One of the simplest ways to spend time with your children and family is to play games! My husband comes from a family that owned and played dozens of games growing up. Even now, at our yearly reunion with his side of the family, games are a staple up in the mountains with no Wi-Fi or TV! My family had a solid rotation of a few games, and we enjoyed playing them. Debating if that word just played in Scrabble was really an actual word, and other good memories come to mind when I think of playing games during my childhood.
Now, with kids of my own, we are starting to introduce them to more and more games. For many years, they were so young that playing organized games didn’t often cross my mind. But now, with an almost-seven year old and a three-and-a-half year old, games are more of an option. Below are what I’ve found to be great games for toddlers and preschoolers, and are a perfect way to get in some one-on-one time, family bonding, lessons on taking turns and being a good sport, and just plain fun!
5 Games for Toddlers
Memory. This is a simple game that come in so many different versions. Animals, movie characters, you name it! Kids at this age can often point out two pictures that are the same, so this is a fun, easy game for your toddler!
UNO. Again, this is an easy game of matching. A toddler can match colors and numbers to the face-up card. This is also a great game to teach number recognition! Playing on a team or finding something to help them hold their cards make this game even easier for a little one.
Mouse Trap. This is a classic from my childhood. We just introduced it to my kids and it is so fun! Toddlers can roll dice, move their game piece, and help put the next piece of the mouse trap on the board.
These last two are not board games or card games, but continue to be favorites for my kiddos.
I Spy. Whether it’s through an “I Spy!” book or just playing “I spy with my little eye…” this is a great game for toddlers. Not only does it teach them more awareness of their surroundings, they are often hilarious when they play! My three-year-old loves to say, “Let’s play I spy with my little eye! Okay, I’ll go first!” He then proceeds to say, “I spy (insert colored object),” and then adds, “Oh yeah, it’s (insert colored object),” laughing hysterically at himself.
Hot/Cold. My kids love to play this game. Find any small toy or stuffed animal and have someone hide it. The others look for it while the hider says “hot” or “cold.” So simple, but my kids could play this for hours.
5 Games for Preschoolers
Yahtzee. This game is a classic! I’ll be honest, I thought it would be too difficult for a five or six year old, but it really isn’t. It takes practice knowing which option to choose based on how you roll the dice, but that’s part of the fun!
Othello. This game is simple to play; the only action is turning over pieces, but it starts to introduce strategy and becomes very fun! You would be surprised how strategic a preschooler can be while playing this game.
Quirkle. Fun and brightly colored, this is a perfect game for preschoolers to practice matching and following a few more complex rules. They may need reminders of the rules throughout the game, but they pick it up pretty quickly!
Mancala. This is another simple, yet engaging game for preschoolers. The directions are simple, but it also introduces strategy. It’s also a quick game the can be played for a few minutes before bedtime or some other special one-on-one time.
Tenzi. This game made entirely of dice-rolling has dozens of different play options. The basic version is each player gets 10 dice and everyone rolls at the same time, trying to get 10 of one number. Then there are many other different ways to play, such as rolling all even numbers or rolling with only one hand.