Our 4 year-old loves gaming. He could play Super Mario Brothers 3D World for hours, but he also likes to kick it old school. We spent our Christmas day pulling out board games; rolling dice, flipping ants, and sending players home. We laughed, cheered each other on, jokingly pouted over poor die rolls, and simply enjoyed being together.
The games you play matter and every family’s interests will be different, but these games get the most play in our house. With the holiday break ahead, screen-free fame time is a priority for our family. Here are 5 Surprisingly Fun Preschool Games:
- Trouble or Sorry These two games are incredibly similar, so you can easily pick one. Trouble is definitely the simpler version and has
less rules to remember. It also sports that awesome popping dice. Sorry is a bit more complex, but will offer a greater challenge for older kids. Either way you go, we’ve spent hours of fun hoping for the right numbers, counting spaces, sending each other back home, and cheering players on to the safe zone. These are our 4 year-olds favorite games, by far.
- Curious George Super Helper This simple game has a few unique mechanics that my boys love. Earning cards for helping includes sending different items down a cardboard building – a coin, bouncy ball, or dice. A few cards invite you to help another person in real life during the game. This is a fairly straight forward game and there is no stealing or losing cards. The winner is celebrated, but disappointment at losing is usually minimal.
- Red Light Green Light This card game is ideal for little ones learning patterns and counting. Strategy is minimal and it’s all about the luck of the draw. This leaves lots of room for chatting, laughing, and learning patience. Playing this feels more like a team activity to make it through the deck than a competition.
- Sequence for Kids I enjoy the original version of this game and it translates well to a kids game. We often play with our animal cards face up, so we can see how strategy works for each player. This is not as enjoyable for older kids, but perfect for preschoolers.
- High Ho Cherry-O! I’m not quite certain why this one is a favorite for my son, but I will say that I definitely prefer it over other classics, like Chutes and Ladders. This game is fun for a preschooler because what happens on someone else’s tree doesn’t effect what happens on your tree.
What are some of your family’s favorite games?
Board (bored) games get a bad rap sometimes because they can be monotonous and bring out all of our frustrations. Some kids games feel never-ending and frustratingly basic. Some of my favorite memories are playing games as a kid and with my kids, though. Here’s how I make preschool games fun:
- Reset Your Expectations. Stop expecting the game to be fun. Kids games won’t entertain adults. They are fun because they allow one-on-one and group interaction. They help everyone (even adults!) practice taking turns, good sportsmanship, counting, numbers, and not taking it personally. Kids games are about experiences, not results.
- Cheer Everyone On. When we play Trouble, I cheer excitedly every time someone rolls a six and puts a guy on “start.” We’re playing against each other, but this creates a sort of team mentality. Even if you don’t win, people cheered you on while you played and this feels awesome!
- Model Frustration in a Silly Way. It can be hard not to want to throw the game board when you can’t roll the right number or you’re nearly to the safe zone and someone yells, “Sorry!” I like to articulate these frustrations in a big, silly way and get the kids laughing and smiling. I want them to know that we all feel those emotions, for them to know experiencing them is normal, and to know how to have fun despite them.
- Adjust the Rules to Suit Your Needs. I don’t really like letting anyone win, but we’re not really about the winning anyway. Some kids games are very dependent on dice and really will never end if you don’t fudge the numbers a bit. When we play CandyLand, we sometimes make up our own rules for variety. This keeps games fresh, fun, and age-appropriate.
- Finish Out the Game. My kids often ask if we can “keep going” after someone has won a game. They want to see their tokens cross the finish line and cheer each player on to the end. This might feel frustrating when a game drags on, but it brings everything to a satisfactory close. This strategy also lets someone enjoy winning, but takes the sting out of losing a bit.
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