Tabletop learning games for preschoolers -reviewed and ISO suggestions

I grew up in a family that sat down together every Saturday night to play board / dice / tile / card games. It was a lovely tradition and I have very fond memories of that family time. Naturally, I wanted to introduce this family tradition to my own children. When my son had just turned three a very generous friend passed down some English language and universal games suitable for small children, that her own children had outgrown. We started playing as a family every Saturday night. They enjoyed it so much that I have since found time to slot it into our daily routine. After dinner, one of the kid’s chores is to clear and clean the table, before I sit down with them to play a game. On evenings my husband is home early, he joins in to.

Below is some of the learning games my 4, 3 and 1 year old enjoy courtesy of afore mentioned extremely kind and generous friend, or that I have bought online. I would like to add to the collection.  English language and Western style games for toddlers and preschoolers are not that readily available here in Japan, but the Japanese Amazon website has some (at a much higher price than in Ireland!).  Amazon.jp has a particularly good choice of Orchard Toys toys and games, which happen to be our favourite to date. My Mom has also volunteered to pick me up a couple, that I can’t get here…. if I could only figure out which ones to get!  I’d love to hear what board or card games you like to play with your kids, please share your suggestions.

**This post contains affiliate links to Amazon.jp** Insaitama.com as of June 9th 2017 is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.co.jp

What tabletop games do/did you play with preschool age children? 

 

Here are some of the ones my preschoolers and toddler enjoy:
(disclaimer each of these games have small parts; toddlers, babies and children with oral fixation will need strict supervision).

Greedy Gorilla from Orchard Toys

Photo from http://www.orchardtoys.com/products/greedy-gorilla/

Photo from http://www.orchardtoys.com/products/greedy-gorilla/

The game comes with 1 greedy gorilla, 4 playing boards like menus with 24 matching healthy food cards and 8 junk food cards. If you place batteries in the gorilla it burps as you feed the gorilla the unhealthy food cards.  The recommended age for this is from 4 years old, but I can tell you my children have been enjoying this from much younger.  My 20 month old delights in feeding the gorilla, which due to its frequent use is slightly broken and burps for every food card you give it! Apart from playing the standard way, as a bilingual family, I like to use this game and its pieces for additional English learning activities. We use the food cards for naming and identifying, grouping and counting, and the menus for vocabulary reinforcement and reading practise.

The game helps develop 

  • Hand / eye co-ordination
  • Fine motor skills
  • Vocabulary
  • Reading
  • Matching
  • Memory skills
  • Observation
  • Following instructions
  • Taking turns
  • Positive perceptions of healthy eating

To purchase on Amazon.jp (affiliate link):

Shopping List by Orchard Toys

Photo from http://www.orchardtoys.com/products/shopping-list/

Photo from http://www.orchardtoys.com/products/shopping-list/

The Shopping List game comes with four shopping lists, four shopping trolleys and food cards. The object of the game is to match the cards to your shopping list and place them in your trolley. Just like with the Greedy Gorilla game, I have found this game very useful for additional learning activities. For example, in an alternative version I get the children to fill the cart with food they like by asking me, the shopkeeper, “Can I have X please?”.

The game helps develop skills in

  • Hand / eye co-ordination
  • Fine motor skills
  • Vocabulary
  • Reading
  • Matching
  • Memory skills
  • Observation
  • Following instructions
  • Taking turns
  • Winning and losing

To purchase on Amazon.jp (affiliate link):

 

Farm Dominoes by Tobar

Farm Animal Dominoes by Tobar

The classic game of dominoes needs no introduction, but these wooden farm animal dominoes are a great version for young learners.

The game helps develop skills in

  • Hand/ Eye Co-ordination
  • Fine Motor Skills
  • Recognition
  • Concentration
  • Observation
  • Taking turns
  • Winning and Losing

Honey Bee Tree Game by Early Learning Centre (ELC)
honey_bee_tree1

The recommended age for this game is from 3 years, but again my toddler has enjoyed this even from 6 months old. The object of the game is to remove the leaves on the tree, without letting the bees fall. The player with the most bees at the end, loses.

The game is GREAT for

  • Hand/eye co-ordination
  • Fine motor skills
  • Problem Solving

It also develops core skills such as

  • Concentration
  • Following instructions
  • Taking turns
  • Winning and losing

Zingo by Thinkfun

There are many versions of Zingo. The one we are enjoying now is the Sight Words version.

From the website http://www.thinkfun.com/zingosightwords

From the website http://www.thinkfun.com/zingosightwords

This really fun version of the classic game bingo is a big hit with all three of my kids. The game comes with 72 sight word cards, 6 double sided bingo cards and a zinger. One year old loves the Zinger which dispenses the cards and has a slot to re-insert them. It keeps her entertained for longer than any other toy in the house. Like the Orchard Toys above, this game has many different uses, for example, I use the sight word cards to make sentences with my 4 year old.

