I am always looking for more ways to spend quality time and to connect with my children that encourages healthy activity and create bonding moments and memories that they can treasure throughout their lives. But as it’s gotten colder, and the weather hasn’t been nice enough for park days, I’ve been trying to think of other ways to spend quality time with my children and healthy, educational ways to spend some of our time in the longer evenings. Playing games is a great way to do that and there are some pretty amazing board games for 4 year olds out there.
Board Games for 4 year olds
There are tons of ways to spend quality time with your four year old. Kids at that age love anything that provides quality, undivided time with their parents. And family game night is an amazing way to have fun together and create amazing memories and laughs.
I’ve been wanting to start incorporating more games into our family time, but I keep asking myself what board games should I play with my 4 year old? Because if your child is like mine, there are a lot of great games out there that won’t be possible to play well with a four year old’s attention span, logic abilities, and energy levels. The good news is that there are a LOT of amazing board games for four year old kids that have been created with their developmental stages and learning skills in mind that are still a lot of fun to play together as a family. In fact, when I was doing my research, I ended up adding around 25 new games to my wishlists on Amazon. (Psst, games make fantastic gifts for four year olds!)
So what are the best preschool board games? I’ve picked the board games for 4 year olds in this article based on these criteria:
- Games that help build good fine motor skills and hand eye coordination.
- Games that encourage teamwork, in which players work together to complete a task or reach goals.
- Games that help with memory, math and other learning skills
- Family games that provide an opportunity to bond and create good memories.
Board Games for four year olds that build fine motor skills
This game has been one of the top recommended games for preschool children for a long time–and for good reasons! It makes a great game for your four year old because it is easy to understand and play, and makes learning fun and exciting. Using the little snacky squirrel squeezer to pick up acorns develops coordination, and the gameplay helps with matching, color recognition, and strategic thinking. Super fun family game for young children!
NEW: Try the CARD GAME version of this award-winning game! THe Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Card Game. This is a great transition game into learning and understanding different kinds of game play. Plus it is a great on-the-go game because you don’t have to worry about losing little game pieces along the way!
I’m a big fan of interactive learning! This game teaches cause and effect while learning numbers and matching. You balance the correct number of frogs with the correct number. You can bet that your child will get a kick out of the adorable little frogs and really love practicing number and fine motor skills while playing this game.
There are several versions of the counting, balance game, like this Monkey Balance Game which offers many of the same skill-learning opportunities with a slightly different look and feel.
Who doesn’t love the classic go fishing game! This fast-paced game gives your child a chance to practice hand eye coordination as they try to snag the correct fish in the moment that it opens it’s mouth in the game pond. Prepare for LOTS of giggles! My kids are always asking for this game for family game time!
This game requires strategic timing, coordination and racing the clock! It doubles as a great shape recognition game, and you can use it to introduce reading the timer. Plus, the suspense is something my kids thrived on. They play this over and over!
You have to love a good classic. One of the highest rated board games for 4 year olds, Operation is all about fine motor skills, timing and making strategic choices while “operating” on this unlucky game patient. Make the wrong move and the buzzer will go off! This one is a must if you are building a game collection for your kids.
If you’re looking for a simple, sturdy option, this magnetic matching stacking game may be just the thing! You draw cards and you and your child quickly try to match the pattern on the card with the magnetic rings on the gameboard. It is great for helping your child with problem-solving, color and shapes recognition and critical thinking. It also encourages taking turns and playing together. Great and important skills for for year old gamers!
Don’t let the alligator get your monkeys! Your kids are going to have an absolute BLAST with this game. It’s a slightly more strategic version of the classic Barel of Monkeys Game we all grew up with, and one everyone in the family will enjoy.
Classic Family Board Games
Show of hands: who all played candyland for hours as a kid? This is the perfect way to pass on the fun to another generation. Your kids will love racing you to the sweet castle and discovering all of the hidden obstacles and rewards along the way. Since it doesn’t require reading, it makes it an easy family game that older and younger children will enjoy playing together.
