Joseph works as an editor in one of the magazines dedicated to video games. Here, at RecRoomPick, he’s given the opportunity to enjoy the reverse of the medal – the no less engaging world of offline games.
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Last updated: April 30, 2021
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While you might think that it will be a piece of cake to pick one of the best board games for 5-year olds for the kid in your life, you would be mistaken. The market is absolutely flooded with games, and some of them are not appropriate for children of this age due to their difficulty.
Don’t worry, however! We have taken the time to compile a list of wonderful games for kids between 3-7 years old. The very first thing that we looked for, of course, is whether or not they were lots of fun to play. After all, children at this developmental stage are a bit tougher to keep on task, so the games they play need to hold their interest. Something else that we looked into is the different types of skills that the games practice. While all of the games are lots of fun, some require some logical thinking to play correctly, while others focus on gross motor development. We also made sure to select some games that would be fun for the whole family, not just the young boys or girls, but the adults as well.
This game is designed to help kids develop their cooperative skills. Players work together to get across the gameboard to stop pigs from eating their picnic food. Children need to find hidden objects along the way to better their chances of reaching their goals. The game comes with cards, game pieces, a spinner, cards, and a six-foot game board.
What are its best features? The first thing that jumps right out at you when you open this game up is the size of it. Unlike many different games for younger kids that are quite small, this one is nice and big. In fact, the playing surface is about 6 feet across, which provides plenty of space for little ones to play.
Not only is the game board nice and big, but it really lives up to its namesake. Plainly put, it is very busy, with awesome illustrations along the entire path that children are going to love exploring as they play.
The durable pieces for this game are also a nice touch. Many games have flimsy cards or characters that can easily be bent or broken. This is, thankfully, not the case with this game.
What could be better: The only thing that we did not really like about this particular game is that some of the pieces are exceedingly small. This makes them very easy to lose, unfortunately, which could be a big problem since young children will be playing with them. As such, it is probably a good idea to always monitor your kids while they play this game so that none of the pieces get lost. This will especially be the case if you are playing this with kiddos that are younger than 5 since these smaller pieces could pose a choking hazard.
This game comes equipped with a HEXBUG Nano. This bug needs to be put towards each player’s trap. The players roll dice to decide which parts of the maze they can switch around. Each time a player catches the bug, they get a token, and the first play to five tokens wins. This game focuses on fine-motor control and decision-making skills.
What do we love it for? Plainly put, this is an exciting game! The HEXBUG Nano moves quickly across the board, which makes the action feel fast and furious. It will easily keep your kiddos engaged, as the bug is in constant motion. This quacking moving gameplay will help to teach your child to make quick decisions, as well as work on practicing their fine motor skills.
This is also a very easy game to set up and play. You simply turn the bug on and let it run amok within the maze, all while rolling the die and trying to get it into your trap. Even very young kids will quickly get the hang of this, which will lead to tons of playtime.
What could be better: The only real issue with this very interesting and fun game is that the Hex bug uses up batteries very quickly. Even though the game purports that it should last for 100 rounds of playing, it will probably be a bit less than that. As such, it would be a good idea to always have extra batteries on hand so that you can keep the bug up and running.
This game comes with playing cards that are very similar to Bingo. Each card has pictures that have a picture and a word on them. The child then has to get cards by pressing a switch. They then read the card and see if they have a match. This game provides chances to work on literacy and fine motor skills.
What are its best features? One of the biggest complaints that parents of young children have is that it is not very easy to get them to practice their sight words. Many youngsters do not want to use flashcards due to their boring nature. This game looks to change this fact through a fun and innovative system that not only helps kids to practice their words but also allows them to work on fine motor control as well.
This game is extremely easy to set up. In fact, after a bit of practice, your kiddo should be able to get it up and to run all on their own so that they can play with a friend with ease. Adult supervision will still probably be needed until the words are learned, but it shouldn’t take too long with this fun system.
What could be better: One of the best parts of this game, especially for young kids, is getting the tiles out of the dispenser. While this usually works quite well, they do have a tendency to get stuck. Luckily, you usually only have to shake the device once or twice to get them unstuck. Of course, this will slow the game down a bit and, unfortunately, cannot be avoided.
