The 14 Best Board Games for Toddlers

For Educational Family Time Fun

Having trouble finding the best board games for toddlers? Then you’re in the right place.

best board games for toddlersEnjoy special family time with a board game

Board games offer an incredible opportunity for young children to have fun while they learn and grow.

In this article, we'll explore the world of board games, focusing on their benefits, discovering the different types available, identifying the very best, and looking at how you, as a parent, can help your little one learn through game playing.

Join me on this journey of discovering the best board games for toddlers.

Table of Contents

Benefits of Board Games for Toddlers

6 Types of Board Games for Toddlers

14 Best Board Games For Toddlers

  • Cooperative games
  • Color and shape matching games
  • Memory and matching games
  • Simple counting and number games
  • Storytelling and creativity games
  • Movement games

5 Tips For Parents To Enhance Learning

The Benefits of Board Games for Toddlers

1. Enjoying Family Time

Amid busy schedules, it's important to carve out quality family time. Playing board games is an ideal activity to bring the family together for fun and bonding. Even the act of sitting close together in a shared activity will strengthen your family relationships.

2. Building Social and Communication Skills

Playing games with family members or friends will help your toddler learn important social skills such as turn-taking, sharing, and cooperating. Additionally, board games open up the opportunity for open conversation between turn taking. This can be particularly beneficial for shy or quiet toddlers who often become more relaxed and talkative when playing board games.

3. Learning To Follow Instructions

Learning to follow instructions is a crucial life skill for your toddler. Board games require them to listen carefully to instructions, understand them, and use them to guide their actions. They learn about rules and how to work within them.

4. Coping With Failure

Being able to cope with failure is an essential life skill and board games provide a safe environment for your toddler to learn from their failures. While some youngsters find losing challenging, it is through these experiences that they develop resilience. Allowing them to experience failure and discussing what went wrong helps them understand that failures are stepping stones to success.

5. Encouraging Healthy Competition

Playing board games encourages a healthy sense of competition. Your toddler will learn how to win and lose in a supportive and encouraging environment, and to celebrate their own success and that of others.

6. Promoting Literacy and Math Skills

Board games contribute to the development of key literacy skills. Your toddler will have to listen to and understand instructions, recognize pictures, and eventually grasp simple words. They may need to ask for items, name objects, or provide simple information. Furthermore, board games often involve storytelling, which fosters language development and stimulates the imagination.

Most games also incorporate numeracy skills, such as counting, number recognition, and understanding vocabulary related to directions, colors, and shapes.

7. Supporting Brain Development

Playing board games will aid in the development of your toddler’s cognitive skills, including visual perception, spatial awareness, and critical thinking. Following instructions, making decisions, and moving game pieces, all contribute to the training of higher brain functions. By engaging with the game and interacting with the game components, your toddler will also exercise their memory and develop their attention skills.

8. Improving Dexterity

Board games will also help to improve your toddler’s dexterity, hand-eye coordination, and reaction time, all essential skills for everyday tasks that require precision.

toddler playing a board game with grandparentsA great activity for toddlers and grandparents too

6 Types of Board Games for Toddlers

We’ll look in detail at the 14 examples of the best board games for toddlers I’m about to give you in a minute but first, an overview of the 6 types available.

1. Cooperative Games

Cooperative board games are an excellent choice for toddlers, as they encourage teamwork and collaboration. Two popular examples are "Snug as a Bug in a Rug" and "Hoot Owl Hoot!" These games promote unity and reinforce the concept of working together towards a common goal.

2. Color and Shape Matching Games

Color and shape matching games captivate toddlers' attention while reinforcing their understanding of colors and shapes. "First Orchard" and "Pete the Cat." are two engaging options that introduce the fun of matching colors and shapes in a playful way.

3. Memory and Matching Games

Memory and matching games enhance cognitive skills by challenging toddlers to remember and match different images or objects. "The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game", "Lucky Ducks", and "Pizza, Pizza!" are excellent choices for fostering memory skills.

4. Simple Counting and Number Games

Introducing toddlers to basic counting and numbers through board games can be both entertaining and educational. Games like "Count Your Chickens!", "1-2-3 Froggies", and "The Ladybird Game" help toddlers develop early numeracy skills and build a foundation for future mathematical understanding.

5. Storytelling and Creativity Games

Storytelling and creativity games encourage imaginative play and language development. Games like "Tell-A-Tale" and "Imagine" inspire toddlers to create stories, expand their vocabulary, and express themselves creatively.

6. Movement Games

Movement games are an exciting addition to the list of best board games for toddlers. These games get little ones up and moving in a fun way. They promote physical activity and coordination while engaging their imagination and creativity. Two of the best are "Monkey Around" and "Duck, Duck, Dance!".

The 14 Best Board Games For Toddlers

Safety Consideration – Some of the excellent games in this list of the best board games for toddlers contain small parts that could pose a choking hazard. If you play them, always supervise your toddler very closely to keep them safe.

Here’s a brief description of each game by category. Click the links for full details to help you decide if the game is right for your toddler.

1. Cooperative Games

Snug as a Bug in a Rug

Players work together to beat the stinkbug by spinning the spinner, rolling the dice, matching bugs, and sliding them under the rug. Learning includes colors, numbers, shapes, counting, matching, and the concept of big and little. The game has 3 levels so will grow with your toddler.

Hoot Owl Hoot

Players cooperate to help all the owls fly home before sunrise. If they achieve this, everyone wins. The game involves color matching. Your toddler will learn the concept of “strategy” and take part in shared decision-making. The game has instructions for playing it in two different ways.

