such as Backgammon, Draughts, Chess, Dominoes, Yahtzee, Chinese Chequers, Solitaire, Fox & Hens, Halma, Nine Men’s Morris, Tiddlywinks, Ludo, Snakes & Ladders, Pick Up Sticks, Seven Up, Spook Sticks, Whist, Go Fish and Rummy.

These are usually great fun and you can play them with the family, or sometimes on your own if everyone else opts for the last episode of El Dorado instead!

Where to get it

I hope you have enjoyed our retro look at some of the best classic board games from my childhood. I remember spending many happy hours playing them with my family and as a way of bringing families together on rainy days, you really can’t beat them.

And if you can’t beat them, then you just have to join them!

Please do leave a comment on which is your personal favourite or let me know of your own family board game adventures.

Happy Family Time!


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Posted in Family Life.

Hi. I'm Gail and I'm a teacher, coach, writer and blogger who has been involved with self-development and the performing arts for over 30 years. I'm passionate about helping people to develop their full potential and I've studied education, the law of attraction, personal development and NLP which I write about on this site.

I love working with people of all ages and backgrounds and truly believe that we are all unique, unlimited creative beings who can do wonderful things with a positive attitude and spiritual outlook on life.

Here's to your continued success.



  1. Hi Gail!

    That’s a great collection – I think we should all do more offline things together with our loved ones. I remember playing Monopoly with my family a lot as a kid. One time we even had to create new paper money so that I could get paid for all those hotels on the relevant spots. lol! 🙂

    Cluedo reminds me of that lovely song by King Creosote (UK singer, which I have seen on Green Man festival for the first time) King Creosote – “You’ve no clue do you” – check him on youtube. I like him…

    “Connect 4” is a nice game too – although just for two players.

    Thank you for posting, Gail! Brings back nice memories… 🙂

    • Hi Benita and thanks for your comment. Glad to see you began printing your own money at an early age! LOL. I don’t know King Creosote but he sounds interesting. I’m glad you found some nice memories by reading the post – that is my experience of board games, we had a lot of fun. I think sometimes the simple things are the best, which is why I recommend these games. My girls and I had loads of fun playing Connect 4 last summer. The trouble is, they got better and better at it and then started winning – I said “that’s just not cricket!” 🙂 Have a great day. Gail

  2. I’ll freely admit I haven’t played Monopoly in quite a long time, but as soon as I saw your ‘Bored game’ quote it made me think of Monopoly. Just because the game lasts SO LONG! It is a great rainy day game though…

    That being said my favorite board game these days is Ticket To Ride. I absolutely love it and the games rarely last more than 45 minutes. I’d definitely check it out!

    • Hi Craig. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment on the post. I know Monopoly can take a while but you can always set a winning amount – say the first player to make a million, or half a million.
      I don’t (as yet) know the Ticket to Ride game so I’ll have to look that one up. Might be an interesting alternative too. Thanks for suggesting it.

  3. I like the way this post is designed Gail, I will be glad when I get to this point in my website. You seem to enjoy writing about your niche and I look forward to checking back in again soon to see what other things interest you.

    • Hi Anna. Thank you for your comment and kind words. Glad you like the site. You’re right in that I truly love what I do and can’t wait to write about something different every day. I found that being a member of Wealthy Affiliate helped my confidence with my site a lot as the training is awesome about building websites. I hope to welcome you back with different posts and articles soon. Thanks again. Gail

  4. I love board games! I used to play Clue all the time when I was younger. Even love the movie version. I once spent an entire camping trip playing scrabble because it started raining. It was fantastic. Love your article.

    • Hello Maryann. So glad I’m not the only board game lover in the world. I used to like Cluedo a lot too although when I went camping with the guides, we got rained out so had to be rescued by the locals! :0 I’m pleased to hear that you at least managed some educational activities like Scrabble instead.

  5. This is an awesome list! I don’t know if its because I have the kids with me or what but I almost teared up a little bit just thinking about some of the memories that I have playing these games growing up LOL. We were a board game family. And yes I agree sometimes technology has to go.

    My kids are still young for some of these but I have plans on playing these in the future. Do you know of any older games for younger kids?


    • Hi Kayla. I’m so glad you like the list and found some good memories whilst reading it. We were also a board game family so it’s nice when everyone can put down their electronics for a while and join in together. In terms of older games for younger children, I used to play simple things like snakes and ladders with my own girls when they were younger. It was an easy game and they found it fun. We also liked ludo too. I think that any good compendium would have those two games in nowadays. Another simple game we liked a lot was Go Fish. You can use a dedicated set of cards or just regular playing cards but again, it was fun and simple and we spent many a happy hour playing it. All the best. Gail

    • Glad you like the post Nathan. I agree with you totally that taking true family time is a great thing. And these games definitely help. Thanks for reading. Gail

  6. This post brings back some fine memories. I love board games as they offer real good family and friends time. I remember how much we all enjoyed Scrabble, Monopoly and Boggle. I even taught the kids at school these games and they enjoyed them immensely. Chinese Checkers and Connect Four were also popular with us. There is nothing more enjoyable to us like sitting around a table with these games. The competition is always healthy too.

    • Hi Carol. Thank you so much for reading and leaving a comment. I’m so glad you remember many of the old favourites and I agree that the competition is good and all part of the fun. I’m pleased to see that you have used many of these games at school as well. I always like it when teachers get creative and think of different ways to teach and education has to be much more than just the core subjects so well done you! 🙂

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