SoGAL’s Favorite Board Games for Little Ones
You might say I am slightly obsessed with games- in a good way of course! I LOVE games! I have wonderful memories of playing games as a child (and really, who am I kidding, I have tons of great memories of playing games as an adult too!) I’m talking good ol’ fashioned board games and family games. You won’t find any video games on this list. In fact, because we live in such a technology driven world, I find it not only fun but really important to teach our little ones to play games that encourage learning, socialization, creativity, problem solving, and motor skill development. This is a list of games that are my favorites for the littlest ones and the family. I am not paid for these recommendations and they are based solely on my own experiences and opinions. I am however paid if you purchase from any of my affiliate links listed below.
1. Jumpin’ Monkeys. This is a relatively inexpensive game that I stumbled upon years ago when looking for a game to bring with me to a day of babysitting. I had no idea it would be such a hit and continues to be today! This is one of the first games my 5 year old nephew goes to as well as other little visitors ranging in age from 3 to 10. This is a game that the adults can even get in to! You will need to assemble the 4 part tree (most 5 year olds can probably do it themselves) and then each player gets his/her own colored monkeys and catapult. You then take turns trying to get your monkey in the tree and are rewarded with bananas. This is a great exercise in dexterity and patience as each child will wait their turn. The manufacturer’s recommended age is 5 and up but I have had many a 3 year old play it with a little help and a few extra practice rounds to figure out proper catapult placement. This game can easily be adapted to playing with kids of different ages by switching up scenarios with each round; perhaps adults and older kids set up catapults further away. Sometimes the little ones really just prefer to take turns launching the monkeys and that’s fine too. I am on my second one at home just because the monkeys can tend to wander off but the tree and catapults are still in great condition.
2. The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel by Educational Insights. I love the entire line of Educational Insights games and recommend you check them all out. The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel is a great game to develop fine motor skills, matching, sorting, strategic thinking and hand-eye coordination. The manufacturer’s recommended age is 3 and up and it can be played with 2 to 4 players. Players spin the spinner and then use the squirrel tweezers to place the acorn in their log. The first player to fill their log wins! This game is also aesthetically pleasing and well made as I have found all of the Educational Insights toys to be. If you like the Sneaky Squirrel, also check out Hoppy Floppy’s Happy Hunt Game by Educational Insights; Perfect for Easter!
3. Feed the Woozle. I love that this game is not only silly and loads of fun for little ones, but it also gets them moving! This is also a top pick in our house. This game is the winner of multiple awards including The Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award. Children will have a blast while developing body awareness, fine and gross motor skills, counting, taking turns, and working cooperatively. Players will take turns feeding the Woozle face (a rally cute cardboard stand up) all kinds of silly food chips while performing “moves” assigned by the spinner (hula dance, bunny hop, etc.) The manufacturer’s recommended ages for this game is 3 to 6 years old and 2 to 5 players. I do have to say that around here, the age recommendation is more like 3 to 83!
4. Cat in the Hat I can do that! Game. This is another “active” game that we love because it gets the kids up and moving with silly, imaginative, fun-filled play! This game is a great way for kids to interact and gain confidence. The Manufacturer’s recommended ages for this one are ages 4 through 8 with 2 to 4 players. In this game, players select three different colored cards that together create fun challenges. The generalized game instructions make it easy for families to customize the rules according to the children’s abilities making it great game for families with children of varying ages.
5. Jenga! I can’t say enough about Jenga! As far as I am concerned, this is a must have in every home. This can be enjoyed on so many levels with so many ages! This is the classic block balancing game that keeps everyone on the edge of their seat! The manufacturer’s recommended ages are 6 to 99 on this one and that couldn’t be more true but even smaller hands will enjoy playing with the Jenga blocks in perhaps more imaginative ways. This is a game that can be played with just 1 person or many and is therefore another go-to in our house and perfect for family game night for the entire family! I highly recommend the “put away” package for easy clean up and organization, after all you don’t want to lose any pieces.
6. Card Games! Yet another ol’ fashioned favorite, cards are a great way to involve the entire family in game night. Break out a standard deck of cards and teach the kids the classics (Go Fish, Crazy Eights, etc.) or pick up a copy of The Ultimate Book of Family Card Games for some other ideas, chances are there are all kinds of different card games you’ve probably forgotten OR never even heard of. Did you ever happen to think you can even make matching games out of a standard deck of cards? You sure can! Many of our old-fashioned games are great for little ones 4 and up. Cards are a great way to encourage socialization, counting, and problem solving. Need more ideas? This book is great as it breaks it down according to Easy, Medium, and Hard. Recommended reading level is 8 and up but younger kids can be taught some of the games.
7. ThinkFun Roll and Play Board Game. This is a rare game in that it is actually recommended for children 18 months and up. So this makes a perfect First “Board” Game for your little one! I’d say the best ages for this game would be 1 to 4 and older if they are playing with little siblings or friends. This game is specifically designed for a toddler to play with a parent, older sibling or adult so it can make a great activity for an older sibling with their younger brother or sister. This game encourages creativity, active play, and gross motor skills! In this game, players roll the plush cube and identify the color that is face up. Then the player chooses a corresponding card of the same color which instructs him/her to perform a simple activity like “moo like a cow” or “make a happy face.”
8. Spin-A-Slice Pizza Matching Game by Melissa and Doug. I am also a he fan of Melissa and Doug toys and games. I find them to be very well made, fun, and educational. This Pizza Matching Game is a great game that the kids can actually play on their own. This is a 2 player only game and the recommended ages are 3 to 6 which I would say is definitely just right unless the second party is older and playing with the little one. Using logical thinking, matching, and imaginative play, players will race to see who can make their pizza first!