2. Color and Shape Matching Games

First Orchard

A perfect first board game for your toddler. Players work together as a team to roll the dice and pick the matching fruit from the orchard before the raven advances down the path to steal it all. The game reinforces color recognition, quantities, and basic counting skills. The 16 large wooden fruit pieces are easy to pick up and move around making them ideal for small hands.

Pete the Cat

Helping Pete match his groovy shaped shirt buttons will not only help your toddler to learn their colors and shapes but also hone their fine motor skills as they pick up the buttons with the fun Pet the Cat shaped tweezers. The first one to fill their shirt game board is the winner.

3. Memory and Matching Games

The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game

This game is great for encouraging strategic thinking. As players color-match acorns and try to collect one of each color, they need to be prepared for spins that give instructions to “lose an acorn” or “steal an acorn”. The perfect game for your toddler to learn good sportsmanship in a competitive situation.

Lucky Ducks

A color and shape matching memory game that also helps develop hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. You simply switch on the circular pond and, as it starts turning, pick up one of the cute swimming ducks. Each has a colored shape on its underside. If it matches the player’s colored shape, they keep it, otherwise, it’s returned to the pond. Simple quacking fun.

Pizza, Pizza!

There’s more color and shape matching in this excellent pizza-making game. Players spin to win a pizza slice card for their pizza. Turn it over to reveal the topping. Will it be delicious or covered in gruesome bugs, slimy slugs, or scary spiders? Screams of delight or horror are guaranteed. The yucky creatures must go into Head Chef’s trash bin. Your toddler will want to play again and again.

4. Simple Counting and Number Games

Count Your Chickens!

Let your toddler have fun on the farm as they work with other players to round up Mama Hen’s chicks and return them to the coop. They’ll love spinning the spinner and counting their way around the board to collect the little chicks. A game with math skills and cooperation skills all rolled into one.

1-2-3 Froggies

A fast-paced color matching and counting game that really gets the brain focused. Roll the die, count the flies shown, match the number to the frog cards, and claim the win. A lovely game and definitely recommended, but probably one to play with mom and dad or a supportive older sibling while they are very young so they at least get the chance of a few wins. Or adapt it with your own rules to make it ultra toddler-friendly.

The Ladybird Game

An ideal board game to introduce your older toddler to basic math concepts. Draw a card and follow the simple instructions to move forward or back the stated number of moves. If you get an aphid card, you get to collect some aphids instead of making a move. A ladybird card earns you an extra turn. A whole lot of learning from one great game.

5. Storytelling and Creativity Games

Farm Animals Felt Story Board

This 38 piece farmyard story-building activity will be a real winner with your toddler. Whilst they can play with it on their own, it's just as much fun as a group activity with players taking turns to add felt pieces to the board to create the next part of a farmyard story. It offers the opportunity for lots of discussion and language development.


Okay, so this isn’t a board game, but it’s such a great game for creative storytelling that it’s too good to leave out. From the three sets of cards, you pick a character, setting, and conflict at random, then, use the prompts to create a story together. As well as playing this as a group game, you can also use “Imagine” for creating bedtime stories with your toddler.

6. Movement Games

Monkey Around

Toddlers lover to move around while playing a game which makes “Monkey Around” ideal for family games time. The 40 action cards will get everyone doing things like hopping, marching, making a surprised face, forming a bridge for others to crawl under, giving hugs or high fives, and balancing the plush banana which comes with the game on their head. Simple actions but loads of fun.

Duck Duck Dance!

This is another popular movement game which, as the name suggests, will get everyone up dancing. The four large dice have pictures of eight different dance moves on them. Roll the dice to build your 4 move dance sequence and get dancing. Moves include twisting, wiggling, jumping, clapping, and walking backward. For extra fun and to make the game last longer, add some lively music.

5 Tips For Parents

How To Enhance Learning Through Board Games

Engage in Interactive Play

Playing board games with your toddler offers a precious opportunity for bonding and interactive learning. Sit together, explain the rules, and enjoy the game as a shared experience. Your active participation will stimulate their curiosity and create lasting memories.

Encourage Problem-Solving and Decision-Making

While playing board games, encourage your toddler to think critically, make decisions, and solve problems. Ask open-ended questions and guide them through the process of reasoning, helping them develop essential problem-solving skills.

Promote Turn-Taking and Sharing

Teach your toddler the value of turn-taking and sharing by following the game's rules and taking turns together. This promotes patience, cooperation, and social skills, laying the foundation for positive interactions with others.

Reinforce Language and Vocabulary

Engage in conversation during play, describing the game, and discussing the actions and events taking place. Introduce new vocabulary words related to the game's theme, enhancing their language development and expanding their vocabulary.

Foster Creativity and Imagination

Encourage your toddler to unleash their creativity and imagination through board games. Let them make up their own rules, or even design their own games using the game components. This fosters their artistic expression and cultivates a love for imaginative play.

Final Words

In the journey of early childhood development, board games are invaluable tools that unlock a world of fun-filled growth and learning.

By carefully selecting the very best board games and embracing the power of play, you can actively aid your toddler’s development while enjoying quality family time.

They are never too young to start having fun with simple board games so choose the most appropriate from games from this list of the 14 best board games for toddlers and get playing.

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About Jacky Spear

Jacky Spear passionately promotes learning toys for child development. With 30+ years of teaching experience, she understands the power of play in engaging and nurturing children, including those with special needs. Drawing from personal experience in both the school and home environment, Jacky helps parents to select the best learning toys to unlock their children's potential and create a lifelong love for learning. Learn more about Jacky >>

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