It can sometimes feel a little overwhelming when trying to decide which game is best for your preschooler. If we are honest, playing games with kids under the age of five is often kind of hard work! Getting them to understand the rules, the concept of taking turns, and even worse, dealing with losing, can make the whole experience less than pleasant for the parent and child. That’s why I have found it really helpful to choose games for my preschooler which we are able to start simple with, and then grow more complex with as the child gets older. In this blog I’m sharing four of our favorite Learning Resources games for preschoolers, along with ways that we like to simplify them to help build confidence before progressing to the full game.
This one is so much fun! When it comes to choosing games for youngsters the novelty factor is huge when gaining their initial interest. With this game, the players have to use the tri-grip tool to pull worms from the soil. My 3 year old fell in love with the little ‘wormies’ and played for so long carefully rescuing them from the dirt and adding them to their correctly colored homes.
Once she had gained more confidence with using the fine motor tool and color sorting, we started to explore the game in more complex forms. This included using the spinner and game cards. She really enjoyed spinning and then adding that number and color of worms to her ‘home’. This was great because it was requiring her to now also work on early numeracy skills. I must admit it did take her a few times of playing before she got on board with the concept of the spinner. She kept wanting to get to choose the color and number and would stop the spinner when she wanted to. This is all part of learning the skills needed to play games fairly and is an important learning curve (and test of the parent’s patience!).
If you are looking for simplicity then this is a great option. The set comes with small bugs, two pairs of jumbo tweezers and two little foam dice. One has colors on it and the other numbers. The first few times we played we would just use the color dice and take turns to roll it and add one bug of that color to our collections. Once she was confident with this version of the game, we added the second number dice to factor in some numeracy work.
You can also vary the game further by putting restrictions on it such as you can’t have two of the same type of bug or color of bug but have to get to five bugs in total. Adding these extra components challenges your preschooler that little bit more.
This is one of the cutest little games I’ve ever seen and my preschooler totally agreed. The very first time we played it all she wanted to do was role play with the cups, coins and lemonade stands and you know what, that’s totally ok. She was developing so many skills just through her self-directed play. We then gave the actual game a try but really simplified it. I picked out the easier cards and discarded the ‘special’ cards such as spilt lemonade, as well as the more challenging build cards. In the full version of the game the player is meant to flip the card, memorize the cup pattern and then recreate it on the tray. This would have been too challenging for my 3 yr old so instead we kept the card visible and just copied the pattern of cups from it. This led to pattern recognition, color work and lots of counting. She loved rewarding herself with the coins after each challenge card was complete.
We still haven’t moved onto the memorizing version of the game because she enjoys our version so much. When she is ready we will start with the easier patterns and add in the other cards with time. This really is such a great game for engaging little minds.
I was a little worried that my preschooler would find this game frustrating if the fruit kept tumbling. She really didn’t though and there were a few tricks to make it easier for her before we played the full game. The first few games we literally just took it in turns to remove one piece of fruit each from the stand with our hands. The aim was to not knock any pieces of fruit off the stand but we were working as a team. The next step was to introduce the jumbo tweezers to extend the fine motor challenge. She found this hard for the larger round fruits like the oranges but it was great to see her problem solving.
More recently we have added the spinner to our play sessions. Again, it took her a few turns to realize that she had to spin and then couldn’t just change it to what she wanted it to land on, but we got there in the end. This was fun because sometimes it meant we had to try and take fruit off the bottom of the stand which was pretty challenging.
All four of these games really appealed to my preschooler because they had the novelty factor and they could be made age appropriate. Whether it be the wriggly worms in the dirt, or the teeny tiny lemonade cups, the game pieces were fun and engaging. As a parent I really liked these games because I felt that I could use them in different ways to best suit our play and learning goals. Some games tend to be very one-dimensional and after a few plays the fun factor wears thin, not these ones!