5 Fun Board Games for Kids Who Are Just Learning to Play
By Alicia McAuley
Mar 4, 2019
On a recent chilly winter day that kept us cooped up indoors, my youngest son hit an important milestone: he played his first board game.
As a lifelong board game fan, I couldn’t wait to share my love of games with my kids. I still have fond memories of playing at the cottage with my family when I was younger, whether it was Monopoly, Clue, or 13 Dead End Drive. As the years passed, I graduated from Dream Phone and Girl Talk to Cranium and Trivial Pursuit. And these days, family game night means losing a game of Ticket to Ride to my five-year-old. It’s awesome.
While my oldest son is already getting into classic games like Candy Land and Trouble, his introduction to board games involved a selection of kid-friendly titles that focused on basic board game skills like taking turns, following instructions, matching symbols and counting spaces. As my youngest joins in on family game night, I’m looking forward to revisiting our favourites. Here are five games that top our must-play list.
Old MacDonald Lotto
Bingo meets memory in this fun lotto game with a farmyard twist. In this game, little ones choose one of four farm-themed game boards, and then have to match picture tiles to the ones on their board until their card is full. The catch? All of the picture tiles are arranged face down, so your kiddo will have to rely on their memory skills to find the right pieces. For an extra bit of fun, have your wee ones do their best impression of the animal or item that appears on their tile before they can place it on their board. This sweet and simple game is suitable for kids as young as two (with a little help from an adult). Recommended for ages 2 to 6.
Let’s Feed the Very Hungry Caterpillar
This is an ideal first game for wee ones who are just getting the hang of things, as it combines a traditional board game experience with puzzle building, and works on a number of different skills. In this game, each child chooses a colourful caterpillar and navigates it around the board by selecting a numbered card. When they land on a fruit space and “feed” their caterpillar, they collect a corresponding puzzle piece. Once all five puzzle pieces have been collected, they construct a beautiful butterfly to win the game. It sounds simple enough, but this game is a great way for little ones to learn about taking turns, number recognition, counting and problem solving. Recommended for ages 3 and up.
If you’re looking for a board game that works for the entire family, this one is a winner. To start, you’ll have to construct the game board using eight big puzzle pieces. Then choose a wooden game piece, break out the deck of instructional cards and get ready to get silly! To get to the end of the street, players will need to follow the commands on the cards, which focus on building character skills in five areas: resiliency, creativity, communication, adaptability and bravery. You might be making up a song or story on one turn, and then doing karate like a kangaroo the next. It’s sure to inspire a lot of giggles from kids and adults alike. For a high-tech version of the game, check out the Silly Street app. Recommended for ages 4 and up.
Sequence for Kids
The regular version of this game is a longtime favourite of mine, so when I found out that there was a version for kids, I couldn’t wait to share it with my son. Unlike the traditional version of the game, this kid-friendly version uses a deck of cards featuring cartoon animals that correspond to squares on the board. Kids take turns playing cards from their hand and placing chips on the board, with the objective of getting four chips in a row. In addition to being a fun matching game, it’s also an excellent introduction to strategic thinking. Recommended for ages 4 to 7.
Spin and Play Counting Games
Is it a book or a board game? Trick question — it’s both! In fact, this sturdy board book with built-in spinning dice is packed with five fun games that will help your kiddo sharpen their counting and number recognition skills. In addition to a classic Snakes and Ladders game, you’ll find Teddy Bears’ Picnic, Space Race, Grand Prix and Dinosaur Ludo. Recommended for ages 5 and up.
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