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What are the Different Types of Board Games for Small Children?

By Sherry Holetzky
Updated May 23, 2024
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Many adults remember playing board games as children, especially favorites like Hi Ho! Cherry-O® and Chutes and Ladders® (also known as Snakes and Ladders). As people grow up, they often realize that these games have some lessons to teach. They can be great tools for teaching children counting and colors, as well as life lessons like taking turns, dealing with frustration, and being good sports.

Candy Land® is one of the all time favorite board games for small children. It's colorful, interesting and simple to play, and it's got candy — all elements that most small children will find delightful. Since very young children often don't know how to count, the pieces are moved by color, not by number. It's a great way to teach both skills, as an adult can ask the child to find the specific color on the board and count the spaces between colors.

Other simple board games that are perfect for small children include Trouble® and Sorry®. Trouble® is similar to Parcheesi®, but there are slots for the game pieces so they are easier to keep track of, and it has a "pop-o-matic" ball in the center that you press to roll the dice, instead of shaking dice in small cups.

The Game of Life® is one of those games that teaches lessons, and while the traditional game may be rather tough for little children, there are special versions for younger players. There are many games created especially for small children, and some of the higher age level games have been adapted for little ones, like Clue Junior® and Monopoly Junior®. You can also find versions that include your children's favorite cartoon characters.

The game Operation® is fun for all ages. Your kids will love operating on their patients and will laugh together as each player sets off the buzzer.

There are many different types of board games available for all age levels, and game makers have begun catering to younger players. This is great for small children since playing games teaches them so much, including ways to interact with others appropriately. There are a huge assortment of fun games that the whole family can enjoy.

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Discussion Comments
By LisaLou — On Aug 21, 2012

How do the online board games compare to playing the traditional version of them?

I know these are available on most every computer and a lot of phones, but somehow wonder if it is quite the same as sitting down at a table and playing the game.

By julies — On Aug 21, 2012
My grandson is a big SpongeBob fan, and when I saw the SpongeBob version of the game of Life, I had to buy it for him.

I remember being a little older when I started playing the game of Life, but remembered there were many life lessons that were taught when playing this game.

We have had a great time playing this game, and you can almost see the wheels turning in his head as he is trying to figure out the best decisions to make.

By SarahSon — On Aug 20, 2012

I love seeing kids play some of the same board games I played when I was a kid. When I sat down to play a game of Operation with my granddaughter, I felt like I was stepping back in time.

I have often wondered how many people became a doctor or entered the medical field because of playing this game as a child.

What I like about board games, is that most of them are educational. Not only are they being entertained, but learning lessons at the same time.

By Mykol — On Aug 19, 2012

I played almost every one of the board games mentioned when I was growing up. One of our favorite things to do as a family was to play games, so there were always a lot of them around.

My sister and I would take travel versions of games like Trouble, and passed many hours in the car playing Old Maid.

I have tried to play a lot of board games with my kids. Yes, they still like their video games, but I try to make it a point to spend time playing board games with them too.

I really enjoy interacting with them this way and know they enjoy the time spent with them. I like to buy board games for my kids at garage sales, as long as all the pieces are there.

By suntan12 — On Jul 09, 2010

Sunny27- I agree with you. Reading this article brought back so many childhood memories. One of my favorite games was Uno. Uno is like Old Maid and I always found it fun to try to lose my last card. This game was also easy to understand and most children could easily play it. I know I enjoyed it as a child.

By Sunny27 — On Jul 09, 2010

Great Article- I love all of those games. My son really enjoys Monopoly. He is only six, but strategizes as if he were Donald Trump. It is so funny. I enjoyed that game the most as a child, but it can be a long and intense game. I would not recommend it for children with a short attention span.

But games like Trouble and Operation are great suggestions. These games are not only entertaining, but they don’t take too long, so children playing these games can play a variety of games in the same time it takes them to play one Monopoly game.

Also, the directions for Trouble and Operation are pretty straightforward and easy to understand. Monopoly is a little harder and does require fluent reading skills in order to read the Chance and Community Chess cards.

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