The game helps develop skills in

  • Sight word recognition
  • Hand / eye co-ordination
  • Fine motor skills
  • Vocabulary
  • Reading
  • Matching
  • Memory skills
  • Observation
  • Following instructions
  • Taking turns
  • Winning and losing

Phew! That took much longer than expected. They are the main learning games we are enjoying right now.  Other games we enjoy together include

  • Card games such as snap,
  • Memory card games such as Thomas Memory Match Game,
  • Peppa Pig Jumbolina,
  • Classic board games such as ludo,
  • Pavillion’s Farm Bingo,
  • Spotty Dogs by Orchard Toys
  • and some Japanese tabletop games too.

 

PLEASE SHARE TABLETOP GAMES THAT THE WHOLE FAMILY CAN ENJOY WITH  YOUNG CHILDREN. THANK YOU.

 

 

0 comments on “Tabletop learning games for preschoolers -reviewed and ISO suggestions

  1. freebutfun

    What a lovely tradition!
    I haven’t been very inventive when it comes to table top games, Mum has saved a few from my childhood, which I’ve used. A few really great once like mosaic (http://freebutfun.wordpress.com/2013/12/16/mosaic/) or einertrainer (my daughter has learned how to subtract with that one!).
    I used to think board games were good for some one-on-one quality time (I blogged about it here: http://freebutfun.wordpress.com/2013/08/31/board-games-and-kids-books-on-rikhardinkatu/) for an adult and child, games were you catch fish (with magnetic fishing rods) or throw a dice and build a butterfly.
    But we have recently played more, my almost 4 year old daughter is really getting the hang of board games. My 2,5 year old can’t quite yet follow rules etc but he can be apart of the fun anyway. We’ve played snap and uno with cards, have a few board games were you throw a dice to get forward or backward (very simple old traditional games) with some spots with tasks (like take 3 steps forward/ wait/… and often we still skip those) but the kids like it and get to count to 6 ;). We’ve also played a simplified version of Master Mind (fine motorics, colours, memory), Memory (my daughter beats me every time even though she’d jump up and down the whole time!), animal bingo (good one also for multilingual aspects)!, Kimble, some airplane game, some kettle games, shave the sheep… Should get some domino like yours! The shopping list seems good too. I really need to look into the world of table top games more! Thanks for these tips!

    Reply
    1. Elle Post author

      Oh wow, that brought me back! I loved Mosaic as a child, I just never knew it’s name. I wasn’t familiar with einertrainer so I googled, it looks like an activity you can buy in Japan. I will have a closer look next time I spot something similar. And how wonderful that you found a library with board games. the “jidokan” (free kid’s community centre) here have board games that you can play while visiting, but you can’t borrow them to bring home.
      My 3yo isn’t as advanced as my 4yo at understanding rules either, so I find myself adapting as we go along – “making up” rules essentially!! 🙂 Some games she is fine with, like the Orchard Toys ones, but others if we don’t adjust the rules she can go into meltdown. Yikes!
      these are all fantastic suggestions, thank you so much for sharing. 🙂

      Reply
    2. Elle Post author

      Thanks again for the suggestion of Mosaic. I was able to get something very similar in a department store here and it is a big hit with all three kids. I adjust it’s use to suit each of their ages. Definitely worth the investment. 🙂

      For anyone reading this in Japan who is interested the one we got and love is 幾何マグネ by エド・インター They sell it in Amazon as well as Maruhiro department store http://www.amazon.co.jp/%E3%82%A8%E3%83%89%E3%83%BB%E3%82%A4%E3%83%B3%E3%82%BF%E3%83%BC-ED019-%E5%B9%BE%E4%BD%95%E3%83%9E%E3%82%B0%E3%83%8D/dp/B000WDVL5S

      Reply
      1. freebutfun

        …and I went and bought a domino with different shapes, even my 2,5yo is able to easily play it, a new evening time hit! Thanks for that tip!

        Reply
    1. Elle Post author

      My 4yo might be okay with it, or at least be able to mess around with it, because he plays an adapted version of Othello with his Dad sometimes. I actually have a little mini one…somewhere!!… must root it out. Thank you for suggesting.

      Reply
  2. andthreetogo

    These games look great! I play Jenga with my almost 3 year old, as well as connect four (well we drop the pieces into the game is all), matching games, and alphabet games on her iPad. I have seen games like the ones you have suggested, maybe I will add them to our inventory. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Elle Post author

      Thank you for the lovely comment. My parents have Connect Four and Guess Who in their house, so when we visit my kids “play” with those games. Actually, on the last visit the older two kind of got the hang of Guess Who, but Connect Four is just dropping the pieces in. 🙂 Jenga is a great game for all ages, but we’ve misplaced more than half the pieces! They’ll turn up eventually, they usually do!! 🙂 My 3 year old loves ABC games on the Internet, but they haven’t tried apps yet. My iPad is relatively new and I’m still treating it like it’s the royal crown, lol!!

      Reply

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