Friday, February 10, 2012

Five Beginner Games for Twos and Threes

If you are like most parents you want your child's play to be fun and stimulating for him/her and YOU too ;)  Our daughter is an only child and presently her favorite playmates are Mommy, Daddy, Grandma, Grandpa, her aunt and the dog.  For the time being, WE are her primary playmates, so it helps to have some options when it comes to play.  I really enjoy games and when introduced properly they can be great fun as well as a learning experience for your child.  Our Pickle is almost three years old, so it is still hard for her to attend to a game for a great length of time.  I have looked for games that are stimulating, entertaining, interesting, educational and not very competitive.  Here are a few that I like.  I will share my own personal pros and cons, but ultimately you have to decide what is best for your child and family.

#1.) Ravensburger Teddy Mix & Match
This is the BEST first game for a child in the two year old range.  First of all, it is adorable!  Second, it is very sturdy chipboard.  The pictures are high quality and  engaging to little ones. This is Pickle's "go to" game.  You can adapt the difficulty just by adjusting how you play it.  Right now, we lay them all out face-up and pick one bear at a time and ask her to find the match.  As she gets older we can begin to use it as a memory matching game.  

#2.)  Bear Hugs by iPlay
This happens to be on sale at Amazon right now for $8.98, so if you decide you want to try it I would get it while the price is right!  This is another adorable game and ideal as a first beginner's game.  In this matching game you are matching a Mama Bear to her cub.  The level of difficulty is only slightly more challenging than the Ravensburger bear matching game because a few of the bears have similar features.  When the player makes a match he or she hugs the plush teddy bear and keeps it until the other player makes a match.  Once again, you can simply lay the cards face-up in the beginning, but as your child develops you can make it more of a card game where they pick a card and find the match and eventually move to a complete memory matching game.

#3.) Lakeshore Shape Sorting Center

This is not really a game but an activity.  This one is very worthy of mention since, as a teacher I see tremendous opportunity for language development as well as one-to-one correspondence which is basis for good number sense.  There are eight shape mats.  On one side the mat is blank other than having the name of the shape.  On the other side it has items for the child to find and match using the pieces.  The objects are everyday items like a present, pie, pizza, button, etc. so this is a fabulous language building activity if you ask your child questions about each of the objects.  You can also gradually have your child start to classify the items based on other characteristics and attributes as they get older: color only, function, foods, etc.

#4.) Old McDonald Pop n' Match Game
I like this one the best out of the pop n' match collection.  It is a simple game: pop the popper and it will show you are farm animal.  You take a chipboard animal and place it on your board on top of the match.  So, if you pop a pig you pick a pig piece and put it on the pig on your board.  The one thing I dislike about this game is that it has a -1 side on the cube.  If you pop a -1 you have to give back a piece.  This is very difficult for a young child to do.  There are a few other games in this line: Hickory Dickory Dock (we do not have that one) and Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes as well, but that one is too hard for Pickle right now.

#5.) Oh Rats!  by Discovery Toys

I don't think Discovery Toys is around anymore.  That is a shame because when I taught preschool they had some of the best games.  One that I still have is Oh Rats!  It is a color puzzle matching game!  

I help Pickle a bit by setting the puzzle pieces for her puzzle next to her.  When she spins I tell her to look for a piece that is that color and then we figure out where it goes.  As she gets older she can start looking for the specific pieces from the larger pile.

So that is my top five list for beginner games for 2-3 year olds!  I am always looking for great games, so please let me know if you have one you think it great :)


  1. They still have Discovery Toys! Some products haven't changed in all these years but there's lots of good new stuff now too.

  2. I am an Early Intervention provider and always use games in my therapy. Games are a great way to work on many skills and a lot of fun. I also have a toddler and started teaching him how to play games at 21 months old. He is now 2 years 8 months and loves games. We play a game almost every day and have game night as a family every Wednesday.

    The first game I always start a child with is Things in My House by Ravensburger. It is a simple first matching game. Once a child masters that game, I then introduce others. Other great games for the 2-4 age group: Hullaballo by Cranium, Elefun, Zingo, Brown Bear-Panda Bear, What Do You See by University Games, I Spy Eagle Eye Jr. Game by Briarpatch, Hide & Seek by Ravensburger.........

    Other great games for 3+ What's in Ned's Head?, Kids on Stage by University Games, Pengoloo by Blue Orange, Scavenger Hunt for Kids by University Games, Guess Where by Hasbro, Secret Square by University Games..... I could go on and on!!

  3. My son (turned 3 last month) really likes (1) My First Orchard by Haba Games (2) The Snail's Pace Race by Ravensburger and (3) Richard Scarry's Busytown Game. We also have the Teddy Matching game and that is a hit as well. Those are the games he always wants to pull out. I'll have to check out some of the others suggested...

  4. Thanks for the ideas. My little ones love playing games together, but sometimes it's hard to find ones that work for both my 5 year old and 3 year old.