Last Updated on November 17, 2021 by admin
2-year-olds have short attention spans, can’t be trusted with small parts, and don’t have the fine motor skills you’d expect to be required to play a board game.
However, there are some fun options available that make games a great gift choice for 2-year-olds.
They can help develop cognitive skills (memorization, matching, counting, etc.), social skills (taking turns, cooperating) and fine motor skills (rolling dice, moving pieces). Plus, as gifts, games can be a nice change of pace from the dolls, cars and stuffed animals that kids typically receive.
But most importantly, games are fun. My 2-year-old asked to play some of these games over and over again.
Below I’ve listed a few games that make a good intro to the myriad board games that are geared toward the preschool crowd.
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- Memory/Matching Games
- “Board” Games
- Logic Games
- Fishing Games
- Bowling Games
- Scavenger Hunt Games
- Bingo Games
- Water Games
Memory/Matching Games for 2-Year-Olds
My son got Seek-a-Boo for his second birthday.
I thought it might be too tough for him at the time, but he loved it and it actually kept him occupied longer than most activities. He just turned 3 and we still play it occasionally. He would demand to play it over and over (although I didn’t always enjoy the epic battles we had over cleaning it up).
Seek-a-Boo is nice because the cards are easy for little hands to pick up, and it keeps tots moving around and interested because the cards are spread all over the floor.
Other Memory/Matching Card Games
This is another toddler-friendly matching game with larger cards that has a lot of positive reviews on Amazon.
The illustrations are cute, the cards are extra large, and you can choose from themes of vehicles, farm animals, and wild animals. Each set costs around $20.
First Words 100 Matching Game
Here’s a simple matching game that was designed just for younger toddlers.
Like other card games for 2-year-olds listed here, the game features larger, sturdy cards and words that are easy for young toddlers to pronounce and learn.
Matching Game + Floor Puzzle
The brand Peaceable Kingdom has a whole line of matching games that double as floor puzzles and are directly marketed as being for ages 2 and up.
This Trucks one is super popular, and I think my own kids would have loved it. If your kid isn’t into vehicles, don’t worry: They also have designs featuring zoo animals, ocean animals, princesses, unicorns, pirates, and puppies and kittens.
“Board” Games for 2-Year-Olds
Roll & Play
My 2-year-old had a lot of fun with this Roll and Play Board Game, which basically consists of rolling the die and then performing the action prompted on the card with the same color.
Actions involve things like counting, making faces and identifying body parts, colors and emotions.
My First Orchard
The toy company HABA makes several games just for the age 2 crowd. One of the most popular is called First Orchard.
In this game, you take turns rolling the die and collecting non-swallowable-sized fruit before the raven reaches the orchard. From the product description: “This cooperative kids learning game is designed to foster social skills, develop color recognition skills, and teach counting by ones.”
My five-year-old still asks to play this game occasionally.
Mindware’s brand Peaceable Kingdom specializes in cooperative games, and they have created several board games appropriate for 2-year-olds.
This “Monkey Around” game appears to be their most popular board game for the 2+ crowd. Kids pick up a monkey card and perform the action shown on the card (not unlike the game Roll & Play). They then place each monkey in a “tree” as they complete each action.
In this simple game, also from Peaceable Kingdom, kids follow recipe cards and add the right ingredients to make “soup” in the bowl. I love how the “box” is part of the game, and I imagine 2-year-olds really enjoy stirring up the soup with the wooden spoon included.
Topper Takes a Trip
This Peaceable Kingdom game revolves around the concept of packing up a suitcase for a trip.
Players pick one of five destinations, then choose the items to match the trip.
I like this concept because kids can also just play with the suitcase or enjoy the fun of filling it up and dumping it out if they aren’t ready for a more formal game yet.
Hungry as a Bear
In this game, toddlers roll a wooden die and feed the bear the matching cardboard “food” piece.” It’s not totally clear from the picture, but hey actually put the piece on the spoon and stick it into a cardboard bear’s mouth, which I think would be pretty entertaining for a 2-year-old.
HABA points out that this can also work as a memory game and guessing game, as the food pieces are identically shaped with identical backing.
Logic Games for 2-Year-Olds
In Bunny Peek-a-Boo, 2-year-olds try to make the bunny match each challenge card by arranging and stacking the wooden blocks/shapes in the bunny’s box.
I haven’t tried this game myself, but it looks cute, fun, and easy to store (taking up minimal space.
This might be more of a puzzle than a game, but I still wanted to include it here because I like it so much. To start, it’s a beautiful wooden toy from a company with sustainable forestry practices. But it’s also versatile. Kids will have fun placing the wedges into the frame, but the pieces can also be used as pattern blocks outside the frame. It comes with a few template cards so that kids can try to “match” the card. I think that this is also technically a math/logic game because it helps kids visualize fractions. (They won’t be ready for that at age 2, but this toy will be interesting for years to come.)
Fishing Games for 2-Year-Olds
There’s something pretty exciting about catching a pretend fish.
There are lots of magnetized fishing toys available online (maybe not technically games, but still fun).
Melissa and Doug Kids Count and Fish
My kids liked this velcro Melissa and Doug Kids Count and Fish game when they were younger.
This only got a fraction of the time and attention that the board games and matching games have gotten over the years, though.
Here Fishy Fishy
If you’d prefer a wooden set, one option is HABA’s Here Fishy Fishy game. The “fish” and the rods are made of wood and use magnets.
The set also comes with a die for when your 2-year-old is ready to gamify the fishing set by catching the color fish shown on the die.
A Bowling Game for 2-Year-Olds
This “game” isn’t at the top of my list because I imagine it would be at least a little annoying for parents to have to keep setting up the pins. Plus, I can imagine a few ways that a toddler throwing a vinyl ball could go wrong.
That said, there are many happy parents who have reviewed these bowling pins and say they’re really fun.
A Scavenger Hunt Game for 2-Year-Olds
I love this concept: A simple, minimal footprint game that has rave reviews from parents of 2-year-olds. This came up as a suggestion when I was looking for Seek-a-Boo alternatives, and it seems to be a hit.
A Bingo Game for 2-Year-Olds
This simple bingo game is touted in its description as “the perfect first game.” It’s much more streamlined than most bingo games for kids, with just four cute themed images per card. It also comes in a convenient little storage case.
Water Game for 2-Year-Olds
Finally, if you’re looking for a game for the bath or pool, check out Gobble Gobble Guppies. It’s a simple concept, and it’s as fun as it looks.