Right around this time of year, I tend to get a lot of questions about good games for kids, so I thought I’d make a few posts that mention games I’d recommend.
One of the hardest groups of people to suggest games for are kids who are ages two to right around five years old. Every child is different and develops along a different time frame, but nowhere is that more obvious than very young children.
The games that I’m going to suggest in those post are more about teaching kids how games work. Mainly, these games will:
- Teach kids how to take turns.
- Help develop gaming “skills” – using a spinner, rolling dice, moving the piece, etc.
- May help develop motor skills, motor planning, and/or crossing the mid-line.
- May include some other educational component: matching/identifying colors, counting, etc.
In general, for kids of this age, I recommend games that you can’t lose or co-operative games that require little to no reading. It’s much easier to lose when everyone does. At this age, you want to build a love of playing games and kids this age often have a really hard time losing.
5 games that I suggest for this age that follow those guidelines:
1. Feed the Woozle
Feed the Woozle is a cooperative game where the kids are trying to feed a “Woozle”. There are three different levels of play, but the basics are putting the snacks on the spoon, walking across the room, and feeding the Woozle. As the kids get older, it gets a bit more complicated.
This game is particularly fun for younger kids, particularly kids ages two to four. Most “early” five year olds will still find it enjoyable but it does start to eventually get too easy for them. Still, I highly suggest this one for this age range overall.
2. My First Orchard
Kai tried this game at GenCon this year. It was beneath his play level but I immediately thought of a few young kids that I knew would love it. In this cooperative game, the players roll a die and try to collect all of the fruit before the raven gets to the orchard.
This game is geared especially towards the younger set, up through probably age four or so.
3. Hoot Owl Hoot
This game is the cooperative answer to Candyland, only better. (Candyland is one of my least favorite games ever, but kids love it and it’s good for learning colors.)
The goal of the game is to move the owls along the path to the nest and reach it before the sun rises.
The next two games do not fit the “cooperative” theme but I think they’re excellent starter games for younger kids. Only you know your child. If you don’t think they’re ready to face a loss, I’d stick with some of the others. These are really best for the upper 3/4/5 range.
Zingo is very much like Bingo. There’s a machine that shows two tiles. Players match them to their card (for this game, it’s best if kids are on a fairly similar level). Over time, kids often pick up on the spelling of a word, but they don’t have to read – they can just match the pictures.
There are a few different versions of this game, including a math one.
5. Feed The Kitty
This remains a game that Kai still enjoys very much. I imagine that’s because he loves cats so much (even though, in the game, you don’t actually really deal with a cat!).
This comes with a bright green bowl, purple wooden mice, and two dice. Players roll to determine what they do – pass a mouse, put one in the bowl, take one out of the bowl, or do nothing.
Now, let me be frank with you: Two to five is a REALLY big age range. Or, rather, a really big ability range… right? So, here’s the deal. Your three year old may be ready for the last two games but your five year old might have trouble with them. Age range is only a suggestion.
You know your child best! Please keep their strengths and weaknesses in mind when choosing a game.
This post includes affiliate links to Amazon, primarily because I wanted to make sure the games were easy to find. I would never recommend a game that I think is not a good game. Whether I had the affiliate links or not, these are still games I would recommend.