Whether you’re trying to cut back on
screens or you just can’t with another superhero role-play, introducing a new board game is the perfect solution to keep your kiddo entertained (with minimal effort on your part). And the best preschool board games also come with loads of educational benefits, like helping your LO practice decision making, strategic thinking, problem-solving, and communication.
While some classic games from your own childhood naturally deserve to be introduced to the next generation (think Candy Land and Chutes & Ladders), there’s also a whole new crop of games that are based on the idea of teamwork. Cooperative games flip the script on head-to-head competition; instead, every player works together to achieve the game’s objective: win together,
lose together. This collaborative style of game is great for teaching your child social-emotional skills — and you get to avoid any sore-loser meltdowns.
Another great kind of game to introduce at the preschool age? Matching and memory games. Whether that’s matching like objects or flipping cards and remembering pairs, this style of game can help with increasing
attention spans and concentration.
Ahead, 11 of the best preschool board games to play now — all come highly reviewed on Amazon and all cost less than $30.
01 Editor’s Choice: A Collaborative Game That The Whole Family Will Love Recommended Age: 4 to 8 years
Peaceable Kingdom is a brand known for its cooperative games for kids, and
Hoot Owl Hoot! is among its best offerings for preschool-aged children. The gameplay involves working together to try to get the little owls back to their nest before the sun comes up. Through teamwork, the game helps little ones foster strategic thinking and problem-solving. Kids can even play solo if they want to keep the fun going while you make dinner. Editor Praise: “My daughter received it as a birthday gift and it has such a simple premise, we started playing it mid-party. (I love any game that doesn’t require pouring over directions.) But even though the gameplay is simple, there’s still a nice bit of strategy involved that makes it fun for the whole family to play. Plus, the teamwork element means no one leaves the game in tears.” — Kate Miller, Scary Mommy editor 02 Another Editor Favorite: This Nostalgic Game That’s Great For Preschoolers Recommended Age: 3+ years
There’s a reason this
game has been around for decades! In this classic, players try to scramble to the top of the ladder without falling back down. Your preschoolers can practice counting and number recognition as they get to the top ladder, but they need to watch out for the chutes, which can unexpectedly set them back on their journey. Plus, it’s easy to set up and your little one will love picking out their own game piece. Editor Praise: “I'll always be partial to Chutes and Ladders since it's a game that anyone can win — and since it doesn't require a ton of small pieces, it's easy to start and stop if your toddler loses interest midway through. It's also a great, simple introduction to board games.” — Karen Belz, Scary Mommy associate editor 03 A Best-Selling Memory Game For Your Grocery-Shopper-In-Training Recommended Age: 3 to 7 years
If your little one loves to go grocery shopping with you, this shopping list game will be a guaranteed hit. Boasting more than 6,500 perfect five-star reviews, it’s an educational game with an engaging theme. Players will get a shopping list and race to find the matching items to fill their cart or basket. This is a great
memory and matching board game because your kids can work on observational skills and attention to detail. Helpful Review: “This is a great toddler and preschool game (perhaps even a bit older). You find all the items from your shopping list and remember where your items are if another player turns one of your tiles/items over during their turn.” 04 This Hand-Eye Coordination Game With The Cutest Game Pieces Recommended Age: 3 to 6 years
cute game combines turn-taking, color matching, and dexterity in one woodland-themed adventure. It helps develop your little one’s hand-eye coordination and basic gameplay etiquette. Your kids can put those little hands to work by using the Squirrel Squeezer to pick up colored acorns and place them on their log. Not surprisingly, this pick has earned an impressive 4.8-star rating on Amazon after 8,000 reviews. (Just note that it does involve small pieces that would be a choking hazard for younger tots.) Helpful Review: “This game is not only cute but it's also educational, lots of fun, and easy for little ones to comprehend and play fairly independently once they know the instructions. My 5 and 4 year olds can play without my help now that we have played together a few times which is great.” 05 A Sweet Matching Game That Encourages Empathy Recommended Age: 3+ years
Another educational game from Peaceable Kingdom, this
