20+ Best Board Games for 3 Year Olds And Toddlers

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The best board games for 3 year olds can be a great way to engage your little one in fun and interactive play from a young age, while also helping to develop their cognitive and social skills that challenge them to reach their full potential. Despite the evolution of play and the introduction of technology-based games, there’s nothing quite like traditional games for your child’s development.

However, finding board games that are appropriate and enjoyable for 3 year olds can be a challenge if you decide to do it on a whim or without giving it much though. That needn’t be the case. There are several resources that you can use to ensure that you pick the best board games available.

The good news is that you can use this lists as a guide to some of the most suitable board games for 3 year olds that are both fun and educational. Make your pick from classic board games to newer options, there’s a variety of board games to explore on your search for the right games for your child. 

Read more: 26 Gifts for 3 Year Olds to Stimulate Active, Creative, and Curious Toddlers

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How to pick board games for 3 year olds and toddlers

When it comes to selecting the right board games for your 3 year old, there are a few factors and aspects to keep in mind. These factors include, but are not limited to, the duration of play, skills to be learned, level of simplicity, interactivity, as well as the theme. 

While it can be easy to overlook the theme aspect, it’s very crucial to keep in mind if you want to get the most fitting board games for your child. Even 3 year olds are able to indicate what their interests are, which can guide your decision-making when choosing games. For example, your little one might not enjoy the same games as other 3 year olds, especially if they have a love for animals while the most popular games around are based on history, for example.

Factors to consider when choosing board games for 3 year olds

Age appropriateness

It’s crucial to look for games that are specifically designed for young children or have age recommendations that include 3 year olds. Another key consideration is to make sure that the games you select don’t have small pieces that can be a choking hazard, but this is often determined by the age appropriateness of the game.

Simplicity

It’s always best to choose games that are easy to understand and play; the last thing you want to do is confuse your little one and for them to not fully understand the end goal of the game they’ve been given. So, make a point of selecting games with simple rules and instructions that 3 year olds will easily grasp. Games with too many rules or steps can be overwhelming for young children.

Theme

This is something that has been mentioned already. You should consider your child’s interests and choose games with themes that will appeal to them based on what they enjoy, such as animals, shapes, colors, or their favorite characters.

Cooperative vs. Competitive

Here’s something that’s often overlooked when it comes to games for 3 year olds – whether the games encourage a sense of cooperation or competitiveness. The reality is that young children may not be ready for competitive games that involve winners and losers. Instead, cooperative games are what should be encouraged for 3 year olds. 

Duration

Teachers or caretakers will probably be able to tell you about the concentration span of 3 year olds, which is important when choosing age appropriate games. Games with a short playtime may be the best choice, as the attention span of 3 year olds is less and limited compared to older kids. It’s widely advised that board games for 3 year olds be played in 10-15 minutes.

Learning opportunities

At the end of the day, the games that 3 year olds play should present some sort of learning opportunity and help them develop skills that will help them do well in the long run. Skills such as counting, matching, and problem-solving are some of the most ideal for 3 year olds.

Interactivity

This ties in with the cooperative aspect of the most suitable games for 3 year olds. Games that build camaraderie and teach kids how best to interact with their peers in a courteous manner are often a great pick. 

Best Board Games for 3 year Olds and Toddlers

1. Alphabet Go Fish

Alphabet Go Fish strike a good balance between learning and playing. This matching card game will improve kids’ memory through remembering the different letters of the alphabet (both upper and lowercase), while also moving them a step closer towards being able to read. However, no reading is required here, only alphabet recognition.

  • Theme: Variety
  • Number of Players: 1 – 4 
  • Minimum Age: 3 years
  • Duration of Play: 15 – 20 minutes
  • Skills to be Learned: Alphabet recognition, memory skills

2. Animal Upon Animal (Junior)

The title alone of this game is very telling of its premise. Some might call it the children’s version of the much-loved game, Jenga. Here, the aim of the game is to stack the wooden animals on top of each other without them falling. Naturally, the first one to successfully stack all their wooden animals on top of each other wins. 

  • Theme: Animals
  • Number of Players: 2 – 4 
  • Minimum Age: 2 years
  • Duration of Play: 10 – 15 minutes
  • Skills to be Learned: Balancing 

3. Banana Blast

This is one for the fruit lovers, banana lovers to be exact. Banana Blast is played with a die, which players roll and then get to pick one or two bananas from the tree. This game has a few surprises along the way, which can see one player winning some money in an unexpected way. The player who catches the monkey also gets two bananas from each player. This is a fun game that’ll nurture a love for numbers and mathematics.

