“I Won!” That’s what my excited preschooler said today after winning two rounds of Candy Land. He loves to play board games for preschoolers and Candy Land is his favorite. I also enjoy playing it as much now as when I did as a young child with my family.
The objective of Candy Land is to teach children colors. However, there is so much more that children can learn by playing this game or any other board game.
1. Taking Turns-Waiting for his turn to play, especially when there are three other people playing, can be pretty difficult for our three year old. Waiting on other players to take their turn drawing a card and moving their gingerbread man teaches him patience and how to take turns.
2. Sharing-Our son’s favorite color is blue and so he always wants to use the blue gingerbread pawn. He has occasionally let someone else use that color. I am extremely proud of him when he is willing to share the coveted blue pawn. It means that he is learning to share.
3. How to lose-Somehow, our son usually wins his favorite game, Candy Land, even if he doesn’t always start first. It is a good learning experience for him when he does lose though. It teaches him that there are times he won’t win and how to act when that happens.
One of the hardest things for most young children to understand is that it is not all about them. In their mind, they are the only one who matters and they don’t understand that they really aren’t the only person in the world who deserves to win. This is why I haven’t met a child yet who likes losing a game. Even so, there are times when they are going to lose.
Learning how to be gracious in losing (and happy for the person who won) is a skill that will help children their whole life.
4. How to win-It is obvious that a child needs to learn how to lose or be a good loser. But, maybe what is not so obvious, is learning how to win. Knowing how to win without bragging is an important skill, too. Children need to learn how to be kind and gracious toward their competition when they beat them.
This article shares the 12 best board games for preschoolers. Playing any of these games with your child will teach important educational concepts, but more importantly will for teach the social skills of taking turns, sharing, winning and losing.
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#1 Candy Land
There is a reason my son loves this game! It is a timeless classic that is simple, fast and super fun! The game board, cards and game pieces are colorful and attractive to kids. This game is perfect for teaching and reinforcing basic colors and the values of numbers one and two. Make sure you have lots of time because your child will want to play Candy Land over and over.
#2 Chutes and Ladders
This game will have you climbing up ladders and sliding down chutes as you try to be the first one to make it to the number 100. Landing on good deeds help you ascend ladders, but landing on anything else will result heading in the opposite direction of the winning number. Sliding is usually more fun than climbing, but not in Chutes and Ladders. Best of luck being the first one to make it to the top!
#3 Hi Ho Cherry-O
In HiHo Cherry-O, players take turns spinning the spinner and then picking the specified number of pretend apples, blueberries, cherries and oranges from their trees to fill their baskets. The winner is the first one to fill their basket. Colors, counting and simple addition and subtraction are the skills your child will learn and practice playing this sweet game. But be careful…the spinner might tell you to put some fruit back on the tree!
#4 The Ladybug Game
Help ladybugs find their way home in this delightful game invented by a first grader. Feed aphids to the lazy ants, but watch out for the praying mantis as you help your ladybug get home to the rose garden. The Ladybug Game teaches early literacy and counting skills with easy to read colors, numbers, words and symbols.
#5 Eye Found It
This is Richard Scarry’s Busytown Version of Eye Found It by Wonder Forge. Preschoolers love playing this game because they get to race along a 6-foot long game board. Identification, matching skills and team work are the main concepts taught as players look for hidden objects. There are other versions of this game such as Disney and Dreamworks.
1, 2, 3 Go! Kids will try to launch all four of their ants into the pair of over sized pants in order to win the game. Get ready for squeals and giggles as your child attempts this not so easy feat. Ants in the Pants is definitely action packed and perfect for teaching your child hand-eye coordination.
The challenge of this board game for preschoolers is to be the first one to build a Cootie Bug. Players roll the dice hoping it lands on a bug part they need for their bug. This game provides a great opportunity for creativity as players mix and match pieces to make their crazy looking critters. What a Cootie Bug!!!
Don’t Spill the Beans! Players take turns placing plastic beans on a wobbly pot. Be careful not to make the pot tip or you will Spill the Beans! The game comes with 64 beans and obviously the more beans on the pot, the more likely it is to spill them. The winner is the first player to get rid of all their beans.
Finding the piece that matches the original piece is a great skill to work on improving children’s memory. It also encourages problem solving and animal recognition. If your child is like mine, he will want to play this game over and over so it is good that the pieces are made out of wood as they will last many years. They also aren’t as easy to lose as traditional cardboard matching pieces.
Spread out the pieces face down and then take turns turning them over two at a time to see if you have a matching set. The player who finds the most matching pairs of animals wins the game. Most likely that will be the person with the best memory!
This is a matching game similar to Memory. The main difference is that the pieces move while the players try to find a match. Turn on the circular pond to have the ducks start swimming. Players take turns picking ducks up and looking at the bottom of them to find one that matches their colored shape. The first player with three ducks to match their colored shape is the winner.
This matching game is similar to the Lucky Ducks game. In this version, you turn over a lily pad card to see which fish to catch. Then you use a fishing rod to hook the fish you think will match your card. The fish will expand accordion-style as you reel it towards you to reveal its colors. If it is a match, you keep the fish. The player with the most fish wins. Be careful! The fish change positions making it difficult to remember which one is which.
#12 Hoot Owl Hoot
Yet another take on the traditional matching game. This board game focuses on cooperation as players work together to help the owls fly back to their nest before sunrise. When you draw a color card, you fly to that space. When you draw a sun card, you are one step closer to daylight. The goal is to get all the owls home before the sun rises (the sun token reaches the end of the track) and then everyone wins.
As you can see, there are many options of best board games for preschoolers. Not all the games mentioned in this article require a board, but I included them as a board game because they only require a few players and teach a valuable skill or concept.
Except for “Hoot Owl Hoot” (where everyone is a winner), these games help teach children how to win and lose. They also teach children the important skills of sharing and taking turns.
Which games do you enjoy playing with your child? Do you remember playing board games when you were a child? Which one was your favorite? Let me know by leaving a comment below and then go play a game with a child. It is game time!