I have found memories of game night when I was a child and was eager to start the tradition with my own family. But my oldest only just turned three which felt like it limited the number of suitable board games we could play. Fortunately I’ve come across two that have been toddler-appropriate and great additions to our game repertoire. The first is a game called Zingo by ThinkFun. Geared for kids 4 and up, Zingo’s tagline is “Bingo…with a twist!” The game comes with a collection of double-sided bingo sheets (easy and hard side), tiles with words and pictures on them and a tile holder that you slide to release and reveal two tiles at a time. The goal is to cover all the spaces on your card with tiles.
Why I Like It: The game is simple, but offers lots of variations. You can play against each other or work as a team. You can play the easy side or the hard, with one Zingo sheet per player or multiple. Since the tiles have both words and images, the game is great for pre-readers and early readers (even my 1.5 year old is picking up on matching the bird tile to the bird picture), and if you’re looking to build skills in other languages, Zingo is also available in Spanish, Hebrew and French. I also like that it’s a game we can play together (up to 8 people), but my toddler can also have fun with it alone too.
Why My Toddler Likes It: One of my son’s favorite parts is moving the tile slider and trying to guess which two tiles are going to come up next. This isn’t really supposed to be an exciting part of the game, but it’s one of the things that keeps him most engaged. He also loves that “race” element – if two people both have the same picture on their Zingo sheet, the first person to call it out, gets to take the tile.
ThinkFun produces lots of enjoyable educational games, many of which are single-player games that can be a godsend as quiet time activities or times when you need your little one to play solo. Though Zingo has been the most age-appropriate for my little one, we’ve also checked out a number of other ThinkFun games: Hoppers Jr. (a frog-based, single-player strategy game, ages 5-7), Clever Castle (pattern matching game with princesses and dragons, ages 5-7) and Rush Hour (a super portable, single-player problem-solving game, ages 8 and up). And I love the Think Fun keeps us moms in mind – many of their games have storage bags to keep all the pieces organized and make clean up a breeze.
Want to win your own copy of one of these ThinkFun games? Leave a comment that answers – What was your favorite childhood board game? – and an email to contact you if you win. Contest ends July 7th and four winners will be chosen at random. Good luck! And long live family game night!