Best Board Games For Preschoolers
Posted on 12 May, 2020 by Sarah Hart
I’ve written this blog about board games for preschoolers because, it’s tough to find games that the younger members of the family can join in with. As we approach the 3rd month of our lockdown, I think families have probably now settled in to a new “norm.” Board games have always featured a lot in my own family’s lives but maybe more so over the last few weeks! Board games are great way for the whole family to come together and I use it to encourage my two older children off screens.
The most interesting board games for parents to play are usually ones that are suitable for older children. These usually involve strategy skills that mean the little ones in your family may not be able join in. I will write a blog for families with older children on the best games that we enjoy playing in the Hart household. In the meantime, here’s a little blog about the best board games for preschoolers.
Board games suitable age 3-5
Catch & Count – by Orchard Toys. A perfect board game for preschoolers to practise number recognition and counting. Spin the octopus spinner, count the number of bubbles and collect the matching cards on your fish board. However, if you turn over a shark card, it will eat all of your fish and you’ll have to start again! Therefore great for teaching children about patience too! Orchard Toys make many great board games for preschoolers.
Zingo Bingo – by Think Fun. Our family have enjoyed lots of Think Fun games over the years – many suit older primary age children. But this little gem will suit your preschoolers with simple vocabulary for them to inadvertently practise reading! They’ll have great fun with the dispenser too! Oh and if you are encouraging your children to learn another language from an early age, there’s a bi-lingual game version you can buy.
Deep Dark Wood Game – by Ravensburger UK – a board game based on the much-loved Gruffalo….what’s not to like?! A simple dice game to move your mouse round the board and help him get home safely. Your little ones will practise memory skills, trying tor remember who is hidden under the trees – the Gruffalo will help scare away the hungry animals and so help your mouse to get home.
Smelly Wellies – by Orchard Toys – a “pairs” game, great for memory skills. We all used to enjoy playing this game with my niece!
Tic Tac Toe (or Nought and Crosses) – this beautiful wooden edition is perfect for younger children who may not have the fine motor skills for drawing their own noughts or crosses on paper. This set is also a nice size for travelling with.
Dinosaur Dominoes – by Orchard Toys – well, actually any dominoes set is perfect as a board game for preschoolers – but this version is lovely for any dinosaur loving fan!
Giant Snakes and Ladders Jigsaw & Game – by Galt. Let them build the jigsaw puzzle first, then all join in for a family game of snakes and ladders. Younger children may need help in understanding which way to move up the board (it can be confusing to children who can’t count high enough, as to which way to go at the end of a row, or after moving up a ladder). But the large squares are ideal for younger players.
Monster Bingo – by Orchard Toys. A bingo game to practise shape and colour matching with two different ways to play.
Card Games for ages 3-5
Heads Talk, Tails Walk – by Think Fun. A game of silly noises and funny movements. You have to try to match hidden head tiles to the correct body tiles. If the head and body don’t match, then silliness follows! Players walk and talk like the mismatched tiles. Lots of fun for little ones.
Spot It! – by Blue Orange – this is the Disney Jack the Pirate edition. I nearly posted the very similar game of Dobble Kids, but currently, when I read the reviews, Amazon only seem to be selling this game with German instructions! We’ve loved playing Dobble with our children and so any of these types of games will provide similar amounts of fun….the children’s Dobble Kids version or Spot It! are just more basic for younger children. Each card has a series of pictures that when you turn over, each player must try and find a matching picture on another card. There are 3 different mini games you can play from Spot It!
Go Fish Card Game – by House of Marbles. A really simple game that most 3-5 year olds can manage. The aim of the game is to collect all three of the same “fishy” themed cards. So you can ask an opponent “Have you got a crab?” and they must give you a crab card if they have one. Otherwise, they reply “Go fish” if they haven’t. As your children grow up, this game can still be played but as a more grown up version using playing cards.
What makes for good games for preschoolers?
Having a good selection of good old-fashioned board games always helps on a rainy day when the kids have exhausted screen-time and the bickering has started! You won’t go wrong with the above selection! However, some things to look for when choosing the right games for your younger players include:
Matching and Recognition Games – Most 3 year olds can’t read yet, so these games are ideal for younger players.
Teamwork – Games that have kids work together can help encourage teamwork and nourish better social skills. A few games I looked at promoted lots of competition. Not always bad BUT, if you are looking for a fun game, it may end your relaxing Sunday afternoon! If it’s too competitive, you may end up with tears and tantrums. It often depends on the nature of your child. If you have a very competitive child in your family, try to incorporate a mixture of games that allow them to work together as a team and against each other occasionally. As parents, we can help teach them the importance of good sportsmanship.
Robust pieces – Younger children benefit from using games that have robust pieces. There’s no pleasure to be gained from a games that has pieces that will easily break, small bits that can get lost easily, or cards that are too flimsy and will bend / tear easily. Look for larger, chunky pieces that will last the test of time.
Simplicity – If the game takes longer than 3 minutes to read the instructions for, it’s too complicated for younger minds! Stick with simple concepts that your younger players will grasp.
Hope this blog has provided you with plenty of ideas for board games for preschoolers – but do pop in the comments if I’ve missed a good game that’s worthy of a mention.
Enjoy and have fun playing games with your family!