Choosing the best board games for toddlers + preschoolers that everyone can enjoy on family game night no longer needs to be a challenge! We”ve tested out and rounded up the ultimate list of the best board games for young kids from cooperative games to competitive one’s, plus share tips on when to introduce which one’s for a great time by everyone!
Best Board Games For 2 Year Olds + Up
First Orchard by HABA is a great first board game for 2 year olds and up. We especially love it because the wooden loose parts double for free play!
Basically you roll the wooden dice, and place the matching colored fruit in the basket. IF you roll the basket, you can choose any color fruit. If you roll the raven, you advance one step towards the orchard. The object is to collect all the fruit before the raven reaches the orchard.
This is a simple game focused on color recognition, taking turns, and following instructions. There isn’t much strategy other than if you roll a basket. There’s an opportunity to work on counting too as there are four pieces of fruit for each color (16 total) so it’s focusing on small numbers.
Good to know: Toddlers will likely get board of this game by 4 years old, but the wooden fruit can still be used in a play kitchen.
The Monkey Around Game is super simple and a great board game for 2 year olds. Basically you take turns drawing a monkey card, then do the action on the card. Once done, you add the card to the tree. Once the tree is full of monkey, the game is over or you can play again.
This game focuses on movements, like hopping on one foot and high fives, so it’s great for rainy days while teaching social skills. Toddlers learn how to take turns, while practicing imitation, vocabulary, hand-eye coordination, and social-emotional skills.
This game is VERY simple so it can get boring after a little for parents. Often times in the early 2 year old days, my toddler preferred using the banana toy more than actually playing. But around 2 and a half years old she got into it. It’s a short game too so it holds their attention.
Good to know: Good for wiggly toddlers who can’t sit still for a traditional board game.
HABA’s Building Site Cooperative Game is another sure fire winner with the 2 to 3 year old crowd! This one is a bit more complex than the previous one’s, and toddlers are sure to love playing with it.
This board game actually comes with a story to read before and during play so kids can understand what they’re building/doing. Essentially they’ll work together to build a house by taking turns flipping over the card pieces, then filling in the board game. They can use the little toy truck included to move the “building materials” to where they’re supposed to go. The truck can also be combined with HABA’s Kullerbu Track System.
Good to know: This game requires more instructions to follow and more sitting still than others mentioned. It’s highly likely toddlers will abandon the rules, and just play with the truck/blocks.
Friends & Neighbors is a cooperative matching game based on helping and teaching social-emotional skills.
Players work together to friends and neighbors by taking turns reaching into the Helping Bag to pull a token, then matching it to who could use the help.
While this is a great little matching game, we really love that it comes with a parent guide and focuses on teaching the concepts of emotions, kindness, community, and helping.
For young children, it’s also a great way to organize information they face in their daily life, like dying plants need to be watered, a boo boo needs a band aid, etc.
Good to know: Best suited for 2. to -4.5 years old. Can be played alone or together.
Think Fun’s Roll and Play Game isn’t technically a “board” game, but it’s a fun game for young toddlers that’s very similar to Monkey Around.
Basically you have a soft cube with different colors on it. You roll the cube, then pick up a card whose color matches the side of the cube you landed on. The cards have different actions so it’s a great way to burn off toddler energy too. We love this game for travel as well. There’s a spot for storing the cards on the cube. But if you lose any of the cards, they are easy to DIY.
Toddlers will learn how to take turns, follow instructions, identify different colors, body parts, and actions while building their vocabulary too.
Best Board Games For 3 Year Olds
Snug as a Bug in a Rug is a customizable cooperative board game for toddlers and preschoolers. The objective is to get the colorful bugs snug under the rug before the stink bugs make it to the top of the board and stink up the place!
Depending on the age of your child, you can play at three different complexity levels of play:
- Level 1: Roll the dice once and whatever it lands on is what everyone will be matching the entire game. So essentially you’ll only work on either a color, number, shape, or size the entire game. This repetition is great for toddlers mastering basic concepts, but can be boring for adults.
- Level 2: Roll the dice every turn, then spin the spinner. Find a match based on those.
- Level 3: Spin the spinner each turn to find 2 attributes from the rings it lands on for a match.
