Board games for one, two & three year olds that you’ll love too!
Nothing that brings my family to the table faster than asking “Who wants to play a board game?”. There is magic in that question and their eyes sparkle when you ask it. My husband I have always loved games and we had quite a collection before we even had kids. When we started our family we both kind of dreaded the idea of endless games of Candy Land; we had no idea just how many great games there are for young children. YES, even toddlers!
12 years later (on our fourth toddler) we’ve played a lot of games designed for young kids, some with more success than others and over the years we’ve learned a few tricks for helping toddlers learn to play board games.
For more board games be sure to check out Creative With Kids:
Best Board Games for Toddlers Through Grade Schoolers.
Playing Board Games with Toddlers:
Learning to play board games requires a lot of different skills: turn taking, decision making and patience among other things – none of which likely describe your toddler (it certainly doesn’t describe mine). One way we help our toddlers gain these skills is by starting with games that are not exactly board games. When we play games that engage a child’s whole body, they are better able to practice skills like taking turns and following the rules. There are a number of great games for toddlers that involve using your whole body (and as grown ups we even like playing them)!
If you are looking for a great game to give a toddler, or ways to help your toddlers learn the skills they need to join you at the game table, you need this list of toddler games! Links to games are Amazon affiliate links. Should you purchase through them you support Creative With Kids at no extra cost to yourself, thank you.
Our Top 10 Board Games for Toddlers
Elefun: An exciting game where small butterflies are blown out of an elephant’s trunk and players must use their net to catch the butterflies. This game is great for capturing and keeping the attention of energetic toddlers. There are a number of ways to play but one way to encourage turn taking is to fill up the elephant and have one person see how many butterflies they can catch before they hit the ground. You can help your child wait by having them cheer on the person catching and counting how many butterflies they’ve caught – this is also a great way to begin teaching good sportsmanship.
Hello Sunshine Game: Recommended for ages 18 months and up, this is delightful take on hide and seek and a great way to introduce or reinforce the concept of following the rules of a game, Hello Sunshine is a plush sunshine that comes with picture cards prompting where to hide it. You and your child can work together initially to follow the directions on the cards, as your child gets the hang of it you and your child take turns being the “Hider”.
Gator Golf: This game can be played alone or with someone else and offers a great opportunity for your child practice taking turns. There are no batteries required for this toddler version of goofy golf. It comes with two putters, two balls and one hungry Gator who gobbles up your ball when you put it into her mouth. Each player takes turns trying to put the ball into the gators mouth. To keep this game exciting for the older players we set up mini courses out of blocks!
Chameleon Beanbag Toss: This lightweight collapsible bean bag toss game has two levels of play so that you can increase the difficulty as your toddler grows. It comes with color coded bean bags numbered bean bags one color having odd numbers and the other having even numbers which naturally reinforce the skill of taking turns. This game can also be used to gently introduce competition and the concept of keeping score. I realize that not all families are interested in introducing competition to young children, you know your family and child best and this game is just as fun without that element!
Melissa and Doug Catch and Count Fishing Game: Use your toddler’s budding interest in imaginative play to work on using a spinner and following the rules of a game with this fishing game for two. The pieces are made out of wood, and it comes with two fishing rods, 10 fish, a spinner and carrying bag that doubles as “pond”.
Seek a Boo: Giant cards spread out on the floor make this matching game really appealing to toddlers. There are smaller hand held cards that you turn over to determine which of the larger cards you are seeking. This game perfect for helping your toddler understand order-of-play (that things have to happen in a particular order when you play games).
Little Balancing Game: An game with adorable game pieces, this is also a great transition to board games as the game involves setting up lily pads on a pond board and balancing frogs on top of them. The fact that it can be played in just 10 to 15 minutes makes it an excellent first sit down game for toddlers and preschoolers.
Haba My Very First Games – Shapes and Colors: Another game that makes the transition to board games smooth. With multiple ways to play you can adjust the game to your child’s ability. Children will get plenty of practice rolling dice and taking turns as they try to match shapes and colors to create a picture.
Evening in the Stable: Evening in the stable will provide plenty of laughs as you try to help Rooster put all the animals to bed. The comical nature of putting animals to bed and your child’s familiarity with bedtime help engage your toddler and build their attention span for board games.
Wooden Farm Memory Game: Simple pictures are definitely better when it comes to this classic and the farm theme in this set is perfect for toddlers as they learn to sit and focus. This game can also be easily adjusted for ability by varying the number of tiles used. You can start with just a few pairs and increase the number used over time to help build their attention span.
Playing games with your toddler doesn’t have to be a chore. These games are not only great for helping your toddler learn how to play games, but will help you connect as a family as well. What would you add to the list? Have you discovered a toddler game you love?
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Lorien Van Ness is the mother of four children ranging in age from toddler to tween. She’s a freelance writer and regular contributor at Creative with Kids and Hands On As We Grow. Having worked with children from birth through adolescence in a professionally for more than 10 years, she enjoys helping families create meaningful experiences that foster strong relationships. She grabs any free moment she can to write about life, parenting, and everything in between.