Board Game Ideas for Toddlers
Do you often wrack your brain trying to think of things to keep your active toddler occupied at home on a rainy day? We’ve searched through the toy cupboard and come up with some great ways to adapt your family board games to suit the skill level of toddlers!
We know—attempting to play board games with a toddler conjures up images of playing boards being scribbled on, chips going missing under the couch and dice being swallowed—crazy to even attempt it! Not to mention the fact that almost all board games recommend a minimum playing age of three years. But, as we discovered, by choosing the right games and making a few modifications, children as young as two are able to have plenty of cheap and educational fun. And, providing that your toddler is past the “putting everything in their mouth” stage, you can also enjoy some unhurried, quality time together playing board games.
Ok, so it’s not technically a board game, but toddlers seem to love any variation of the magnetic fishing games. Take Ice Fishing for example. To make it a little easier, remove the layer of plastic ice from the game so that you can dip your coloured fishing rods directly into the ocean to catch the matching coloured fish. These games are great for enhancing visual perception and colour recognition. Don’t own a fishing game? It’s easy to make your own. Check out how to here: https://brisbanekids.com.au/make-your-own-fish-game/
The original version of this game may be too difficult for toddlers, but there are numerous “junior” versions available and even “Wiggles” dominos. Toddlers are able to pick up the concept of placing two matching pictures together in this game. It also allows little people to practice social skills such as waiting and taking turns. Why not make a personalized version for your toddler? Here are some instructions to get you started: http://craftyjournal.com/toddler-games-dominoes/
Many toddlers can master a simple game of Snap or Memory. Try cutting down on the number of cards to begin with to three or four matching pairs. As your toddler gets older, Uno Junior is another fun and easily managed card game. They can then advance to the full version of Uno and other card games including Old Maid and Go Fish. Card games are great for teaching number and shape recognition, grouping and counting, as well as letter recognition and reading. Toddler love shuffling through them and “dealing” the cards (albeit in a very haphazard fashion!).
There are dozens of building games on the market that can be modified for your toddler. Jenga is great fun as most small children love to build up blocks and then watch them come tumbling down again. One fun game is Tumbling Chimps, where you try to hang monkeys and bananas from a palm tree without it crashing down. This challenges toddler’s manual dexterity and hand-eye coordination.
There are so many variations and versions of bingo, making it a great game for all ages. “Sight Word Bingo” is great for school aged children, however, try playing Soundtracks by Galt with your toddler as a more age-appropriate activity. To play, you listen to sounds on a CD (guitar, sheep, car horn etc.) and use a chip to cover the matching photographs on the game boards. Once your game board is full, you can shout bingo (or any world you like)! To make it easier, assist your toddler with their game board, rather than playing against them. This could very well become your toddler’s favourite game!
Just for fun games
If your toddler’s patience is running out, introduce them to Hungry Hippos. Given that the only requirement was to bash the lever over and over to make the hippo eat the balls, toddlers can actually win this game fair and square! Elefun is another “just for fun” game which is suitable for all ages – your toddler will love racing around to catch as many butterflies as she can when they blast out from the elephant’s trunk.
Games for preschoolers and school aged children
As your toddler grows into a preschooler, a whole new world of board games opens up. Beetle and Candyland by Milton Bradley are old family favourites. Some new games that are sure to become family favourites include Whatever Next by Galt and Bright Buttons, a game developed by an Australian mum. By school age, your child can tackle a junior version of some of the classic board games. Our top picks are: Scrabble Junior, Boggle Junior, Zingo, Monopoly Junior, Trouble, Make ‘n’ Break Junior, and Junior Labyrinth. Almost all board games will help your child practice their verbal communication skills and require them to follow rules and instructions… All very necessary life skills to have.
TIPS for playing board games with toddlers –
Don’t take it too seriously
Remember, your toddler’s attention span will increase as they mature, but to begin with they may want to chop and change half way through a game, or maybe even run off to pat the cat just a few minutes into a game! That’s ok, roll with it and perhaps leave the game out so your toddler can come back to it later.
Let your toddler win most of the time
Most toddlers have not yet grasped the concept of “fair play”, so it is ok to let them win and experience a feeling of mastery. As they get older though, board games are an excellent way of teaching children that, as with all things in life, “you win some, and you lose some”.
Don’t just wait for a rainy day – go have some good old fashioned board game fun with your Brisbane Kids today!
If you liked these toddler ideas, then you might find some more for kids of all ages in our how to Make Your Own Indoor Games article. We’ve also got loads of Craft and Fun Ideas just waiting for you to try out with your toddlers at home. Take a look at our latest Super Soft Playdough recipe and this great Sandpaper and Crayon Artwork T-shirt idea.