Games

11 games that your 3 year old will actually enjoy

Not all games are fun for every kid. When I’m trying to decide what game will be good for a 3 year old. I have to be very careful which ones to choose. Not all games can keep a kid’s interest or are even fun for them, but that’s why I have spent hours putting together this list, to find the best games for your 3 year old.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve tried to teach them a game and they have lost interest within thirty seconds. I want to help you avoid this. This list is what I think are the absolute best games to keep your 3 year old bursting with excitement.

What kinds of games are we looking for?

We want games for a 3 year old that are exciting, interactive, have some form of movement and be short and easy to understand. Don’t expect your 3 year old to sit down for long enough to play a game of scrabble or chess with you. I’ve found out from research and experience that the following games are ones that 3 year olds absolutely love …

Board games, free games. It doesn’t matter to me as long as I see their faces light up and their excitement. It’s annoying to waste money on an expensive game and then they spend a few minutes playing with it to then become bored. You are better off looking through my list to find tried and tested games that your 3 year old will love, so read on …

11 GAMES THAT YOUR 3 YEAR OLD WILL LOVE

Traffic Lights

1. TRAFFIC LIGHTS

Do you remember this game? I do, and I used to absolutely love it. It’s thrilling, tense, includes their friends and is very active. It’s the kind of game that adults could still play now and you know there would probably be arguments over the winners!

To play is simple, have one child be the traffic light and stand at one side of the room. The rest of the children stand at the other side of the room in a line facing the person who is the traffic light. Then the “traffic light” yells green, when the traffic light is green all the children from the line can start walking towards the person who is the traffic light. Then at random, the person who is the traffic light shouts “Red!”. Anyone still moving after the traffic light shouted red is made to step back two paces. The first person to touch the current traffic light is the winner and becomes the next traffic light.

Why your 3 year old will really enjoy it: It’s an exciting game with simple rules they can understand. It’s also active and interactive so it’s perfect for a 3 year old.

Snug as a bug game

2. SNUG AS A BUG IN A RUG

This is always a favorite, I personally love this one because there is no outright individual winner. It’s more of a team effort, so it avoids a lot of those loser’s tears and eventual arguments about people cheating. Everyone is working together and improving their social skills to get rid of those bugs! You should try it, it’s pretty addictive.

It’s also a great starter board game as kids will learn colors, numbers, shapes, counting, matching and the concept of big and little. They also get to practice rolling a die, spinning a spinner and taking turns.

Another thing I love about this game is that it grows with your 3 year old. The game actually has 3 different sets of rules, based on the age of the players. So when they’re young the game is easier, but as they grow up new rules are added making things more complicated. For example, at the easiest level, the bugs are picked based on one criteria only (color, shape or number). On the harder levels, the bugs are picked based on multiple criteria at once (color and shape, or color and number, or color and number and shape). This means that the game has more longevity than other simple board games that 3 year olds play. It’s great value for the amount of play you can get from it, have a look how cheap it is on Amazon.

Why your 3 year old will really enjoy it: The game has different play styles, which means it can be made simpler so 3 year olds can really get involved with everyone.

Girl Dancing

3. FREEZE!

This game is so much fun, you’ll be playing along too! Every 3 year old loves dancing so why not combine it into a fun game. I also bought a disco light to make it even more of a sensory experience for them and they absolutely love it! Best money I’ve spent on them for a long while if you count how much it gets used (see it here on Amazon).

Firstly you need good music, anything that either they love (or you love). Make sure it’s upbeat and easy to dance to. Then start them dancing away, encourage them to be as wacky as they can be. This is great for getting them moving and keeping them fit and healthy. Then you stop the music randomly, whatever position they were in when the music stops they have to freeze in! … until you start the music again. You could add an element of competition knocking anyone out of the game who moves when they should be frozen. We have had so many laugh out loud moments with this game.

Why your 3 year old will really enjoy it: Who doesn’t love a good dance? 3 year olds love to move about and be silly and this has both those things.

Sneaky squirrel game

4. THE SNEAKY SNACKY SQUIRREL GAME

This game is pretty simple and also I think a great way to introduce the basics of gameplay to a 3 year old. Taking turns, spinning a pointer and waiting for others. It also has a sneaky element of stealing, so it was sometimes difficult to keep the tantrums at bay, but I guess it’s a great learning experience.

I feel like older children will probably get bored of this game a little but I wanted to include it on this list because your 3 year old will absolutely love it. It’s so cute, they will love using the little squirrel tongs to pick up the acorns. I can see how the company who makes it says that using the tongs will improve your little one’s motor skills. The rules are pretty simple but they have a twist to make it interesting, they explain everything beautifully, and with images on their Amazon page.

Why your 3 year old will really enjoy it: They will love using the squirrel tongs to pick up the nuts, it may be a bit simple for older children but its a winner for ours.

5. Balance beam

This is such an amazingly fun game for 3 year olds and it only uses masking tape! The method to set up the game is simple, just use the masking tape to make a straight line down the middle of the room (make sure the masking tape isn’t too sticky so it’s hard to remove). Once you’ve done that then you have your very own balance beam, without any of the nasty falls. You can fire their imaginations with telling them that the beam is surrounded by crocodiles, sharks or lava.

You can make this game harder and last longer by asking them to turn around at the end and come back or lift one leg up in the middle, or even walk backwards on the balance beam. Such a tiny little piece of tape can give them so much fun always amazes me.

