By the age of four children have a lot of skills and abilities which impacts what they can play for board games. Most children have better fine motor skills and can do more precise stacking. Their hands typically can hold a pencil or a crayon with the traditional grip. An important cognitive development for four-year-olds, is they can understand the difference between fantasy and reality, so games can take on more fanciful themes. This skill also means children begin to pretend to be someone else (such as a chef) as they play. Another skill that can be key to certain games, is they are beginning to understand time. Helpful skills to develop and reinforce include using their imagination, counting simple things up to and beyond 10, and problem solving. Playing developmentally appropriate games can help with language development, sharing, and taking turns too.

Dinosaur Escape

  • Peaceable Kingdom
  • 2-4 Players

Players work together and need to save three dinosaurs before the volcano erupts. They roll the dice to move around the board and turn over tokens. If it is a fern it gets flipped back over, so there is a memory component to the game. If it is a matching dinosaur to one they are trying to rescue they get to go to the safety of dinosaur island. However, watch out for the T-Rex it will scare the dinosaurs back to their starting point. The volcano gets built each time the volcano icon is rolled on the dice. The 5th time the volcano “erupts”.

Buy Dinosaur Escape Game here on Amazon.

Spidey and His Amazing Friends Labyrinth Junior and  PAW Patrol Labyrinth Junior

  • Ravensburger
  • 2-4 Players

Labyrinth is a classic every changing maze game. Ravensburger has come out with two junior versions with less moving parts and simpler rules. Plus they included themes that are well loved by this age group. Players need to navigate the maze to find the shortest route and collect the most round tokens, which match pictures within the maze, to win.

Buy Spidey and His Amazing Friends Labyrinth Junior here on Amazon.

Buy  PAW Patrol Labyrinth Junior here on Amazon.

Monkey See Monkey Poo

  • Spin Master Games
  • 2-4 Players

Kids and adults alike find endless humor in poo. Monkey See Monkey Poo has taken that and made a hilariously ridiculous game. The plastic monkey figure had a spot to load in banana scented dough in the main body, which is then pushed out the back end to form the poo to fling. Players use the launching mechanism to fling the poo at targets on the three dimensional tree and move their monkey up the vines, trying to be the first to the top.

Buy Monkey See Monkey Poo here on Amazon.

My First Castle Panic

  • Fireside Games
  • 1-4 Players

In My First Castle Panic players work together to defend their castle during this cooperative game. The game is for one to four players ages four and up. This is a much simpler version from the original. My First Castle Panic takes away the reading and instead incorporates the early skills of identifying colors and shapes, simple problem solving, and turn taking. The path to the castle is a single path protected by one wall. To defeat a monster a card must be played matching the location of the monster. If the players can defeat all the monster before the castle is destroyed they win.

Buy My First Castle Panic here on Amazon.

Animal Upon Animal

  • Haba
  • 2-4 Players

Animal Upon Animal has slightly smaller pieces than the First Game version. This game is for ages 4 and up. Players are asked to roll to determine how many animals they are stacking or they may be asked to add a piece to the base adjacent to the crocodile. The dexterity involved is harder than it looks and can be a challenge even for the adults playing too.

Buy Animal Upon Animal here on Amazon.

Spot It! Animals Jr

  • Asmodee
  • 2-6 Players

Spot It! Animals Jr is simple, inexpensive, and portable. Oh! And your Preschooler has a decent shot at beating you in it. This is a matching game with multiple variables of play.  There is one matching animal on every card so you are trying to be the first to find the matching animal.  This is great for even the youngest gamers and helps to develop their observational skills.

Buy Spot it! Animals Jr. here on Amazon.

There are multiple variations of Spot It. Some of them are recommended for ages 4+ and some are recommending for 6+. Other Spot it versions that are for ages 4+ include:

Kitty Bitty

  • Blue Orange
  • 2-4 Players

“Kitty Bitty is a remake of the beloved Blue Orange classic, Froggy Boogie. This adorable wooden game has little minds use memory and color recognition to help their kitten make it around the yarn balls and back to the basket. Each turn, players need to find the correct mommy cat. Then pick up one of her eyes; if it’s blank they can move on to the next yarn ball. If there’s a kitten printed on the bottom they stay put and it’s the next players turn. The first kitten that makes it around all the yarn balls and back to the basket wins!”

Buy Kitty Bitty here on Amazon.

Hoot Owl Hoot

  • Peaceable Kingdom
  • 2-4 Players

Hoot Owl Hoot! is a cooperative game to bring the owls back to the nest.  The goal is to get all the owls back before the sun comes up.  Each player has three cards dealt in front of them.  Players choose a color card to play, and draws a card to refill at the end of their turn.  With a color card, the player selects an owl and move it to the next corresponding space of that color. If a player has a sun card they must play it, and the sun moves one space on the tracker. The difficulty can be increased by adding more owls to put back in the nest.

Buy Hoot Owl Hoot! here on Amazon.


  • Thinkfun
  • 2-6 Players

Zingo is a bingo game with a few twists by Thinkfun.  The game is for players ages four and up and can play two to six players, and game play is quick and a game take 15-20 minutes. Zingo is a great game to have for young players.  Thinkfun has also created  multiple versions of Zingo published by Thinkfun. They include: Zingo 1-2-3, Zingo Sight Words, and Zingo Word Builder.  These can be great ways to develop beginning reading and math skills, and for preschool and primary students the Zingo variations are a great fit.  The random nature of the game allow for play with the whole family.

 Buy Zingo here on Amazon.

 Build or Boom

  • Goliath 
  • 2 Players

Buy Build or Boom here on Amazon

Build or BOOM is a block stacking dexterity game designed to be played by even the youngest member of your family. Check out our review here. Your goal is to race your opponent to complete a tower out of uniquely shaped blocks. Then BOOM their tower to keep them from winning. This game is absolutely playable by everyone in the family. It is designed for kids 4 years old and over, but is still fun and playable by the more mature members of the family. The concepts are simple to understand and no reading is required. The plastic pieces are big enough for tiny hands to manipulate and the towers are challenging for  for all ages. 

Buy Build or Boom here on Amazon.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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By Linda Wrobel

Managing Editor: Board Games Mother, Educator, and Board Game Editor.

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