Nov 19, 2017

Must Have Preschool Games for the Holidays

(Amazon Affiliate links included for your convenience!)

The holiday season is fast approaching, and I have gotten a lot of questions about what are the best gifts for the 3-6 age range! Holiday shopping is my jam. I live for gift giving, especially when it's for my kids. But after several awesome Christmases filled with toys that are left collecting dust, I have vowed this year to only buy from the following categories: books, art, sensory, open ending building toys, open ended imagination toys, art supplies, and GAMES! 

Seriously, you really can't do better than wrapping some good quality games up for your kids! Not only are games engaging and educational, but they are the gift that keeps on giving. They can be enjoyed over and over again by your family throughout the year. 

Where should you start though? What games are great for younger kids? Well we have partnered with our friends over at University Games again to bring you a review of some great options! 

(Looking for ideas for toddlers - check out our ULTIMATE TODDLER GIFT GUIDE !!)

(Need a gift for the babies in your life?? - Check out our ULTIMATE BABY GIFT GUIDE !!) 

So lets get started! 

Super Why ABC Letter Game (This game is a SUPER steal on Amazon right now!!) 

We seriously couldn't WAIT to try this game! I have been wanting this one for my 3 year old for awhile now. We couldn't wait to get it setup. The instructions were easy to understand, and we were able to learn how to play fairly quickly. Plus, it came with awesome little finger puppets which kept my toddler entertained while we played! (Whoever came up with that was a genius!)

How to Play: 

The cards are set up into four different categories - 

Alpha Pig (Alphabet Power) Players point to the uppercase letter on the board that matches the lowercase letter on their card.

Wonder Red (Word Power) Players read the words or look at the pictures on the card and say another word or words that rhyme.

Princess Presto (Spelling Power) Players say the word pictured on the card and then point to the first letter or first two letters of the word in the center of the board. 

Super Why (Power to Read) Players either point to the word on the board that matches the picture on their card or point to the word on the board that should replace the underlined word on the card. 

To Win the Game: The game ends when all players reach the FINISH. Whoever has the most cards collected wins!

What we thought: 

We loved it! The 3 year old thought it was a blast, and I was surprised at how well he did. This game is going to be PERFECT for working on his letter recognition, beginning sounds, rhyming words, and more. I'm so excited to add it to our preschool curriculum as a regular Language Arts game! My 5 year old is a fluent reader so there was nothing here that could challenge him, but he still thought it was a fun game to play and he liked helping to teach his brother. 

How to Play: Players each pick a color of monkey. They place one monkey on start and one monkey on the bed. Each person takes turns spinning the spinner and moving their monkey. As they play, they must act out the different activities that the monkeys must do to get ready for bed (ex: brushing teeth, going to bed etc.) in order to collect their tokens. After each turn, they must press the red button on the corner of the bed. But be careful! The bed can pop back up and your monkeys can fall off!!

How to Win: The object of the game is to get all of your monkeys on the bed and to also collect 4 tokens. 

What we thought: The boys both thought this game was really fun (even my 2 year old nephew joined in!) It is colorful and there are so many fun components. The surprise factor of the bed popping up was exciting and we all may have shrieked a few times when it did! This game definitely worked on fine motor skills each time the boys tried to get their monkeys back onto the bed or to stand them up beside everyone else's monkeys. I also loved the acting portion. Not only did it build communication skills, but it also reinforced good bedtime habits. 

How to Play: This game was incredibly simple to set up and learn. It comes with a tray of cute little cupcakes. Everybody chooses a character from the Pete the Cat book series and places it on a Home space. Players spin the spinner and move around the board performing the following activities:

Dog space - name and animal and say it's sound
Food space - name a food that you think is yummy
ABC's - think of a letter and name something that starts with that letter 
Musical Note - sing a verse from a song

How to win: Players cooperatively win the game when all of the cupcakes are taken from Grumpy Toad's tray and are placed at Pete the Cat's birthday party. At the end of the game, everyone sings Pete the Cat Happy Birthday!

What we thought: The 3 year old liked it a lot!! He really liked all of the activities. It was fun to listen to him come up with animals, food, sing songs, and practice some letter and letter sound recognition. The 5 year old liked the Pete the Cat storyline and the components of the game, but  was not quite so impressed with the game as a whole. I think this game would be a perfect FIRST game for toddlers! I can definitely see this easily being played by a 2 year old. I see people asking about board games for that age range all the time, and this would definitely make a great gift for any 2-4 year old in your life!

How to Play: Game play is very simple, and perfect for little ones to understand. Players spin the spinner and move around the board trying to unite the baby animals with their mother. As they move, they are encouraged to count the number of animals and make the correct animal noises. You can move through holes in the fence, through the barn door, and across pastures. 

How to Win: This is a cooperative game (which we love!!) so players win as a collective team when they get all of their baby animals back to their mamas. 

What we thought: This board is absolutely gorgeous! When I first opened the package, the first thing I noticed was how nice the components were. It definitely has the cherished Eric Carle feel through and through. We love cooperative games, and they make great first board games for little gamers. This is definitely another one that would be perfect as a toddler's first board game. My 2 year old nephew loved moving the animals and making the animal noises. Little ones get practice counting and identifying baby and mama animals. The 2 and 3 year old played pretty independently which was wonderful!

Happy Hats Beginning Reading Game (This game is SOOO cheap right now on Amazon!! Grab a copy for all of beginner readers on your holiday list this year!!) 

How to Play: Players select their Bob books character and spin the spinner. As they move around the board and land on letters, they try to build words using the ending cards in their hand. If they land on a vowel spot, they find a card in their hand that starts with the vowel letter and puts it next to it. If they land on a q space, they move ahead one, and if they land on the x space they lose a turn. 

How to win: The game is over when all players reach the end, and the player with the most hat cards wins!

What we thought: I was so excited to try out this game! It's been on my wish list forever. We loved it!
 This is a MUST HAVE to accompany all of your Bob books. The components are awesome, and I love the authentic Bob books feel to the game. We are huge fans of the series, and I'm so excited to use this game in our homeschool as Bentley learns to read! My oldest loved encouraging and helping his brother along the way. This and the Super Why game will definitely be played a lot as part of our preschool - pre-k curriculum! 

So I coudn't resist but include a game for the older kiddos in your life. This game is EVERYTHING! Seriously. It's a homeschoolers dream. We have been loving it so very much, and have played it a handful of times!

How to Play: Game play is simple and so fun! Players spin the spinner and answer the questions collecting chips on their SMART cards. Every time they collect three chips, they get a letter card. The first player to spell out SMART on their board wins. 

What we thought: If you can't tell by my enthusiasm above, we LOVED it! This is the perfect game for gameschoolers, and I'm so excited to have it as part of our homeschool. Kingston started off answering the 1st grade questions, but when I saw that he was easily breezing through all of them, I started asking him random grades. Some of the 6th grade questions even stumped me, but he answered a lot of them without issue! This is definitely a game that is going to grow with us and keep our attention for years to come. This was my personal favorite out of all of the games I talked about in this review, and it was definitely Kingston's favorite as well!

Thank you to University Games for providing us with these great games. All thoughts and opinions were our own. Stay tuned in a couple of weeks for another game review post focusing on MATH GAMES! 

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