15 Best Board Games for Toddlers and Preschoolers
As we head into the longest months of what may be the longest winter of our lives, we’re all bracing ourselves for a LOT of time at home. In our family, that means we’re playing more board games and making more puzzles than we ever have before.
My youngest is three, so we’re always on the lookout for board games that are appropriate for toddlers and actually fun for the rest of us. My older children are six and eight, and have moved past many of the typical board games aimed at toddlers and preschoolers. Finding games that are fun for everyone in the family can be a challenge.
I’ve rounded up a collection of 15 board games for toddlers and preschoolers that are fun for the entire family. These are the games that have been favourites in our house for years, with a few new additions that have made their way onto the list since Christmas.
1. The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game
The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game is one of our favourite first board games for toddlers. The premise of the game is simple – spin the spinner, and then follow the instructions, with the goal of filling your tree stump with each colour of acorn. There are some extra twists that make the game fun (Steal other people’s acorns! Watch out for a big gust of wind that will blow all of your acorns away!). The game works fine motor skills, colour matching, and allows children to practice taking turns.
The age range on the box is 3+, but my children started playing as young as two (although it took some time to become adept with the squirrel tongs). Be aware that the acorn pieces are small, so could be a choking hazard for younger children. The game can be played by 2-4 players, and the pieces are very high quality. My only criticism is the tree stumps are made of cardboard (albeit high-quality cardboard), so they won’t stand up to being stepped on by a child – but that may only be an issue in my house!
Memory is a humbling game to play with a toddler or preschooler. I’m always shocked by my kids’ ability to beat Mom and Dad from a very young age!
Most memory games indicate that they are for ages 3+, but my kids usually got the hang of it as older two-year-olds. You can easily adjust the difficulty of the game by removing or adding pairs to your deck.
3. Yeti in My Spaghetti
Yeti in My Spaghetti is a fun game, very similar to Kerplunk that you may remember playing as a child. The yeti sits atop a pile of spaghetti set up on top of the bowl. Players take turns removing pieces of spaghetti, being careful not to let the yeti fall. Play is quick, with games lasting less than 5 minutes.
The game can be played by two or more players. While the age range on the box is 4+, this one is easily played by a two-year-old. The game helps children develop fine motor skills, and practice taking turns.
4. Don’t Break the Ice
Don’t Break the Ice is a favourite in our house – especially with my younger two. Phillip the penguin sits atop a sheet of ice blocks. Players take turns tapping out ice blocks, being careful not to knock Phillip into the water. I will warn you right off the bat that you will spend a LOT of time setting this game up – my kids weren’t able to do this on their own until age 5-6.
The recommended age range for this one is 3+, but like the games above, my daughter was able to play this at two. It can be played with two or more players, although when our family of five plays we don’t get many turns each before Phillip inevitably ends up in the water!
5. Spot It!
Spot it! is an excellent, simple game, which can be enjoyed by a variety of ages. We have an alphabet version, which unfortunately looks to be discontinued, but they’re all very similar. Players try to be the first to spot the matching symbol between two cards. It’s a compact game with a sturdy tin, which makes it a perfect game to take on the go.
Age ranges for Spot It! vary. I’ve linked the Jr. version above, which is for ages 4+. My children were able to play around age three, and it’s easy to slow things down for younger players.
6. Go Fish!
Go Fish! is the perfect first card game for toddlers. The rules are simple, and a kid-friendly deck of cards like the one I’ve linked here makes it easy for kids to identify different cards.
My kids got the hang of Go Fish! around age three, with the biggest challenge being holding the cards in their hands. I HIGHLY recommend this to help little hands hold playing cards.
Related: 16 Best Outdoor Toys for Toddlers
7. Picture Charades
This brilliantly simple charades game makes it easy for little kids to play charades with the rest of the family. Players spin a spinner, then draw a card in the selected category. Each card has a picture, which the actor must act out for the remaining players to guess.
The recommended age for this game is 4+, which in my experience is fairly accurate. My three-year-old (who’s a few months shy of four) is just beginning to get the hang of it, and prefers cards from the animal category. With pictures of items which are easily identifiable, but challenging to act out (like frying pan, carrot, and leaf) the whole family will be entertained and put their acting skills to the test.
