The Best Board Games For Preschoolers

There are few things in this world that can hold my preschooler’s attention for very long. Picking at her food. Gluing shapes to paper. And finally, playing a good, old fashioned board game. Not only does playing a board game teach preschoolers about taking turns and how to be a good sport when losing, but it also gives them lasting memories to look back on before going off to school.

In the world of shuttling our kids to recreational activities and play dates, bonding time is limited and we need to take full advantage. The following is a list of board games that our three year old loves to play, and that will not cause you to have the sudden urge to bash your heads against the wall repeatedly.

I hope that your family enjoys them as much as we do!

 

Hungry, Hungry Hippos

 

games hungry hippos

Basics: Who doesn’t know how to play Hungry, Hungry Hippos!? Up to 4 players try to catch as many marbles as possible in their hippos mouth. First player to get the golden marble, wins!

Benefits:

  • Your preschooler can learn to count everyone’s marbles and decide who has the most
  • Teaches the concept of winning and losing
  • Everyone has fun gobbling up marbles

Limitations: Hippos at times can get stuck, and you may need to deal with a grumpy, sore-losing 3 year old.

Tip: If the golden marble goes missing, your preschooler is holding it hostage. Check pockets.

Mouse Trap

 

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Basics: Up to 3 players go around the board with their mice until a player wins by landing on the “boot”, while another player’s mouse is under the trap. The winner then gets to set off the trap and a net lands on the loser.

Benefits: 

  • Kids of all ages get excited when they get to set off the trap
  • Teaches cause and effect and taking turns
  • Teaches the concept of winning and losing

Limitations: Because preschooler’s have limited fine more skills, the trap will often be set off unintentionally while you’re trying to play the game. Enter annoyed parent.

Also, keeping tabs on the two included marbles can be a headache with small kids.

Tip: Leave one marble off the designated spot so the trap can’t go off all the time. Just remember to replace it before trying to trap a mouse.

Jenga
games jenga giant

Basics: Set up the Jenga blocks, then take turns removing the blocks one at a time and replacing them on top. The one to knock the whole tower down, loses.

Benefits:

  • Fine motor skills development
  • Teaches about cause and effect
  • Teaches about winning and losing

Limitations: You will need to set up the game every time it’s knocked down. It is also very noisy when it falls, so don’t play if your younger child is napping!

Tip: If your kid loves it as much as mine, get them the Giant, four foot edition for their birthday party! All the kids will go ape! (You can also Pinterest it up and make your own giant version if you’re so inclined)

Let’s Go Fishin’

board games let's go fishin preschooler

Basics: Have up to 4 players try their hands at reeling a fish in while they circle around in the pond.

Benefits:

  • Fine motor skill development
  • Kids learn that patience is a virtue
  • Teaches taking turns

Limitations: Kids can become pretty frustrated when they can’t catch a fish at all. Even grown-ups can have a hard time.

Tip: This game is hard. Go easy on yourself!

Perfection

games perfection1

Basics: Race against the timer to get all the shapes back in to the right spots. If you don’t get them all in time, the game explodes!

Benefits:

  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Fine motor skills development
  • Kids learn that practice makes perfect, and their speed can improve!

Limitations: It does get a tad old after playing it 20 or so times. Still a great rainy day option to have at hand to switch things up

Tip: You can make this game more difficult by reducing the timer. Late night mommy-daddy races will most likely ensue with provoking wagers…

(like who gets to sleep through the night – minds out of the gutter, people!)

Snakes and Ladders

 

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Basics: Roll the dice and try to make it to 100! You can go up ladders and down snakes to make things a little more interesting.

Benefits:

  • Easy to understand and play
  • Teaches your kids how to count to 100
  • Teaches your kids addition (how to add your current spot and the number on your die to equal where you should land)
  • Taking turns
  • Winning and losing
  • Following directions

Limitations: Numbers are new to 3 year olds, and thus patience is a grown-ups virtue.

Tip: Your preschooler probably won’t notice if you skip straight to 100 to end the game if a melt down occurs. If they do, well, you will forever have to own the title of “cheater! cheater!”

Buckaroo!

games buckaroo

Basics: Try to place all the items on the horse’s back before he bucks them all off.

Benefits:

  • Fine motor skill development
  • Teaches cause and effect
  • Kids love the excitement of the horse bucking and items flying!

Limitations: The horse will need to be set up again after each bucking session, most likely by an adult. It also can buck while setting up.

Tip: To get everything on the horse without bucking it off, carefully put it all on the front pegs. Sorry, I think I just ruined the game for you. Ah well.


 

Well, there you have it. The most fun and exciting board games for preschoolers! Now stop reading and get playing. Your kids will thank you for it.

xo, The Mama Nurse

 

Do you know of other fun and educational board games that are perfect for preschoolers? Please share in the comment section below! Thanks for reading!

