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How To Make Learning Fun for Toddlers & Preschoolers: Kids' Games

Updated on November 7, 2017
EyesStraightAhead profile image

Shell is a writer who enjoys helping others gain new perspectives on life and love.

I have a very high-energy four year old. She was a late bloomer who did not walk or talk until she was 2. With the help of Birth-to-Three (our state's learning assistance program for kids who are delayed or have special needs), my previous work with preschoolers, and my love for making learning fun, she was able to catch up to and even surpass the knowledge expectations for a child her age. Below are some of the games I used to help her enjoy learning her shapes, colors, numbers, and letters, as well as improve her coordination and language skills.

Candy Land, great for teaching little ones their colors and counting.
Candy Land, great for teaching little ones their colors and counting. | Source


Candy Land is a wonderful way to teach kids how to identify their color, how to count, and how to take turns. Additionally, they learn to match shapes to objects, such as they need to learn when older for obeying traffic signs and school room locations. By picking a card containing a symbol or color block(s), they will learn to advance to the appropriate space.

Making the Game a Learning Adventure

When my daughter and I played this game, we would say the color out loud, and count the spaces between our current space and where we were heading. To make it fun, we would also say the color and numbers in Spanish as she learned to speak. Before she could speak, I would have her point to other spaces with the same color, try to say the sound of the first letter, or point to something else in the house that was that color.

From Head to Toe, great for teaching coordination and movement.
From Head to Toe, great for teaching coordination and movement. | Source


Head to Toe is so much fun. I have played it not only with my daughter but with a group of preschoolers at a local daycare center. In this game, children are asked if they can perform various actions, such as bending their knees, turning their heads, and arching their backs. A child draws a card, says the action out loud, and then anyone who can complete the action says "I can" and does the action.

Making the Game a Learning Adventure

To make this game fun before my daughter could speak and move well, I would say the card out loud and she would try to do the move. If she could, we would lay it on the floor and draw another one. This time she would have to do the first one and the next one or we would start over. As she began to speak, I would have her help with reading the cards. Now she read's them out loud to me, and we have a contest to see who can do the most moves. She usually wins, as I am not so great at wiggling my toes but one day I may surprise her by winning!

Tier auf Tier (Animal upon Animal), a great way to teach kids how to balance, stack, and identify objects.
Tier auf Tier (Animal upon Animal), a great way to teach kids how to balance, stack, and identify objects. | Source
Animal Matching Game, a great way to teach kids colors, animal classification, and remembering objects' locations.
Animal Matching Game, a great way to teach kids colors, animal classification, and remembering objects' locations. | Source

Balancing & Matching

Tier auf Tier and Who Lives There? Animal Memory & Matching Game are great fair trade games that provide a lot of fun and valuable skills for your child.Children have fun using the sturdy game pieces to match objects, improve their cognitive skills, and enhance their coordination.

In Tier auf Tier, or Animal upon Animal, children learn how to identify animals and objects, balance items on one another, and take turns. Players take turns rolling the dice to find out what animal they will be stacking on the alligator. They laugh and concentrate as they try to build an upward growing animal pile from penguins, sheep, snakes, and monkeys.

In the Who Lives There? Animal Memory & Matching Game, children improve their memory, learn their colors, and practice taking turns with one another. Animals must be guided home to their little "houses" made from sturdy wood. Kids enjoys taking turns trying to house all of the animals in front of them. The first player to get all of his or her animals home safely wins the game.

Making the Game a Learning Adventure

To make the game fun, my daughter and I would practice the animal sounds, recite the colors, or sing silly songs. For example, when placing a monkey in Tier auf Tier, we would sing "Old McDonald Had a Farm" and use the monkey sounds. She would tell me the color of the animal prior to placing it in its home for the Who Lives There? Animal Memory & Matching Game. This also provided fun because we could discuss whether we would ever really see a red elephant or purple whale. We also tried variations of the games, mixing up the object a little. Sometimes we would split the animals in Tier auf Tier so she has all of one animal and I had all of the other. If we rolled an animal we weren't responsible for, we both had to put one of that type of animal on the pile. If it fell, we lost. In the Who Lives There? Animal Memory & Matching Game, we would sometimes keep the animals in their homes and have to say which one we were going to find on our turn. If we opened that home, we got to keep both animals. After all animals were safely with us, we would then put them back in their homes by reversing the activity.