  • Theme: Fruit
  • Number of Players: 2 – 5  
  • Minimum Age: 3 years
  • Duration of Play: 10 minutes
  • Skills to be Learned: Mathematics (addition and subtraction)

4. Candyland

There are very few things that kids find as exciting and engaging as colorful games and treats. Candyland offers both! In this game, players have a chance to move their gingerbread man forward along the board, and the first one to reach the kingdom is the winner! While this game does have a level of competitiveness, it builds a sense of positive competition and encourages a spirit of determination.

  • Theme: Sweets and Treats
  • Number of Players: 2 – 4 
  • Minimum Age: 3 years
  • Duration of Play: 15 Minutes 
  • Skills to be Learned: Color recognition

5. Chutes and Ladders

Chutes and Ladders is undoubtedly inspired by some of the most classic board games that we all grew up playing. The premise of the game is to get to the top using the ladders. Whoever gets to the top first, wins! Of course, there will be a few obstacles along the way, such as the chute. Landing on a chute is something players need to avoid at all costs! Doing so can see you losing your progress and sliding back down.

  • Theme: Variety
  • Number of Players:  2 – 4 
  • Minimum Age: 3 years
  • Duration of Play: 15 minutes
  • Skills to be Learned: Counting

6. Colorama

This is one of the few games that aren’t about the players competing against each other. Instead, it’s about each of the players completing their part of the game successfully. To an extent, that alone already teaches 3 year olds that life isn’t a competition, and that it’s important to focus on your path and completing what is assigned to you. 

In Colorama, there is a color and a shape die that players roll. The aim is to place the corresponding shape and color on the board, depending on what they rolled. Because players aren’t competing against each other, there is no scoreboard, and each player can simply work through their pieces. 

  • Theme: Shape and colors
  • Number of Players: 1 – 6 
  • Minimum Age: 3 years
  • Duration of Play: Up to 20 minutes
  • Skills to be Learned: Color and shape recognition

7. Count Your Chickens

Given the collaborative nature of this game, 3 year olds will learn a lot about working together to achieve a common goal. Based on where the spinner lands, Mother Hen will move to a particular square. This also determines how many chickens the players collect to add to the chicken coop. 

  • Theme: Animals
  • Number of Players: 2 – 4 
  • Minimum Age: 3 years
  • Duration of Play: 15
  • Skills to be Learned: Counting, Teamwork

8. Create and Tell Me a Story Cards

Future storytellers will love this game! Create and Tell Me a Story Cards is a fitting game for kids with a wild imagination and creative streak. In this game, creativity is the name of the game. The premise of Create and Tell Me a Story Cards is for kids to continue a story based on a card that the parents playing with them draw. 

This game is a great way to bond with your kids and guide them through the storytelling process as they try to connect the dots between the card at hand and a particular narrative. If you suspect you might have the next greatest storyteller or movie maker on your hands, there’s no better way to nurture that interest than with this game.  

  • Theme: Storytelling
  • Number of Players: No limit, more than 1
  • Minimum Age: 3 years
  • Duration of Play: Unrestricted
  • Skills to be Learned: Creative thinking

9. Don’t Break the Ice

Kids with a love for sea animals will find this game adorable! In Don’t Break the Ice, the aim is to tap out blocks of ice without the penguin falling through. Using a small mallet, players must strategically find a way to remove a block of ice when their turn comes. This isn’t a game you play if you don’t have your game face and thinking hat on, so this is bound to encourage out-of-the-box thinking, as well as improve kids’ ability to solve problems when faced with a challenging situation.

  • Theme: Water animals
  • Number of Players: 2 – 4 
  • Minimum Age: 3 years
  • Duration of Play: 15 minutes
  • Skills to be Learned: Tactical thinking, problem solving

10. Gobblet Gobblers

Think tic-tac-toe reimagined. That’s what Gobblet Gobblers is, a modern twist on the timeless classic that has won hearts across several generations. The goal of the game is to line up three of your pieces in a row, however, there’s a chance of your piece “gobbling up” another player’s piece or your very own! With that in mind, kids will be encouraged to think before they act, as well as how best to utilize the space on the board. 

  • Theme: Variety
  • Minimum Age: 3 years
  • Duration of Play: 10 – 15 minutes
  • Skills to be Learned: Strategic thinking, memory skills, spatial awareness

11. Outfoxed!

The premise of this game is simple, players need to figure out which fox stole the pot pie before it goes into its foxhole. Future detectives and investigative journalists are sure to enjoy this one!