Good to know: This game is definitely more fun than Count Your Chickens, and we like the custom “challenge” levels, but if your child is closer to 4 years old, maybe skip it and go straight for Hoot Owl Hoot. Basically the stink bugs aren’t used until the very end of the game when you’re almost out of matches, and then it’s REALLY easy to lose quickly, which can make it not super fun in the long run at the harder levels. But we love how many basic learning concepts it works!
Zingo is basically the toddler version of Bingo. It’s a great game for 3 year olds and up. Depending on the age of your child, there are different versions you can get for added complexity like working on sight words or word building.
But the basic Zingo version is a perfect game for older toddlers and young preschoolers. Each player gets a bingo sheet, then you take turns presing the Zingo device to generate the next card being called. Toddlers can match the pulled card to the pictures on their sheet while also starting to recognize sight words.
Hasbro’s Hi Ho! Cherry-O Board Game has been one of the best family games since I was a kid. It’s rated for kids 3 and up, but we suggest introducing it closer to 4 years old. Think of it as a combination of Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game and First Orchard, but progressed for kids to work on addition and subtraction skills. Additionally, like First Orchard by HABA, the pieces of different color fruits can be used for imaginative play, however these are small pieces you wouldn’t want little kids mouthing.
There are two play modes: competition or cooperative. In one case players race against each other to collect the most fruit, in the other case players work together to collect the fruit before the puzzle is built.
Either way, kids will work on addition and subtraction without even realizing it. If you want to skip the previous mentioned ones but feel it’s too challenging for your kid at first, you could always use a post it to make your own numbers or colors on the spinner to adapt it for your child’s interests.
If you’re looking for an alternative to Candy Land, Let’s Feed The Very Hungry Caterpillar Game is a great option. Similarly, you move color by color around the board. But this time it’s a circle and you collect pieces of fruit, which are puzzle pieces for a butterfly, until you have all the pieces together and can get your butterfly to the center of the board first.
Toddlers will work on numbers, colors, turn taking, and fine motor skills.
Pete The Cat The Missing Cupcakes Game is based on the popular book series and sure to be a hit. In fact, we think it’s one of the best games for this age range as little kids, older children, and even adult family members will have so much fun with it during family game night!
It’s a cooperative game, so everyone is on the same team working to get the missing cupcakes back from the Grumpy Toad.
It’s a nice mix of physical activity, being silly, and working on educational things without realizing it for the younger children. Players will sing, work on language by identify different animals, foods, and words, as well as act our physical activities to get them moving.
It’s easy to learn, with no reading required, so if you have a toddler and preschooler they can play on their own after you’ve played with them a few times. You flick the spinner, then move ahead that many spaces. You then do various activities to earn cupcakes back from the Grumpy Toad to give to Pete the Cat.
Richard Scarry’s Busytown, Eye Found It is a really fun cooperative board game that, in some cases, could be introduced to an older 2 year olds, and will last through the preschool years while still being fun for adults to play.
Basically you work together to try and get to Picnic Island before the pigs eat all the food. You take turns flicking the spinner, and moving ahead for a practice in counting. You’ll pull Goldbug cards where you’ll then use the magnifying glasses and sand timer to try and find the items hidden on the game board.
We love that this is a fun twist on “I Spy” while also teaching kids a little time management with the timer, taking turns, and counting. Overall it’s fun for the whole family!
Yeti In My Spaghetti is basically a silly twist on a classic game. You have a bowl, with spaghetti on top (like sticks), and players take turns removing a noodle while trying to make sure the Yeti doesn’t fall! It’s a nice suspenseful, silly game that will have everyone laughing.
I particularly love this as a lesson in gentleness and consequences for toddlers. A 2.5 year old totally could play this one, but would also have to practice controlling their body movements as adrenaline builds so they don’t knock the whole thing over!
Pancake Pile-Up is SUCH A FUN game that easily transfers for open ended play too and is a must have in our book.
You can play it by yourself, with two people, or with a group in teams. Basically you flip an order card then race to make the order. It comes with 10 pancakes that have different flavor toppings, 2 pats of butter, and 2 plates and spatulas for each team to race the other.
