Keeping preschoolers entertained is a lot easier if you have a few go-to games. Play is important for your child’s health, and the best board games for 3- and 4-year-olds engage your child with fun while fostering important skills for their age.
As your toddler grows into a preschooler, the options for board games grow, too. Matching and memory games are popular in this age group; you’ll also find storytelling games that incorporate illustrated cards prompting children to act out a prompt or use their imagination.
Board games for preschoolers will help children practice and develop age-appropriate milestones in language, cognition, movement, fine motor skills like hopping and standing on one foot or building a tower with four or more blocks. These games also help develop emotional and social skills, like imitation and following three-part commands. Most 3- to 4-year-olds are able to tell stories, understand the idea of same and different, count, sort objects by shape and color, take turns in games, and identify common objects. The games below each capture a few of these skills.
Some of the games can be played individually, giving parents a few free minutes, but many call for two to four players; so you can include family and friends, encourage teamwork, and teach the concept of taking turns. The play time for some games is just a few minutes, while others can offer seemingly endless play all day.
Keep reading for the best board games for 3- and 4-year-olds, including some picks with thousands of reviews on Amazon.
1. The Best Mystery-Solving Game: Busytown
With more than 1,000 reviews, the Busytown board game is highly rated on Amazon, and it's a quick 20-minute game for two to four players. The board stretches out 6 feet to reveal a rich landscape of illustrations filled with hidden objects for preschoolers to find as they play.
Based on where the spinner lands, players move forward, feed the pigs, or "solve a mystery" by finding those hidden objects on the board. Ultimately, all players win by making it to the ferry boat and Picnic Island before the pigs eat all the food; all players lose together (or win together). This game encourages teamwork, collaboration, and object identification as well as matching skills, and attention to detail.
What fans love: “Busy Town has quickly established itself as a family favorite and our three- and five-year old absolutely LOVE it. [...] Educational value on Busy Town is high as the game is good at getting our kids to count the number of spaces they need to move, doing basic math for determining how many they need to get, searching for certain objects, and building vocabulary as we talk about the different objects on the board [...]”
2. The Best Game For Storytelling: Create A Story Cards
To foster critical thinking and storytelling skills in your preschooler, get this story card set with delightful, fairy-tale illustrations, from a magic potion to a fire-breathing dragon. Kids can play individually or in a group by drawing an illustrated card to start a story, then continuously drawing to see where the story goes.
Games can last a few minutes or as long as players like, with 36 illustrated storytelling cards in total. Reviewers say they love seeing their kids engage in creative play, and parents also say the cards are surprisingly sturdy.
What fans love: “Bought a couple of these for my nieces for Christmas when they came to visit. Huge hit! Lets them use their imagination to make up a story based on what cards they selected. They would play with one another, or ask we use them for a bedtime story. Bought them for the 5 year olds, but the 2 1/2 year old thought it was fun, too.This is a fun toy for adults to interact with kids as well."
3. An Award-Winning Board Game For Preschoolers: Zingo!
As the manufacturer says, this game is “Bingo with a Zing.” This game will be fun for kids as they slide the zinger to dispense tiles and match them to their boards until the first one gets a full board and yells “Zingo!” Tiles are illustrated so both early readers and pre-readers can play, and the game comes with 72 double-sided tiles for two to seven players. The sturdy boards are double-sided for easier and harder levels, so this game will grow with children.
With Zingo, preschoolers will learn how to take turns and build language and matching skills. They'll also work on skills in concentration, image recognition, words, and numbers. It's a fast-paced game, which reviewers report lasts at least 15 to 20 minutes. This highly rated game with more than 1,200 reviews is also the recipient of several awards, including an Oppenheim Gold, Parents' Choice Award, and an ASTRA Best Toys for Kids Award.
What fans love: “I absolutely love this game. It assists my 3 year old with recognizing various items and also starts with sight words. It is an added bonus that he loves yelling bingo! The red cards are more competitive and nice for older ages. The green cards have less duplication so theyre less competitive. We try to stay on the green side with my 3 year old. Id definitely recommend this item.”
4. The Best Educational Game: The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game
The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game teaches preschoolers hand-eye coordination, turn-taking, strategic thinking, matching skills, color recognition, and fine motor skills. Though length of play time is unclear, the rules are simple: two to four players spin the spinner and pick up an acorn that matches the color the spinner landed on. The first player to collect five acorns on their log wins.
This game is highly rated with more than 2,000 reviews and 4.7 stars overall. It's also the winner of the Parents' Choice Award, Dr. Toy Best Picks, Good Housekeeping Best Toy, Canadian Toy Testing Council, and NAPPA Games Honors awards. Choose the board book bundle for a companion gift for your little one.
What fans love: “This game is not only cute but it's also educational, lots of fun, and easy for little ones to comprehend and play fairly independently once they know the instructions. My 5 and 4 year olds can play without my help now that we have played together a few times which is great...This is a great family night game if you have smaller kids. My kids love to see who will fill up their log with acorns first that they don't even realize they're working on their colors, counting, and other skills like taking turns, patience, etc. I would highly recommend the sneaky snacky squirrel game to every family. It's one of the best games I have bought my kids ever.”
5. The Best Memory Game: Shopping List
The Orchard Toys Shopping List game will be instantly familiar to your preschooler from tagging along at the grocery store. Great for pre-readers, players practice matching, memory, and literacy as they draw up to 32 cards with grocery store items like eggs and check off their shopping list. Designed for two to four players, the first one to fill their basket or cart by collecting every item on their list wins.
Reviewers love that the cards are made from durable, recycled board and wipe clean easily. Add-on packs are available to extend the life of this highly rated game.
What fans say: “This is a great toddler and preschool game (perhaps even a bit older). [...] The game is more challenging for the child when three or four players are involved, rather than a two-player game, but it is fun no matter what. It has been a favorite in our house for a few years. The cards and tiles are sturdy, so even after lots of play, our set has held up nicely.”
6. The Most Portable Game: Trucks Color Matchup Game + Puzzle
Peacable Kingdoms is a well-loved brand for kid games that's been around for more than 30 years, and this portable and compact match-up game and puzzle is another winner. The set will hold the interest of any preschooler obsessed with trucks and cars, and kids can play individually or with multiple players for a few minutes or as long as they'd like. It's a great one to bring on a trip for playing in a hotel room or tent.
With 24 vibrantly illustrated game cards, it's an appealing pick for children ages 2 to 4 and will help foster different skills like number and color recognition, visual sorting, and rhyming. There are three styles of play: a "face-up matching" game that teaches visual recognition, a slightly harder "face-down matching" game to practice memory skills, and a floor puzzle building game, which works on spatial awareness and problem-solving.
What fans love: “My 3 year old boys love these cards. Not only can we play the match game with construction trucks, the flip side has a picture that you can put together like a puzzle. The cards are thicker than normal and durable. The box offers a good way to keep them contained. It's a good size small gift and fit well into a Christmas stocking.”
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