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Three Fun Games for Pre-Schoolers (and their Parents!)

First things first, I don’t enjoy games. I think it’s because I’m too impatient … I don’t like the time involved in reading through all the rules, nor do I like it when a game drags on and never ends (I’ve been known to lose on purpose just so a game would end!).

My daughter, who is almost 11 years old now, has a mild interest in games. And since this interest is mild, I only feel mildly like a bad mother for not engaging her more in them.

However, my four-year-old son seems to have developed a very strong interest in games. He wants to play and learn new games all the time. In fact, he was feeling so game-deprived, that he added “a game” on his Christmas list this year. Needless to say, I feel obliged to at least play some games with him.

So, in the interest of helping any other parents like myself who would rather pluck their eye lashes out one by one than play a long  family board game, I thought I would share three games which both my son and I find to be fun.

To sum up then, these three games are:

  • Easy to learn and teach
  • Game length is less than 20 minutes
  • Can start to play as young as 3 or 4 years old
  • Does not require more than 2 players
  • Fun to play!

#1. Go Fish! card game

A classic game with easy rules. Doesn’t take long to play, teaches colours and counting up to the number four. I like the version below created by Imperial Kids because the long, thin shape makes it much easier to hold a number of them in small hands. Plus, the plastic case means that the cards don’t end up getting all buckled and damaged over time. You can pick this up for less than $10 locally in Ottawa at Tag Along Toys or buy it on

Go Fish! Card game by Imperial Kids

#2:  Pengaloo game

This is a modified version of a traditional memory card game — but much easier for younger children (and their parents!). If you’ve watched the movie Happy Feet with your preschooler, he/she will love the idea of the penguins protecting their eggs. Speaking of penguins …. this game is so beautifully made, with the cute little penguins made from wood. This game can is a fun way to help with memory, colours, and counting skills. This game can also be found locally at Tag Along Toys for $30 or you can pick it up online for $20.

Pengaloo game for kids

#3.  Hungry Hippos

I’m not gonna lie; I bought this game purely for my own selfish nostalgia.  I loved this game as a kid and simply could not resist getting it for my son. It’s noisy, the balls are easy to lose, and the hippos have to all be removed from the game board in order for everything to fit back in the box again. Plus, it’s not exactly cheap and the only real learning you can incorporate is some counting. But, hey it sure is fun! He likes it as much as I used to. I’ve seen this game at my local Chapters/Indigo stores, or you can get the original Hasbro edition like mine online for $40.

hungry hippos game by hasbro


Would I find any of these games in your house? Any more games to add to this list that meet my strict criteria above?


  1. multitestingmommy says:

    OMG I’m not a games person either! Glad I’m not the only one. My kids love to play games 😉

  2. says:

    We have all three. We play from time to time, but not on a regular basis. I’m not a games person, but I do like games such as Trivial Pursuit.

  3. ChickyMara says:

    Those are two of my favourite games!!! Not the middle one, but Hungry Hippos and Go Fish. Go Fish is the only card game that I can remember the rules to.

  4. I used to love Hungry Hippos – can’t believe I never played it with my little guy! Good to know about the GO Fish cards for little ones – would make a great gift for friends’ little ones’ birthdays…

  5. allison says:

    I hate board games. And card games. And most sporting-type games. I used to say I have no competitive spirit, and then my husband gently pointed out that the actual truth is closer to something like “I really hate losing”. I like twisted games, like Cranium and the Wimpy Kid Cheese Touch game. My husband plays board games with the kids sometimes. He’s the game parent – I’m the reading parent.

  6. My 4yo loves Hungry Hungry Hippos! It’s just so loud, I have to take an Advil at the end. LOL!

  7. We love Go fish and Old Maid. I end up buying a new deck every few months because we lose so many cards though haha. Will look into pengaloo for my 3.5 year old – he’ll love it.

  8. We really like the Busytown “Eye Found It” Game. Very cute and familiar to my daughter who loves everything Richard Scarry. Available at Chapters.

  9. Stefteach says:

    Buck buck moose at tag along toys

  10. Just bought Jenga with my 4-year-old. As long as you kind of ignore the “touch the stack with one hand” rule, its a winner!
    I’m also very nostalgic for Kerplunk!. We bought Jenga because Kerplunk! said 6+ on the box, but I think they are lying.

  11. I would love to play these with my boys. Right now we are all about puzzles but I think now that they are 3 they are ready to move on. I have great memories of playing games with my parents for hours. Thanks for a reminder to start that tradition with my boys.

  12. Elizabeth L says:

    I used to love playing hungry hungry hippos! I used to really love Candy Land too, not sure what I would think of it as a mom now though.

  13. Thanks for the recommendations! I’m hot and cold when it comes to games. Love some, hate some. lol 3 faves of mine: Uno, Guess Who and Sorry. I can totally get into those. :)

  14. ooh I too do NOT like playing games. I am too impatient too. BUT my kids love it and it is so important for me to slow down and enjoy playing with them. Thanks for these tips! :)

    • Hi Janice! Nice to see you here (we met ages and ages ago at New Expo in NYC). I know what you mean about slowing down … it’s hard, but when I do it, it’s actually really enjoyable. (Like exercising I guess :))


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