best board games for 3,4 and 5-Year-Olds in 2019

One of the best gifts you can get for your little one is a board game. As well as being incredibly entertaining, these games are easy to understand, set up and they’re fairly short. Even better, is the fact that they present dozens of learning opportunities.
That said, an important factor you should consider when getting a board game is your child’s age. The reason for this is that board games are customized for the different age groups. The focus of our article is on the best board games for 3, 4 and 5-year-olds.

What to Look For in a Preschooler’s Board Game

Skill level

When purchasing a new board game for your toddler, you’ll need to find that perfect sweet spot.
In other words, it shouldn’t be too difficult or too simple. Too complex and your child will become uninterested just a couple of minutes into the game.
However, if it’s too simple, it will likely start to collect dust on your child’s bookshelf after only one game. It is for this reason that we’ve categorized the top-rated board games below based on age-groups.

Number of Players

How many kids do you anticipate will be playing the board game at once?
This is a crucial point to consider especially if you always have kids from your neighborhood visiting. Also, some games are designed for only two players while others can accommodate up to eight players.

Length of time

When choosing a board game for a preschooler, you want to go for one that lasts for only a few minutes per round.
With toddlers, particularly those aged 4 years and younger, have short attention spans. Consequently, choosing games that last more than 30 minutes can cause them to get tired or bored.

Ease of setting it up

A good board game shouldn’t take too long to assemble. In fact, it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to piece it together.
Whenever possible, go for board games that are so easy to install that they can be set up by your kids. This way, they can access the board game and play even if you’re not around.

Easy cleanup

Along with being easy to install, the board game should be easy to clean up. Ideally, it should come with detachable pieces or props so that it’s simpler to clean.
On the same note, it should be compact so that it doesn’t take up too much storage space. Fortunately, most board games come packaged in neat boxes that can be used for storage. This not only helps to keep your baby’s playroom tidy but it also minimizes the risk of losing some of the pieces.

Benefits of Buying the Best Board Games for 3, 4 and 5-Year-Olds

Encourage spending quality time with kids

In such a technology-driven era, it can be difficult to find fun ways of entertaining kids, and ones that do not involve using electronics. Thankfully, board games provide an inexpensive and simple way of spending screen-free time with children.

Provide opportunities for early learning

Board games do so much more than provide entertainment for kids. They also serve as avenues for learning new things.
Candy Land and Hi Ho Cherry-O are good examples of teaching tools as they help toddlers learn how to recognize different colors, tally the number of spaces and develop hand-eye coordination.

Boost language skills

Another vital skill that younglings learn is how to communicate. If your 5-year-old is struggling to learn new words, getting them the HedBanz Jr. Family Board Game can expand their vocabulary while providing loads of fun.

Improve kids’ attention span

As children grow older, one of the things they grapple with is being attentive to one thing long enough. Luckily, a lot of board games require players to concentrate on the task at hand so as to increase their chances of winning.
Even though they only last 15 to 30 minutes, they train kids how to focus on that one activity for a short period of time.

Teach the importance of teamwork

With games like Race to the Treasure, the best way for players to get to the treasure box in time is if they work cohesively. Through teamwork, they can come up with a strategy that helps to maximize every move they make.

Train players to lose gracefully

Board games also teach a vital lesson about playing fairly. Since the majority of these games are competitive in nature, they teach kids that it’s not every time that things go their way. Sometimes they’ll win and other times they’ll lose.
Thus, they train kids to cope with defeat in a reasonable manner as opposed to throwing tantrums.

Soothe anxiety

Not every child has the courage to speak up in front of his/her peers. If your young one suffers from social anxiety, getting them an interactive board game can help.
The beauty of these games is that they’re structured. Each player gets an opportunity to contribute to the game, and this encourages interaction. In this way, board games boost the child’s self-esteem and confidence.

Best Board Games for 3-Year-Olds

Hasbro Gaming Candy Land

If you have a 3-year-old, Candy Land is an excellent board game. Currently published by Hasbro, this game does not require any reading skills. It also has minimal counting skills, which is why it’s so suitable for this age-group.
Candy Land has very straightforward gameplay that doesn’t require players to make complex moves. All the participants need to do is navigate the rainbow path while being guided by the colors on the cards they choose from a deck.
For instance, If you choose a pink-colored card, you should move the marker ahead to the next space of that color on the board. A player wins if they land or pass the last square.
We like
  • Interactive since it can be played by 2 to 4 players
  • No reading skills required
  • Includes colored cards and fun illustrations that will amuse your little one
  • Teaches basic skills like following directions and taking turns
  • Enhances kids’ knowledge about colors
We don't like
  • The board design is too busy; can be confusing for toddlers