This game works with iPad and fire tablets to allow players to work on three different types of games. These games are focused on coding, math, and critical thinking skills. This set comes with durable and easy to use pieces that allow players to decide what is happening on screen.
What makes it stand out? One of the things that you hear a lot these days is that the current crop of kids has a better understanding of technology than their parents. This can be used to your advantage in this sense, as this game will allow them to explore difficult concepts on their own, all while having an absolute blast.
This gaming system will help your child to work through a variety of math and technology skills. In fact, this is a great introduction to coding, which is one of the fastest-growing fields in the world. The durable tiles are very easy to use, which makes it that much more accessible for even very young children to use correctly.
What could be better: As you can tell from the descriptions above, this awesome set needs to be utilized with a tablet. While this certainly is not a dealbreaker if you already have one of those in your possession, it could pose a problem otherwise. You most likely do not want to spend the money on a tablet just for this game since they are extremely expensive, so bear this in mind before you make your final purchase.
This game helps players to practice letter and word recognition, as well as spelling skills. It offers a dual-sided gameboard that works well for beginners and advanced ones as well. The advanced side is standard scrabble, while the beginner side has preprinted words that the players need to cover with letter tiles.
Why is it special? Scrabble has long been a mainstay in the gaming world, thanks to its classic yet challenging design and gameplay. This simpler version is just as much fun, but more on the level of younger children. The main difference is that, instead of players being able to put down any word they can put together with their letters, the words are already printed on the gameboard. This allows younger players to simply build the words that they see, which is a great way to practice letter names, sounds and reading.
The other highpoint for this game is that it is actually two games in one. On the reverse side of the board is a standard Scrabble setup. This will allow your little one to “graduate” to the real game when they are ready, which will motivate them to try their very best on the opposite side.
What are the flaws? The tiles for this game are quite hard to keep a secret while you are playing. Unlike standard Scrabble, which comes with a holder, this game does not provide any system to keep the tiles standing upright while you are playing. This can make it harder for young players to keep them straight and also keep other players from viewing what letters they possess.
This game is based on memory with a fun Disney twist. Players need to create different cupcake combinations to serve at a cupcake party. This game works to help little ones work on staying focused, their memory, and also their matching skills.
Why is it special? If you have a child in your life who is obsessed with Disney Princesses, then this is a great game to check out. All of the characters are well-designed and durably made, making this an excellent option for even younger players. Though the pieces are on the small side, that makes this an excellent opportunity for your child to practice their fine motor control since they will need to manipulate all of the pieces to play the game correctly.
This game also is a fun twist on the game of memory. While that original game is only played with cards, this one utilizes princesses and cupcakes to make it more engaging for younger players. The simple rules and quick setup are also huge positives in keeping the attention of its target audience.
What could be better: This game is meant to be played with children ages 3+. Though the rules are something a child that age should be able to understand with ease, the pieces might be too small for small hands to manipulate correctly. The inner workings of the cupcake are especially small, which could pose a choking hazard for younger players. You would need to make sure to always monitor younger players to prevent anything, unfortunately.
This game provides players a chance to physically engage in various superhero tasks, which helps to fully engage their entire body. These skills are based on the popular Marvel Avengers. This also provides the players with chances to practice fine motor control and turn-taking.
What makes it special? Let’s face it, Marvel is everywhere right now. These superheroes have never been more popular thanks to all of the different shows and movies that are currently on the market, making this a fun tie-in for your little comic fan. The gameplay for this game is very straightforward and will actively engage your child is pretending to be their favorite superhero.
The different playing pieces that come with this game are made out of durable materials, which makes them well-suited to lots of rough and tumble play as your child completes their different missions. The playing cards are also very easy to follow, which makes it that much easier for a younger child to follow along and play.
What could be better: If you are someone that likes playing games with your child, then this might not be the best game for you. While some of the tasks presented in this game are definitely something that pretty much anyone can do, an adult will not be able to do some of them effectively. The pieces are quite small, which makes some of the moves and actions outside of the realm of possibility for most grownups.
