Darren loves board and card games and I think that one of the best things about having children for him is the increased pool of people to play with. Unfortunately, small children do not make the best partners for most of these kinds of games, but there are some simple games that a child approaching three years old can grasp.
In our house, we play a lot of Snap. We have a couple of children's card decks with big, bright pictures (one is aliens and one is colours) and Misses 2.5 and 3 adore playing. It's a good way for them to learn to match pairs, to name colours (depending on the deck) and some healthy competition. Snap is very simple and you can modify the rules to make it even easier for small children.
Simple Snap Rules For Little Kids
Deal the cards as evenly as possible to all of the players - it's fine for some players to have one card more than other players. Each player places their cards face-down. On your turn, turn over the top card and put it in the middle of the table, face-up. The next person puts a face-up card on yours and so on around the table. When someone turns over a card with the same pictures as the top card in the centre of the table, the players race to be the first to call "Snap!". For little ones, the player who put down the "snap" card wins the pile and adds it to the bottom of their face down pile. Play continues until one player has all of the cards - this player wins the game.
We have also started playing Dominoes, again with brightly coloured pictures. Dominoes is another great matching game, which can also incorporate counting depending on your tiles. Dominoes is a little harder than Snap and requires a little help for small children.
Simple Dominoes Rules For Little Kids
Shuffle the tiles face-down and each player then draws five tiles that are placed face-up on the table for little ones. The remainder are face-down in a pool. On your turn, lay down a tile onto one open end of the Domino layout with the same picture adjacent to the same picture. If you have a double, it is placed inline to the end. If you cannot play a Domino, you must draw tiles from the pool until you are able to play (or the pool is empty). The winner is the first to have no tiles left, or who has the least number of tiles if no one can place a tile.
What other games do you play with small children? I'm thinking of starting the girls on Memory next...
Lots of other fun things to do with small children, including toddler art, cooking and play and preschooler art, cooking and play.