Chutes and Ladders Board Game

Chutes and Ladders is another fairly simple game perfect for kids ages 3 years and up. This game has participants taking turns to move pieces on a grid. The goal is to reach the winner square marked 100.
This game has received multiple improvements over time. However, it’s thought to have originated from a game developed in India to teach kids the consequences of making morally wrong choices.
At the time, it was popularly known as Snakes and Ladders. When Hasbro took the concept and introduced it in the U.S., they branded it Chutes and Ladders.
Like Candy Land, this one also has a simple setup. The players take turns rotating a spinner to determine how many spaces they can move on the grid. If you land on a square with a picture, you will either go up a ladder or slide backward.
We like
  • It’s fun and easy
  • No reading needed
  • Excellent tool for teaching counting, numbers, and rudimentary addition
  • A good way to teach kids that actions have consequences
We don't like
  • Construction of the board game items can be improved

Hasbro Hi Ho! Cherry-O Board Game

For a fun game that strengthens your child’s knowledge of colors and counting, the Hi Ho! Cherry-O is a fantastic board game. Also published by Hasbro, this game can be played by 2 to 4 players.
At the beginning of the game, every player has an empty basket and 10 cherries on their trees. Players then take turns to roll a spinner and execute the specified activity.
There are 7 actions to choose from: removing 1, 2, 3 or 4 cherries off the tree; returning 2 cherries back to the tree or replacing all the cherries on your tree. The game is won by the first player who manages to collect all the cherries from their tree and call out “Hi Ho! Cherry-O”.
We like
  • Helps to sharpen your child’s math skills: counting, addition, and subtraction
  • Simple gameplay: does not require any strategic moves
  • Can be played with family
We don't like
  • A little pricey

Wonder Forge Eye Found It

Looking for a game that will keep your 3-year-old entertained for hours? Eye Found It by Wonder Forge is a superb choice. It’s highly-rated and is customized with features fit for kids in this age group.
The goal of the game is to help players get to Picnic Island. But along the way, these participants have to look for hidden items in an I-Spy style challenge.
One thing we love about this board game is that it can be played by up to 4 players at once, an aspect that fosters collaboration. When it’s a particular player’s turn, the child rotates the spinner. Doing so presents them with one of two choices: they will have to move a given number of spaces or figure out the “Goldbug Mystery”.
If they arrive at the mystery, all participants have to work in unison to hunt for certain objects on the board before time elapses. If they’re able to find 5 of the objects, then they get to move 5 spaces on the board.
We like
  • Instructions are easy enough for kids to understand and follow
  • Develops crucial skills such as matching and object identification
  • Also helps to reinforce observation skills and paying attention to details
We don't like
  • It’s a little too easy to memorize

Best Board Games for 4-Year-Olds

Gobblet Gobblers

Have you ever heard or played tic-tac-toe? This is a game where players try to align either three O’s or X’s in a diagonal, horizontal or vertical column. Well, Gobblet Gobblers is a challenging version of tic-tac-toe.

It has fairly similar gameplay as players also take turns trying to line up three pieces. However, this game adds a twist in that you can use your piece to devour another player’s piece or even some of your own pieces.
You also have the freedom to shift the pieces you’ve put on the board. These additional features make Gobblet Gobblers fun enough for any 4 years old to get engaged. The best part is: it builds your toddler’s critical thinking skills without them even noticing.
We like
  • Easy to learn
  • Ideal for peer or sibling play
  • Game items are made of high-quality wood
  • Perfect for developing a player’s memory and spatial awareness skills
We don't like
  • Only two players can play at a time
  • If you end up with the plastic version (instead of the wooden), you’ll notice that it’s cheaply made

My First Carcassonne

Initially known as Kids of Carcassonne, this board game is designed for players aged 4 years and up. It comes with big chunky tiles, which have one element on the road.
Some tiles are designed with termination points. This means that their paths lead to a building or courtyard. Any road that terminates on both of its ends is regarded as finished. The majority of road segments also have small kid figures on them, which belong to one of the four colors.
One thing we love about this board game is that it can be played by up to 4 players at once, an aspect that fosters collaboration. When it’s a particular player’s turn, the child rotates the spinner. Doing so presents them with one of two choices: they will have to move a given number of spaces or figure out the “Goldbug Mystery”.
We like
  • Short playtime makes it suitable for kids with short attention spans
  • Perfect for kids and adults
  • Boosts your child’s critical thinking skills
We don't like
  • Expensive

The Ladybug Game

If you’re looking for an interactive game that both you and your kids can enjoy, The Ladybug Game is your best bet.
It starts off with the parent/guardian reading an introductory tale revolving around the adventures of the four ladybugs: Tommy Teal, Rickie Red, Olivia Orange, and Ella Yellow. This simple act of reading to your child fosters their listening and reading skills.
The goal of the game is to help the ladybugs get back home. This is following a violent windstorm that lands them on a very far pile of dirt. The player that gets their ladybug home the fastest wins.
We like
  • Improves their reading and counting skills
  • Teaches them how to listen keenly
  • Short playtime of 20 minutes
  • Interactive; hence suitable for parents and their young ones
  • Beautiful graphics that keep kids interested
We don't like
  • Complex for some

Best Board Games for 5-Year-Olds

Peaceable Kingdom Race to the Treasure!

