Board games are a wonderful way for kids of all ages to learn skills such as taking turns, social-emotional development, increased vocabulary, and following directions. Did you know that there are board games for toddlers as young as one? It’s true! Children can begin to learn to take turns and play games with the guidance of an adult even at that age.
What a fun way for kids to develop some of those skills that they can bring with them to daycare, preschool, the park, or anywhere they are interacting with other people!
Most board games for toddlers are short, less than 15 minutes. Some take only 5-10 minutes to play. This is appropriate for little ones who are just learning to concentrate on tasks for short periods of time.
Of course, playing board games for toddlers may look different than you’d expect. They may not follow all the rules or have the attention span needed to complete the game, and that’s okay. They are enjoying playing either way, and they are interacting with others while they learn.
I’ve grouped the games into categories according to the manufacturer’s recommended age. However, most of these games are appropriate for several age groups. They can all be enjoyed by children older, of course. But many of the games listed for older children can also be played by younger ones. They may be in that age group because they contain small parts or could be difficult for younger ones to follow. If that’s the case, just adapt it to fit your child’s needs. You know your toddler best, so use your judgment when choosing board games for toddlers.
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Board Games For 1 Year Olds
Board games for toddlers age one are super simple, using movement and interaction to help little ones learn motor skills, vocabulary, and following directions. So fun!
Choose a card matching the color that comes up when you roll the soft, plush cube. Perform the activity on the card, such as counting, making animal sounds, or identifying body parts. Little ones practice early learning skills while being physically active. Parents have rated this game an impressive 4.8 out of 5 stars!
ThinkFun Move and Groove Dance Game
Like Roll and Play, players choose a card matching the color that comes up when they roll the plush cube. They perform the activity on the card, such as hopping, dancing, or jumping jacks. This game is a great way for little ones to be active while learning balance, coordination, and gross motor skills.
This is a great first memory game, with a twist. Rather than finding an exact match, players seek for similar items, such as those that are the same color. Wonderful way build both vocabulary and memory skills! Ideas are included for many different ways to play. Cards are big, so children have to be actively moving around to play. This game is appropriate for those as young as one, but could be enjoyed by toddlers of any age.
Board Games For 2 Year Olds
Board games for toddlers age two provide much fun for little ones. Two year olds are a great age for playing simple board games. They teach little ones about taking turns and following rules while building vocabulary and social skills. Many of the games are short, less than 10 minutes, and can be easily adapted to fit the needs and level of each child.
This is a great cognitive challenge for little ones as they are encouraged to match their blocks to fit the picture on each card. Children learn such terms as above/below, inside/outside, and more. Includes 60 challenges, increasing in difficulty.
Shutterfly Memory Game
With Shutterfly, you can create your own memory matching game for your child. I love this so much! I got one for my girls last Christmas and they love it! They choose it often at game time.
Each set comes with 24 cards, 12 different pictures that each have a pair. There are over 30 different designs to choose from. Some have a few preprinted cards and you get to fill in the others with your own pics. Others have all blank cards, so you can choose your favorite 12 photos for the set.
I chose a set with all blank cards. Since there are eight people in our family, there is one card for each person with their name on it, then a card with sisters, brothers, parents, and family. I love that the girls can learn to recognize their family members’ names as well as the family words used on the other cards.
I am really impressed with the quality too. The cards are every bit as sturdy as the usual memory games, but they’re bigger, which makes them even better for little ones. They come nicely stacked into a box just the size of the cards.
Click the link below to get 25% off your Shutterfly order through 12/31/19. While you’re there, maybe you want to order your Christmas cards as well!
Here is another unique matching game that little ones would enjoy. The sturdy cards can be used on the floor or outside. This game would definitely require Toddlers to move around while turning over cards to find matches. I love anything that makes them get active! The set includes 24 pairs of cards, so you could pare it down for little ones.
Oriental Trading has other giant backyard board games too, that could be enjoyed by all ages. Check those out while you’re there!
My Very First Games by Haba is a fantastic collection of board games for toddlers. They are high quality games with wooden parts that will last. They include simple rules, sturdy materials, and chunky dice, making them appropriate for ages two and older. However, some of them do contain small parts, so use your discretion or supervise little ones during play. There are too many to mention here, but these are a few of their most popular games:
This is a simplified version of their classic game, Orchard. Players cooperate together to pick fruit from the tree before a raven reaches the end of the path. Little ones practice colors and counting while playing this game.
Players have to help the game’s character tidy up his room by putting everything away in the proper place. Develops problem-solving skills and (hopefully!) encourages little ones to think about how they tidy up their own space as well.
Here Fishy Fishy
A small fishing rod with a magnetic worm picks up fish. Children can engage in free play with the fish and rod or play the game. Players roll a die and try to catch the fish that comes up.
Teddy’s Colors and Shapes
As the name suggests, this is a great game to teach little ones colors and shapes. Based on the color they roll on the die, they choose a shape and find where it fits on a picture card.
During this game, Hannah Honeybee gathers nectar to bring back to the hive as her friends help to turn the nectar into honey. Isn’t this a “sweet” way to teach little ones about how bees make honey? I love it!
This is a simplified version of their classic game with the same name. Children stack chunky wooden animals, getting a reward each time they add an animal without the stack falling over. Of course, they can also free play with the animals, building motor skills and imagination.
Go Go Little Penguin
In this game, baby penguins and their mommies cross the “water” on stones and logs in order to find fish. Teaches little ones to count and move pieces on a game board.
