6 Classic Board Games for Your Preschooler

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I had the chance to sit down and play a couple of board games with my daughter the other day.  She picked out two classic games that I had when I was little.  It was almost like being sent back in time and reliving my old days as 4 year old.  So that got me thinking what other games did I have when I was little that my daughter could play today.  Here’s a list of 6 classic board games that are perfect for your preschooler.  Did you have any of these as a kid?

Chutes and Ladders (Ages 3-5) – Be the first to move your child-shaped playing piece from square one to square 100 on the Chutes and Ladders game board–but watch out! If you land on the square that shows you ate too much candy–Ouch!–you get a tummy ache and slide down a chute to a square a few numbers below. But if you end your turn on a good-deed square, such as helping sweep up a mess, you’ll be rewarded by a ladder-climb up the board.

Hi Ho Cherry-0 (Ages 3-6) – Round and round she goes. Hi Ho! Cherry-O is the counting game in which players race to be the first to have 10 cherries in their basket. A spin of the arrow determines your fate. It will instruct you to pick one, two, three, or four cherries from your tree and put ’em in your basket. That is, of course, if you don’t land on the bird or the dog, requiring you to take two cherries from your basket and return them to the tree. And try not to land on the spilled bucket or–you guessed it–spill the contents of your basket or you start over.


Candyland (Ages 3-6) – “Once upon a time, King Kandy, the Imperial Head Bonbon and Grand Jujube of Candy Land disappeared.” Thus begins the magical journey of Milton Bradley’s classic Candy Land board game. Captivated by the story of a kidnapped king and eager to help find him, little ones move their gingerbread pawns along a rainbow path and through a land of candy characters, all subjects of King Kandy’s realm.


Memory (Ages 3-6) – Children learn about taking turns and matchmaking in this game as they try to make pairs of elated elephants, panting puppies, smiling suns, and other familiar objects. The 72 (cardboard) cards have lively, colorful drawings that make them easy to remember and a tray for storing them. Played alone, Original Memory is a quiet activity for developing concentration and memory. With more players, it’s even more of a memory challenge to remember where the cards are that have already been turned over. And you have to wait your turn, which is sometimes harder than anything. The printed rules in the box set the tone for this child-friendly game: the youngest player always goes first.


Don’t Break the Ice (Ages 4-6) – A polar bear is happily skating across the ice. He’s gesturing thumbs up. A big smile stretches his face. Uh-oh. What’s that tapping sound? A block of ice just disappeared from his pond. And there goes another one. The polar bear is running out of room to skate. In Don’t Break the Ice, two to four players take turns wielding plastic mallets and tapping out ice blocks. The goal is to keep the polar bear skating for as long as possible. But as the game progresses, ice blocks start falling faster and faster. And then, there goes the bear! Luckily, these ice blocks don’t melt. The game can quickly be reassembled and soon the polar bear is skating again. This bear might lose his footing, but he’s always got his smile.

Don't break the ice!
Don’t break the ice!

Hungry Hungry Hippos (Ages 6 Months-8 Years) – You’ll have a chompin’ good time with Hungry Hippo and his pals. Be ready to join in the feeding frenzy when you release all the marbles onto the game base, because all the hippos will be chomping and your hippo will need to move fast. If he chomps the golden marble, you win.

Hungry Hungry Hippos is loud, but fun!
Hungry Hungry Hippos is loud, but fun!

Thomas Brogan

Thomas Brogan, a native of Des Moines, was the original founder of Des Moines Parent and is a father to a 12 & 14-year-old. In his free time, he likes to explore nature, try new local restaurants, and enjoy life as best as he can.

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