Curious G started getting board games as gifts when she was 2 years old, and has really enjoyed playing them since. Last winter, as well as this fall, we also played several board games in Bryant Park during their Game Socials. Currently, as a 3 year-old, she often "plays" Backgammon, Scrabble, and Chess with Daddy as well. And while she may need a whole lot of prompting from Daddy, she is still learning the gist of these games. Read on for our favorite age-appropriate games, which can make perfect holiday or birthday gifts, teach a handful of important skills, and are loads of fun.
1. Guess Who
Recommended for ages 6+ (But, in our opinion it's fun for ages 3.5+)
We started playing this a few months ago, and recently had an hour long Guess Who marathon. Each player takes a card with a character on it, without showing the other player. Then each player tries to guess who's on the other player's card by asking questions about the character's appearance. For example, Curious G might ask, "Does your person have a hat?" If I say no, then she put will down all the characters with hats on her board. From this process of elimination, the players "guess who" when there is one character left on each of their boards. The first player to "guess who" wins! Some of the characteristics do fall into a gray area, like white hair that looks blonde to me. Also, C.G. has pointed out that some of the black hair has blue highlights, which I am assuming was added for dimension. So, when she asked me if my person had blue hair the other day, I had no idea what she was talking about until she explained to me what she saw. But, overall, we love this game and every time C.G. guesses the correct person, she is so thrilled that you would think I just pulled a rabbit out of a hat! For younger players, this game helps them with conversation skills, and nurtures their attention to details and ability to describe things.
2. Spot it
Recommended for ages 7+ (but, in our opinion it's fun for ages 3+)
This game helps to sharpen focus, develop visual perception, and improve language skills. Curious G recently played it with her cousin who just turned 3 this month, so I am not certain why it is recommended for ages 7+. The concept is simple. Two cards are drawn face up. Players have to call out the two items that match. The first person to call out the match takes the cards. The person with the most cards in the end wins. This game is portable as well, so it's perfect to take on a plane or car ride. Curious G even plays this game solo every now and then.
Recommended for ages 3+ (but in our opinion it's fun for ages 2+)
Curious G received this game for her 2nd birthday from a good friend. She loved it immediately. There are many different versions of memory games out there, and some of them are more advanced. For example, C. G. also received this one as a gift when she was 2. The concept is the same, but this set came with 72 cards versus 20; so she had more to keep track of during the game. This game obviously develops memory skills, as well as verbal skills.
Recommended for ages 3+
Spinner games are popular with this age group since the concept is easy to pick up. In this game, the goal is to be the first to build a robot with the puzzle pieces. The players take turns spinning the dial on the spinner and must hit the tool. After they've gotten the tool each time, they then spin again on their next turn and take the numbered puzzle piece to add to their robot boards. An alternative way to play this game is to forgo the need to spin a tool prior to taking robot parts. In fact, we never play with the obligatory tool rule because, quite frankly, no one has the patience to play that way. This game is great for learning how to take turns and number recognition.
Recommended for ages 3+
Curious G received this for Christmas last year because so many moms on a Facebook mom board (one with 30K+ members) recommended it. It truly is an effective counting game, and develops the imagination as well. Again, for young and old players alike, this game also fosters the whole turn-taking process. Players take turns spinning the spinner and add the corresponding number of cherries from their trees into their baskets. When players spin a dog or a bird, they must take two cherries out of their baskets and add them back to their trees. A spilled basket on the spinner indicates that players must add all of their cherries back onto their trees. The first player with a basket full of all the cherries from his or her tree wins!
Honorable Mention goes to...floor puzzles!
While not technically a board or card game, Curious G has been playing with puzzles since she was 2. Puzzles are great for developing focus, fine motor skills, problem solving, and so much more. For example, whenever Curious G pieces together her map of the United States puzzle, she learns geography, and facts about each state. She also loves this solar system floor puzzle, which goads her to point out the milky way, and all the different planets as she is putting it together. She usually needs some help the first couple of times. But, recently, she has been doing puzzles on her own.
The two puzzles pictured above are from Melissa and Doug and Mudpuppy. If you ever find yourself in TJ Maxx or Homegoods, check out the puzzle selection in their toy sections because we have gotten quite a few good ones there.