If I have to play Candy Land one more time, I think I may just throw up. There was a time when I would have happily pawed through those color cards praying for a lollipop, but that ship has sailed. As a mom with a preschooler, my sanity has pushed me to explore the modern board game market, and friends, you’re gonna like what I’ve found.
Gamer at Heart
I grew up on board games. Yahtzee. Life. Trouble. You name it, we probably had it stuffed in our front hall closet along with a few decks of cards and some Cribbage pins. Once school was out, my sisters and I welcomed a rainy day to test our competitive wit. I still have that love for board games. So when my oldest, a preschooler now, began to show interest, my heart skipped a beat as we popped into Diversions for some fresh options. I couldn’t have been more pleased either, as the board game landscape has impressively evolved since the 1980s. Check it out:
If your kids are even slightly into puzzles then this game may be a hit in your household. Developed by the thoughtful gaming company, Peaceable Kingdom, Sunny Day Pond is a cooperative game that emphasizes turn-taking and cognitive processing. Players spin the wheel to collect pieces that go to one of four puzzles that the entire group must complete to end the game.
Perfect for fine motor skill development and match sequencing, this game is as fun as it is cute. Any preschooler who has spent time in our home naturally gravitates towards this game. While it’s not necessarily a collaborative design, it usually ends up being one as the kids love to compare which shells they’ve scored. This game also moves quickly, which is ideal for younger players with short attention spans.
Another gem by Peaceable Kingdom, this is probably the game that we gift the most to other preschoolers. I love that it is designed to build empathy and compassion skills, as well as inspire the early player towards a helping action. Players take turns trying to match helping tokens to the friends in need on their bingo-style cards. The first player to fill their card first wins but this game hardly feels competitive while it’s being played.
While this game is recommended for the older preschooler, mine jumped into it just fine at four. Players work to gather various plants and trees to complete their garden while counting spots and moving about the board. This is my choice to replace Candy Land, particularly if your kiddo is interested in gardening.
I have yet to met a preschooler who didn’t at least seem partially interested in a matching game. What I love about this one though is that the images are captivating, diverse faces that often prompt healthy conversation about culture and race. Even if your kid doesn’t love matching games, the cards from this one can also be used as storytelling prompts. We’ve taken this one on the road countless times with great success.
Whatever you and your preschooler fancy, I guarantee that there’s a board game out there for you. Haven’t tested the board game waters? No problem. Most local, brick-and-mortar toy stores will have games available to try out before you buy. The Portsmouth Public Library also has an entire puzzle and game section with some excellent entry-games for youngsters.
Do you have a favorite preschooler board game that your family just can’t get enough of? We’d love to hear about it! Share your picks in the comments below!