Board Games, for Your 3 Year Old (and You)

Growing up, my favorite pastime with my family was playing board games. I remember my mom coming home from yard sales with boxes of board games like Chutes and Ladders, Mastermind, and Guess Who. I happened to marry a man who also loves playing board game (in fact, I met him for the first time during a game of Settlers of Catan heheheh…), and that’s why we have a tall bookshelf full of board games. 🙂 

Once I became a mom, one of the first things I look for when going to consignment sales are board games. We started playing board games with Alia when she was around 2.5 years old. The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game was her first board game. It’s a game with simple rules and involves color matching. Now that Alia is 3 years old, we have played several games that we have come to love. I thought I’d share some of them with you here: 

Board games for preschoolers

  • “I’ll race you to the top” games: Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders. 
  • “Who gets the most first wins!” games: Shopping List, Picnic, Go Fish, Spot it, The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game, Hi Ho Cherry O, Sequence for Kids.
  • “We all win or we all lose” cooperative game: Hoot Owl Hoot (Cooperative game means all players have to help each other in order to win. So it’s either we all win, or we all lose. I didn’t play such a game growing up, and I’m glad that there are many out there these days. Cooperative games are excellent games to teach children that playing games isn’t always about being the sole winner, but it’s also about helping and being aware of others.)
  • “Get up and be active” games: I Can Do That! game and Picture Charade. 

There are many benefits to playing board games for young children. Each game has its own benefits obviously. For instance, children can learn numbers and counting when playing Chutes and Ladders. Picnic game from Eeboo teaches them about food groups. Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game teaches you how to match colors. But I believe that overall by playing board games, children practice many important social skills such as following the rules, taking turns, using respectful language and gestures, and showing good sportsmanship and perseverance. When we first started playing board games with Alia, she was a very sore loser :p She would not finish a game if she knew that she would lose. But as she gets older, we noticed that she has better attitudes. She would say things like “Oh well, maybe I’ll win next time!” And she would congratulate the winner of the game! 🙂 We tell her that it is normal to feel upset when we lose a game, but winning or losing is just part of the game. Play again, and try better next time. Modeling positive behaviors is important. 

Now it seems that we own so many board games. Out of these 12 games I listed, I only bought 1 brand new game on Amazon. The rest? Well, they’re either from thrift stores like Goodwill or the seasonal consignment sales. Most of them cost about $5 each! what a bargain, right? So if you live in the States, hit up those sales and start collecting board games for your family! 😀 


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