Today we’re sharing some of our favorite games for preschoolers. I’m on a mission to start family or family+friends game nights in our house. It hasn’t happened yet, mainly because I’m (almost) all talk and no game (hah!). I haven’t invited anyone over, and I haven’t opened an adult game box in years. But behind the scenes, I’m cultivating a few young game-lovers and am slowly building my game-night momentum.
With a 4yo and 2yo in the house, we’re still slightly new to the kids’ game section. Fortunately, I think we’ve already found some great ones. Sometimes we play in the evenings as a family, and I love the together time. But the mom in me also loves that playing games can be used to reinforce other skills that they’re learning. Read on to see what I’m talking about.
This guide contains a few games that we’ve played and liked. If you’re looking for a last-minute gift for a 3-5 yo, I really don’t think you can go wrong with anything on our list. A few are card games, making them perfect stocking stuffers.
Below I’ll list each of the games and reasons why we like them. Some of these games are based off of famous book series, making it easy to pair the game with a book for “smarter” gift. As such, I include a few additional gift ideas that aren’t pictured in the image above.
While we enjoy all of the games listed below, two are absolute favorites in our house:
- Busytown’s Eye Found It – this a board game that falls into the cooperative games category (once you start looking for them, there are many cooperative games for this age level). The goal is to get all players to a picnic before Pig Will and Pig Won’t eat all of the food. Players take their own turns, but then there are Busytown Mysteries where they work together and move together towards the picnic. I love the game because the mysteries require an attention to detail – examining the cleverly illustrated game board. Our boys can get so wrapped up in the mysteries that sometimes we aren’t following the true rules of the game and instead just playing one mystery after another. You could easily pair this with any Busytown book, but Busy Busy Town and What do People Do All Day seem like two obvious choices.
- Cat in the Hat I can do that! : We have the card game version (as opposed to the larger game). I highly recommend this version for its simplicity. Players have to turn over three cards that will them give them a funny task to do. For example : hop to a window with the fish in your elbow or dance to the fridge with the fish between your knees. The kids love the physical challenge and they love laughing at the adults trying to keep up. You could pair this with any Dr. Suess book, obviously The Cat in the Hat, or The Things You Can Do that are Good for You.
The other games on our list are ones we enjoy, but they don’t create the same level of excitement among our crowd (both young and old).
- Go Fish : we love packing a card game for camping and beach trips, and right now, this is a fun one for our boys. We were playing with a basic card deck that just had sea animals, but we’ve recently upgraded to an alphabet Go Fish game, which is a fun way to reinforce letter identification. You could pair this with Shiver Me Letters, a pirate ABC book. fish + pirates
- Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks Game : a simple counting card game that helps to reinforce number ID and size. Could pair the cars and trucks game with the Busytown Cars and Trucks book!
- Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site matching game : it’s a memory game that uses images from the Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site book. An easy gift pair. The book is beautifully illustrated and our kids have loved it for years. There are so many ways to use the memory cards. With younger kids, you can practice matching the pictures without actually playing the game. And then as the kids get older, you can start playing, but with a smaller set of pairs, I think we started with as few as four pairs and slowly added more.
- Pizza Party : this is a super simple game. Roll the dice, match the pictures on the dice to the toppings on the pizza slice, and keep going until you make a pie. It’s perfect for kids because there’s no reading involved, just rolling and matching images. We’d probably pair this with Peg + Cat’s Pizza Problem.
What do you think? Any favorite games for younger kids? If so, we’d love to see your recommendations in the comments!