Fun and games are essential to a happy childhood – and family time is too! It can be hard to find good board games for kids ages 3-5.
Even though one of our favorite activities as a family is playing games together… I often find myself struggling to find new family games that our 3 + 4 year olds will appreciate (and take part in) equally on game nights. Over the past year we have really expanded our game library and found a number of games that both young kids and their older siblings enjoy playing.
Spending time together as a family makes kids feel loved, engaged, and supported in their development as people.
Playing board games with your kids is a FANTASTIC learning activity – it helps them learn important social skills (like the ability to lose gracefully) and as a bonus many of the games we’ve found for kids ages 3-5 and up ALSO help practice other important skills like counting, identifying numbers and colors, as well as manual dexterity!
In today’s (crazy busy) world, it’s easy to overlook the importance of family time – and the role parents should play in fostering creativity and a sense of fun at home.
Playing games with your kids is such an EASY way to do this, and three or four years old is not to young to start playing board games! (By the time they are school age, you can even incorporate some educational board games!)
(I might be using the term “board” games a little loosely… but generally I mean games that aren’t body activities like Simon Says etc. You know, I mean games where you sit around the table and play together, board or no board haha.)
Here’s a list of our favorite board games for ages 3 and up to play as a family – (we play all these games with my kids ages 3 and 4).
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Fun Board Games for Kids Ages 3-5+ (And Their Parents) to Play As a Family:
The following are 10 of our favorite games you can play with your little one(s) to have some family fun together, and practice important skills:
Matching / Memory Game
This one is a family favorite at our house, so our set is WELL LOVED. You can make it yourself, or buy one (we have this Disney version, because… I love Disney, and my kids get a kick out of “knowing” all the characters).
It consists of many pairs of cards, placed face down on the table (or floor). Each player takes a turn flipping two cards face up – and when you get a pair, you keep them!
You build memory skills, At the end, the person with the most pairs wins.
This is truly one of the best games for a 3 year old; our 3 year old is able to fully grasp the concept and loves the game, and this one tops the list because my husband and I don’t get bored playing – we have to think as hard as they do!
This game is also good for a large group (unlike many of the other simple games on this list). We’ve played it with up to 9 people. (It just goes quicker then.)
We took this one out of the box and packed it in a plastic bag so it was easy to travel with in 2022 when we had to come up with good travel activities for kids, and be on the road with our kids for 5 months. We have played this thing everywhere – on the floor at the airport, or on the bed in a hotel, on the table at a pub- you name it.
Ice Cream Scoops of Fun
This is one game kids can play with or without adults once they understand how to do it – which is great for getting a few mom moments alone (lol).
There are two levels of play, one easier and one more challenging, which lets kids grow with the game.
There’s an ice cream scoop that you spin to find out what flavor of ice-cream you are looking for… and the fun spin ice cream thing NEVER gets old with the littles!
SEQUENCE (for Kids)
This family game is marketed for ages 3 and up – and we DO play it with our three year old! (It’s a simpler version of the classic board game Sequence.)
I’m not ENTIRELY sure she grasps the strategy part of it (ok, I’m actually pretty confident she doesn’t lol) BUT she is able to “do” the game entirely on her own which makes her feel grown-up and independent.
My four year old totally “gets it” and I think it’s just a matter of time ’till our baby is there too.
It’s a very fast-paced game, just play a card from your hand, and place your chip on the corresponding character on the board – the first with four chips in a row wins. This game is great for developing critical thinking skills – as you have to make good choices as to where to play your pieces in conjunction with what’s in your hand.
Animal Upon Animal by Haba
This is another simple game that my kids and I play – and I expect it to get more and more fun as they get BETTER at it!
You just stack cute little animals on each other (building fine motor skills while you’re at it) – and try not to be the player who knocks them all down!
Younger kids will knock them down often, but it’s great for dexterity practice and the cute animals are a hit regardless of how high the stack gets.
This one can be fun for parents too (unlike say… snakes and ladders).
(There are versions of this game that have larger animal blocks, if you REALLY want the 3-year-olds to be able to WIN, but I personally think just go for the original and your family won’t outgrow it as fast!)
Important note: we have tried off-brand versions of this game, and they are NOT AS GOOD. I don’t know why. The animals are weighted differently, or something, and tiny hands are not as successful at stacking. The off brand versions are more frustrating and play does not last as long.
This is another popular family game that I picked up at a thrift store before my kids were old enough to play! They started showing an interest in it when the oldest was around 3 or 4 and have been playing with it ever since!
It’s simple and it gets the whole family involved (again, with no parental boredom).
Basically you’re trying to remove little plastic body parts without touching the sides with the tweezers – which makes a buzzer go off.
It’s pretty challenging for the average three year old’s little hands, but it’s a GREAT manual dexterity exercise – and I think they secretly LOVE setting off the buzzer!