Why your 3 year old will really enjoy it: If they use their imagination then this game can be thrilling, imagine sharks nipping at your heels as waves crash over the beam. Use sound effects if you have your phone, we do. (we use this video on YouTube).

Hi Ho Cherry Game

6. HI HO CHERRY-O

This one is a timeless classic for us. I think it’s great for 3 year olds and gets them comfortable with counting. Addition and subtraction are used a lot in this game so I think it really helps a 3 year old practice those skills. The game revolves around picking fruit and trying to fill your basket, without spilling any or the pesky birds eating any. It’s a fun game that has stood the test of time. I love the artwork of the game as well, it’s really fun and bright.

It is good because it’s one of the first games a child can play and trust me they will want to play it over and over again. It might even get a bit repetitive for you after a few hundred games. Although frustrating for me, I think it’s testament to just how good this game is because kids will stay interested in playing it and you will get your money’s worth from it. Have a quick look at it and check the price over at Amazon.

Why your 3 year old will really enjoy it: I think because it’s just one of those games that has stood the test of time and it’s so perfectly suited to their age, very few kids I know don’t like it.

Treasure Chest

7. TREASURE HUNT

Time to channel your inner pirate. This is easy to set up and you don’t need anything expensive. Just a piece of treasure, paper and a pen. Hide the treasure somewhere in the house, then write a clue to a hiding place.

So for example “What do you put on your feet when you walk outside” and the answer would be shoe. Then your kids rummage through your shoes (Ok, there might be a little tidying they can help you with afterwards). When they find the hiding place in a shoe for example, they don’t find the treasure, but another clue to another hiding place! You can make the game as long or as short as you want. Just make sure the last clue in the chain gives the hiding place to the actual treasure.

Make sure to get them to dress up in their best pirate gear too. This game is lots of fun and helps them to develop their problem solving skills as each clue is a little puzzle. Be careful not to make it too difficult or they will lose interest. It’s also nice and active for them, the only downside is the tidying up afterward.

Why your 3 year old will really enjoy it: I loved this game as a kid. Pirates fire up any child’s imagination, and if you put on a show for them they won’t be able to resist.

Zingo

8. ZINGO

It says it’s for ages 4 and up but I didn’t find any issues with a 3 year old enjoying it just as much and I read online that even a 2 year old was enjoying it. I had to include this one even though the age says 4 as we find it so much fun. I guess the 4 years old rating is the average reading age needed to recognize the words used in the game, but it all depends how advanced your three year old’s vocabulary is, each child will vary.

The description is better on the Amazon page of how to play the game, but to give you a simple explanation, it’s like an easier and more fun game of bingo for kids. One of the best things about this game is that when you have taught them the rules they are pretty easy to follow, so if they are playing it with a friend then you can leave them to it and they can have fun for hours independently.

Why your 3 year old will really enjoy it: It’s a lot of fun, easy to learn and they will eventually be able to play it independently, which is great for their confidence and your sanity.

9. BOWLING ALLEY

Start saving your used plastic bottles! Clean them out and place a little bit of water in them, so they stand up well on their own. Then set them up in the usual bowling alley triangular shape and then get a soft indoor ball. Then you have your very own indoor bowling alley! Have your 3 year old stand at one end of the room and have a marker that they aren’t allowed to cross. Make sure you are keeping the score too.

Remember to give out some prizes at the end and also don’t forget to screw on the bottle tops tightly (It’s a simple mistake but I made it).

Why your 3 year old will really enjoy it: I don’t think I’ve met a three year old yet who didn’t like a mild bit of destruction. Plus it’s nice and active to get them moving.

Stack up game

10. STACK UP

This is another cooperative game. I like them all working together rather than the arguments, fights and tears. It helps them bond with their friends and learn the importance of teamwork. It reminds me of a simplified version of Jenga and it’s perfectly suited for a child who is 3 years old. Not too difficult and not too boring for them. The game has challenge cards which are fun to complete, I think if I remember correctly the last one I had was “Roar like a dinosaur” which I enjoyed.

It’s nice that the players aren’t competing against each other but against the little stack smashing monster. I think it’s a great workout for their hand-eye coordination and their motor skills, which is what they need to practice at this age. The artwork and style of the game is colorful and fun, have a look at check the price out over at Amazon.

Why your 3 year old will really enjoy it: It’s a cooperative game so it places less stress on them to be the “winner”. It also teaches them to work well with others. The game is also really well designed so a 3 year old can get the most out of it and enjoy it.

11. SIMON SAYS

Who can forget this other classic? I’m sure pretty much everyone has played this game. If not I will remind you how. It’s simple and fun, just nominate someone to be Simon (maybe a grown up for the first round). Then all the players line up in front of “Simon”. Then the person says, for example, “Simon says touch your nose” which then everyone has to do. The fun part comes in the fact that the caller then tries to trick the players. They do this by NOT saying “Simon says” in front of the command. So if they say “touch your toes” and the player does it then they are out. The last player left in becomes the new Simon.

Why your 3 year old will really enjoy it: It’s actually a tricky game that can catch even parents out and there are naughty ways to make it harder for everyone (try mixing your action to what your saying to really confuse people. Having said that, it’s easy to pick up and lots of fun for a 3 year old.