Four-year-olds change their minds pretty often, but these are the games that have been holding my daughter Sofia’s attention for the past few months. In no particular order, here are the current top 10.
1. Monopoly Junior Party
Monopoly gets a child makeover with cupcake playing pieces, present tokens (instead of houses), a ‘party box’ and party cards. Instead of properties, players buy different themed parties such as a bowling party, pizza party or bouncy castle party and keep moving around the board until someone goes bankrupt. A simplified version of a family favourite, which incorporates most of the features of the original, but in a format that will keep young ones interested. It says age five plus, but most four-year-olds would not have any problems understanding the rules.
2. Snakes and Ladders – needs no introduction. An absolute classic, and a concept that is easy for a four-year-old to grasp. As well as helping with counting, it is a great game for teaching your child about losing, as you can’t deliberately let them win in this game of chance!
This game sees each player taking on the role of both shopkeeper and shopper. As well as encouraging counting skills and involving plenty of interaction, Pop to the Shops teaches children about handling money as they negotiate the purchasing of the items they need, giving change and distinguishing between different coins.
4. Lunch Box Game – A memory game where the winner is the first to collect all the healthy items in their lunch box. As well as improving memory, it has prompted numerous conversations about what are good and bad foods.
5. The Beetle Game
I’d never heard of this game until my mother-in-law purchased it as a stocking-filler. It’s a game from the 1950s (complete with retro packaging) and has now established itself as a firm favourite in our household. The premise is simple: you roll the dice and assemble your beetle part-by-part. The winner is the first person to complete their beetle. There are a couple of twists and turns which make it a little more difficult to complete this task. A very competitive game and very entertaining for children and adults alike. It also doesn’t take an age to play and no set up is required. It’s also a bargain at £4.99.
6. Connect Four – Another game that needs no introduction. Sofia is not very strategic in her play at the moment, but loves it all the same. It’s great for helping her concentration and eventually I’m hoping that this will lead to her thinking strategically!
7. The Gruffalo Match and Memory Board Game
Based on characters/items from the much-loved Julia Donaldson book, this is essentially a memory game. However, as it says on the tin, it is also a board game with spinner so there is a luck element as well as pure memory. The age says five, but Sofia has played this comfortably from three. A must for all Gruffalo fans!
8. Guess Who?
Another cult classic, which my daughter loves. She is a little
too young to play without help, as she can’t actually read the character names. However, this does not detract in any way from her enjoyment. The guessing game has been revamped and the particular version that I’ve linked below doesn’t suffer from some of the quality issues that some reviewers describe as one big card slots into the main frame as opposed to lots of individual cards. In addition you can download new cards.
9. Dora the Explorer on LeapPad
Ok, a change of direction here. Computer games probably divide opinion for this age group. However, they do provide the opportunity for children to play independently, which – if they don’t spend hours playing in isolation – I personally think is a valuable skill. This particular game is brilliant for teaching Spanish vocabulary (Sofia has picked up loads) and learning about the cultures of Egypt, China, Australia and Peru through looking at local animals, food, clothes and landscapes.
10. Oxford Reading Tree – Read With Biff, Chip, and Kipper Flashcards:
Word Games – Sofia loves this and so do I as she learns to recognise common words without even knowing it. There are various different games to play, so initially it’s about learning to read the individual words through lotto, matching pairs and snap, but later on we’ll be learning how they are used in sentences. Simple, but very effective.