This game comes with soft and slip-resistant foam tiles. These tiles are then laid out around the room. With the help of a spinner, the children move from tile to tile, based on the color. This allows them to practice their colors and work on gross motor control.
Why is it special? Almost every kid in the world has probably played this game. The big difference is that instead of having to use makeshift rocks out of pillows, shoes, or other household items, this set includes soft and anti-slip foam tiles for your child to leap from. This will not only provide a higher number of spots to move to, but it will also keep your house in better order as well.
This game is a great chance for the whole family to get involved. The actions are relatively simple to follow, regardless of the age or athletic ability of the players involved. Thanks to this active design, this is a good chance for your little ones to practice not only their direction following skills but also their gross motor control as well.
What could be better: The foam tiles are slip-resistant, which is a big plus. Unfortunately, they are not particularly durable. This could be a big issue over time since the kids are meant to be stepped on and even jumped on. This will most likely cause them to break down relatively quickly, especially if the children are not careful when they are moving them about or playing with them.
Things to Consider
In this section, we will go through everything that you need to know to find the right board game for your 5-year-old. We have also taken the time to answer several frequently asked questions as well, so be sure to read through those as well if you need any more information.
Features to consider when choosing a board game for a 5-year-old kid
As we mentioned before, there are so many different games out there for kids of all ages. There are lots of features that you should consider before you make your selection, which is what we will discuss in the pieces below.
Obviously, the very first thing that you need to consider is the age of the kiddo that is going to be playing the game. If you are picking the game for a 7-year-old, then you might need something different than if you were selecting one for a 5, 4, or even 3-year-old. Of course, the recommended ages for these games do not take the developmental level of your particular child into account since all kids are on their own level. If you have a more advanced youngster or one that still needs practice on some younger kid skills, you might need to alter your selections.
If you are looking for a game that is great for all ages, then Richard Scarry’s Busytown is a great option. It is recommended for ages 4+, which means it is easy enough to comprehend for younger players but still engaging enough for older ones as well. If you are buying for a younger kiddo, then Disney Princess Enchanted Cupcake Party Game might be a good choice since it is aimed at children ages 3+. Finally, if you have an older child, then Bugs in the Kitchen just might be the right choice.
Number of players
Something else that you will want to consider is how many people can play the game at a time. If you have a lot of little ones in your household, or your child likes to have friends over for playdates, then you will want to make sure that it is more than a one-person game.
Of course, it isn’t a bad idea to also have a game that kids can play on their own either, so be sure to really consider how your kid likes to play games and whether or not they will want to play with someone or alone.
If you are seeking an independent game, then you could consider the Osmo Coding Starter Kit. This tablet-based game allows your child to begin coding, practice math skills, and work on comprehension abilities on their tablet, making for an engaging independent activity. On the other hand, if your child loves to play with friends, then something like ThinkFun Zingo might be a good option. This game can be played with up to 6 players at once, making it a rollicking good time for the whole family or a bunch of friends to play at the same time.
Independent Play or With an Adult
One of the best parts about games for little kids is that it gives adults a chance to slow down their hectic lifestyle and play a game with their child. Games can, however, also be a chance for kids to work independently of their caregiver, which is a necessary skill for life too. You need to consider whether you are looking for a game to play with your child or one that they can do on their own.
If you are looking for a game that a child can play independently, then Marvel I Can Do That! or The Floor is Lava are both wonderful options. These gross motor games are perfect for kids to play independently since they require little setup and have very easy to follow rules that allow children to play quite easily. A game that would be great to play with your child would be Scrabble Junior, as it is a bit more complicated and may require adult guidance.
Type of Skills Practiced
The amazing thing about children at this age is that they are like little sponges. Everything that they hear, does, or play is quickly internalized and remembered for a later time. As such, no matter what game you select, your kids are going to learn something or be able to practice a skill that they need to be successful in school or life. If you have a particular skill in mind that you want your child to practice, then you can focus on games that require that skill to be successful, as well.
Another important consideration that you should keep in mind is how long a game takes to get set up. Little children are not known for their ability to sit around and wait patiently, so it is a good idea to look for a game that doesn’t take up a lot of time getting ready if you have a busier child.
