Why “board” games?
Now, not all toddler and preschooler games are technically “board” games, but I’m going to lump them all into that category if they come in a box and are something you can play together.
What are some reasons we should play board games with toddlers and preschoolers?
- Games are fun.
- It helps toddlers and preschoolers learn to wait their turn and practice taking turns.
- It’s inexpensive fun you can do almost anywhere.
- Toddlers and preschoolers can learn strategies for playing games.
- Board games are a good opportunity to practice following directions and going in a specific order.
- The pieces in board games help toddlers and preschoolers practice their fine motor skills without them realizing it.
- There’s usually counting, letters, numbers, colors, shapes, or something “learning” involved (or it’s easy to fit in, if desired).
- Playing board games as a family allows toddlers and preschoolers to be a part of the group and be equals and involved just like older siblings or the adults in the family.
- Playing board games helps kids learn to make choices and live with the consequences of those choices.
- Many board games promote cooperation and working together, and it doesn’t matter how old or young you are for this type of game!
- Toddlers and preschoolers can begin to learn about chance (such as rolling dice or spinning a spinner).
Okay, so that was a few more than the 7 reasons I originally started out with to play board games with your toddler or preschooler. But, as you can see, there’s lots of great learning opportunities in playing board games with little ones.
So, what are some of the games we like to play?
Which games get brought out over and over again in my house?
Cat in the Hat I Can Do That! This is one of our favorite games because we can all do it (it’s GREAT for toddlers!), and it gets kids moving and being a bit silly. This is a fun game to pull out on a rainy or snowy day when you need something to do, but you want it to be easy and help the kids get some of the wiggles out.
Giggle Wiggle game is another one of our favorites because it’s something we can all do (turn it off if the wiggling makes it too hard to place the balls) and it’s simple. But, this game does contain small balls, so make sure you keep track of them if you have little ones who put things in their mouths still. There’s also a few ways to play this one- just get any balls in the caterpillar’s hands, put them by color in rows or columns, assign a color to each person playing, etc. We tend to make up our own rules for the game, but we do stick to the “rules” we made up for each round we play this so that things stay fair and we practice following rules.
Connect 4 is an oldie, but a goodie. Eek! Does that phrase date me!? Anyhow, Connect 4 is good because it’s easy for you as the adult to help your child win, even by playing your own color. It’s great fine motor skills practice and many toddlers enjoy simply putting the pieces in the slots. Counting and simple patterns can be embedded into the game. Or, you can play Sweet Pea’s way, which is to take turns putting pieces of either color in and then count how many in a row you ended up with for each color. A simple game, but lots of fun with some strategy involved. And, when they’re older, the game pieces can double as counters for math if needed.
Another game that’s been around for a while (you know, just a few years since I was a kid. Ha!) and is fun is Jenga, which also helps toddlers and preschoolers practice taking turns, use some strategy and planning ahead, practice being careful (great hand-eye coordination!), and much more. It takes something many of them enjoy doing anyway, like playing with blocks, and takes it to a whole new level. If we didn’t already have this game, I’d probably get the colorful kids’ version, as there’s SO much more that can be done with it (stacking them in patterns, removing a certain color per person or taking out one color at a time… Oh, the possibilities!). And, the colors are really pretty.
This one might be a lot of fun in my house because it was one of my favorites as a kid, but I’ve seen my kids playing it with other people besides me and enjoying it, so I think it’s just a fun game. Plus, who doesn’t like the anticipation of when you’ll get a bite!? There are several versions of this Let’s Go Fishin’ game, and we also have the magnetic Melissa and Doug game, but my kids seem to really enjoy this game (and, it’s the cheapest version of it, and has held up for about 1.5 years now, which is good in my book).
Those are the Top 5 board games in my house. We also have several sets of “matching” games, which we play often too.
Other games that I’ve heard recommended time and time again for the 2-4 age range are…
So, there you have it. 10 great “board” games to play with your toddler or preschooler. Games that the whole family can enjoy (at least for a little bit!).
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What was your favorite board game as a child? Which game is your child’s favorite?
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