Whether they incorporate cards, dice, boards, spinners, or even an adorable cardboard monster and an oversized spoon, games have a host of benefits for young children. Games help children develop academic, spatial, and critical thinking skills. By playing with peers, kids practice social-emotional skills like cooperating, taking turns, and winning or losing gracefully. Plus, playing games is fun! Many mainstream games are perfect for the preschool classroom so we’ve gathered our top 21 of the best board games for preschoolers.
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This classic game is a childhood staple, and these cards are easy on little hands and eyes.
Once your students understand the premise of “Go Fish,” treat them to this adorably imaginative version from a favorite illustrator. They’ll love making pairs of “Strawberry Fish,” “Scribble Octopus,” “Lobsterbots” and more.
Here’s a year’s worth of Math Center activities for you in one cute and tiny box. Sturdy and visually-pleasing cards offer tons of possibilities for building number sense; students can use them to count, match amounts, compare, subitize, and more.
4. Frog Party
The best part of this game is the built-in encouragement of different counting strategies: players can use lily pad counters, a number line, or the game board itself to combine two amounts to five and move their frogs towards the party.
Children race to be the first to fill their shopping baskets with the items on their lists. The board is simple and uncluttered and the picture-and-word shopping lists encourages the development of concepts about print.
Sliding the card dispenser has a similar appeal to spinning a bingo cage. Zingo supports vocabulary development and print awareness as well as focus—you have to be watching to call out and snag your picture first! Spanish, sight word, number, and word building versions are also available.
This classic game might make adults groan, but we still consider it one of the best board games for preschoolers. Why? Kids can take it out, set it up, and play it by themselves. Cooperation and independence for the win! (Pro tip: Provide an easy playing card tray for easy management of the draw pile and discards.)
Dominoes is a versatile and timeless game for all ages. This preschool set is beautiful and the pictures support matching and counting.
The goal of the game is to have the lowest score when someone calls “Rat-a-tat-cat!” This game builds number sense and teaches the concept of zero. If you’d like to encourage conversations about numbers, opt to have the students play with their cards turned up and visible.
In this matching game with a twist, the fun comes when you turn over cards that don’t match! When this happens, players must move like the animal body card and make the sound of the animal head card. Stomping like an elephant while clucking like a chicken is hilarious when you’re a preschooler—or a preschool teacher!
11. Preschool Lotto
This Memory-Bingo combo is perfect for a classroom small group. Each player tries to turn over cards to match a themed board. Players also must watch to see if someone else turns over cards they need and remember where to find them.
Build language and print concepts while moving and laughing! Players draw three cards and complete the direction they create using themed items from Dr. Seuss’s classic book.
Players roll two die to get a color and a shape and must locate a matching spot on the board. There are multiple levels of play for different groups.
This oversized game board gives plenty of room for a group of kids to spy items in the pictures and move ahead on the board. The goal is to get to the picnic before the pigs eat all the food, and everyone has to help!
Every kid should learn to play Uno. It’s marketed for ages seven and up, but the rules are easily adaptable for little ones. With enough practice, they’ll be unleashing the Draw Four cards like pros.
16. Hoot Owl Hoot!
Players must work together to get the owls back to the nest before sunrise. Color cards, similar to Candyland, move the owls closer to the goal, but there are a few added twists to make it more interesting.
It’s often the simplest games that are best. Players take turns rolling color dice to see which snails to move in this cooperative game. Which snail will win? Oh, the suspense! Swap out one die with a regular die if you want to speed up the game and encourage number recognition.
18. Feed the Woozle
There are multiple ways to play this silly game. In the simplest version, players roll a die to determine how many pieces of food to “feed” the Woozle. But wait: Walking across the room balancing the food on the spoon adds an extra challenge. Players cooperate to satiate the goofy creature’s appetite.
19. Where’s Bear?
Players hide a wooden bear under one of six sturdy nesting blocks decorated as rooms in a house and then try to find him. This game capitalizes on toddlers’ love of hiding things and offers a lot of language-building opportunities. This is perfect for a two-year-old class, or a multiage group in which older students can play the adult role.
This game is our go-to for older preschoolers ready for a bit of strategic play. Players cooperate to create a path to reach the treasure before the ogre does.
We’re in love with this magnetic fishing game upgrade. With its sturdy and smooth bamboo pieces and open-ended ways to play, this game will have even your most energetic students concentrating hard on hooking those tricky sharks. The table-top size and shorter fishing rods are nice and manageable, too.
What do you think are the best board games for preschoolers? Come and share in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.
Plus, check out our favorite ideas for sensory tables.