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. Some games even provide kids with an opportunity for that oh-so important movement break.
When kids play with their classmates, they practice social-emotional skills like cooperating, taking turns, and being a good sport. Not to mention the good old-fashioned fun in playing games and the nostalgia that teachers will feel, as many of these games were plucked right out of the 1980s and 1990s! Many mainstream games are perfect for the preschool classroom. Check out our list of the best board and card games for preschoolers.
1. Color Go Fish!
This classic game is a childhood staple, and these cards are easy on little hands and eyes.
Buy it: Color Go Fish at Amazon
2. Taro Gomi’s Funny Fish Go Fish Card Game
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.
Buy it: Taro Gomi’s Funny Fish at Amazon
3. I Spy, Dig In
We love that this game works on fine motor skills while also encouraging vocabulary recognition. Kids will love the frantic finding required to match all the objects on their cards!
Buy it: Briarpatch I Spy Game at Amazon
4. Math for Love Tiny Polka Dot
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.
Buy it: Math for Love at Amazon
This is the perfect game for older preschoolers since they will need to have good hand-eye coordination to retrieve the pieces.
Buy it: Operation at Amazon
6. Shopping List Memory Game
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.
Buy it: Orchard Toys Shopping List Memory Game at Amazon
7. Memory Match Game
Preschoolers will feel empowered once they catch on to the principles of this basic memory game. The enticing Popsicle-shaped cards will get them talking about attributes while they play.
Buy it: Memory Game: Summer Camp Edition at Amazon
Pull out a stick, but whatever you do, don’t let the marbles fall! You may want to buy an extra set of this game since it’s sure to be a favorite.
Buy it: Kerplunk at Amazon
9. Monkey Around
This is one of the best board games for preschoolers because it’s easily adaptable to large-group play. Movement cards ask kids to practice gross motor skills while playing with a fun beanbag banana.
Buy it: Monkey Around: The Wiggle & Giggle Game at Amazon
10. Bunny Bedtime Make-a-Choice Game
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.
Buy it: Bunny Bedtime: The Make-a-Choice Game at Walmart.com
11. Scavenger Hunt Cards
This is the perfect game for the whole class to play at once since there are enough sturdy scavenger hunt cards to go around. The cards encourage literacy development since they have both pictures and words on each card.
Buy it: MollyBee Kids Scavenger Hunt Cards at Amazon
12. Pete the Cat: The Missing Cupcakes Game
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.
Buy it: Pete the Cat: The Missing Cupcakes Game at Amazon
13. Guess Who?
The suggested age range is 6 and up, but we feel confident that with a little coaching, older preschoolers will fall in love with this old-school game. It will encourage use of descriptive vocabulary too.
Buy it: Guess Who? at Amazon
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.
Buy it: Zingo! Bingo With a Zing at Amazon
This game challenges kids to match shapes correctly while also challenging them to race against the clock. Kids will get a kick out of the pieces popping up when time runs out.
Buy it: Perfection at Amazon
16. Pancake Pile-Up!
This game works on both patterning and sequencing while also working on balance and coordination. Bonus: You can even use the game pieces for imaginative play in a toy kitchen!
Buy it: Pancake Pile-Up! at Amazon
17. Candy Land
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.)
Buy it: Candy Land at Amazon
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 through 6.
Buy it: Dominoes at Amazon
19. Hungry Hungry Hippos: Dino Edition
No list of best board games for preschoolers would be complete without some version of Hungry Hungry Hippos. We love this particular one since dinosaurs tend to be a favorite for any preschooler!
Buy it: Hungry Hungry Hippos: Dino Edition at Amazon
20. Rat-a-Tat Cat
The goal of the game is to have the lowest score when someone calls “Tat-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 students play with their cards turned up and visible.
Buy it: Rat-a-Tat Cat at Amazon
21. Ladybug’s Garden Memory Game
Another memory game but this one is just too cute not to include. And kids have to use their motor skills to fit the lady bugs into the holes.
Buy it: Ladybug’s Garden Memory Game at Amazon
22. Heads Talk, Tails Walk
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!
Buy it: Heads Talk, Tails Walk at Amazon
23. Connect 4
This is another perfect game for the older preschoolers in your class. Your students will have to use their critical-thinking skills in order to outsmart their opponent and get four in a row.
Buy it: Connect 4 at Amazon
24. Banana Blast
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.
Buy it: Banana Blast at Amazon
25. Frankie’s Food Truck Fiasco
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.
Buy it: Frankie’s Food Truck Fiasco Game at Amazon
Players roll two dice 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.
