#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 :)