Race to the Treasure is a board game that requires a little bit of critical thinking on your child’s part. The level of challenge it presents is what makes it ideal for older kids aged 5 years and over.
The goal of the game is to form a path from the “start” square to the “end” square before the ogre gets to the end of its path. When it’s a player’s turn, they have to draw a tile from the bag. The tile indicates either a piece of path or an image of the ogre.
Working cohesively, the kids have to first map out a path to get the three keys that open the treasure box. Next, they have to figure out the right path to the treasure box itself. All this while, every Ogre tile is drawn gets the monster closer to the treasure.
The nature of this game teaches toddlers the importance of teamwork. By working together, they can beat the ogre to the treasure box.
We like
  • Based on a fresh, exciting and unique concept
  • Develops an array of skills in kids including shared decision-making, math-grid concepts, and strategy
  • All items of the game are made using eco-friendly raw materials
  • Suitable for family game nights
We don't like
  • There’s room for more gameplay mechanics

HedBanz Jr. Family Board Game

Get ready for loads of entertainment as every player tries to guess what animal is drawn on the card in their headband.
With the only category of animals, you might think that it’s easy to narrow down the available options- but it’s the minor details that will have you racing against time. To win any round of this board game, a player has to be very smart about the clues and questions they ask.
This board game comes with 4 adjustable headbands and more than 30 cards, so everyone is bound to have fun.
As the title implies, the HedBanz Jr is designed for younger children, typically, those who are 5 years and older. However, there’s another version for kids over 7 years and another one for adults.
We like
  • Fosters creative thinking
  • Teaches kids different vocabulary
  • Helps to develop your toddler’s working memory and listening comprehension
We don't like
  • Can be a bit boring when kids master all the animals on the cards

Race to Planet X

If you’re planning to introduce your toddler to basic math concepts of addition and subtraction, the highly-competitive Race to Planet X is a good place to start.
Designed for kids aged 5 years and older, this board game is more suited for those who like fast-paced games. So how is it played? Players take turns creating Power Combos (these are 3 cards which can form a bond); thus helping you to move forward on the board.
This board game comes with 4 adjustable headbands and more than 30 cards, so everyone is bound to have fun.
We like
  • Encourages players to think strategically
  • It’s suitable for kids in kindergarten, first and second grade
  • Fosters STEM learning
  • Reinforces the concept of number bonds
We don't like
  • Might be too complex for some kids
FAQs

Do girls and boys mind playing similar board games?

Yes, they do. One unique aspect of board games is that they’re not gender-bias as other toys are- like action-figure or dress-up doll toys. With board games, either gender can play and enjoy it in equal measure.
That said, it’s important that you take your child’s interests into account when picking a board game. Some love competitive gameplays while others prefer those that call for cooperation and teamwork.
Similarly, some kids like real-life scenes while others prefer science fiction or fantasy-themed board games. On the same note, there are kids who like fast-paced board games while others like those that require patience and meticulous planning.

Can I buy board game replacement pieces?

This all depends on the specific board game and brand that you’re buying from. The good news is: most manufacturers understand that kids are likely to lose pieces over time. As a result, they provide replacement parts though at an additional cost.
The peaceable Kingdom and Thinkfun are some of the brands that can replace lost pieces. However, the replacement is limited to a particular number of pieces and specific geographical locations.

Can I change the rules of the game?

There’s no problem in changing the policies of a particular game, especially if you’re doing so to improve gameplay for your kids.
Nonetheless, you should be consistent. If you change or modify a particular rule, then it should be applied in all future games. Also, you shouldn’t change a rule unless all the players involved support this move. This way, you don’t end up being unfair to some of the kids.

Should I allow my child to win?

No, you should not. Doing so gives your kids a false perception of their abilities. Besides, training your kids to accept defeat in a graceful manner is a vital aspect of gaming.

Final Thoughts

Preschoolers are little explorers who mainly learn by getting hands-on. Board games present the perfect opportunity for your kids to develop and practice new skills at their own pace.
That said, it’s always important that you get a board game that is appropriate for your child’s age. If they just celebrated the third birthday, the Hasbro Gaming Candy Land makes an excellent gift. It does not require any reading skills, making it simple enough for a 3-year-old.
For a 4-year-old, we recommend Gobblet Gobblers. This game is identical to tic-tac-toe but with a twist. It helps to develop your child’s memory and spatial awareness skills. If you have a 5-year-old, Race to the Treasure by the Peaceable Kingdom is a good option. This one teaches more advanced concepts like teamwork and decision-making.
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