It’s time for another “MPMK Gift Guide Glimpse”… For those of you not exactly sure what I’m talking about, this is a day when we highlight one of our favorite sections of the:
Because I realize that our MEGA gift guides are a lot to take in- detailed descriptions and age recommendations of over 450 toys, books, games, and more divided into 15 themed guides takes some concentration to get through.
I’ve heard from several moms in fact, both via email and in real life, who have already spent a good hour or two immersed in them.
So this year, I’m trying to help you navigate the guides by highlighting some of my favorite parts.
Over the next few months, I’ll be stopping in every once in a while to showcase a favorite section from one of the 15 guides. (Note this is not even a full guide, but simply a sub-section of one of the guides.)
My hope is that it will help you find the perfect gift for under the tree! Today we’re talking Best Games for Toddlers & Pre-Readers– a subsection of our Best Kid Games for Family Night, Siblings, and Playing Alone gift guide.
Having a regular family game night is a great tradition to strengthen the family unit. Not only does it ensure time for connecting with each other, it also gets your kids in the habit of communicating with you – something that will pay-off big time when they’re older. Plus, with the right game, it can be really fun!
When it comes to kids who can’t read yet, and toddlers in particular, however, that perfect game can be elusive. But don’t let that stop you from starting this important tradition early!
Here’s our curated list of the highest rated and most-loved games for the littlest members of your crew…
Especially for Toddlers & Pre-Readers
Thinkfun Roll and Play Board Game $19.17 (18 months – 3 years)
This is the first board game made specifically with young toddlers in mind and it’s going under the tree this year for my 2-year-old.
Toss the big plush cube and identify which colored side faces up. Choose a matching color card and perform the simple activity shown, such as “Make a happy face”, “Moo like a cow” or “Find something blue”. Designed for parent and child to play together, Roll & Play strengthens bonds and builds confidence while encouraging creativity, active play and gross motor skills.
This also seems like a great option if you have an older child who wants to play a family game with his or her younger sibling too. For another great young-toddler-friendly game, checkout Thinkfun’s Hello Sunshine Game $15.20 (18 months – 3 years) as well!
Eboo Preschool Lotto Game $12.34 (2 – 6 years)
I’m a big fan of the eBoo brand as a whole. This award-winning lottery game is easy for little ones to pick up on and has the gorgeous illustrations that the company is known for, a great first game.
Eeboo Color Go Fish Playing Cards $7.95 (2+ years)
An award-winning game that centers around visual perception and speed. Our nanny gifted this game to my kids (then 4 and 6) because her kids (9 and 7) really loved it. The goal is to be the first to identify a match on a pair of cards and to call out out the name of the figure in common. This is the type of game that quickly becomes addictive and will cause lots of laughs and (hopefully) friendly competition. Also check out the newer Disney Frozen – Alphabet and Disney Planes – Alphabet versions.
Richard Scary Busy Town $19.99 (3 – 8 years)
I have heard great things about this cooperative, non-competitive game from multiple sources but was really convinced when a mom of one of my son’s good friends was raving about it. Everything about this game is impressive, from the 6 foot long game board, to the amount of imagination and teamwork required. In fact, the company behind this game, Wonder Forge who also produces another of our favorites, Cat in the Hat, I Can Do That!, has won over 120 prestigious awards by creating good-for-you games that encourage teamwork, healthy competition, and get-up-and-go active play. This is the perfect game for children of multiple ages to play together and for when you hit that stage when kids pout a lot about losing or start to become ultra competitive.
Dr Seuss Super Stretchy ABCs $16.98 (3 – 6 years)
The Dr. Seuss games have a knack for helping restless kids work their wiggles out. We have Cat in the Hat, I Can Do That! and love it for this purpose. This twister-like game is on our list because it encourages both physical activity and letter recognition – perfect for preschoolers!
Educational Insights The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game $16.62 (3 – 7 years)
Friends of ours have this game and my kids have enjoyed playing with it during play dates. Along with the lovely look of the game, I like that it covers a wide range of skills by teaching matching, sorting, and strategic thinking while developing hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. It gets tons of great reviews on Amazon too.
Hoot Owl Hoot Cooperative Board Game $15.99 (3+ years)
I haven’t played this super popular game but I’ve heard it’s a great introduction to board games for your little one. I especially like that the focus is to work together to accomplish a goal instead of competing.
Spot It! Junior Animals, Spot It! Alphabet, Spot it! Numbers and Games, Spot it! Basic English (to help with beginning reading comprehension) starting at $9.27 (4+ years) and the all-inclusive Spot It! Educational Set (3+ years) that contains all 4 of these for $44.85
An award-winning game that centers around visual perception and speed. The goal is to be the first to identify a match on a pair of cards and to call out out the name of the figure in common.Teachers saw the learning potential in the huge popularity of this game and started to request educational versions. These are the result – I think we’ll be getting the whole Educational Set for the kids this year.
Zingo $17.99 (4 – 8 years)
This is another super popular game with families with young children and it was another of our family’s first games. A lot like BINGO, players get picture cards and try to fill them up. There is a speed component too that we use about half the time with our 5 year old and skip with our 3 year old. We have both the standard version and the numbers/math version and both are regularly requested by the kids. Side Note: When your pre-readers become emerging readers, Zingo Word Builder, What’s Gnu? and Zingo Sight Words are also excellent!!
Hot Potato Electronic Musical Passing Game $13.98 (4+ years)
This fun take on the classic hot potato game keeps the element of surprise that kids love while adding in a cute mascot and music. I love that it encourages kids to get active while stuck inside, is simple for everyone to get in on the fun, and can be played for as long (or as short) as you want. The potato can also be used as a timer for all sorts of made up games and this is a great activity for large play dates or kid parties.
In it’s simpliest form, Tenzi is basically Yahtzee on steroids… a fast-pace game to see who can get all 10 of their dice to show the same number first. Since there’s no counting or math required, this is a game kids of all ages can get it on. But the true genius of Tenzi is revealed when you check out the 77 ways to play cards. With so many fun variations on this simple dice game, the whole family will come back to it again and again. Side Note: If you plan to play with more than 4 players, check out the party pack version (77 ways to play included).
Check out the rest of Best Kid Games for Family Night, Siblings, and Playing Alone (and share it with your mom friends- they’ll thank you!)
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Don’t forget – you can also check out all 15 of our 2016 Gift Guides here!
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