Buy it: Colorama at Amazon
27. Richard Scarry’s Busytown: Eye Found It!
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!
Buy it: Richard Scarry’s Busytown: Eye Found It! at Amazon
28. Charades for Kids
This version of charades is one of the best board games for preschoolers because it’s designed for little kids. Preschoolers need opportunities for movement, and this game provides just that as they have to act out a variety of scenarios. The game also encourages vocabulary development as the cards have both pictures and words.
Buy it: Charades for Kids at Amazon
Every kid should learn to play Uno. It’s marketed for ages 7 and up, but the rules are easily adaptable for younger children. With enough practice, they’ll be unleashing the Draw Four cards like pros.
Buy it: Uno at Amazon
30. Hoot Owl Hoot!
Players must work together to get the owls back to the nest before sunrise. Color cards, similar to Candy Land, move the owls closer to the goal, but there are a few added twists to make it more interesting.
Buy it: Hoot Owl Hoot! at Amazon
31. Snail’s Pace Race
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.
Buy it: Snail’s Pace Race at Target
32. 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 so they can satiate the goofy creature’s appetite.
Buy it: Feed the Woozle at Amazon
33. 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 class of 2-year-olds or a multi-age group in which older students can play the adult role.
Buy it: Where’s Bear? at Amazon
34. Race to the Treasure!
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.
Buy it: Race to the Treasure! at Amazon
35. Hi Ho! Cherry-O
Kids will have a blast picking pretend fruit from the trees on the preschool game board while they’re practicing math skills such as counting, addition, and subtraction!
Buy it: Hi Ho! Cherry-O at Amazon
36. Don’t Spill the Beans
This game requires no reading, so it’s great for young kids. It’s also perfect for improving fine motor skills as kids try to place beans in the jar without tipping it over.
Buy it: Don’t Spill the Beans at Amazon
37. Alphabet Bingo
Is there a more classic game than bingo? It definitely deserves a spot on any list of the best board games for preschoolers. This updated version can help kids improve letter recognition, letter and object association, and concentration skills. It’s also a great opportunity for social-skills development and cooperative play.
Learn more: Alphabet Bingo at Amazon
38. Don’t Break the Ice
The object of this old favorite is to keep Phillip the Penguin on top of the ice, but as the game goes on, the ice blocks start falling. Kids can work on fine motor skills, problem-solving, and learning to take turns while they have fun!
Buy it: Don’t Break the Ice at Amazon
39. Peppa Pig Chutes and Ladders
A forever favorite, Chutes and Ladders is an excellent choice for kids who haven’t yet learned how to read. They’ll have the best time playing this Peppa Pig–themed game while simultaneously improving number recognition.
Buy it: Peppa Pig Chutes and Ladders at Amazon
40. My Feelings
Social-emotional learning is particularly important in the pandemic world we have been living in. We love the regulation strategies this game teaches children to help manage their overwhelming feelings.
Buy it: My Feelings Game at Amazon
41. Count Your Chickens
This game is perfect for the preschool-aged crowd since it is fast-paced and stresses cooperation over competition. Children as young as 2 can learn skills like turn taking and counting while having fun at the same time.
Buy it: Count Your Chickens at Amazon
42. Grocery Go Karts
In this action-packed board game, players stack their groceries on their carts as they race to the checkout line. Preschoolers will work on their fine motor skills since they will be connecting and stacking the various grocery pieces. They will especially love the end when they get to launch their groceries from their carts!
Buy it: Grocery Go Karts at Amazon
43. Pizza, Pizza!
This is the perfect game for 3- to 7-year-olds to learn their shapes and colors while having fun creating yummy (and yucky) pizzas! It will also teach them valuable skills like taking turns and making choices.
Buy it: Pizza, Pizza! at Amazon
44. Sight Words Game
Sight word recognition is so important for preschoolers. This game features 400 commonly found words on different-colored flies that correspond with different ability levels, so you can cater to different literacy levels. And little ones will enjoy swatting the flies!
Buy it: Sight Words Game at Amazon
45. Season Wise
This game teaches valuable skills like categorizing and sorting while also teaching about the four seasons. We love that it could even spark some debate since some of the cards could go for more than one season.
Buy it: Season Wise at Amazon
46. Keepy Uppy Game
The preschool-aged crowd loves the show Bluey and the oh-so adorable characters featured in it. This cute board game is based on a popular game from the show Keepy Uppy. The best board games for preschoolers are fast-paced and fun, and this one certainly fits the bill!
Buy it: Bluey Keepy Uppy Game at Amazon