Kids love board games, but for the longest time I just assumed it was only for school-age children and that my 4-year-old wouldn’t be able to play any of the beloved games from my childhood. But when I saw how fascinated he was with board games at friend’s houses, I started searching for the best board games for young kids.
These are the top games I found that my 4-year-old was able to play with only a little prompting/assistance from parents. These are also the best board games that help teach some great values for young kids – like patience, cleaning up, sharing, why winning isn’t everything. We tested all these games for quality and interactive elements, and besides a few (okay, several) tantrums, we had a great time!
I played Memory when I was a little kid, and now as an adult playing with kids, I’ve learned something: kids are better at this than adults. No idea why, maybe because kids are unencumbered with mortgages, jobs and other responsibilities, they have an easier time remembering where the matches are.
If you’ve never played, it’s easy. You set out sets of matching cards face-down on your table, and pick up 2 at a time. If you don’t get a match, flip them back down. You keep going in turns, trying to get matches by remembering where the matches are located. I noticed my 4-year-old struggled to strategize at his age – he would flip over the card he had just picked up, and then try another card. When really, he should be picking up a new card to find the match, before picking up the one that he was 100% sure of the location. But my friend’s 6-year-old was the perfect age to kick my butt.
My son loves the game, and I like how this version – it was Paw Patrol – came with 4 different sets of colored cards. So if you’re playing with younger kids who need a smaller pack of cards to start with, you’re good to go. Overall – great game for kids! And it boosts their ego beating an adult.
I was nervous about this game. The name alone – Soggy Doggy? You immediately imagine your floors getting soaked with water in the first attempt. That’s not the case. First of all, this game is really easy to set up. Once you add batteries, you just attach the shower-head and put the rubbery Soggy Doggy in the tub, and you’re good to go. The game is really simple too – great for kids 3-6 years of age who want to play board games but are too young for most of them.
How to play: Roll the dice, and you’ll land on spaces designed to give ‘Soggy Doggy’ a shower, or you’ll turn the wheel, which puts you one step closer to the point when the Soggy Doggy decides to shake! My recently-turned 4-year-old loved that part the best, and quickly figured out the game. If that happens, you’re sent back to the beginning (which caused a couple tantrums in my house). But the good news is you get a white circular piece, so the next time that dog shakes, you just turn the piece back in.
Thankfully, every time the dog shakes, which happens about 2 times with 2 players, 3-4 times with 3 players, and 4-5 times with 4 players, not that much water sprays. You’ll get droplets on you and the floor, but it’s more for excitement factor. Overall – great game for little kids! And bonus – it teaches my 4-year-old to clean up after Soggy Doggy shakes.
That sounds weird – how does Candyland teach kids about losing. I noticed this phenomenon with my 4-year-old: he would always want to get ahead of me and win, and then he’d draw the card that sent him back 20 paces and he would get really really frustrated (and start whining about how he didn’t want to lose). This is a battle we’ll be facing for the next few years I’m sure, but I love that in this game, my kid is starting to realize that just because you’re ahead or behind in the game, doesn’t mean you’ll win or lose.
Grandma got my son this game as a Christmas present, and at first I was a little surprised because it’s the ‘My Little Pony’ version, and my son has never watched the movie or shown an any interest whatsoever in ponies. My 4-year-old is smart, he doesn’t really care except that he always picks the blue pony.
Overall, I love that this classic game is a taste of my own childhood and my kid loves playing it. He’s also starting to learn more about taking turns and playing fair. That doesn’t mean there are no tantrums, but we’re getting there.
I don’t mean families with 7-8 kids, but since you need a minimum of 4 people to play this game, and it recommends 7+ age, this is a useful game for a bigger family. But if your family doesn’t have a sense of humor, be warned, they’re going to have one at the end of this game. It’s hilarious. Googly Eyes reminds me of Pictionary or Telestrations, but better. You put on these goofy glasses that distort your vision and draw a picture, and everyone else tries to figure out what in the world you were trying to draw…
I played this at a friend’s house, where there are 5 kids from 5 to 12 years old. While the box suggests 7+, I found that 5-6 year olds could play, but depending on the kid, you don’t need the Googly Eyes to struggle with figuring out what they’re drawing. It’s easy to play – just roll the die and whatever space you land on chooses which color lense to use (easy – medium – hard). You set the timer and start drawing.
I love that it’s fairly easy to modify the game to fit with some of your kids’ abilities. Overall, really funny interactive game that will have your family shrieking with laughter.
Monopoly is probably the most popular game out there. So much that there’s now a version of Monopoly for everything. And now I’m happy to say, there’s a Monopoly Junior. It’s a simplified version of the property buying/selling/trading game of my childhood, with single bank notes and more kid-friendly properties. Instead of Park Place, you get properties like a zoo, a movie theater, and a video game arcade.
We played at a friend’s house (same house with several kids). My 4-year-old and their 5-year-old needed assistance playing the game, but the 7-year-old and 9-year-old were able to play without help. When they get older, we’ll transition to the regular Monopoly. At that point there probably be a version for Angry Birds or One Direction, or some other popular movie or band that everyone loves.
Crap, I just looked it up. There actually is a version of Monopoly for One Direction…
This was another Christmas present, but it’s one that I’m severely regretting. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a really fun game for young kids. You stack up the wall of yellow pieces, put ‘Humpty Dumpty’ on his wall, and try to knock out pieces of the wall without sending Humpty Dumpty tumbling down.
My 4-year-old adores this game. And the good news is even if you lose a few pieces, you’re still able to play. Just have Humpty Dumpty sit on a wall one layer down. This is great news because it took us exactly 7 times playing it to lose 2 pieces already. Thankfully the pieces are too big for a baby to swallow or I would really be worried.
The game is hilarious. It’s like Jenga but more fun for younger kids. The only downside is that, just like Jenga, once you knock down all the pieces (or Humpty Dumpty falls down), you have to pick all of them back up again. Overall, it’s a really fun game and bonus – my kid is learning that sometimes it’s really fun to pick things up again.