Best Board Games for Toddlers
It is a rainy day. You’ve always hated them. Nothing to do, all your crayons are nothing but nubs and each drawing just isn’t what you want to do. While you wait for the rain to stop, a glossy box is set in front of you.
Running your fingers over the edges of the box and pulling the lid up and off, you see several mystery pieces and a big board. Unfolding it, you look at it joyously, colorful squares illuminating your eyes.
If you remember this very moment in your life, you were as we are at bestboardgameslist; a board game lover.
There are many obstacles that parents run into when choosing a game for their toddler: choking hazards with some of the small pieces that games come with; easy to understand directions for both parents to teach their children; educational value; and whether the child is at the stage where they will understand the game.
As always we’ve broken down our list followed by our recommendations for the best board games for toddlers into 3 subcategories
Best Board Games for 3 year olds
Best Board Games for 4 year olds
Best Board Games for 5 year olds
Best Board Game for 3 Year Olds – Candy Land:
candylandThis is by far one of my favorite games that I played as a child. The title and box lid alone hooked me as well as making me wish it were Halloween right then and there. As a colored gingerbread man (I always chose red), you took a journey through Candy Land to get to the castle at the end by matching colors and symbols.
There were some areas that were tricky: licorice traps were the worst, having to have a double of the color that the trap occupied in order to advance was something that kept me in suspense for a few turns; there were also times when I’d be close to the end of the game and ended up going backwards in the game because I drew a symbol card that placed me farther back on the track (when I played with my sister, this was an optional rule, but still…not cool!)
Between myself and my family, it was always an anxious race to the top. There were times when my sister and I wanted to further challenge ourselves. We’d make up variances along the way; no shortcuts (removing gumdrop pass and rainbow trail), extra sticky licorice (it took 3 color cards to get out), no pinks (we’d remove all the pink cards from the deck, using only the colored cards to journey with).
I, being the older sibling (I have 3 ½ years on my sister), would create the variances, and she’d happily play along with me. As a game developer, if you have children holding onto a years beyond the age range of a game it has to mean something. And parents agree why its one of the best board games for 3 year olds by rating this game a 4 star rating with over 400 reviews on amazon.
Best Board Game for 4 Year Olds – Spot It Jr:
SpotItjrI had gone to a games store to purchase games for a party. Being the sucker for packaging that I am, I overlooked the adult version of Spot It mostly because it was so simply packaged. The store associate managed to sweet talk me into purchasing the adult version of Spot It. He provided a demonstration of the game, where you simply draw two cards, set them face up, then choose what is common on both of them.
It is so simple, but as you get more people, you are racing to see who would recognize the similarities first. I had no idea what was in store until I saw my friends (all of us are in our mid-30s) jumping and pointing and making up new creatures was a blast.
While I played, I wondered what other versions of the game there were. I was thrilled to see that there was a children’s version of this game, mostly because it is so easy and fun to play. In the children’s version, they use various themes: animals, ABCs, and the movie Frozen for example. The tricky part of this game is that not only do you have to identify what the similarity on each card combination is, but the sizes of the item will be different sizes.
This is an ideal game for 4 year olds because it offers a different combination of results with each game but it also helps with visual perception. This game has won over so many fans both young and old (4 ½ star review and over 450 reviews for the Spot It Jr. Animals version alone on amazon that it could easily be considered a future classic game.
Best Board Game for 5 Year Olds – Hoot Owl Hoot!:
HootOwlWith cooperative games on the rise, Hoot Owl Hoot! is an award winning board game where a group of players strategize on how to get a group of owls from their night adventures to their nest before the sun rises. Unlike Candy Land where you are on a race, each player receives cards and plays with the group to determine what the best route for each of the owls to take. On top of which, this game implements a time – with every sun card drawn, a sun token is moved from the moon side of the board to the sun side, indicating that the sun is rising and the team may run out of time.
There are so many benefits to this game, that it is hard to pinpoint one aspect that is the best. There is the fact that it is cooperative, where there isn’t one winner or one loser, either everyone loses or everyone wins. This makes the sting of losing a little easier to swallow.
Believe it or not, this game also creates brainstorming sessions, which be utilized many times in adulthood. Each player contributes their ideas on how to move their owls on a path and when someone else’s idea is chosen, the player can take solace in that their ideas will either be used in the future or have been used already. By empowering the players to decide the fate of these little birds, their self-esteem is bolstered and everyone feels better at the end of the game, win or lose.
In addition to the awards mentioned above, Hoot Owl Hoot! has received one of the best awards of all, a 5 star rating on Amazon by over 200 parents who have bought this game for their child.
Sometimes the best board games for toddlers are old favorites, but it is fun to see what else there is to offer. Don’t get too nostalgic, your kids may look at you funny!