Games & skillbuilders

8 Great Board Games to Help Preschoolers Build Different Skills

By Amanda Morin

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Board games can do more than just keep your preschooler occupied. They can help with learning, too. Here are some great board games to help build reading, math and fine motor skills.

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zingo board game
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Skills: Matching, pre-reading, fine motor

Zingo is a fun variation of Bingo. Each tile has a picture and a word describing that picture (such as “apple”). As your child matches the image on the tile to what’s on her game board, she can also practice reading the words. The game has a neat way of storing and dispensing the tiles in a slider that can help your child practice fine motor skills. There are several versions of Zingo that target different skills, including Zingo 1-2-3 to teach number recognition and Bilingual Zingo for players who speak both English and Spanish.

super why board game
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Super Why ABC Letter Game

Skills: Alphabet recognition, rhyming, phonemic awareness, basic reading.

Super Why is a popular—and award-winning—PBS show that helps kids learn how to read. The board game uses familiar characters from the animated show to work on skills such as matching an uppercase T to a lowercase t. Your child will also rhyme and replace nonsense words with ones that make more sense in context.

sequence for kids board game
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Sequence for Kids

Skills: Memory, matching, visual-spatial, reading

Each player has a hand of cards and some chips. A player picks a card that has an image of, say, a panda and looks for that animal on the game board. When she finds the panda, she puts a chip on it. Once a player has four chips in a row, it’s a winning “sequence.” Finding a match on the busy game board is fun and challenging. And it can be tricky to remember which chips belong to which player. As your child gets older, she can practice reading the words on the card.

hisss board game
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Skills: Color matching, patterning, planning, flexible thinking

This is a game of color and pattern matching. Players take turns choosing from the pile of “snake part” cards. Your child will have to see if the colors and body parts match and find a way to get to the cards she needs before the other players do. If she can’t find the right card, she has to come up with a new approach. Once all the cards are gone, the player with the most snakes wins.

hi ho cherry o board game
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Hi Ho Cherry-O

Skills: Counting, basic addition and subtraction, fine motor

This classic board game involves recognizing numbers and counting. There’s a lot to pay attention to in this game. Players spin the spinner and use the results to add or subtract cherries. Kids have to remember what happens when they lands on the dog, bird or spilled basket. Plucking the cherries and placing them in a bucket is also a fun way to work on fine motor skills.

uno moo board game
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Uno Moo game

Skills: Matching, sorting, memory

Uno is a classic card game that works on matching and sorting skills. Uno Moo is a simpler version that uses animal figurines instead of cards. The first player puts an animal on the barn. Each player then has to decide if she has an animal that has something in common with the one on the barn. (It can be either color or type of animal.) The first player to have all of her animals out of her haystack wins.

memory board game
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Skills: Concentration, attention and memory

There are lots of different memory games you can play with your child. Some are the classic shape-matching games, like the original Memory game. Other matching games use familiar characters. Some work on reading skills by asking players to match words with objects. Whichever you choose, your child will have to pay attention to where cards are placed and which ones have been turned over. It’s great for building attention, concentration, visual-matching and turn-taking skills.

five little monkeys board game
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Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed Game

Skills: Counting, strategy and fine motor

Based on the popular Five Little Monkeys book series by Eileen Christelow, this game will have your child giggling at the monkeys’ antics. She’ll also be practicing strategy, counting, sequencing and developing fine motor skills. Using the spinner to help her, she has to try to get her monkeys through the bedtime routine. But the bed might pop up and spring all the monkeys to the floor before she can finish!

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6 Great Board Games to Boost Critical Thinking in Teens and Tweens

Some tweens and teens may choose boredom over board games. But encourage them to keep an open mind. These games will capture your child’s attention, sense of humor and imagination while boosting critical-thinking skills.

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About the Author

Portrait of Amanda Morin

Amanda Morin

A parent advocate and former teacher, Amanda Morin is the proud mom of kids with learning and attention issues and the author of The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education.

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Reviewed by Sheldon H. Horowitz, Ed.D. Apr 28, 2014 Apr 28, 2014

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