Family Board Games: Rummikub

Good executive functioning helps children succeed and one of the ways you can help children develop their executive function is to play board games.

Board Games - Rummikub

There’s a game I used to love playing as a child. It’s called Rummikub. It’s a little bit like Gin Rummy, but a lot more fun (at least, I think so). Recently, I introduced it to the boys with some modifications and the boys had fun – G1 more than G2 possibly because he grasped the concepts a lot faster.

Although the game comes with a stand to hide your tiles, we play open hand so that I can give G2 a little bit of a nudge if he can’t see a move. The goal is to get rid of all your tiles and the first player to do so is the winner.

The Rules of the Game

Everyone starts with 14 tiles and you can only put your tiles out onto the center of the board if you can form consecutive patterns in the same colour, like black 9, 10, 11, or same number in different colours, like yellow 1, blue 1, and black 1. Each group of tiles must contain a minimum of three tiles.

The first time you place a group of tiles onto the center of the board, they need to add up to a value of 30 points. We dispensed with this rule and made it allowable to enter the game as soon as the player has a group of three tiles either the same number in different colours, or a consecutive numbers in the same colour.

Once you have placed your first set of tiles out on the board, you are allowed to add tiles to any other set on the board as long as it follows the existing pattern. In the game below, any player may add a black 8 or 12 to the consecutive set, or a pink 1 to the group of ones.


The game gets interesting once there are more groups of tiles on the board. You are allowed to rearrange any or all of the tiles on the board so long as you end your turn with every tile on the board in a proper sequence. For example, in the game below, the player on the left adds the blue 6 and 7 to the blue sequence 3, 4, 5. This allows the player on the bottom to add the blue 8 onto the end of the sequence and remove the blue 3 to make a new blue sequence of 2, 3, 4. This leaves every tile on the board in a proper group of at least three tiles.

Rummykub Rummykub

Not only is Rummikub a fun game to play, it’s also great for the brain.

  • Working memory – while the move described above sounds simple enough, it does get a lot more complicated if you can see the patterns. It takes some serious working memory skills to rearrange the tiles in your head so that no tile is left behind on its own.
  • Focus – if you’re not paying attention to the moves on the board, you’ll miss opportunities to get rid of your tiles.

It’s really not hard to see how a game like this can strengthen executive functioning. Once G2 is a pro at this, we’ll upgrade to Mah Jong!


Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of (a website on parenting, education, child development) and (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

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