You can also make this more challenging as kids get older by using loose parts to recreate topping as an extra step, instead of just using the predone pancakes with toppings. It’s a great way to get kids moving and burn off extra energy.
When you’re not playing, you could easily use this set in a play kitchen. Additionally, you can work on memory skills by making it a memory game, where older players can only look at the card for a second before building their stack, while younger players can keep the card in front of them while building.
The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game is fun for toddlers, preschoolers, and adults that works a ton of skills. Kids will build hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills , while working on color learning and matching (both early math concepts), while encouraging social-emotional and strategic thinking.
Unlike most of the games on this list, it is NOT a cooperative board game for toddlers. Instead, it teaches about sharing and resilience. Basically players take turns spinner the spinner. Depending on what they land on they’ll either pick up an acorn using the Squirrel Squeezer and place it on their log in the matching color spot or lose an acorn, or “steal an acorn.”
Good to know: Only includes 4 logs, so max 4 players. Not a cooperative game, but a good lesson in resilience and sharing while working on color matching. Little hands may have a hard time using the squirrel tweezers.
Count Your Chickens is one of the best toddler board games for young players. They can play on their own as there’s no reading and the instructions are super simple.
Basically you spin the dial, then move the mama hen game piece to the image you spun on the board game. Then you count the number of spaces you moved and collect that many baby chicks from the board game. The goal is to work together in getting all the baby chicks back to the coop before Mama Hen.
This lays the foundation for tons of complex board games down the road in terms of counting spaces, following the path, and simple rules.
Good to know: Mad from soy based inks on FSC paper and wood, the plastic pieces are made from corn-based plastics. This game focuses on counting and turn taking. You can DIY your own baby chick game pieces if you lose any.
Best Board Games For 4 and 5 Year Olds
Hoot Owl Hoot is a fun cooperative board game for preschoolers that is sure to grow with kids through the elementrary years and is even fun for adults to play too.
The objective is to work together to get all the owls back to the nest before sunrise. Players take turns drawing cards. If a color card is drawn, you decide as a team which owl moves forward to the space of that color. You can even bump owls forward if you land on one spot, so there is a lot of strategy involved if you choose to play with that rule for older kids. If a sun color is drawn, it’s basically like a “lost turn.”
Good to know: This game is a better version of the classic board game Candy Land as it involves some strategy and coordination. Players practice social skills, team work, critical thinking, and color recognition.
Race to the Treasure! is a fun fantasy cooperative board game where players work together as a team to beat the Ogre to the treasure.
This game is best suited for kids 5 years old and up, and is a nice transition for kids learning about “winners” and “losers” before introducing more competitive board games as it focuses on a true opponent, not racing time, like many of the other cooperative games on this list.
Basically players take turns rolling the dice to figure out where the keys and Ogre snack go on the board and shuffle the path and ogre cards to create a draw pile before starting. Once your game is set up, players take turns drawing cards. If it’s an Ogre card, place it on the path. If it’s a path card, as a team decide where to place it.
When you reach an Ogre snack, you can remove on of the Ogre’s from the path. Once you collect the 3 keys and reach the treasure, you win! But if theOgre reaches the treasure first, he wins.
Good to know: This is one of the more complex games on this list that will grow with your child for years and is fun for adults too. It teaches strategic thinking, planning ahead, math grid concepts, as well as the other cooperative skills featured on this list.
Outfoxed! is a fun “whodunit” cooperative board game for 5 year olds and up. You’ll work together to find out who to Mrs. Plumpert’s prized pot pie.
This game comes complete with suspect and thief cards, a clue marker, and evidence scanner for a child’s first real “mystery” board game. It works cooperation, deductive reasoning, and it SO fun for the entire family that will last throughout the elementrary school years.
Each game a new suspect is chosen as the guilty party, so you can play over and over too.
Wildcraft is a cooperative board game that’s fun for the entire family and will last for years. It’s basically a combo of Chutes & Ladders and Life, meets botany without the need for reading skills.
Kids will learn about 27 different edible and medicinal plants, including where they grow and how to use them. Players can use these to counter trouble cards. Cooperation cards allow everyone to help each other in advancing as you all play together, against the board.
