In pursuit of a simple, fabulous, imperfect life at home.

5 Great Games for Young Children (and their parents)

We are a game-playing kind of family.  Many nights the kitchen table is quickly cleared and scrubbed after dinner so that a game board can be set up.  Sometimes I will play, other times I will tidy the kitchen and serve tea (earl grey for the hubby and me, calming herbal teas for the kids) while my husband and the children play.  It is these sorts of moments that turn ordinary life into something amazing.

Here are our favourite games to play with our 3 and 5 year old.

1. Sorry

Although some Sorrycards do require reading, children catch on quick and are able to memorize what each card does.  With young children you may want to start with just 2 or 3 of the pawns instead of 4, since all 4 can make the game run past their little attention spans (and bedtimes!), and in our case, mom and dad's attention spans too!

2) Connect 4

We gave Connect 4to our children for Christmas this year and they can't get enough of it.  Game play moves quickly and emptying the tray at the end of the game is at least as much fun as the game itself.

3) Candy Land

Candy Landis a fun and colorful game that delights children.  The instructions list an alternate way to play that involves drawing 2 cards and choosing which one to play, which is a simple introduction to strategy for young minds.

4) Barrel of Monkeys

Who doesn't love Barrel of Monkeys

5) Uno Moo

 UNO MOOis like regular Uno but instead of cards each player has a haystack hiding a selection of cute little coloured animals. This game is easy enough for my 3 and 5 year old to play by themselves and the whole game packs away in a sturdy plastic barn that my children have failed so far to destroy. (bonus!)

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What games do you love to play with your kiddos?


  1. Thank you for this. My daughter is 2 1/2 and I am starting to think about what games we can play.

  2. Great list, I want to start a game night in our home!

    Sarah beth @

  3. We are currently Uno crazy. We all enjoy that one from Dad on down to the three-year-old. She can hold her cards with the help of a chip clip.

    Sum Swamp is a good one with simple adding and subtracting.

    Then there's Pass the Picture. We all start out with a piece of paper on which we draw a circle for a head. Then we all pass our head to the person to the left and we all draw one feature - the eyes, ears, hair, etc. Then we pass again and so on until we can't think of another silly thing to add to our faces.

  4. Left, right, center is another fun game that all ages can enjoy! We played that for 2 hours when my 4 kids had their 4 cousins spend the night! We all loved it .. Ages 2 (he rolled dice for me), 5, 7, 8, 9, 11, 13, 15 and 30-something. :D .

  5. Thanks for this post! My oldest turns 4 next month, and I was trying to decide on a couple of boardgames for her that we could play, so this helps tremendously!

  6. We also like Yahtzee at our house.

  7. Trouble has been an early game staple in our house. We alter the rules of Trouble (and Sorry) to make it a little less tiring for the kids. (and us!). We allow anyone to exit on any number...and we typically don't send the youngest child "home" if we can avoid it.

    Another game our family likes to play together is Blokus. Little ones need to pair up with an adult, but it's fun for everyone.

  8. I LOVE your blog. LOVE it! It's my favorite and I tell all my friends about it. Please don't ever stop blogging! :) You have inspired me in a lot of ways. Hopefully my home is now more stream-lined, organized, tasty, routine, and fun! So thanks!

  9. Great picks! We don't have Uno Moo, but I should buy it for my kids. They love to play memory!

  10. We love games too!
    Pass the Pigs - good for any age over 3, small to take when travelling
    Sleeping Queens by Gamewright good for for your girls soon too.

    Our girls are 12 and 14 now and we love Rummikub, Blockus, Carcasonne, 10 days in Asia (and othe countries), Cluedo .... Another game your girls could play soon is Enchanted Forest, a board game which uses memory and strategy, no reading involved I don't think ....

    This year as both our girls are in high school I am hoping to have one official games night per month, also on Sunday after lunch we usually play a game.

  11. CandyLand makes me want to pass out from boredom. Kills me. I feel like such a jerk-mom when my oldest asks to play and I have to grit my teeth through one round.

    BUT I love the other games you mentioned.

    Not meaning to be a boo-hiss responder. CandyLand is just my achilles heel:)

  12. We just got Pengaloo - it's so much fun for our 3 and 5 year olds. Wooden pieces, simple rules, colour and counting practise... the only trouble is that there are some small bits. They love Caribou too (the junior version of Cranium) but they did manage to destroy that one...

    I love your blog. You are such an encouragement to me these days.

  13. Ditto on the pengaloo, I just came online just to mention it on this blog :P
    For individual games, nothing beats rush hour jr. Super fun.

  14. You also might consider cooperative games, especially if anyone in your family gets upset about losing. When our children were preschoolers, we all loved Max, Secret Door and Round Up by Family Pastimes. No reading is involved. I bought them online at Funagain Games. Of course, we also played many games of Sorry, Monopoly Jr.,and Candyland. Now that my kids are older, we all enjoy Forbidden Island and our new favorite, Castle Panic. These are cooperative games for anyone that are loads of fun.

  15. One more great game is "Busy Town". It's wonderful because you all play as a team and cheer on each other. You all win or loose together. Check it out.

  16. We love to play:
    Spot It
    The Great Dalmuti
    Each of these can be played with a wide variety of ages and can be simplified for the littles and are still challenging for the older ones!


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