As many babysitters, care takers, and parents know, some situations just call for cards. Whether you're out to eat with a preschooler and the food is taking forever, or you're babysitting a gaggle of school-aged kids and the energy is getting weird, the best card games for kids will always save the day. And forget about Uno and Go Fish! Today's card games have seriously inventive premises with multi-generational appeal.
To find just the right card game, there are a few important factors to consider. What age range are you shopping for? Do you need a game for a toddler or a teen, or somewhere in between? Next up: number of players. Are you looking for a game that you and your child can play when it's just the two of you, or are you on the hunt for a card game that can entertain larger groups for things like birthday parties and holiday gatherings? And then, of course, there's length of play. Are you trying to squeeze in a quick round before bedtime or are you looking for a longer game to keep them busy on a rainy day?
The card games below cover the full range of options, and have been thoroughly vetted by parents and avid game players alike. You won't find a game on this list with less than a 4.7-star rating on Amazon, and that's saying something, since many have thousands of reviews.
1. A Wacky Card Game That Teaches Basic Math Skills On The Sly
With a 4.9-star rating on Amazon, and more than 1,200 reviews, you know that Sleeping Queens is going to be anything but a snooze-fest. The colorful card game is designed for ages 8 and up, although many reviewers noted that their younger children were able to pick it up too.
Created by a 6-year-old girl, the game is imaginative and fun. The basic premise is to wake up the sleeping queens (there's a Pancake Queen, a Ladybug Queen, etc.) using a range of cards with unique powers. It requires a bit of strategy and a little luck, not to mention some basic math. It can be played with anywhere from two to five players, and a round takes about 20 minutes. It's a travel-friendly game too, since the cards are quite durable.
What reviewers are saying: "We got this for my 5-year-old and it's our new favorite to play as a family. The game involves a little bit of simple math which is awesome because it's reinforcing what she learns in school but for her it's just fun. The strategy is fairly basic but it's a great starter before moving on to more complicated games. It takes a few rounds to get familiar with all of the characters and how they work but once you've played a few times play moves quickly."
2. A Fast-Paced Strategy Card Game That Will Make You Crave Donuts
This donut-themed card game is fast-paced, strategic, and freaking adorable. It's designed for ages 8 and up, and can accommodate anywhere from two to six players, and yes, it's all about donuts: Boston cremes, bear claws, even donut holes. Game play goes like this: you choose the donut you want, but if another players picks the same one, nobody gets it. Some donut cards give you points, some give you special actions, some do both. On average, it takes about 10 to 15 minutes to play, but that will vary somewhat depending on the size of the group.
What reviewers are saying: "My kids absolutely love Go Nuts for Donuts! I have 4, ranging in age from 5 to 13. This is a game we can all play together and everyone understands it and no one gets frustrated. That's hard for a lot of games to do. It has such adorable cards and fun, easy to learn rules. My husband even had fun and he's not a huge gamer. Beware though, the cards will make you crave doughnuts like NO OTHER."
3. An Addictive Scrabble-Like Card Game That Can be Played Alone Or In Large Groups
Not only does Quiddler have a 4.8-star rating on Amazon with more than 1,500 reviews, it's also won more than 20 awards. Designed for ages 8 and up, this positively addictive word game is kind of like Scrabble in card form, but with some different, fun twists. It can be played in 35 minutes with anywhere from one to eight players, and is great for expanding your vocabulary. Work geeks will love it, but it also has mass appeal. Just be prepared to cozy up next to the dictionary (there's even a nifty Quiddler dictionary that fans love).
What reviewers are saying: "I introduced this game to my family about 12 years ago and we play at least once at week. ... I used to carry it in my purse and we would play it at the table in the restaurant until our food came... It is a great game that helped my daughter learn to spell better and when she was really little we made it so you couldn't use 2 letter words so it was more challenging for her."
4. A 5-in-1 Card Game That Preschoolers Will Love
If you're looking for the perfect game to introduce to a little one, then Spot It! Jr. Animals, designed for ages 4 and up, is it. With a 4.7-star rating Amazon, and more than 3,000 reviews, it's just as popular as the smash-hit original Spot It! game. This junior version features cards with more than 30 animals that you then try to match with the cards on the central pile. It's a quick game of observation that is engaging for kids and grown-ups alike.
Anywhere from two to six people can play at once, and one round only takes about 15 minutes. The best part is that this game can be adjusted based on the child's age and ability. You can play it cooperatively or competitively, at warp speed or at your own pace. Plus, there are five different games packed into the little portable tin, so it has real staying power.
What reviewers are saying: "This is a fantastic learning game for toddlers and preschool kids. My son first played it when he was 3 at his cousin's house and that is when I decided to purchase it myself. ...My son loves to play it by himself at home as well, kind of like eye spy. ... I've also found it's helpful for learning animal names/colors as well because we ask him to say the animal name out loud when he finds it."
5. A Slap-Happy Party Game That Guarantees Belly Laughs
This card game certainly takes the prize for most inventive title, but the wackiness doesn't stop there. With Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza, you're guaranteed to laugh — a lot. Gameplay is similar to Slap Jack, only with much funnier illustrated pictures. Designed for ages 8 and up, it's fast (only takes about 10 minutes) and easy to play, not to mention lively. Anywhere from three to eight players can get in on the action, and with 93 percent of Amazon reviewers giving it five stars, it's clear that this game entertains.
What reviewers are saying: "This game is hysterical! I played with my 7-year-old daughter and my 70-year-old father and we all enjoyed it. I haven't laughed that hard in a long time!"
6. A Quick Card Game That Requires A Poker Face — And Even 6-Year-Olds Can Play
While a kid might be a little too young to play poker, Rat-A-Tat Cat will teach them the importance of having a great poker face! The award-winning game, designed for ages 6 and up, has sold more than a million copies, and has a 4.9-star rating on Amazon. It's not hard to see why fans love it so much. Designed for two to six players, it is suspenseful and strategic, and requires players to think fast. Game play only takes about five minutes and goes like this: each player gets four cards and the goal is to have them add up to the lowest score. But the tricky part is that you can't look at all your cards. Players swap and draw, back and forth, until the hands are revealed.
What reviewers are saying: "One of my 7-year-old's favorite games...he loves it because it is fast-paced, fun, and he can legitimately win it. We love it because he practices his addition (his job is to count EVERYBODY's score) and he has to memorize things and focus and yet it doesn't feel like a chore. It is an added bonus that each game is quick (usually under 5 mins), doesn't take lot of space which means we often take it to doc offices, restaurants, and any place we know will have some wait times that we do not want to fill with electronics."
7. A Hilarious Family Card Game With Outrageous Illustrations
Not to be confused with the Taco, Cat, Goat, Cheese, Pizza game above, this other goat game — Goat Lords — is also a must-have in your card game collection. For starters, it features fun illustrations and requires that you "birth" some goats, before moving on to things like dualing and defending. The ultimate goal is to win the title of "Lord of the Goats" by having the biggest herd at the end of play. While this isn't the most intuitive game (you definitely need to read through the instructions first), it's a rollicking good time for groups of three to six people. Game play is fairly quick (takes about 20 to 25 minutes) and there's even an expansion pack to keep play interesting for years to come.
What reviewers are saying: "Our family LOVES this game. With kids from 9-14 plus parents, it's hard to find a game that's easy enough for everyone to learn & still entertaining enough to hold everyone's attention. This game does it all!! We've played with other couples. The kids can play together or with their friends. It's a new family favorite!!"
Bustle may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was created independently from Bustle's editorial and sales departments.