I grew up in a household that loved to play board games and card games. It was an activity that always brought us together as a family, where we could share a few laughs (despite who won or lost). Even now, our large family gatherings always include a boisterous game of Pictionary, Scattergories, Taboo, Balderdash, Trivial Pursuit…the list goes on. And my mom and I inevitably find some time to battle each other in our favorite card game…a card game we’ve been playing together since I was a little girl…a card game I look forward to teaching my little girl some day. While my little nugget is still too young for quite a few games, we’ve already discovered a few of our favorites!
Favorite Toddler Games
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This fun seek-and-find memory/matching game is great for little ones! Our little nugget was gifted this game prior to reaching the 18+ months age restriction, but she loved looking at all of the colorful pictures. In the beginning we used the game cards like flash cards, where I would hold up a card and she would tell me what was depicted. It was a great way for her to become more familiar with different shapes, colors, foods, animals, and other everyday objects.
As she grew older, this evolved into actual game play where we would select a color, and then lay out all of the large circles of that color (face down) on the living room floor. I would then ask her to find an object that I knew was part of that color group: teddy bear, tricycle, beach ball, etc. She would race around the living room turning over each card, one at a time, until she would leap in triumph when she found what she was looking for.
Then we started incorporating the small square cards into the game. At this point, we continued to stick to one color group at a time. Our little nugget would select one of the small square cards from the pile and then she would go searching for its match among the large circles. “It’s a match!” she always exclaimed 🙂
Now, as a three-year-old, our daughter still loves to play Seek-a-Boo! However, she likes to give herself more of a challenge by shuffling together ALL of the cards (from every color group) and then spreading them ALL out on the living room floor. The search for a match becomes a lot harder when you have every game card to look through (as opposed to just 6 of each color group). With all of the cards spread out (taking up quite a bit of floor space) the game becomes more physically interactive…you have to move around a lot more to find all of those matches. It’s all part of the fun!
We have a blast every time we play this Roll & Play game from Thinkfun! Our little nugget loves rolling (or kicking) the soft die to see what color of card she will get to choose. The game includes 48 different activity cards that promote instruction-following, image/word/color recognition, the use of gross motor skills, counting practice, and much more. Each color represents a different category – they are as follows:
Green: Animal Sounds
Purple: Body Parts
We love that this toddler game is so engaging and interactive. While playing, our little nugget is always up and moving around…roaring like a lion…searching her surroundings for anything and everything that is the color orange…touching her toes…making a silly face…giving high fives…stomping 6 times…well, you get the idea.
We also love classic matching/memory games. I wrote this post about our favorite matching game, when I purchased it as a Christmas gift for our little one last year. It’s hard to go wrong with a matching game made from your own personal family photos – I think it makes the game way more engaging for little ones, because they immediately recognize who they are looking for. We’ve also acquired a good amount of random card matching games from the dollar spot at Target…our daughter’s favorite being the dinosaur-themed pack.
Playing games is a wonderful way to engage with your kids – most games are not only fun, but educational as well. Games come in especially handy as rainy day/snowy day boredom busters. They also work wonders when you and your kiddos are just having “one of those days” – when the tantrums are abundant and fierce, when your patience is running low…you know the days. 🙂 Simply sitting down on the floor to play a game with your little one can quickly shift a bad day over into the good column. The game will magically draw you in, make you laugh, and help you relax and re-connect. Perhaps that is why so many families love having family game nights.
I can’t wait to play more fun games with my daughter (and as a family) as she grows older. Some of my best childhood (and even adulthood) memories are from family game nights, and I look forward to creating many more!
One a side note…the holidays are fast approaching, and a toddler game would make a great gift! You can find the Seek-a-Boo Game here, and the Roll & Play Game here. Our family photo memory game is from Pinhole Press.