The following Peaceable Kingdom games are another wonderful collection of board games for toddlers. They are designed for the littlest learners to have fun learning the basics of board games while playing and bonding with the grown-ups in their lives. They have simple rules that can be followed (or not!) and come with sturdy boards or cards that can withstand the play of a toddler.
This game combines two favorite activities of little ones: stacking blocks and finding hidden objects. Players can try to find the bear someone else has hidden, stack the blocks to build towers, or simply talk about the objects in the rooms pictured on each block.
Players look at each recipe card and make soup with a squirrel by adding the proper number of each ingredient. Toddlers lean counting, pretend play, and following directions while playing this game.
Building puzzle trains teaches color recognition and problem solving. Children place a wooden cargo tile into each car after it is added to the train.
As players roll a die and move bunny along a game board, they make choices about bunny’s bedtime. This is a great way for parents and children to play together and build problem-solving skills.
Monkey Around Game
Board Games For 3 Year Olds
Board games for toddlers age three abound, as you can imagine. At that age, they are learning to follow more detailed directions, and their attention span has increased so they can play games for longer than five or ten minutes. Of course, your two year old can enjoy playing and learning with these board games for toddlers as well. This is especially true if your two year old has been playing board games with you for a while and is ready for the next level.
The Spot It games are wildly popular. Players try to be the first to spot the matching animals on two different playing cards. With several different ways to play, little ones can have fun at any level. And this would be great to put In a purse or diaper bag to pull out and look at anytime you have some waiting time.
There are multiple Spot It games, all with the same idea. The original Spot It game is more appropriate for older kids, but there are several that have been adapted to fit younger ones: Spot It Jr Animals, Spot It Numbers and Shapes, and a host of character cards including Frozen and Finding Dory.
This game combines two of my girls’ favorite things: Busytown Mysteries (it’s a super cute TV show on Amazon–check it out if you haven’t heard of it!) and I spy games. Players race around town solving mysteries on a game board that is more than six feet long. Fun way to build teamwork, matching skills, and confidence while playing with familiar characters.
This memory matching game includes an extra challenge–the game moves as you try to find the colors and shapes to match your own. This simple game is great for little ones of all ages! Building memory and color matching skills, I’m certain it could be easily understood by those younger than three.
This game is great fun for the three year old crowd! Players find an acorn to match the color they’ve spun on the spinner, then place the acorn on their log. Little ones learn colors, strategy, and fine motor skills.
Players work together in this game to get the bugs all snug under the rug, based on the color they’ve spun on the spinner. Choose from three levels of play, based on what’s appropriate for your toddler.
My girls just got this game from their cousins, and I love it. With different levels of play, they can both play and learn from it. The three year old can match the words on the cards to the letters on the cubes to spell the words. Her four year old sister can cover the letters on each card and try to sound out the word in the picture, then check to see if she’s right.
My friend Christi at Dwelling Well Mom is a fellow boy mom. (Though I am a boy and girl mom now, I was a boy only mom for 20 years!) Christi’s family loves game night, and she knows what’s up when it comes to board games. Check out some of her favorites:
Who doesn’t love a good game of bingo? From young to old, this classic game is a must have in your game stash. And it’s a wonderful way to practice the fine art of listening. This edition is great for your Thomas the Tank Engine fans. Roll the dice and find the picture on your card that matches.
This game is a fun way to change up the memory games children love. You can adapt it to fit any age, by adding as many pieces to the paddle as you wish. Kids love shaking the mixer to mix up the tokens. Then after one is removed, try to be the first one to discover which one it missing. Easily adapted to fit the age and ability of your child.
Board Games For 4 Year Olds
I added these because, though the manufacturer recommendation is for ages four and up, they can be fantastic board games for toddlers as well.
This game is a favorite at our house, and my little ones enjoyed it as early as age two (with supervision of course, because the tokens are small enough to be a choking hazard). Kids love sliding the zinger to see what pictures will appear. When you find one that matches your card, be the first to grab it.
What kid doesn’t love stuffed animals? In this super cute game, they get to combine them with a board game for ultimate fun. Players lead five different plush friends on an adventure, until the zookeeper notices they’re missing. Then, they quickly bring them back to their proper place on the zoo mat. Little ones learn colors, details, and words such as over/under, in front/behind.
Here are a few more recommendations from Christi at Dwelling Well Mom:
From what Christi says, this game is great fun for ALL ages:
“I will never forget the first time we played this game. Well, to be honest, I didn’t play initially. I couldn’t resist recording the laughs as my boys and my parents threw this little potato around our kitchen. My youngest was determined to learn how to catch JUST so he could play this game with his big brother and grandparents. And when the time was up, and the AAAHHH’s erupted, so did the smiles and laughter.”
Christi says she and her husband actually love the controlled chaos of this game. (Not something you hear often from a boy mom!) Pancakes are placed all over the room, and one person calls while another runs around to try to find the correct pieces to build the pancakes. A great way to get out all that excess energy!
I love board games for families, and it’s so fun that there are so many board games for toddlers! When our boys were young, we got them a new game every year for Christmas. We’ve built up quite a collection! They’ve spent hours playing together, bonding with one another, building relationships and learning cooperation, all while having fun.
I certainly plan to do the same with the girls, and this list has given me a good place to start. I’ve already chosen a few for this year.
What are your favorite board games for toddlers? Do you have any of the games listed here? What would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments!
If you enjoyed this gift guide and want more, check out the others in this series.
Start here with the ultimate guide: How to Choose the Best Gifts for Toddlers