Setting up the game is also a great chance for your child to practice additional skills if you allow them to help. It might make it take longer, but it will be better for them, and you, in the long run.
Thankfully, of all the games that we looked into, only Bugs in the Kitchen has an extended setup time to take into consideration. This game involves laying out a maze for the bug to navigate, which can take some time to get just right. This would be a wonderful opportunity to work with your child on how to properly set up a game, which is just as important as playing it correctly.
If it will be fun for adults as well
Most of the games on our list require that there is more than one player. For most kids, especially the first time that they play the game, it means that they will be playing with an adult. As such, it isn’t a bad idea to look for a game that will be entertaining for the adults, as well as the kids. Some of the games above certainly fit into this mold, while others might not be quite as enjoyable, especially the more physical ones.
Depending on the fitness level of the adults, certain games might not be terribly enjoyable. This is especially true for Marvel I Can Do That! In this game, there are spins, rolls, crawls, and obstacles to avoid. For some grownups, this might be too tall of an order to fulfill, which might make the game a bit less fun.
Once you have the game set up, the next thing you need to think about is how long the game takes to play since young children have different attention spans. The last thing that you want to do is take a long time to get your new game set up, only to have your kid lose interest once you actually start to play. It is best to gauge how long your child can sit focused on one task when you are selecting a game, as some can take a very long time.
For children with longer attention spans, games like ThinkFun Zingo and Richard Scarry’s Busytown are great options since they usually take between 15 and 20 minutes to play to the end. For shorter attention spans, something like The Floor is Lava would be a good choice since this game can last as long or as short as you desire. This is also a really quick game to get ready, which helps to keep kids engaged for a longer amount of time.
One of the best things about games for little kids is that they are usually designed with some sort of teaching involved. This can be physical practice so that kids can work on their fine or gross motor control. It can also be literacy-based, giving children the chance to practice comprehension, phonemic awareness, or other pre-reading skills. Games can also work on math skills, such as number sense or adding and subtracting.
Games also can teach children how to cooperate and take turns, which is a hugely important lesson for their entire lives.
Whenever you are looking for something for a younger child, you should always consider how well they can sit and focus on a task for a set amount of time. If they have a tougher time staying still, then you should probably focus on games that keep them up and moving. On the other hand, if they are ready to sit and focus for 15-20 minutes at a time, then you can select a quieter style of game.
If you want an active style game for the youngster in your life, then The Floor is Lava or Marvel I Can Do That! are both wonderful options. These games keep kids moving, which allows them to remain engaged for a longer amount of time.
While any board game is a good chance for kiddos to practice their math skills, the Osmo Coding Starter Kit is probably the best one on our list. This game is used in conjunction with a smart tablet, which makes for an enjoyable and more interactive mode of learning and play for a child. This game system also allows children to work at their own pace, which makes it that much easier for them to understand what they are working on.
If you are looking for a game for the whole family, then The Floor is Lava and ThinkFun Zingo is both excellent options. The Floor is Lava is a great game since it allows players to be up and moving and should have them laughing out loud before it is over. ThinkFun Zingo is another good option since it is tons of fun and allows for up to 6 players at a time.
Thankfully, since all of these games are designed to be played with very young children, none of them take more than 15 minutes if the child understands how to play the game correctly. Of course, this time span might extend a bit if the kids are young for the game or are just learning how to play it. No matter what, however, if the game seems to be taking longer than your child can handle, based on their developmental level, you can always freeze your progress and save it for later.
Wrapping It Up
Of all the different games that we looked into, Richard Scarry’s Busytown was by far our favorite. The huge gameboard, durable pieces, and engaging gameplay make it an awesome option for your 5-year-old. We highly recommend that you check it out!
Bugs in the Kitchen is a fantastic option if you are looking for a way to keep your little one engaged in a game. The fast-paced and exciting style of play makes this a great choice for pretty much anyone, including adults. It is sure to keep the whole family entertained through tons of playing sessions.
If you are looking for one of the best board games for 5-year olds that will also help your child to develop their reading skills, then you have got to try ThinkFun Zingo. This fun twist on traditional Bingo is sure to keep your child actively engaged, which will make sure that they are actively learning as well.