The very first board game I ever owned was this one! I played it for hours and hours on end, and would beg for my siblings and parents to join me. This one will help your child with counting and number skills, and with turn taking and being a good sport–even if you do slide down to the beginning here and there along the way. It’s a classic must-have if you are building a game library for kids!
Here is another one of the classic board games for kids. This counting based board game is easy for your younger children to play because it doesn’t require any reading skills and is fairly simple to understand and participate in. It’s so much fun but it’s the perfect math tool to introduce addition, subtraction and counting. I’m ALL for making learning fun, and love it when I can get my hands on a classic game to encourage the skills we’re working on in school or preschool!
If you are looking for a game for the whole family, you have to try this version of charades! Simplified for even young children to participate in, this one is a BLAST. You will laugh together, and get your kids moving as they act out the clues. Great for teamwork and for creative thinking and observation! It’s perfect for family nights.
This award-winning game comes with a warning and it’s LEGIT, you all! This card game is a HOOT. All ages are going to get into this one. You follow the clues to fill in the blank and let me tell you, some of it can get pretty hilarious. If you are looking for something new to try, GET THIS ONE!
My kids absolutely love Pete and this game is sure to please your kids! Collecting all those groovy buttons is a blast, and the familiar face and colors make it a favorite with our kids!
Memory games are one of go-to games for kids of all ages. Marvel characters are eye catching and your child will love finding their favorites in the matches. Easy, 15 minute game time, so it’s a good choice for busy evenings you can’t invest in a longer game.
We LOVE this game. We have books that are similar and they are some of my kids’ favorites. Work on observation and concentration finding items in the gameboard that match what is on your card. It’s fast-paced and a great team game that you will all enjoy.
Players work together in this game to find the patterns that match the clues. It’s a great parent-child interactive game that you and you four year old will love!
My kids really love this game. It’s fast-paced, but a great tool for object association, visual perception and attention span! You will have a blast playing with your kids.
This massive gameboard has all your favorite Disney faces. You and your childred work together to match identify and work through the board to reach your goals. This one is one of our favorites matching board games!
Who doesn’t love the familiar images from Eric Carle’s books for children? This match game is sturdy, has fun characters and your child will love collecting the matches as they play!
This is a cooperative game in which players help their little owls fly back to their nests before the sun comes up. It introduces your child to simple strategy, direction following and turn taking while working on a common goal! It is ADORABLE and a great choice for a first board game for four year olds.
Strategic Decision Making Games and Board Games for 4 year olds
This tower stacking game is a little bit different than jenga and is the perfect intro into strategy and thinking ahead. It isn’t quite a board game for for year olds but it is a great tabletop game that will keep you and your kids on your toes as you roll the dice to determine how many spires you have to remove each turn without the tower tumbling down on you.
This one is one of the simplest classic early strategy games out there, and we’ve probably all played it! It’s great for younger children because the gameplay is simple and the game pieces are sturdy and easy to figure out. It’s a great game for coordination and understanding concepts of cause and effect.
I’ve never played jacks but my kids love this game! I think there are just some games that never lose their charm and this is one of them. If you are looking for easy, classic games to teach your children, this is definitely a great choice.
This has to be one of the most gorgeous tic tac toe games I’ve ever seen! When I think of early strategy learning, I think of my first tic tac toe games and how much fun I have now seeing my kids grasp the concepts of thinking one step ahead of the turn they’re on now. The large wooden pieces are easy for small hands to place, and it’s a great portable option as well.
Do you have kids who are super fans of Eric Carle? My two absolutely adore anything that they recognize as Eric Carle. Of course, The Very Hungry Caterpillar has been winning the hearts of children for a while now, so it’s no wonder that they went crazy over this game in which you feed your very own hungry caterpillar. This gives them a chance to practice decision making skills as they count, move and build their way around the gameboard. This makes an excellent choice for toddler board games!
Cooperative Games that require Teamwork
Your kids will immediately fall in love with the idea of solving a mystery in this cooperative game that will take the whole family to solve! You will get the chance to introduce your child to probability estimations and paying attention to details is key. It’s a great family bonding game that we absolutely love!
