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One of my favorite things to do with my grandkids is play games, as it gives us a chance to spend some uninterrupted time together, grow their brains, and have fun! While you can never go wrong with a board game, I am partial to card games which, fortunately, come for all skill levels and age groups!
While you cannot go wrong with any card games, I wanted to share a few of our favorites, including how to play them and their age-appropriateness. To make it even more exciting, I have included ways to turn play into a tournament to crown the ultimate grandma-grandchild champion!
1. Go Fish (Perfect For Little Ones, Ages 3+)
This is the ideal card game to introduce the grandchildren to. It’s simple, delightful, and brimming with giggles!
- Give five cards to each child. The leftover cards make a stack for drawing.
- This game is all about gathering up “families” of fish. A family means any four cards of the same rank.
- When it’s their turn, each child can ask another for a certain type of fish (for example, “Can I have your clownfish?”). They must already have at least one clownfish card to ask for it.
- If the child has the asked-for fish, they pass all their cards of that type to the asker. If they don’t, they say “Go Fish,” and the asker draws a card from the stack.
- When a player gathers a family, they place it down. That counts towards their score at the end of the game.
- The game wraps up when all the families have found their homes. The player with the most families wins.
Tournament Idea: How about making it a little bit more exciting with a tournament? It could be knockout-style where the winner of each game moves onto the next. Reward them with small prizes like stickers or badges for each round they win. The overall champion could receive a special treat, like a new deck of cards.
2. Crazy Eights (Great Fun For Ages 6+)
This game is a slight step up in complexity, a great one for teaching the grandchildren some strategy!
- Hand out five cards to each player, and the leftover cards form a drawing stack. Flip over the top card of this stack to start a discard pile.
- Players take turns matching the top card of the discard pile by number, suit, or rank. If the top discard is a 7 of diamonds, they can play any seven or any diamond.
- An eight is a magical card and can be played on any other. The player playing an eight can choose any suit for the next player to follow.
- The first player to play all their cards is the winner!
Tournament Idea: Let’s arrange a league-style tournament where players earn points for winning a game. After several rounds, the player with the most points is crowned the champion.
3. Rummy (Ideal For Thinkers Ages 10+)
Rummy is a lovely card game that calls for a bit of strategic planning.
- Deal seven cards to each player if there are two of you, and five cards if there are 3 or 4 players. The rest of the deck is put face down, and the top card is flipped to start the discard pile.
- Each player draws a card (from the deck or the discard pile) on their turn and then discards one card.
- The goal is to create “sets,” either groups (three or four cards of the same rank) or sequences (three or more cards of the same suit in order).
- The round ends when a player discards their last card.
- Scoring is based on the remaining cards in each player’s hand. The person with the fewest points after a predetermined number of rounds wins.
Tournament Idea: Why not host a round-robin tournament where everyone gets a chance to play against everyone else? Tally up the scores at the end. The person with the lowest overall score wins.
4. Hearts (Ages 18 and Up)
Hearts is an exciting trick-taking game that tests your strategy skills and is excellent for those who enjoy a mental challenge. It’s played with a standard deck of 52 cards.
- Start by dealing the entire deck of cards to all players. For four players, everyone should have 13 cards.
- The game begins with players selecting three cards from their hand to pass to another player. This happens before the first hand is played, and the direction of passing rotates each round — to the left, right, and across. In the fourth round, no cards are passed at all. The cycle then repeats.
- Each hand starts with the player holding the 2 of clubs playing this card. The game continues clockwise, with each player required to follow the suit if they can. If they cannot, they may play any card.
- The player who played the highest card of the lead suit collects the trick and leads the next hand. However, there’s a twist: hearts and the Queen of Spades are penalty cards, carrying points.
- The goal is to have the lowest score at the end of the game. Hearts carry 1 point each, and the Queen of Spades carries a hefty 13 points!
- However, if a player manages to get ALL the penalty cards (all hearts and the Queen of Spades), that player scores zero, and each of their opponents scores 26 points. This is called “shooting the moon,” a risky but potentially rewarding strategy.
- The game ends when a player reaches or crosses 100 points. The player with the fewest points wins!
Tournament Idea: How about a Hearts marathon? Keep track of each player’s scores over a series of games. You can give small rewards for each individual game win and a grand prize for the player with the least cumulative points at the end of your play session.
5. Bridge (Ages 12+)
Bridge is a clever game that requires four players and good teamwork. It’s played with a standard deck of 52 cards.
- Players sitting across from each other form a team. They aim to win “tricks,” which contain four cards, one from each player.
- Each player receives 13 cards.
- The game starts with a bidding phase. Players bid in a clockwise direction, stating the number of tricks they hope to win. The highest bidder becomes the “declarer.”
- The declarer’s partner is the “dummy.” Once the bidding phase ends, the dummy’s cards are shown to all players.
- The declarer leads the first trick. Players must follow the suit if they can. If they can’t, they can play any card.
- The highest card of the led suit or the highest trump wins the trick.
- The aim is to win at least as many tricks as bid. Scoring can be a little complex, based on the number of tricks won, the contract, and other factors.
Tournament Idea: Bridge tournaments can be thrilling. Consider hosting a tournament where each team competes against all others in a round-robin format. The team with the most points at the end is the winner. To add an extra twist, award bonus points for certain achievements, like winning a game with a daring bid.
A few more of our favorite card games
If you have ever played UNO, you know that it is a fun and fast-paced game that everyone will love (and for a great reason)! If you haven’t played, my grandkids and I both highly recommend you give it a try 🙂
Skip-Bo is another excellent card game for most ages, as it is an easy-to-follow sequence game that can be played by up to 6 players!
The name may make it sound a bit macabre, but Exploding Kittens is actually very fast-paced and fun, with no felines hurt in the process.
Enjoy your game night – and may the best card player win! (Go, Grandma! He he.)