Could it be a Jack?

SlapJack, Crazy Eights and War are the old stand-by card games for families that are sure to result in a good time.  And as the kids get older, you actually end up with bruises on your hands from SlapJack!  Teaching kids to play cards at a young age is a step closer to keeping them around when they are teens. It’s a family bonding opportunity and offers good family-friendly competition that teaches you how to be a good sport.
I started playing cards with my kids when they were little. They loved Old Maid, Go Fish and Uno.  It was sort of a trick way of getting them to learn!  The hardest part for them was holding all those cards in their tiny hands.  I remember my son having so many Uno cards that he had to lay them out and cover them with cardboard so I couldn’t see. They liked to deal the cards which developed their fine motor skills, but it was years later before they could shuffle without cards flying across the room.  Cards can teach older kids strategizing and remembering what cards have already been played, while younger kids learn colors, numbers, high/low and matching.

Waterproof cards for the pool!

We belong to a swim club and spent many summer days at the pool.  And if a rain shower came through, we didn’t pack up and go home.  Instead, we pulled out our waterproof cards!  We have very good friends that enjoy cards (and the pool) just as much as we do so cards were a no-brainer when the clouds settled in.  On a slow day at the pool, we would lay the cards on a raft and play standing up in the water.

My next stocking stuffer – Euchre only deck!

My family (parents and siblings) are die-hard card players. And while the adults played cards, my kids played Spit or Bologna Sandwich with their cousins.  It was almost a rite-of-passage when a niece or nephew joined us at the adult table!  We like to say it’s friendly competition, but we always make sure no one is sitting next to their spouse, especially when we play Shanghai!  I love that my kids started playing cards at a young age making them look forward to our family get-togethers.  And the best part is now that my kids are teens, they want to learn to play Euchre, and I am the person they asked to teach them!
Here are a few family-friendly card games to add to the traditional list.

Five players…but only four spoons.

Spoons is a card game that even the young kids can play!  You will need a deck of cards and one less spoon than the number of players.  It’s extremely fast-paced and each player needs to keep an eye on their cards as well as the spoons.  The giggles that come from a child that secretly takes a spoon are priceless!  And as they get older, the spoon snatching is done in a cool fashion.  A similar version to this game is Pig in which you put your finger on your nose when you reach four of a kind. Personally, I like the anticipation that comes while waiting for someone to grab a spoon.  Learn how to play Spoons!


Kemps is played in teams of two so you need a minimum of four to play.  The goal is to get four of a kind and then notify your partner that you have reached four of a kind via a secret signal previously agreed upon.  The signals are what make the game fun!  It can be a body movement, hand gesture, blinking eye, etc.  But no verbal signals can be used!  If your partner sees your signal, they can yell “Kemps” to win a point.  If your opponent sees your signal, they can yell “No Kemps” or “Stop Kemps” and you lose a point.  Learn how to play Kemps!

Win the pot of candy!

Pass the Card is what we have always called this game, but not so sure that is the real name.  You will need “chips” which we never actually use.  Many times, we use wrapped candy or colorful jacks.  If you use candy, the winner gets the pot!  Each player gets 3 “chips”.  The dealer gives each player a card.  The goal is to not be holding the lowest card at the end.  The first player decides if they want to keep their card or trade with the person on their left.  Each player takes a turn until the card is returned to the dealer who can decide to either keep the card or draw a new card.  If you are holding a King, you are protected and the play moves to the person on your left.  When everyone flips their card, the player holding the lowest card must throw a “chip” in the pot.  When your “chips” are gone, you are out.  The person holding the last chip(s) wins the game!
What family-friendly card games do you like to play?

Jennifer Cheek is the Public Relations Specialist at Boone County Public Library. A graduate from MSJ University focusing on English and Communications, she previously worked in Advertising/Media Buying and still continues as a freelancer.