The (3)

I am linking up with:

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

TheMamaNurse

Hi! I am a Registered Nurse on a unit that encompasses labour and delivery, postpartum, medical, surgical and palliative care in a rural hospital in Ontario, Canada. I am a mom of two and am passionate about women's rights, mom and infant care, parenting and nursing. I hope to create an educational, entertaining and highly relatable resource for women around the world. Thanks for stopping by! Xo, The Mama Nurse

25 thoughts on “The Best Board Games For Preschoolers

    • April 2, 2016 at 11:06 pm
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      I know, watching them grow up is really bittersweet. Hopefully this list will help once your little guy is old enough to kick your butt at hungry, hungry hippos! 😉

      Reply
  • March 30, 2016 at 7:36 am
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    This is perfect timing because I was just thinking about what games I could play with my son. I completely forgot about Hungry Hungry Hippos! I know he’d love that one! Thanks for this great list, now I have to go shopping! 🙂
    Samantha recently posted…2016 Goals Update: The First QuarterMy Profile

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    • April 2, 2016 at 11:05 pm
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      Thanks Samantha! Hungry hungry hippos is my personal favourite too. Everybody just gets so competitive and it’s so much fun!

      Reply
  • March 30, 2016 at 10:47 am
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    Love this! My boys are still a little young but I can’t wait until we can start playing games together. I really loved hungry hungry hippos and perfection when I was a kid so I’m glad they are still around. As a family (with my older stepkids) we really love jenga. Never thought of just letting the babies play with the blocks!
    Erin @ Stay At Home Yogi recently posted…50+ Questions You Should Ask Your MotherMy Profile

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    • April 2, 2016 at 11:04 pm
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      Most of this list is actually oldies but goodies, so to speak. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it right? 😉

      Reply
    • April 2, 2016 at 11:02 pm
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      Oh no problem! I hope you and your daughter enjoy them as much as we have! 😀

      Reply
    • April 2, 2016 at 10:59 pm
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      Thanks Nicole! I love this age! Their little personalities come out with these board games for sure.

      Reply
  • April 3, 2016 at 7:40 am
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    Some great ideas here! I loved hungry hippos when I was little, my daughter is a huge fan of Buckeroo too! #kcacols
    Kat recently posted…March Favourites 2016My Profile

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  • April 3, 2016 at 10:25 am
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    Buckaroo was always my fave as a kid. 😀 Marianna’s too young for board games yet, but I have bought a couple in preparation. When I visit my family we still end up playing old favourites like Pay Day, even now. x #KCACOLS
    Jess Powell (Babi a Fi) recently posted…This Week #29My Profile

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  • April 3, 2016 at 11:22 am
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    Hungry hippos is awesome. My son is crazy good at this game, too. I love that everyone can join in. In the UK we have a brilliant company called Orchard Toys that make amazing games for young children – they are so well designed. But the old ones really are the best!
    x Alice
    #kcacols

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  • April 3, 2016 at 11:30 am
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    Snakes and Ladders is the game de jour in our house. There’s no teaching him to be a good loser though…competitive little so and so! #KCACOLS

    Reply
  • April 3, 2016 at 1:26 pm
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    Mouse Traps changed a bit from when I had it! 😂 I love the idea of playing board games. What age would you class Pre School? Mini R is 2 in June x

    Reply
  • April 3, 2016 at 2:40 pm
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    This post makes me want to go out and it some board games right now lol. I think Ella and Holly will enjoy hungry hippos and the fishing game the most. And of course I’d have to throw in jenga just for good measure as I loved playing that as a teenager. Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday.xx
    Mommy’s Little Princesses recently posted…Potteric CarrMy Profile

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  • April 4, 2016 at 8:45 pm
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    We love Hungry Hungry Hippos and Operation here! Never thought of Jenga, that’s one to look out for when we go to yardsales! #kcacols

    Reply
  • April 6, 2016 at 12:45 pm
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    This post is great! We love games in our house and I wanted to find some that were suitable for Dot.
    I didn’t know that they do a junior version of Mouse Trap!
    Laura xx
    #KCACOLS
    Laura @ Dot Makes 4 recently posted…24 Hours of FootballMy Profile

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  • April 7, 2016 at 6:54 am
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    I loved the fish game and perfection as a child. Although I would jump every time the perfection game went off ha. I will have to invest in these two games but I already have mousetrap I just didn’t think my daughter was old enough to enjoy it but now I will try to play it with her and see how it goes. Thanks for the great post!

    Reply
  • April 8, 2016 at 12:15 pm
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    Good list! Mine are still a little bit young to understand anything but very simple games, but I loved board games as a child. I really want them to get the understanding to play Guess Who, as I loved that one! #KCACOLS
    Silly Mummy recently posted…Toddler Interior Design TipsMy Profile

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    • April 22, 2016 at 9:03 pm
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      Oooh Guess Who! I’ll have to try to find that! I remember that one, tons of fun! Board games are great because kids feel like they are getting one-on-one mommy or daddy time, and it’s fun for parents too! Until the inevitable loser meltdown, of course 😉

      Reply

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