Boggle Kids, great way to teach kids alphabet identification, reading skills, and spelling.
Boggle Kids, great way to teach kids alphabet identification, reading skills, and spelling. | Source


Boggle Jr. has provided many hours of fun. We still enjoy this game today and have many ways of playing it. In this game, children can learn to spell three and four letter words that are good to know to begin Kindergarten. They use dice with letters to spell the word on the card, either by looking at the word on the card or by using their spelling skills to remember how to spell the word.

Making the Game a Learning Adventure

We love to mix things up a bit here. Cover the word and sound out the picture. Then roll the dice and see if your child can find the letter that makes the sounds she or he believes comprise the word. If correct, keep the card to the side. When done, try to make sentences from the correctly spelled words.

Another fun thing to do with this game is to try to find the words your child learns to spell. If she can spell "car", "dog", and "ball", take a walk through the neighborhood and have her point to all these objects and spell them again. For each one she gets right, give her a special surprise, or have a specific number in mind and if he reaches that number, let him pick out the next game or activity.

I Spy Quest, great for teaching matching and memory skills.
I Spy Quest, great for teaching matching and memory skills. | Source
I Spy, great for teaching object identification and location skills.
I Spy, great for teaching object identification and location skills. | Source

I Spy Quest & I Spy Eagle Eye

Who does not love a good game of I Spy? These fun board games, I Spy Eagle Eye and I Spy Quest, help kids identify matching objects, look for similarities in objects, take turns, and use cognitive skills to remember where objects are. They also identify colors, learn various shapes, and start to recognize everyday objects. These two games are fun for all ages and can be adapted easily.

I Spy Eagle Eye contains several boards with cards used to find objects on the boards. Choosing from several items shown on the card, children find an object within the selected card. Maybe it will be a blue truck, yellow duck, or baseball. The items are shown throughout various cards so the challenge is the pick the object on the card you currently have in play.

I Spy Quest is more complex, using memory to identify objects. Instead of looking at a card, you choose a peg, lift it to reveal the object, and remember the location of a similar object. For example, you uncover a blue angelfish and then find another fish, such as the orange goldfish. You uncover the baseball and then remember that you saw a bowling ball. Younger children will require more help, as the objects are never a one-for-one match, but helps them learn about object similarities and looking for patterns.

Making the Game a Learning Adventure

We make this game fun by also trying to find the objects within our home or neighborhood. We enjoy taking the games with us to a park or beach and trying to find some of the objects there. We do the I Spy dance from the television show whenever we find an object ("Whoop we found it! Whoop we found it! How about you?). This makes it fun and also helps improve my daughter's coordination.

Making Learning Fun

Whatever game you choose, the idea is to make it fun. Kids will learn more and enjoy education when they think it is rewarding, exciting, and engaging. Help them understand the benefits of each new skill they learn. When they learn to identify their colors, start asking them to help around the house by putting items away using colored bins. When they learn to spell words, have them start picking out items in the grocery store by identifying the words. Let them start reading you stories that contain the words they have learned. By building upon the skills and letting them learn new ones, you will instill a love for learning that will last a lifetime.

What games do you enjoy playing with your children? Do you try to make them educational or just keep them fun? Have you tried any other ways to make learning fun for kids?

© 2012 Shell Vera


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    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Very interesting about toddlers, How to Learn With your child from Infant to Preschool Age is my kindle publication the ideas makes me think of my work thanks for mentioning such great ideas.

    • EyesStraightAhead profile imageAUTHOR

      Shell Vera 

      6 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Yay! I hoped when I wrote it that it would help parents to think of great games. The fair trade games are my favorite! Glad you enjoyed the hub!

    • Esrom Art profile image

      Esrom Aritonang 

      6 years ago from Indonesia

      This hub inspire me to buy some of this kids game. I have 2,5 years old daughter and she loves to play. Thanks for sharing.

    • EyesStraightAhead profile imageAUTHOR

      Shell Vera 

      6 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Thank you for the comments. It is alwayd fun to find great kids games and put a twist on them to make them a learning adventure!

    • twoseven profile image


      6 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      Great hub! It just occurred to me recently that my son may be ready to start playing some games with me, and I was sort of at a loss trying to think of what types he would like. So thank you so much for the suggestions! I will definitely check some of these out, and it's fun to be reminded of some of my old favorites, like Candy Land!

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 

      6 years ago from Asia

      A very useful hub! I've bookmarked this one, as it is always handy to have extra activities when teaching young learners.

      Shared with my followers (as sure a few have little ones too), up and useful.


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