(One note: My kids have the original Operation game – HOWEVER, if you’re looking for a less creepy version they also make a pet version which is just as fun but doesn’t include human organ removals. Just saying. This game is also not for kids who still put things in their mouths, as it has a lot of VERY small pieces. So make sure to consider that.)
I’m adding this award-winning game even though 3 year-olds MAY struggle with it – our four year old gets it 100% and can play it with no help. It’s a card game, and there’s no reading, but there are a lot of different cards and you have to be able to grasp the concept that they all “do” different things.
It does help improve basic math skills.
When we first read through the instructions we felt like it was going to be crazy complex, but it’s really not!
This is my personal favorite game with this age group (just ahead of memory and sequence) – and it’s definitely a favorite of both our kids also! My kids got it for Christmas, and it was a total win as it’s one of the toys they ACTUALLY play with.
Snakes and Ladders
Our kids have loved the classic game of Snakes and Ladders for over a year – even though I really, really do not haha, just like candy land – it’s SO bland! I think it might actually be one of the very first games for kids ages 3-5 that we bought.
It’s a great way for younger kids to practice counting and become familiar with numbers.
In order to win the game, players need to roll two dice and move their pieces according to what number they rolled on each die – it’s super basic but the thrill is landing on a ladder and going up – or a snake… and sliding down!
One warning though: older kids (even young teens) tend to get bored with this game quickly… but it’s been a hit with my littles!
Magnetic Go Fishing
This is a simple magnetic game I picked up at Walmart one day on a whim… and it has been a HIT. (As you can see, by the well loved case LOL.)
It’s just a board with magnetic fish on it and you have to hook the fish with magnet fishing rods. It’s great for road trips or beach days because the pieces “stick together” and it’s compact for travel.
The game pieces consist of magnetic fish and magnetic fishing rods, and my kids think it’s SO much fun.
Spot It! Animals Jr
is a huge hit with little kids!
It’s a LOT like the ice cream game I mentioned earlier, so I would only purchase one of the two. (Remember, the ice cream game has the spinning scoop LOL.)
I actually LOVE this game – it’s fun and fast-paced… but best of all, it REALLY challenges my little ones to look at things in detail! (They’re trying to find the same elements on two cards!)
Go Fish! (A classic “board game” for kids ages 3-5)
This game is a classic, and there are reasons why a classic is a classic.
It’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like: you “Go fish” (drawing from a pile of cards), trying to get pairs of matching numbers or colors… and then you can ask other players if they have the card you’re looking for!
(It makes a great cheap stocking stuffer for little kids!)
This is another classic that my kids first enjoyed at a friend’s house and then LOVED playing at home.
It’s a fun game to play competitively (my husband and I will challenge each other) but it also works very well for younger children.
Just take turns dropping your checkers on the grid, trying to get four in a row!
Grab a new game and spend some quality time with your kids
I hope you’ve found a few new board games for kids ages 3-5 to add to your next family game night. Whip up some game night snacks and make it a party!
Playing games with your kids is an easy way to become a fun mom!
Maybe I should mention a few “duds” that I bought and was really excited about playing with our small kids, but they just didn’t do it for it. Shaky Shark comes to mind, I was really disappointed in it (it was just clunky and didn’t really give you enough time to do the things). A game with flying bananas was also a sort of not great one – it seemed really exciting, but our three year old just couldn’t take part.
Kerplunk has also been a bit disappointing this year – but I think that’s an age thing. We’ll get there with that one! I know it’s great for hand-eye coordination, but they can not play it by themselves, and the pieces just get scattered around the house.
The thing I learned from those dud purchases is mainly to be careful with very “sensational” sounding games… Stick with the tried and true classics like and memory and go fish games, or more modern favorites like Connect Four or Animal Upon Animal; there’s definitely something for everyone! Remember that these are all simple enough for children under the age of 5, but can still be enjoyed by adults too. Happy playing!
Asking your kids silly questions to foster conversation is another fun way to spend time together as a family. Here’s some funny questions to ask your kids to get the conversation started!
Let me know in the comments if you have suggestions for great family board games for kids 3-5 years old!
I hope you find the perfect game for the entire family, to create fond memories of family game nights, or even of rainy days at home.
3 thoughts on “10 Fun Family Board Games (to Play With Little Kids Ages 3-5+)”
We are a big game playing family, so these are great suggestions! Our favourites lately include Sequence and Dutch Blitz!
we got Dutch Blitz and we are REALLY enjoying it with our 5 year old. Our 4 year old just can’t get it yet – but we’re excited for when she can!
I know what you mean about buying “dud” games (Squawk was a big disappointment). Some great card games for that age would be Garbage or James Bond. Some board games would be Yahtzee Jr (especially DIY family one) and Clue Jr. I created a whole blog about family games to help families find (and avoid) great games. You can find it at FamilyGameShelf.com