I really love board games for four year olds that have everyone working together to reach their goals. Especially at this young age, learning teamwork and cooperation is such an important skill to have! Peaceable Kingdom has a plethora of cooperative games that will appeal to all of your children’s interests, but I thought this friends and neighbors game was stellar. It not only teaches important life skills, but empathy and understanding emotions and feelings in others as well. Great social skills and emotional awareness tool as you work through scenarios together as a family!
BONUS: “Board Games” for Outdoor Play
This four-in-a-row connect game takes it to another level. The big pieces are easy to handle, and kids go crazy over it! It’s great for game night outdoors, but it totally works in the basement or living room too. Lots of strategy teaching and just general good times with this one!
We get a kick out of these giant cards and checkers game board pieces. Your kids will love learning the basics of these games that they’ll enjoy for years to come. But watch out, before you know it, your four year old will be beating you at Checkers. Don’t ask me how I know. 😉
We love a good game of Jenga, and this takes that classic and gives it a twist with a dice. Great for following instructions, cause and effect and just general good laughs with your family as you try to keep the tower alive as long as you can. Your kids will LOVE this jumbo version!
Why are playing board games important for kids?
Experts say games for 4 year olds at home is an important opportunity for kids and for parents. They provide the perfect scenario in which you can teach important educational and social skills in a way that gives them practical, hands-on learning experiences that are fun at the same time. In fact, these are ten important reasons why board games for 4 year olds are a great investment for you and your family!
- Teamwork: Being able to work as a team player is a life skill that your child will need as they grow and face new environments. Games are a great way to practice this and work on the skills that make people want you on their team!
- Thinking ahead/Critical thinking: It is never too soon to start developing the skills needed to plan ahead and make wise choices. Games are the perfect segway into crucial critical thinking skills because when your child needs to play with even a simple strategy to plan moves ahead in the game, it helps them to build the ability to make a plan and modify it to reach their goals.
- Math and Language Skill: Even if your child doesn’t read yet, there are so many great opportunities to increase word recognition, vocabulary and of course, math skills when you play games together. Learning to count the numbers on a dice, move ahead or backwards is the perfect springboard to introduce not just counting but addition and subtraction in a hands-on way that helps your child connect the action to a concept that can feel abstract and difficult.
- Taking turns: Taking turns is hard for 4 year old kids. But learning to wait and let others make their moves as you work around the gameboard is a great way to help develop patience and understanding on how to be a good team player before they are in a lot of social situations where this is necessary.
- Following directions: For my kids this is another big one. It’s so hard to turn on the listening ears and follow instructions when they are so excited about the pieces. Playing through a game according to the directions helps them learn to follow through with simple instructions even if they don’t initially want to.
- Actions and Consequences: Games are one of THE BEST WAYS I have found to help my four year old understand how her actions can cause a reward or consequence depending. It’s such an abstract thought for little brains, so being able to see it play out and grasp how it happens on a game board has given us something to relate to when our day to day actions cause sometimes undesirable consequences.
- Creating non-screen time hobbies: we live in a very tech centered world. This is not all bad but it is healthy and important to develop hobbies for children and as a family that take us away from the screens and let us use a different part of our brains. Non-screen time can give us a chance to teach social skills and values that we would miss being able to do without that one-on-one investment!
- Being a good sport: No one likes to lose. But life is filled with as many losses as it has wins, so it’s important to know how to lose gracefully. Family game night is a great opportunity to teach the proper way to win and lose with a good spirit.
- Social skills: Four year olds are just on the edge of school and social skills can be a challenge. Playing and interacting with each other lets us parents get a chance to work with our kids on little (or big) skills that will make their social life so much easier as they enter the school age era.
- Fun and bonding Time as a family: there is nothing like laughing together over a gameboard. My kids light up on game night. We get to talk about things that are important to them. We learn something together. They get to be better than me once in a while. And we just all love it. These are the memories that they’ll take with them for years to come, and we all want to make the most of them!
In closing, picking out a few new games for you and your kids to enjoy together is a winning choice that will reward you in quality time, educational opportunities, and just a lot of good laughs with the people you love. What could be better than that?
Need more gift inspiration? Check out my gift guides for all ages!