Preschool kids are the perfect age to start playing board games. While there were only a few games geared toward preschoolers, now there are many fantastic games for your preschooler to enjoy. There are so many games; it can be overwhelming to find the right one for your kid.
We have chosen some of our favorite board games to help develop a range of skills, all while being fun for your kids. Our top pick is The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game. This game lets players race against one another to get their acorns while developing strategy and fine motor skills.
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- Best Board Games for Preschoolers
- Best Overall – The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game
- Best for the Whole Family – Hoot Owl Hoot
- Best for Cooperative Play – Richard Scarry’s Busytown Eye Found It
- Best for Developing Vocabulary Skills – Pete The Cat and The Missing Cupcakes Game
- Best for Developing Reading Skills – Alphabet Slap Jack
- Best for Developing Math Skills – Snug as a Bug in a Rug
- Best for Big Groups – Zingo! Bingo with a Zing
- Best for Logic and Reasoning – CatOwl
- Best Matching Game – Heads Talk, Tails Walk
- Best Classic Game – Chutes and Ladders
- Best for Critical Thinking – Outfoxed!
- Best for Motor Skills Development – Pancake Pile-Up!
- Best for Teaching Strategy – Baby Dinosaur Rescue Board Game
- Best for Learning Colors – Raccoon Rumpus
- Best for Learning Patterns – Sophie’s Seashell Scramble
- What to Consider When Buying Boards Game for Preschoolers
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Board Games for Preschoolers
Best Overall – The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game
Our best overall pick for a preschool board game is Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel. The game is for ages three and up and two to four players. In this game, players use a spinner to choose colored acorns to complete their log. They use a squirrel squeezer to place their acorns, and the first to fill the log wins. This board game may remind you of the classic Hi Ho! Cherry-O, but we like this game because it is a little more complicated.
One of our favorite aspects of this game is the strategy involved. While it seems pretty straight-forward, when kids land on one of the special markers, like “lose an acorn” or “steal an acorn,” they will have to think a few steps ahead to make the best choice. The tweezers also encourage fine-motor skills and build strength in little hands that will soon be holding a pencil.
Best for the Whole Family – Hoot Owl Hoot
Hoot Owl Hoot is a fun board game for kids of all ages and adults to play together. It is for ages four and up and for two to four players. The rules are simple: draw color cards to move the owls closer to their home before daylight. If players draw a sun card, the clock moves forward. Players work together to get all of the owls across the game board to their home. Hoot Owl Hoot is a great pick for family game night. It’s easy enough for the little ones to play, yet challenging enough that older kids will enjoy it, too.
We love Hoot Owl Hoot for so many reasons. It is deceptively simple, but young players are learning many valuable skills. Kids develop color recognition and matching skills. As they get older, preschoolers begin to use strategy and critical thinking skills to decide which owls to move first. Since the game is cooperative, parents can guide and model strategy skills throughout the game.
Best for Cooperative Play – Richard Scarry’s Busytown Eye Found It
We love Richard Scarry’s Busytown Eye Found It for cooperative play because it is action-packed and encourages preschool kids to work together. The game is for ages four and up for one to six players, making it versatile for any size group. The game board is over six feet long. Players use a spinner, hidden object cards, a timer, and magnifying glasses to move their cars across Busytown and get to the picnic before the pigs eat all the food.
Busytown teaches kids the importance of working together through fun and interactive gameplay. Kids also work on matching, time management, and visual discrimination skills. We also love that this game can be played independently, so your child can enjoy it even if there aren’t others to play with every time.
Best for Developing Vocabulary Skills – Pete The Cat and The Missing Cupcakes Game
Pete the Cat and the Missing Cupcakes Game is our choice for a board game that builds memory skills. The board game features the wildly popular book character, Pete the Cat, and is based on the book Pete the Cat and the Missing Cupcakes. It is for ages three and up and is for two to four players. In this cooperative game, kids must make sounds, sing songs, and do other silly things to get all of Pete’s cupcakes back from Grumpy Toad.
We love this game because it is silly and engaging while teaching a wide range of skills. Kids will develop vocabulary, memory, and counting skills. This game is also great for shy kids, as it encourages them to act and sing in front of others. Kids also build social skills through cooperative play.