The “waterfalls” are like the “ladders” in Chutes & Ladders. It’s an unbelievably well thought out game that comes with lots of bonuses like printable readings, coloring pages, etc. and you can
Additionally, this game is made in the USA from 100% recycled materials and uses water based coatings, and vegetable oil based inks.
Mancala is a classic wooden board game with little gemstones that focuses on early match concepts and strategy. It was my absolute favorite game in preschool. I actually have fond memories playing it at 4 years old and it’s remained one of my favorite games into adulthood.
This two player game requires players to take turns by scooping the gems from a pocket, then counting them out one by one into the other pockets on the board. If they land in an empty pocket on their side of the board, they collect all the stones in the opposite pocket from their player into their bank. Whoever has the most stones in their bank at the end of the game wins.
It’s a simple, fun one to learn early math skills. The board folds up with the stones inside when not in use, making it a decent travel option too. If you loose stones, you can buy more at the dollar store easily.
Good to know: Fun way to work on math skills, while also being a serious strategy game.
FAQS About Board Games For Toddlers + Preschoolers
When do kids start playing with board games?
Most kids really begin to enjoy board games that are fun for adults too around 3 or 4 years old.
With that said, kids can start playing with board games as early as 2 years old, as long as you match their interests and developmental appropriateness.
Can 2 year olds play board games?
Yes, 2 year olds can play board games. Look for ones that focus on gross motor skills as kids this age can’t sit still for long periods of time. In line with that, the board games should take less than 10 minutes to complete around this age. Anything longer may cause them to lose focus.
Other games that could be a match, depending on the child’s interests: matching games like “I Spy” types and color or number sorting.
Can 3 year olds play board games?
Absolutely! Three year olds can understand more rules than a 2 year old, so you can begin to choose slightly more complex games that may take up to 15-20 minutes to complete.
What makes a good cooperative board game?
An interesting faux and a good amount of suspense!
Pete The Cat The Missing Cupcakes Game it’s you all vs. the Grumpy Toad which is a fun faux for everyone to work on conquering. While Hoot Owl Hoot has a great level of suspense as you never know when you’ll get a sun card.
What is the best co-op board game?
For younger toddlers and preschoolers we think Pete The Cat The Missing Cupcakes Game and Hoot Owl Hoot are two of the best collaborative board games. They complement each other well and we think families would love having both in their game cabinet for at least a few years.
What is a good board game for a 2 and 4 year old?
Yeti In My Spaghetti is a fun game for 2 and 4 year olds to play as just a simple 2 player game. Additionally, Pete The Cat The Missing Cupcakes Game is a great game for kids with that age gap playing together.
How do you store board games for kids?
Depending on space, you an store board games in their box.
Alternatively you can use bags like these to store a game. Simply put the contents of the board game and it’s instructions in the bag. Then cut out the label from the front of the box and either place in the bag at the front, facing forward, or tape on the exterior of the bag.
The best cooperative board games fThe bags are a huge space saver, you can easily stack them vertically or horizontally.
What is my child is bad at losing?
Start with cooperative board games for toddlers to teach them the basics of taking turns and winning and losing. This way, when you lose as a team, your child can learn how to lose based off how YOU handle it.
Once you feel your child is ready to lose independently, introduce a competitive board game. Competitive board games are important for kids to lose on their own as it builds resilience.
Keep in mind, no one likes losing and it’s totally normal for young kids to not be good at it. It’s important to not let them win all the time to avoid a meltdown though.
If your child is a sore loser, choose more collaborative board games for a while until they are better able to handle losing on their own.
What are good toddler board games?
Our favorite board games for a young toddler are Think Fun Roll and Play Game, Pete The Cat The Missing Cupcakes Game, and Richard Scarry’s Busytown, Eye Found It – in that order from 2 years old up to 3 years old.
However, all of the one’s mentioned on this list are fun board games for younger kids. Those are our top picks we enjoy playing as adults the most.
Final thoughts on board games for preschoolers and toddlers
While we think you can’t go wrong with any picks from this list of the best board games for toddlers and preschoolers, there are a few stand out one’s that have a special place in our hearts.