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. Check out some of our favorite card games and board games for preschoolers, both old and new!

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1. Color Go Fish!

Eeboo Go Fish Card Game box with goldfish and bubbles on the cover and sample cards of pink and green

This classic game is a childhood staple, and these cards are easy on little hands and eyes.

2 & 3. Taro Gomi’s Funny Fish Go Fish Card Game

and Taro Gomi’s Play Anything Playing Cards

Taro Gomi's Funny Fish Go Fish Card Game deck of cards with colorful and whimsical objects on the case cover    Taro Gomi's Play Anything Playing Cards deck of cards with whimsical and colorful jacks, kings, queens, and kings on the case cover

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.

When your older preschoolers are ready to learn some simple classic card games, check out the whimsical companion set of regular playing cards.

4.  Math For Love Tiny Polka Dot

Box cover and sample cards for the Math for Love Tiny Polka Dot Game with various dot configurations and numbers for children to match as an example of best preschool card games and board games for the classroom

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.

5. Shopping List Memory Game

Box for Shopping List Memory Games with two children and grocery cart full of food items as an example of best preschool card games and board games for the classroom

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 encourage the development of concepts about print.

6.  Ice Pops Memory Game

Box for Petit Collage Ice Pops Memory Game showing popsicles of various patterns and colors for children to match

Preschoolers feel so empowered once they catch onto the principles of a basic memory game. The enticing popsicle-shaped cards will get them talking about attributes as they play!

7. Monkey Around

Monkey Around game

Easily adaptable to large-group play, movement cards ask kids to practice gross motor skills with a fun beanbag banana.

8. Bunny Bedtime Make-a-Choice Game

Box for Bunny Bedtime Make-a-Choice game with a bunny in pajamas with a teddy bear

Help kids learn basic game-playing skills like rolling a die and moving along a path in a familiar context: bedtime! Kids love helping make decisions about how Bunny’s bedtime routine will go.

9. Pete the Cat: The Missing Cupcakes Game

Pete the Cat The Missing Cupcakes game box, board, spinner, and multicolored cupcake game pieces laid out to demonstrate preschool game play

Anything with Pete the Cat is an automatic preschool win. To get Pete’s cupcakes back from Grouchy Toad, kids must name objects, sing songs, and act out charades.

10. Zingo – Bingo with a Zing

Box, playing card, and card dispenser for Zingo game with tiles matched to playing card as an example of best preschool card games and board games for the classroom

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.

11. Candyland

Box for Candyland board game with colorful candies and characters and candy cane striped writing

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 a playing card tray for easy management of the draw pile and discards.)

12. Dominoes

Game box and colorful dot dominoes laid out in a matching configuration

Dominoes is a versatile and timeless game for all ages. This set from Melissa and Doug is super-sturdy and gets kids recognizing standard dot formations of numbers 1-6.

13. Rat-A-Tat-Cat

Box and sample animal number cards from the Rat-a-Tat-Cat game

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.

14. Heads Talk Tails Walk

Game box and sample cards for the game Heads Talk Tails Walk showing a monkey and a horse put together with cards

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!

15. Banana Blast

Game box, monkey puzzle and game setup with monkey sitting on a mound of bananas for the Banana Blast game

Cue the squeals of laughter; kids love the suspense of this game! Remove the bananas one by one to see which one makes the monkey jump. The included puzzle is a nice bonus for friends to make together.

16. Frankie’s Food Truck Fiasco

Box for Frankie's Food Truck Fiasco game showing a cat driving a food truck as an example of best preschool card games and board games for the classroom

Practice matching basic shapes while helping Frankie the Cat create his food truck meals. The real appeal (and sneaky fine motor strength-building) comes from the Frankie-shaped “squeezer” players use to move the game pieces around.

17. Colorama

Box and sample game board for Colorama game showing multicolored squares and shape pieces

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.

18. Richard Scarry’s Busytown, Eye Found It

Box and game board, cards, playing pieces, and spinner for Richard Scarry's Busytown Eye Found It game

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!

19. UNO

Box for UNO card game showing sample color and number cards and a wild card

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.

20. Hoot Owl Hoot!

Box for Hoot Owl Hoot game showing three colorful owls in trees on a night sky background

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.

21. Snail’s Pace Race

Box and game board with multicolored snail game pieces for Snail's Pace Race game as an example of best preschool card games and board games for the classroom

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.

22. Feed the Woozle

Box for Feed the Woozle cooperative preschool game showing an orange monster with google eyes and a large mouth with teeth

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.

23. Where’s Bear?

Box for Where's Bear: The Hide-and-Find Stacking Block Game cooperative game showing a bear peeking out from behind the game title

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 multi-age group in which older students can play the adult role.

24. Race to the Treasure!

Box for the Race to the Treasure game showing an ogre peeking at a bag of gold

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.

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.

24 Great Card Games and Board Games for the Preschool Classroom