Games are a fantastic way to build on key skills for a child’s development. To celebrate the launch of our brand new Ocean Logic and Dinosaur Logic Games, we wanted to share some ideas on the best educational games for children. More specifically, learning games for pre-schoolers, children’s learning games for 4 year olds and children’s learning games for 5 year olds.
One of the key considerations for any activities, including games, is to understand and acknowledge the average attention span of children at different ages. The below table outlines some fascinating insights into attention span at different ages which is great for understanding not only the attention span, but other influences such as behaviour.
|1 – 2 years||2 – 6 minutes|
|2 – 3 years||6 – 8 minutes|
|3 – 4 years||8 – 12 minutes|
|4 – 5 years||12 – 25 minutes|
|5 – 6 years||18 – 30 minutes|
Using this as a guide, we take a look at a range of games, both by Happy Little Doers and other independent brands that we recommend for children of different ages
Pre-schoolers are defined as being between 3 to 4 years old so keeping learning games for pre-schoolers relatively short (between 8 – 12 minutes), as well as teaching some fundamental skills can really help with a child’s development. The great thing about games is that more often than not, they tend to cater for different learning styles.
The first children’s game that we introduced to Happy Little Doers was our Memory Matching + Snap Game. Why? For preschool children, this is a simple yet versatile game that helps to build upon skills learnt during the first few years of development; fine motor skills, recognition, confidence and communication. The game also starts to introduce problem-solving. Snap has the additional benefit of focusing on building reaction time, whilst Memory Match focuses on building memory recall; both important skills in any learning environment.
Other key benefits include:
One of the first subjects that kids learn is numbers. Numbers feature in abundance at this age; including through learning songs (hickory dickory dock, 1…2..3, 4, 5 once I caught a fish alive) or reading books (Goldilocks, Three Little Pigs). So, it makes sense that games using numbers are introduced at this age.
Happy Little Doers Number Activity Flashcards have multiple learning games that are designed for the attention span of preschoolers. With the supplied activity card, there are a number of games that can be played where learning numbers is almost featured as a background task (such as finding the corresponding number of favourite toys on top of the respective card). Each activity is specifically tailored to work with the attention span of 3 years old upwards.
The Numbers Flashcards by Happy Little Doers continues to be an extremely popular pack and, for preschoolers is a great game to feature in our best educational games for children. As with all Happy Little Doers flashcards, the pack is portable making it an ideal learning game for travel.
Routine plays such an important part in the development of children’s lives and Five Wild Ones have created a brilliant product ‘Reward a Routine‘ that encourages parents and kids to plan and carry out a routine in a fun and organised way.
The pack features 31 Daily Routine Cards (which includes 8 x chore cards, 1 x reward card & instructions on how to play). Playing with it is very simple! Parents help their child to select which cards they want to use as part of their routine by lining them up, with the rewards card placed at the end. The reward is decided before the routine is carried out.
As each task is completed within the routine, the card is popped through the letterbox until the reward card is reached, whereby the parent rewards the child with the reward!
Reward a Routine won bronze alongside Boss Babs – Mr & Miss Match in the Junior Design Awards 2021 for ‘Best Educational Game/Toy‘.
The Shapes Activity Flashcards by Happy Little Doers are great for helping kids starting to learn shapes. The flashcards are designed to help with development in verbal and visual skills and association but also to build on fine motor skills and dexterity through play.
The Shapes Flashcards have a number of activities specifically designed for educational play. A popular activity used within the pack includes building the shapes simply with toothpicks and sweets (jelly beans or marshmallows), play-doh or blu-tac.
We thankfully live in a world where equal opportunities are being highlighted more and more. The ‘Mr & Miss Match’ is a great game to help teach kids at a young age that anybody can do anything! As Boss Babs says ‘If he can, she can and if she can, he can’.
The way it works is like the traditional matching pairs game. However, it is all about jobs and roles out in the big wide world and matching the male and female versions together. Jobs include accountants, coders, pilots and more. The game, Mr & Miss Match, also won bronze alongside Five Wild Ones – Reward a Routine in the Junior Design Awards 2021 for ‘Best Educational Game/Toy‘.
At 4 years old, the attention span of children tends to increase significantly more as puzzle-solving skills become a key part of their cognitive development. Here we showcase our favourite children’s learning games for 4 year olds.