Best for Developing Reading Skills – Alphabet Slap Jack
Our top board game for kids who are learning to read is Alhabet Slap Jack. This game is designed for kids ages four and up and is for two to six players. The game contains a set of uppercase and lowercase letter cards that are smaller than regular playing cards so that smaller hands can use them easily. Kids can play four different card games: Alphabet Slap Jack, ABC Go Fish, Find My Letter Matching Game, or flashcards.
We like Alphabet Slap Jack because it offers opportunities for different types of play while reinforcing letter recognition and uppercase and lowercase letter matching. The card games can also be modified for older and younger kids. Younger kids can work on uppercase letter recognition while older kids can work on letter and sound matching.
Best for Developing Math Skills – Snug as a Bug in a Rug
Snug as a Bug in a Rug is our top choice for kids board games that develop math skills because it reinforces counting and shape recognition. It is made for ages three and up, and two to four kids can play. Kids work together to get all of the bugs under the rug before the stink bug shows up in the game. The game is based on spinning for attributes – color, shape, and size.
We like this game because it encourages math skills development like counting, shape recognition, and the concepts of big and small. The game can also be played with three levels of difficulty, so you can make it more challenging as your kid gets older. When the game is played at the highest level, kids have to attend to more than one attribute, an essential skill for both problem solving and algebraic thinking.
Best for Big Groups – Zingo! Bingo with a Zing
Zingo! Bingo with a Zing is our top choice for a board game for big groups. The game is designed for kids ages four and up and is for two to four players. This special edition has an extra card for a seventh player. In this game, kids play bingo using the picture and word matching cards. Bingo tiles are delivered through a special Zingo machine, and players race to get their card first.
We like this game because the tiles feature both a word and picture, reinforcing sight words with pre and early readers. Kids also have to use some manual dexterity to re-insert the tiles into the Zingo machine. Kids enjoy this game because it is fast-paced and competitive.
Best for Logic and Reasoning – CatOwl
Our top pick for a board game that develops logic and reasoning skills is CatOwl. It is designed for ages four and up and for two to five players. In the game, kids draw cards with pictures of enchanted owls and cats. They then roll a die and have to answer questions about the card based on attributes. The game can be adapted to three levels of difficulty so that kids in elementary school can play, too.
CatOwl teaches so many excellent skills beyond the basic board game. Kids have to discern attributes, use counting, mental math, and logic. Older kids add memory and more advanced math skills into the mix. This game is one that is fun for the whole family.
Best Matching Game – Heads Talk, Tails Walk
Heads Talk, Tails Walk is our top choice for the best board game that is fun and silly. It is made for ages three and up and is for two to five players. In this game, kids take turns trying to match animal tops and bottoms. The twist comes in when the heads and tails don’t match – kids have to act out an animal with characteristics from both the top and bottom cards. The player with the most matches wins.
Kids will love the silliness of this game, but there are some learning opportunities here as well. The game builds social skills and can help timid kids get more comfortable talking in front of others. Kids also develop matching skills and vocabulary.
Best Classic Game – Chutes and Ladders
Our top pick out of classic best board games for preschoolers is Chutes and Ladders. We are recommending the retro edition as it’s the one most parents likely played as children. The game is made for ages three and up and is for two to four players. The rules are simple: spin, move your marker and try to make it to the finish without getting sent back on one of the slides.
We chose this game because it is a classic that most of us played as kids. Kids will also develop counting skills and get a good lesson in the role luck can often play in board games.
Best for Critical Thinking – Outfoxed!
Outfoxed! is our top choice of games for preschoolers that develops critical thinking and problem-solving skills. This game is for older preschoolers, for 5 year olds and up, and is designed for two to four players. In this cooperative game, players have to find and analyze clues to eliminate the suspects and figure out which fox stole the pot pie.
We love Outfoxed! because kids have to use a lot of higher-order thinking skills to play this game. Kids practice critical thinking, problem-solving, and analysis skills to put all of the clues together and find the thief. Kids love using the evidence scanner to help them figure out the clues.
Best for Motor Skills Development – Pancake Pile-Up!
Our favorite board game for preschoolers that develops motor skills is Pancake Pile-Up! This game is for kids ages four and up and can be played by two to twelve players, although kids will have to play in teams to accommodate more than six players. In this game, players must complete a relay-style race to create a stack of pancakes, as shown on a card. Players use a spatula and take turns adding a pancake to the pile. The winner is the first to make the correct stack of pancakes and complete with a pat of butter.
