Great Games for 4-Year Olds

My four-year-old grandson just spent a few weeks visiting, and it was a blast! Before he came I thought about ways to have fun that didn’t mean driving out to an arcade, bumper bowling lane or even the playground.

While these activities are fun and special, his long visit meant that I needed to have some things on hand to play with at home. And I wanted to find some games that he didn’t already have, like Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders. So I did some research and found a few box games that fortunately really won him over.

Over the next three days, I’ll post about 3 different but wonderful board games you can play with the children in your life. These games aren’t the usual suspects you likely already have sitting around and will keep your family engaged and having fun together!

Game #1: Yahtzee Junior
Yahtzee Junior comes in several versions so you can choose one that will be most interesting for your child. For example, you can find the same basic game in these different themes: Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Disney Princess, Toy Story 3, Spider Man, and Avatar. Each game has the same 5 dice with the same rules, but the pictures are different.

The game is similar to the adult version in the fact that children try to fill specific categories by rolling dice. But that is where the similarity ends.

In the junior version, there are five dice have each have five characters on them plus a “wild” character to complete the sixth side. On four of the dice, the wild is good for any picture and on the fifth dice the wild is a “bonk” character which means that the die is taken out of play for the rest of the player’s turn. Children have three chances (as with regular Yahtzee) to roll their best hand, meaning that they accumulated the most pictures of one of the characters. Then they mark how many of each character they were able to roll and add up their scores.

A little strategy can take place as you are allowed to change your mind as you roll and “go for” another character before your turn ends. My grandson loved this game and begged to play it. It goes fast, so we could play three or even four games in a row. It kept my interest, too.

Nicely, this game can be adapted to a wide range of skill levels. For example, an older child can count up each player’s score at the end, which typically requires counting up to 20. Or a younger child can listen to an adult count and learn the numbers that way. Also, a younger child can use a cup to roll the dice if his hands are too small to cup them, whereas an older child can work to shake all five dice in his hand, which is a complicated fine motor activity.

Check back tomorrow for another exciting board game that will keep your child from being bored! 🙂

For information on helping your child develop important school-readiness skills, please visit for a kindergarten readiness test and hundreds of free kindergarten worksheets.

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Renee Abramovitz is a a former preschool and kindergarten teacher who retired in 2008 to become a “full-time grandma” to her four beautiful grandsons. She is passionate about the idea that all parents are their child’s first and most important teacher and strives to give parents the tools and confidence they need to successfully work with their children at home. Renee shares tips for working with young children at where she offers a free kindergarten readiness test parents can take to assess their child’s readiness to start school plus hundreds upon hundreds of free kindergarten worksheets for parents to use at home with their children.

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  • shari lynne , October 24, 2011

    Love this!! I'm definately going to try this one:)

  • Cascia Talbert , October 26, 2011

    My kids love playing board games, but I've never played Yahtzee Jr. with them. It looks like fun!

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