  • Theme: Animals (Foxes)
  • Number of Players: 2 – 4 
  • Minimum Age: 3 years
  • Duration of Play: 15 minutes
  • Skills to be Learned: Problem solving

12. Sequence For Kids

As the title suggests, the aim here is for the player to create a sequence or row of chips on the board by matching them with the picture that they have. 

  • Theme: Animals
  • Number of Players: 2 – 4 
  • Minimum Age: 3 years
  • Duration of Play: 15 minutes
  • Skills to be Learned: Strategy, animal recognition

13. Spot It! Junior

There are several variations of this game, but the aim remains having to spot animals that are commonly found between the animals.

  • Theme: Animals
  • Number of Players: 2 – 5
  • Minimum Age: 3
  • Duration of Play: 10 minutes
  • Skills to be Learned: Animal recognition, concentration

14. The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game

In this interactive game, the first player to collect one acorn of each color and place it on their log wins. The snag here, though, is that your spin could land on “lose and acorn” or “steal an acorn.” So, watch out for the twists and turns along the way! 

  • Theme: Animals
  • Number of Players: 2 – 4 
  • Minimum Age: 3 years
  • Duration of Play: 15 minutes
  • Skills to be Learned: Strategy, animal recognition, color recognition

15. Tongues Out

Dog lovers, gather around for this one! Here, you have to figure out which color lollipop each pug ate, which is indicated by the color of their tongues when you squeeze it. The first person that achieves 6 matches is the winner.

  • Theme: Animals
  • Number of Players: 2 – 4 
  • Minimum Age: 3 years
  • Duration of Play: 5 – 20 minutes
  • Skills to be Learned: Memory skills, color recognition

16. Uno

Although widely popularized as a game for age 7 and above, it’s quite a hit among 3 year olds too! It’s quite simply a matching game more than anything, where kids have to match their cards to the one that’s been dealt. The first one to get through the 7 cards that they’ve been dealt first wins. 

For 3 year olds, this game can be slightly adapted so as to not confuse them. By removing the score keeping element, 3 year olds will be able to just focus on matching the cards.

  • Theme: Variety
  • Number of Players: 2 – 10 
  • Minimum Age: 3 years
  • Duration of Play: 20 – 30 minutes
  • Skills to be Learned: Coordination skills, color recognition

17. Zingo

This fun and interactive game for kids is inspired by the classic adult game, Bingo!. The aim is to cover all the squares on your board first in order to win. It’s all about matching the cards that appear to what you have on your board.

  • Theme: Variety
  • Number of Players: 2 – 6 
  • Minimum Age: 3 years
  • Duration of Play: 10 minutes
  • Skills to be Learned: Recognition, memory skills

18. Pick Me Up, Piggy

This is one of the more collaborative games on the list, where kids journey with the animals and create stories about where the different animals need to go. The game ends when all of the farm friends have been picked up, which must happen before you run out of gas otherwise you have to start all over again!

  • Theme: Animals 
  • Number of Players: 2 – 4 
  • Minimum Age: 3 years
  • Duration of Play: 15 minutes
  • Skills to be Learned: Memory skills, collaborative work

19. Hisss

  • Theme: Animals (Snakes)
  • Number of Players: 2 -5 
  • Minimum Age: 3 years 
  • Duration of Play: 10 – 15 minutes
  • Skills to be Learned: Color recognition

This is a fun and playful game that requires players to simply create a snake by matching up cards with different parts of a snake’s body. The snakes come in different colors and shapes, but once you successfully place the head on a snake, you have to say “Hisss” and claim it. 

20. Go Away Monster

Easy and fun to play, this game requires the players to pull out an item from the box. If the happen to pull a monster out, they have to throw it into the center and shout, “Go away, Monster.” The game ends once all the monsters are successfully in the monster’s pit.

  • Theme: Fantasy (Monsters)
  • Number of Players: 1 – 4 players
  • Minimum Age: 3 years
  • Duration of Play: 10 – 15 minutes
  • Skills to be Learned: Sensory skills
Best board games for 3 year olds image
Best board games for 3 year olds

Special thanks to author: Sannie Nkosi is the founder of Four-Leaf Consulting. After a few years in journalism, she ditched the newsroom to write about things that really matter (like family, finances and travel). On a regular day, you can find her creating content, listening to podcasts, or engaging with small business owners.

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