Monthly Archives: January 2018

Great Games for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Buddy is really into games right now. It’s really fun that he’s finally old enough for us to play games as a family. Before Christmas, we started playing memory and go fish with a tiny Thomas the Train card set, which was a favor from his Thomas the Train birthday party. We also tried a game from our library (Zingo), and he immediately fell in love with it. I asked my family to get games for us for Christmas, and we got some awesome ones! All of them are appropriate for both toddlers and preschoolers.

Disclaimer – the Amazon links below are affiliate links, and they are all products I love. If you choose to purchase an item through one of these links, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thanks for supporting my family. 

Most of the boxes for these games suggest them as for ages 3 and up, but they can be appropriate for younger kids. I’ve listed the needed skills for each to help you decide if it is appropriate for your child. Right now, Buddy is 33 months old, but he would have been able to play most of these at a younger age. Not only are these games a lot of fun, but they also help Buddy to work on many different skills, including learning to take turns and to be a good winner/loser.

Zingo

Skills Needed: Matching pictures

Skills Practiced: Fine motor skills, counting, comparing numbers

Zingo is Buddy’s favorite game right now. We play at least 3 rounds of it every day, and he can’t get enough of it! The idea is simple – be the first to match all of the pictures on your card. The red shooter dispenses the pictures, and they can be inserted in a slot on the shooter if they aren’t needed. We count how many pictures we have, how many more we need, and who has more pictures. There are two different levels of cards, and one side has more overlapping pictures between the cards to make the game more competitive. There are several other versions of this game including sight words, counting, and spelling.

Uno Moo

Skills Needed: Matching colors and farm animals

Skills Practiced: Colors, counting, fine motor skills

Uno Moo is a great version of the classic Uno game for young children. Each player starts with five animals, and you take turns putting them into the barn by matching either the color or the animal. There are figures that represent wild cards (the little boy) and draw two cards (skunks). Buddy loves the little figures, and it’s easy for him to know what can and can’t be matched. I got the older version of this game because I wanted the haystacks to hide the animals and the puppy figures. (Both are not included in the new version.) There is also a card version of this game.

Stack Up

Skills Needed: Stacking blocks

Skills Practiced: Colors, counting, fine motor skills

Stack Up is a cooperative game. Players work together to stack all 12 blocks before the smasher smashes the tower. Younger players use their hands to stack the blocks, but older players work together to use sticks to stack the blocks. You spin the spinner to determine what color block to stack. If it lands on the smasher, the figure moves forward one space. If any blocks fall, the smasher moves forward again. Buddy can hardly stand the excitement by the end of the game (see the second picture above)! There are challenge cards and two different types of sticks to challenge older players.

Seek A Boo

Skills Needed: Matching pictures

Skills Practiced: Memory, vocabulary, counting, shapes, colors

Seek a boo is a spin on the classic memory game. There are 36 large circle cards and 36 square find it cards. All of the cards are split into groups of six with a different color and a different topic (shapes, animals, clothing, outside objects, food, and toys). The child spreads out the six cards, and the parent shows a square card with a picture to find. We count how many times it takes for Buddy to find the matching card. After you do the first six, you can do another round with a different color. You can do two or more colors at a time to make it more challenging for older children.

Go Fish

Skills Needed: Matching farm animals

Skills Practiced: Find motor skills, counting, comparing numbers

Go Fish is a classic card game that is usually played with older kids. I really wanted to find a Go Fish deck for Buddy’s stocking since he loved playing it so much with his Thomas cards. But his Thomas set only had 8 matches, so it wasn’t really enough to play a good game. Most decks out there are made for older kids that can read numbers. But the set that I linked above just has pictures of farm animals. The deck is set up to get all four cards of each animal, but we just play with half the deck and have two card matches. We got this card holder to help Buddy hold his own cards, and it’s a great fine motor activity putting cards in and out of the holder.  When we finish the game, we count the amount of matches that each person has and compare the numbers to see who wins. We have also played memory with these cards.

Memory

Skills Needed: Matching pictures

Skills Practiced: Memory, counting, comparing numbers

Memory is a preschool game that has been around forever. It’s a great way for young children to work on remembering things, which is a great skill to practice. I made the set shown above on Shutterfly with pictures of our extended family. We have a large extended family, and none of them live close to us. This is a great way for Buddy to learn everyone’s names. He loves seeing everyone’s pictures and pictures of himself with them. When we finish each game, we count our matches and compare to see which person won.

Candy Land

Skills Needed: Color recognition

Skills Practiced: Fine motor skills, colors

Candy Land is another classic game for preschoolers. Small characters travel a multicolored path towards the Candy Castle. Players draw a color card to figure out where to go on the path. Specially themed candy cards send players forward or back to specific points on the board. Whoever reaches the castle first wins. Picking one card off the top of the deck and moving the figure on the path are both great ways to practice fine motor skills.

Our family loves playing all of these games, and I ‘m sure your family will too. Have I missed any great toddler or preschool games? Please leave your ideas in the comment section.

Wooden Puzzle Storage from the Dollar Store

Did your child get wooden puzzles this holiday season, and you’re wondering how to store them? If so, you are in the right place.

Buddy got some wooden puzzles for his first birthday, and I wasn’t sure how to store them. The puzzle racks are kind of expensive and take up a lot of space. They also didn’t fit the Melissa and Doug Chunky Puzzles, which we have. So I went looking for alternative puzzle storage solutions. I saw the idea for using plastic envelopes from the dollar store on Ally’s Helpful Hints for Mommies’ Blog. These large envelopes are packaged three for a dollar, and they are the perfect for wooden puzzles!

The regular peg puzzles fit perfectly into these envelopes without any adjustments needed. 

The chunky puzzles fit in the envelopes, but they were too big to close with the snap provided. I used two Velcro dots to fasten the envelope at the right place. I store these puzzles on their edges lined up like books in Buddy’s closet. They take up little space when placed vertically, and all of the pieces stay together in the envelope. I can’t take the credit for coming up with this idea, but I hope my sharing it has been helpful for you.

Laundry Basketball

Happy New Year! My resolution for 2017 was to blog every Monday of the year, and I’m thrilled to say I was able to keep it! I hope to maintain that goal for 2018 as well. Thanks so much to everyone who has read this blog in 2017. Your comments and pins mean so much to me.

Buddy and I made up the game of laundry basketball a few weeks ago. It is so easy, and so much fun, that I had to share.

Usually, when I fold Buddy’s laundry, he’s always in my way. Sometimes he wants to help put away things like washcloths and small blankets. But often, he wants to either dump everything out of the basket or put a bunch of stuffed animals in it. (Read here about our laundry basket stuffed animal activity.) Both make it difficult for me to get the laundry folded and put away.

Buddy has a beach ball in his room, which we throw around a lot. On this day, Buddy decided to try to throw it in the laundry basket. This game was the perfect activity for the two of us while I folded laundry! Much of the time, he missed the basket, so nothing affected my folding. When he missed, he happily ran after the beach ball to try again. Sometimes, the ball came into the basket when I was pulling out clothes. When this happened, I batted the ball away, and he didn’t get a basket. Buddy thought this was hilarious! And sometimes, he was able to get a basket when my hands were busy folding or putting things away.

When I got around to taking pictures, my laundry basket was mostly empty. But when we started our game, it was completely full!

This game was the perfect activity for the two of us. Buddy got some practice with his gross motor skills, and he had a ton of fun.  I was able to fold laundry and have fun at the same time. Best of all, there was nothing to clean up when we were done. Laundry basketball will definitely be a regular game in our house for a long time.

Do you have any ideas for other easy games? Please share in the comment section!

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