11 Games That Your 3 Year Old Will Actually Enjoy

Games

It’s not easy to find games and activities that your toddler will actually enjoy. Most games get tossed and forgotten in a lonely storage cupboard and most activities last all of 5 minutes before they get bored.

My toddlers love these 11 games and activities. They would play every single one of these 11 for hours (if they could). Some of the board games on this list are even looking worn out!

Board games, free games. It doesn’t matter to me as long as I see their faces light up and their excitement. After reading this list you will feel more prepared when your little bundle of energy is dangerously bored and looking for something to do. Just remember this list!

WHAT KIND OF GAMES ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?

You want games for a 2 / 3 year old toddler that are exciting, interactive, have some form of movement and to be short and easy to understand. Those are the only types of games that your toddler will love.

THE TOP 11 GAMES & ACTIVITIES FOR YOUR TODDLER

1. TRAFFIC LIGHTS

Traffic Lights
Traffic lights is one of my toddlers favorites

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 in which there are always arguments over the winners! It’s fun and competitive.

How to play: 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.

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 TODDLER WILL LOVE 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.

2. SNUG AS A BUG IN A RUG

Snug as a bug game
A family favorite

I personally love this one because there is no outright individual game-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! It’s VERY addictive.

It’s the perfect 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. If your family isn’t really big on board games this is the perfect starter.

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 at how cheap it is on Amazon.

WHY YOUR TODDLER WILL LOVE IT
The rules of the game can be adapted perfectly to suit any age. So this game is great for younger / older sisters and brothers working together and having fun.

3. FREEZE!

Girl Dancing
How she got her hair to freeze I’ll never know!

I’ve not met a 3 year old toddler yet who doesn’t love 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.

How to play: 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 as a family.

WHY YOUR TODDLER WILL LOVE IT
Who doesn’t love a good dance? 3 year olds love to move about and be silly and this has both those things. Plus it’s secret exercise for them, and you.

4. THE SNEAKY SNACKY SQUIRREL GAME

Sneaky squirrel game

It’s a simple game and 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 for everyone.

I wouldn’t recommend it for older children. They will probably get bored of this game. But I had 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. Using those tongs will also improve your little one’s motor skills. The rules are pretty simple but there’s a twist to make it interesting, they explain everything beautifully, and with images on their Amazon page.

WHY YOUR TODDLER WILL LOVE IT
My toddlers love using the squirrel tongs to pick up the nuts, it may be a bit simple for older children but the sneaky twist in the game is a winner!

5. BALANCE BEAM

This is an amazingly fun game for 3 year olds and all you need is a roll of 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 backward on the balance beam.

That such a tiny little piece of tape can give my toddlers so much fun always amazes me!

WHY YOUR TODDLER WILL LOVE 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 have often used this video on YouTube. So much fun! Have a go yourself!

6. HI HO CHERRY-O

Hi Ho Cherry Game
The classic HiHo Cherry-o

This one is a timeless classic for our family. 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’s one of the first games a toddler is able 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. Apart from how frustratingly repetitive that can be :), I think it’s a testament to just how good this game is. Toddlers will stay interested in playing it and you will definitely get your money’s worth from it.

Have a quick look at it and check the price over at Amazon.

WHY YOUR TODDLER WILL LOVE IT
It’s just one of those games that has stood the test of time and it’s so perfectly suited to their age, every kid I know loves playing it.

7. TREASURE HUNT

Treasure Chest
Pirate Booty

Time to channel your inner pirate. This is easy to set up and you don’t need anything expensive. Just a piece of treasure! Arrrgh! … and a paper / 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 a shoe. Then your kids rummage through your shoes (Ok, there might be a little tidying they can help you with afterward). 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 TODDLER WILL LOVE IT
I loved this game as a toddler. Pirates fire up any child’s imagination, and if you put on a show for them they won’t be able to resist.

8. ZINGO

Zingo
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. It all depends how advanced your three year old’s vocabulary is.

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 toddlers. 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 TODDLER WILL LOVE 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 / sand in them, so they stand up 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. (Sneaky way to get a little counting practice in! 😉 ).

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 TODDLER WILL LOVE 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 with a sneaky counting element.

10. STACK UP

Stack up game
Stack Up

This is another cooperative game. I like my toddlers working together rather than the arguments, fights, and tears. It helps them bond with their friends and learn the importance of teamwork.

The game 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 TODDLER WILL LOVE 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 really enjoy it.

11. SIMON SAYS

Who can forget this classic? I’m sure pretty much everyone has played this game. If not I will remind you how. It’s simple and fun.

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 touch their toes then they are out. The last player left in becomes the new Simon.

WHY YOUR TODDLER WILL LOVE 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 Simon says to really confuse people. So you could wave but say lift your left leg, catches so many people out). Having said that, in it’s simplist form it’s easy to pick up and lots of fun for a 3 year old.