matching game will help your little preschooler develop their emotional intelligence. Using the “Helping Bag,” your little one can try to come up with solutions to help others. They’ll learn to recognize and name emotions, which can help develop compassion and empathy skills. Just note that some reviewers felt that it was best for younger tots as it didn’t have the level of engagement for their older kids. Helpful Review: “This is a cute game that allows you to cooperatively play to match the ways you can help (pulled from a bag) to fill up the needs on a card. We walk around the game card between each turn pretending we are walking around our neighborhood. It comes with a little booklet that helps you engage your child in empathy. [...]” 06 The Children’s Classic That Deserves A Place On Every Game Shelf Recommended Age: 3+ years
Your little one is in for a huge treat. If you loved playing
Candy Land when you were a child, you can share the experience with your loved ones and go down the "magical" road to sweet treats. This adorable version features colored cards and fun illustrations that kids will love, and includes destinations like Cookie Commons or the dreaded Molasses Swamp. It’s a simple game to get up and running and there’s no reading required. Helpful Review: “Bought as a gift for a 5 yearold and although he initally thought Candy Land meant there was actual candy inside the box, but after showing him the game, he loved it! Its a great game to teach counting, game playing and sometimes the unfortunate part of losing, even though these are all important lessons to learn.” 07 An Award-Winning Matching Game That Will Bring The Giggles Recommended Age: 3+ years
Winner of the prestigious Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award in 2013, this
game is easy to learn and quick to play. Your kids will love getting their raccoons dressed while working on color recognition and matching skills. Each player gets a critter card and takes a turn rolling two dice. Players find the items that match the dice to dress their raccoon, but watch out, if you roll the underwear, you’ll lose all your clothes. This will have your kids breaking out into wild giggles. Helpful Review: “The play time on this game is perfect. It's not over so fast that it's uninteresting, but it doesn't drag out forever. This game is also not so time consuming that you have to stop mid game to make sure the kids get fed, bathed, and put to bed at a reasonable hour.” 08 This Time-Honored Counting Game That Builds Math Skills Recommended Age: 3 to 6 years
Learning to count is an important skill for your toddler to practice and you can help them do so all under the guise of fun with this classic game that first launched in the 1960s.
Hi Ho! Cheery-O teaches players to count as they pick fruit and fill their buckets. This tried-and-true game also helps develop their math skills. Helpful Review: “My 4 yearold loved it. I also like how Amazon's version has different colored fruits which is a big improvement over the standard original version.” 09 A Memory Matching Game That’s Just Right For Preschoolers Recommended Age: 4 to 8 years
To get you started teaching your toddler one life skill, start the
Memory Match game. Preschoolers will feel so empowered when they can learn the principles of a basic memory game. The enticing chunky-round shape cards will get them talking about camping once they play. There are a total of 32 cards, so 16 pairs to match, and you can customize how many pairs you want to introduce at once so your preschooler doesn’t feel overwhelmed. Helpful Review: “This is a fun game for my 4 year old nephew! He's still learning how to remember where something was, but he'll get the hang of it.I like that there are so many cards, so you can choose the size/difficulty of the game and pick the pictures you want to use!Sturdy and durable! They are shaped and durable like a coaster.” 10 A Super-Fun Cooperative Game With A Beloved Character Recommended Age: 3+ years
Pet the Cat is such a beloved children’s book character, so it’s no surprise that this playful game has racked up rave reviews on Amazon. This is a
cooperative game for players to work together to retrieve delicious cupcakes back from the Grumpy Toad by singing, acting, and having fun. This game can help foster imagination and develop strategy skills and word associations. Helpful Review: “This is such a fun game for little kids! Depending on what kind of spot kids land on, they have to think on their feet--and sometimes sing or act out a simple charade--to help Pete get his cupcakes.” 11 A Hidden Pictures-Style Game That’s All About The Details Recommended Age: 4+ years
“Eye Spy” game is over six feet long and has kids search for hidden objects while they race around Richard Scarry’s famous Busytown. It’s great for language development and paying close attention to the details. It’s another cooperative-style game, so you don’t have to worry about any losing tantrums. Helpful Review: “This game is a great concept for kids who have issues with winning and losing. Especially at 3 and 4 years of age when other skills like patience, taking turns, and working together.” Hey Ready for more? Sign up for Scary Mommy's daily newsletter for more stories from the trenches.