Zingo! is a great game that all three of my kids can play independently. Much like classic bingo, the objective is to be the first to cover all of the spaces on your Zingo! card with the corresponding tiles. The Zingo! zinger is fun to operate, and the words and images on the Zingo! card make it suitable for pre-readers and readers alike.
Recommended age for this game is 4+, but my three-year-old is able to play on her own. However, since the tiles go to the player who calls for it first, she does have a hard time keeping up with the pace set by her older brothers. We have the classic version of Zingo!, but for older kids there’s also a number version, sight word version, and word builder version.
9. Race to the Treasure
Race to the Treasure is a relatively new addition to our board game collection, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s a cooperative game, where all players must work together to beat the ogre to the treasure. Winning is far from guaranteed, and older players will enjoy strategizing to build the best path to the treasure. This is one of those rare board games that’s suitable for toddlers and truly fun for the entire family.
Suggested age range for this game is 5+, but in my experience it’s perfect for younger children too. I can’t speak to children younger than three, but my three-year-old is quite capable of playing this with her older brothers, without assistance from Mom and Dad. Although the box indicates that this is suitable for 2-4 players, we often play as a family of five – there’s no reason that it can’t be played by a larger group.
Related: 25+ Best Toys for Two-Year-Olds
10. Hoot Owl Hoot!
Hoot Owl Hoot! is another fantastic cooperative game from Peaceable Kingdom. We bought this for our daughter at Christmas after enjoying Race to the Treasure so much. Similar to Race to the Treasure, players must work together – this time to get all of the baby owls back to the nest before the sun comes up. The strategy for this game is more complicated, which helps keep older players engaged. The quality of these Peaceable Kingdom games is impressive, and although we haven’t had them long, I’m confident that they’ll withstand years of play from our kids.
Recommended age for Hoot Owl Hoot! is 4+, which I think is accurate. My daughter has fun playing it right now at almost four, but hasn’t quite grasped the strategy that the rest of us are deploying. Similar to Race to the Treasure, although the box indicates it’s for 2-4 players, it can certainly be played by a larger group.
11. Sequence for Kids
We’ve loved Sequence for years, so were thrilled to discover Sequence for Kids. The objective of this game is to play the cards in your hands, placing your token on the corresponding animal on the board. The first player to get four in a row wins.
The suggested age range for this game is 3 to 6, but I think that’s on the young side. My three-year-old is able to match her cards to the characters, but isn’t yet able to strategize in order to play effectively and has difficulty recognizing the diagonal lines. In my experience, it’s more suitable for ages 4+. The game can be played by 2-4 players.
12. Guess Who?
Guess Who? is a classic that many of us will remember playing as children. It’s going to be too difficult for most toddlers, but older preschoolers will likely get the hang of it. It’s recommended for ages 6+, but my younger son started playing around age 4-5.
13. Connect 4
Connect 4 is another classic that many of us grew up playing. Toddlers may not quite grasp the rules, but will have fun dropping the pieces into the grid. Although it’s indicated as ages 6+, in my experience this is another one that older preschoolers will be able to pick up quickly.
14. Hungry Hungry Hippos
I wrestled with whether to include this one because, quite frankly, it drives me crazy. However, kids love it, so it earns its spot on the list. I’d recommend this one only if your child has other kids to play it with – otherwise it’s going to get old very quickly!
Hungry Hungry Hippos is suggested for ages 4+, but works for young toddlers as well. It does use marbles, so watch out for the choking hazard if your child is likely to put small items in their mouth.
Finally, Jenga is another classic game that’s perfect for mixed age groups. While toddlers may lack the manual dexterity to play the game as intended, they will be entertained by building and knocking over their wooden block creations.
The suggested age range for Jenga is 6+, but in my experience older preschoolers (ages 4-5) will get the hang of it quickly.
Did I miss one of your favourite board games for toddlers or preschoolers? If you have a favourite I haven’t included, let me know in the comments!