It’s time to teach your toddler a new board game. For us this was the most daunting task in the process, we knew all the reasons toddler board games are great. We had picked out toddler board games that we knew they would enjoy. Now how the heck were we supposed to teach a toddler to play a board game (I mean, it’s hard enough to teach an adult a new board game!)? Keep reading to see our family’s tips for teaching new toddler board games!
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How to Teach Toddler Board Games
1.) Free play
When we got our first toddler board games, our instinct was to dive right in and show them the ‘right’ way to play the game. After one or two attempts at this we quickly realized this wasn’t the best strategy. To a toddler, everything is a toy. Take out the game and let them explore it on their own first. This will allow them to be a little less distracted when you teach them how the game is played.
As they are freeplaying, name the pieces to help them get familiar with what they are “that’s a die”, “that’s a spinner”, etc. This will help them later when you explain the game.
2.) Demonstrate how the pieces work
It’s easy to overlook new concepts with a toddler, because things that seem so common place to you are completely new to them. It was a revelation teaching our first toddler board game when I asked our toddler to ‘roll’ the die. He looked at me with his “What the heck are you talking about?” look. Demonstrate for them how to roll a die, spin a spinner, etc. before getting into the game. It goes a long way to them understanding the game!
3.) Play a practice round of the toddler board game
With older kids it is really helpful to explain the goal of the game, and then teach them how to accomplish it. That didn’t work well with our toddlers. Toddlers enjoy the process more than they care about winning and losing. Once we realized this, it became a lot easier to teach them new board games. Rather then explaining everything we were going to do in the game and what they were trying to accomplish, we simply explain/demonstrate the pieces and how they are used and then play a practice round so they can see what they need to do.
4.) Give them processing time
It is really easy to fall into constantly telling your toddler what to do next when playing a board game for toddlers. Try to limit this as much as possible! After the first few rounds, let them think through the process and figure out what comes next. This is a great learning opportunity and huge for their confidence when they realize they understand how the game works!
5.) Shorten the first play of toddler board games
Game makers are pretty smart. They realize that most toddlers have a pretty short attention span and accordingly, most board games for toddlers can be played in 10-15 mins. When teaching toddler board games, we like to shorten it even more! For example, First Orchard is our favorite toddler board game, when teaching that game we removed one or two of each fruit. This does nothing to change the gameplay. It makes the game play very quickly which helps ensure you end on a fun note to leave your toddler wanting to play more board games!
Now Go Teach Your Toddler Board Games!
What tips and tricks have you found to help teach toddler board games? I’d love to learn from them, comment below!
This is part of a series on toddler board games, find the first article on reasons to play toddler board games, or read the final article on how to manage family board game night with toddlers!