The Happy Little Doers Phonics Flashcards play a big part in our house and we aim to use them in as many fun ways as possible. Whilst traditionally they are used to teach individual sounds, there are a number of fun learning games where they can be used.
A favourite game with the Phonics Flashcards for 4 year olds is ‘What’s the Password?’ which has lots of benefits (both for kids and adults!). Each evening once the kids are in bed, we use the large flashcard holder and put in 3 cards that we have been practising with, to spell out a simple word. Take for example the first stage of ‘s-a-t-p-i-n’ and we spell out the word ‘sat’. The following morning, we see whether our 4 year old can sound out and spell the password that we have left out before he comes bundling onto our bed. It’s a brilliantly simple game that encourages reading and developing communication skills, as well as building on resilience.
Finalist in the NMT Nursery Awards 2021, the ‘A-Z I love me’ Affirmation Puzzle by Mindful Champs is a great way for kids to start understanding letters of the alphabet, but also includes ‘I am’ affirmations too!
As Mindful Champs says “Affirmations are a powerful and holistic way to help children build a positive self-image, combat negative self-talk, build confidence and resilience, encourage self-love, feel motivated, and much more! Tackling children’s self-belief systems from an early age will undoubtedly shape their adult lives in a positive way.”
We love the Affirmation Puzzle by Mindful Champs with its ability to help kids not only learn the alphabet A to Z but understand and communicate their emotions and empower them to believe they can.
A brilliant family game that we all know and love and is brilliant for helping children to build problem-solving and fine motor skills.
Jenga has been a classic for 40 years since it was introduced in 1982. Jenga will be familiar to the majority of people who read this blog, but for those who need a quick insight, the game involves stacking equal-sized wooden blocks in perpendicular rows of 3 to form a tower. Players then take turns to remove an individual block from within the tower and place it back on the top of the tower without it falling over.
Whilst this tactile game is suggested for 6 years and above, even for 4 year olds this is a great game for building on simple skills.
At 5 years old, children are looking to challenge their resilience and the length of attention span starts to increase significantly. So choosing games that challenge puzzle-solving and logical thinking is brilliant for helping their development. Here we feature our favourite children’s learning games for 5 year olds.
The NEW Happy Little Doers Logic Game is perfect for 5 years and above. The game features an abundance of learning benefits, including problem-solving, team communication and building personal resilience.
This small, compact, pocket travel game consists of 9 individual square cards with rounded corners. Each pack features 4 individual illustrations, repeated in various patterns across the 9 cards. The idea is to arrange the cards in a way that all cards fit together to form a complete connected square.
If you haven’t heard of the mass craze game of Dobble then firstly, you may have been hiding under a rock, but secondly, this is a game that your kid will absolutely love. Dobble is made by Zygomatic, a French board game publishing studio belonging to Asmodee (a major player in the board games field around the world).
The game consists of 55 round cards, with each featuring 10 unique, varying sized illustrations. The pack is split among 2 players. Each player turns over their top card so the illustrations are facing up and, the winner of each round is the person who can identify the two matching illustrations on the cards. The winner is the person who has the most cards at the end… Simple! A great game for building speed, confidence and communication skills. In addition, there are lots of themes to collect so, whether you like the original, or you are a Harry Potter fan, there is a game for all to enjoy!
Outfoxed is a classic game of ‘whodunit?’, helping children to build up their detective skills and work out which fox has stolen Mrs Plumpets pie. A game for between 2 and 4 players, each player takes turns moving around the board collecting clues before working out which fox has stolen the pie.
This is a great game for kids to begin building on their logic and puzzle-solving skills. A great game to play for the whole family.
This is a classic board game and a favourite in the Happy Little Doers home. So we wanted to feature it in the Best Educational Games for 5 Year Olds. This is a completely unique game based on memory, double-dice rolling (so lots of counting!) and introducing tactics.
First made in 1981, The Enchanted Forest is an illustrated forest with multiple routes from a village to a magical castle. Within the forest are highlighted landing squares where, next to each one, a tree is placed with a token hidden beneath illustrating a symbol from well-known fairytale stories. A stack of cards is laid within the castle with the respective symbols on each one. The idea is to take turns rolling the die and making your way through the trees to find the symbol that is shown on the current card at the castle. Once you have found the symbol, make your way to the castle and announce to all other players under which tree the symbol is hidden. Get it wrong and you will return to start again from the village with all other players able to have a chance at locating the symbol before you.
The winner is the player with the most cards at the end of the game.