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Easy board games – activities for 3 year olds at home when you’re stuck inside

Easy board games – activities for 3 year olds at home when you’re stuck inside

As the weather gets cooler, those of us with preschoolers start to look for activities for 3 year olds at home.  These easy board games for toddlers and preschoolers are great home activities for kids, and many are learning games too!

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As a kid, I loved board game nights at home.  I have great memories of being inside and all cozy on a cold evening and playing an easy board game with my family.  Some of my favorites were the classic Snakes and Ladders, Guess Who? and I also loved Mousetrap.   I was not a fan of Candy Land, which is surprising, considering what a huge sweet tooth I had growing up.

Continuing this tradition of playing easy board games is something I would love to do with my daughter as she grows up.  She has been too young up until now, but her attention span is getting noticeably longer as she approaches her third birthday.  I started looking for activities for 3 year olds at home that we could start to do with her.  A lot of easy board games are meant for older kids.  I wanted to put together the best games for toddlers and preschoolers.

Related reading: 

I put together this list based on research, experience, and consulting with other toddler/preschooler moms of home activities for kids, including some educational board game ideas for the inquisitive toddler or preschooler in your life.

Other book and toy ideas for toddlers and preschoolers:

At home activities for kids are a frugal way to spend time together.  You don’t have to spend money on a family event out, you can keep it simple and play some easy board games with your kids.  My daughter has a lot (this is relative since she’s still a toddler!) of independent time where she plays with her toys or flips through her books by herself.  But I can see that her favorite times during the day are the times when I give her my complete attention.  I actually see her light up when I’m fully focused on her.  Reading to her, doing a puzzle together, playing in her little kitchen, baking together.  Sounds kind of simple but looking back, these basic things are some of my best memories growing up.

Let’s delve into the list of activities for 3 year olds at home, shall we?

1. Activities for 3 year olds at home: Pete the Cat’s Cupcake Party

Recommended age: 3+

My daughter will absolutely flip her lid when we get her this game.  She is obsessed with Pete the Cat books.  They are her favorites and we are constantly checking the library for new ones.  I thought this game was for slightly older kids but it is a great at home activity for 3 year olds – yay!  The pieces are big enough, and no reading skills are needed to play.  In this easy board game kids sing songs, act out physical activities, and identify favorite animals, foods, and words.  I am excited about the singing and physical components of this board game.  Having a highly active toddler, I think Pete the Cat’s Cupcake Party will be a perfect at home activity to help her release some of her energy on days we have to stay inside.

2. Activities for 3 year olds at home: Sneaky Snacky Squirrel

Recommended age: 3+

Okay if the name doesn’t have you wanting this already, well I just don’t know what to say.  I will tell you more about it.  I just found out about this game and it will be a Christmas present for our toddler this year.  Sneaky Snacky Squirrel has won a ton of awards, including best preschool game for five years running.  It develops matching, sorting, strategic thinking, hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills and pre-handwriting skills.  It is easy to understand and play, and there is no reading required.

3. Activities for 3 year olds at home: Don’t Break the Ice

Recommended age: 3+

In this game, kids tap out ice blocks one by one.  To win, keep Phillip the Penguin on top.  This is a great early development toy that teaches taking turns, motor skills, and simple strategy.  I have also heard of this game being used as a homeschool reading tool; parents tape simple words to the blocks of ice to help with learning to read.

4. Activities for 3 year olds at home: Shelby’s Snack Shack

Recommended age: 4+

This easy game about a cute pug called Shelby is perfect for preschoolers.  It helps teach numbers and counting through play, helps develop strategic thinking, and fine motor skills.  The plastic bones in Shelby’s Snack Shack are smaller pieces than in Sneaky Snacky Squirrel, so if you have a 3 year old who still likes to taste everything, stick to Sneaky Snacky Squirrel for now.

5. Activities for 3 year olds at home: Jenga

Recommended age: 6+

Jenga Jenga, Je-je-je-Jenga!  I can’t be the only millennial who remembers those old commercials for Jenga that came out on the T.V. around Christmas time…?  Many houses will already have Jenga – if you don’t have this yet, do yourself a favor and get this.  It’s a great activity for 3 year olds at home, and toddlers younger than that will have fun stacking the blocks too.  This has a recommended age higher than the other easy games for kids on this list, but Jenga is a fun game for kids of all ages.  You don’t have to play it in the way it’s intended with the toddlers and preschoolers, but it is great practice for them to stack and balance the blocks.

6. Activities for 3 year olds at home: Boggle Junior

Recommended age: 3+

This is a Boggle game for preschoolers with colorful pictures cards and big letter cubes.  Boggle Junior lets kids practice basic letter and word recognition, matching, spelling, and memory.  This easy board game is a great precursor to reading.

7. Activities for 3 year olds at home: Hi Ho Cherry-O

Recommended age: 3-6

This game helps your 3 year old develop and practice basic math skills.  You pick different colored fruit from the trees and fill your buckets, learning about colors and counting.

8. Activities for 3 year olds at home: Busy Barnyard Wooden Dominos

Recommended age: 1+

Finally a game you can play with your 1 year old!  I’m kidding, you will not be playing a civilized turn-taking game with a 1 year old.  They will most likely put the pieces in their mouth or at best, look at them.  But dominos are great activities for 3 year olds at home.  The tiles in this set are reversible so you can play with the classic dots, or you can match animals on the other side.  Dominos teach sorting, matching, and simple counting, through play!

9. Activities for 3 year olds at home: Let’s Feed The Very Hungry Caterpillar Game

Recommended age: 3+

This game is based on the beloved book about the ravenous caterpillar that is a staple in many households with littles.  This simple board game doesn’t require any reading.  You move colorful caterpillar pieces around the board from fruit to fruit stopping to eat, and build a butterfly puzzle as you go.  Your child gets a chance to practice decision making, counting, collecting, and building skills.

10. Activities for 3 year olds at home: Chutes and Ladders

Recommended age: 3+

This super old (let’s call it classic) game is a great educational board game idea for toddlers and preschoolers.  It is simple and involves counting, and is an easy board game for kids who haven’t learned how to read yet.  Chutes and Ladders is a version of Snakes and Ladders meant for toddlers and preschoolers.  It doesn’t have small dice so is safer for those younger kids who still put everything in their mouth.

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These easy board games for 3 year olds are perfect preschool activities at home.

Do you have any other easy board game ideas for activities for 3 year olds at home?

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