Pancake Pile-Up is one of our favorites for many reasons. It gets kids up and moving, developing both fine and gross motor skills and hand eye coordination. Kids also build teamwork and sequencing skills, and the rules are easy enough for even younger little ones to enjoy.
Best for Teaching Strategy – Baby Dinosaur Rescue Board Game
One of the best board games for preschoolers to teach strategy is Baby Dinosaur Rescue Board Game. The game is for ages four and up and is designed for two to four players. In this cooperative game, players have to get all of the baby dinosaurs to the safe zone before the area is flooded by lava. Players turn over cards and move the dinosaurs closer to safety, but have to be careful of the lava cards, which bring the lava closer to the dinos.
We like this game because it encourages kids to use strategic thinking to choose which dinosaur is best to move. Kids can cooperate while also debating and defending their choices with others, all essential skills.
Best for Learning Colors – Raccoon Rumpus
Raccoon Rumpus is our best board game for kids that helps with learning colors. It is designed for ages three and up and two to four players. In this game, players roll two dice and have to find an outfit that matches the clothing type and color. The player with the most cards at the end of the game wins. Kids will love that when they land on the underwear, their raccoon loses all of its clothes.
This is an easy game toddlers can play as well as older preschoolers. Kids work on color and matching skills while developing visual discernment as they look for matching cards. Kids also have to pay attention to multiple attributes while playing.
Best for Learning Patterns – Sophie’s Seashell Scramble
One of the best board games for preschoolers to learn patterns is Sophie’ Seashell Scramble. It is designed for 3 year olds and up and is for two to four players. In this game, players spin and collect seashells based on pattern with a cute otter squeezer. But players have to be careful – if they land on the octopus, they have to put a seashell back.
We like this game because it introduces small children to patterns in a fun and engaging way. Kids also develop hand eye coordination while picking up and placing the seashells with the squeezer. The game is in pictures, and no reading is required. Kids only have to recognize and understand the difference between the numbers one and two.
What to Consider When Buying Boards Game for Preschoolers
While some games are suitable for preschoolers of all ages, some games are geared towards toddlers, while others are designed for older preschoolers. Be sure to check out the age range and consider your child’s ability level when choosing a game. Some games also have the benefit of growing with your child – you can make it more difficult as your child progresses.
While almost all board games build certain skills like taking turns and being a good sport, some games are designed to build specific skills. If your child struggles with a concept, such as counting, you can choose a game that incorporates counting as a fun way to build this skill. Ideally, you will create a library of board games that develop a variety of skills.
Some games are obviously designed for learning and may be tedious for young kids. Look for games with bright colors, fun characters, and simple design. Some games are repetitive, and while still fun, they may be the same each time you play. Other games offer a different experience with each new gameplay. Consider your child’s interests and look for the best board games that connect with those interests.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are board games good for preschoolers?
Board games teach kids a variety of skills while being packaged as fun toys that kids love. Kids learn many important social skills, such as taking turns, working together, asking questions, and being a good winner and loser. Board games are also a great way for kids to bond with family and friends.
Most board games also help kids develop academic skills. Many games involve the use of logic, strategy, memory, and critical thinking. Depending on the game, preschool kids can also reinforce certain concepts like counting, color recognition, shapes, matching, and pre-reading skills.
At what age can kids start playing board games?
Once your kid has the necessary communication skills and has an understanding of taking turns, he or she may be ready to play board games. Many simple games do not require reading or counting skills. Most board games will require players to understand basic concepts like colors or shapes. When choosing a game, check the age limit and carefully read the instructions to see if your child is ready to play it.
How do you teach preschoolers to play board games?
Teaching preschoolers to play board games requires some level of patience. Kids this age have short attention spans, so it may be best to start with simple games. Look for games that can be played in ten minutes or less and that have easy-to-follow instructions.
Before playing a game, choose a time when your child is well-rested and able to focus. Find a space where there are limited distractions. Make sure that both you and your child are having fun. If playing a game becomes stressful, you may want to put it away and try again in a few weeks. You always want to make sure that playing games is a positive experience for your child.
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Last update on 2021-01-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API