Five Great Games For Five-Year-Olds

Sunday 12 October 2014 by

I have discovered that having a five year old in the house means you are highly likely to start hearing the phrases ‘I’m bored’ and ‘Can we play a game?’ with increasing frequency.

This means our board and card game shelves have started to expand beyond the more grown up games of Cluedo and Trivial Pursuit in order to cater for the younger members of the family who actually want to play games now, rather than just being charge of rolling the dice for everyone else.

I will whisper this next bit because it’s only October but Christmas is sneaking up on us and if you too have a bored little person in the house then perhaps some new games would be great additions to their Christmas lists.

Here are our Top Five games that we have discovered playing together (so far!):

1. Farmyard Trumps (Ages 3+, 2-4 Players)

Trumps come in many forms but these are Tori’s favourite at the moment. She has the Wild Animals set as well and they are often strewn across our front room floor whilst she makes up her own games to play with them.

They are very simple cards featuring cute animal pictures, each animal being worth a different number. The simple concept of taking it in turns to lay a card face up and the player with the highest numbered animal winning the cards is easy to pick up and great for number recognition practice. They are also good for playing Snap!

If you have a confident reader you could advance to Top Trumps of course, we have several sets I can’t wait to share with Tori but I think she needs a little more time yet. The Farmyard Trumps are a great way to introduce the game though.

2. The Very Hungry Caterpillar Game (Ages 3+, 2-4 Players)

The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Game

This is a lovely, simple game that Arthur who is just three also enjoys playing. Based around everyone’s favourite story book Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar, the aim of the game is to be the first person to move their caterpillar round the board, eat all the food and turn into a beautiful butterfly!

You do this by taking it in turns to move round the board, following the instructions in the squares (such as ‘Spin a Moon to move on’) and collecting the food matching the special squares as you land on them. It is great for encouraging counting, colour matching and turn taking as well as helping fine motor skills by picking up the food pieces and popping them in your little caterpillar box playing piece.

It doesn’t take very long to play either, which makes it perfect for little people with equally little attention spans!

3. Jenga (It says 6+ but I’d say 4+ with supervision, 1 or more players)

This is very much a classic that can be enjoyed by all the family – even Arthur will join in with this one for a while, though it goes on a bit too long for him.

Great for logical thinking and teaching cause and effect as well as just being plain fun, Jenga has kept us occupied for hours as a family. It is such a simple concept but the tension as the tower gets more and more unstable is exhilarating every time and you almost always end up in hopeless giggles which makes it even harder to get those bricks out safely!

Tori also loves getting the Jenga blocks out to build with – she has made garages for cars, castles and towers with the blocks after we have finished playing the actual game. Definite bonus points for the game there.

4. The Gruffalo Word Rhyming & More (Ages 4 & up, 2-4 Players)

Tori was lucky enough to win a copy of this game by creating a board game of her own for a school competition. It was a great prize – she really loves it.

Gruffalo, Game

This set contains two different card games: The Gruffalo Word Rhyming Game and There’s No Such Thing as a Gruffalo. Both games involve large, bold cards printed with characters from the popular book, The Gruffalo.

The aim of the Word Rhyming Game is to be the first player left with no cards in their hand. It is very simple, with players taking it in turns to play a card that shows a word rhyming with the one on the table. There are ‘wild cards’ (the Mouse and the Gruffalo) for when you can’t play a rhyming card and the cards are also colour coded so players who aren’t strong readers can still join in. This set of cards can also be used to play Memory which Tori really enjoys.

There’s No Such Thing as a Gruffalo follows the rules of the card game ‘Happy Families’ – the aim is to collect all five cards in your ‘family’: a Mouse, Fox, Snake, Owl and Squirrel with the same colour background, by swapping cards with the other players or taking cards from the centre deck. Again there is a ‘wild card’ (the Gruffalo) which can be used as any card you need. This game encourages turn taking, colour recognition and sorting skills at the same time as being highly competitive (or at least it is in our house!

5. Mouse Drop (Ages 3+, 2-4 Players)

Anyone who played Kerplunk in their childhood will be familiar with the concept of this game – you skewer the giant stack of cheese with coloured sticks, pour the little purple mice in the top and then take it in turns to pull the sticks out, trying not to dislodge the mice. The winner is the player who drops the fewest mice overall.

Another game that’s good for training steady hands whilst building up tension, Mouse Drop, is a bit more forgiving than Kerplunk because the mice catch on to the sticks more easily with their curly tails, meaning you are often saved by a single stick – something that never happens with the marbles in Kerplunk!

The only issue we have had with this game are the adults not being able to grasp that the curly tailed animals you drop are mice and not monkeys – you’d think the name of the game and the general cheese theme of the set up would give it away, but apparently not!

You can follow Carole on Twitter: @caroleheidi

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