Top 10 Games for 5 Year Olds
Top Ten Games for Five Year Olds
What makes a five year old different than younger ages?
They can understand and obey rules. By now they should understand taking turns (handy for games!) Five year olds can usually handle two- or three-part commands (ie. “Find a matching card. Take it and put it in your pile.”)
By five, kids are getting better at playing with other kids, but they’re also more competitive and liable to get angry easily (watch out for sore losers).
The usual attention span for this age is still about 15 minutes (for most kids). Kids who have been very active as preschoolers may finally be interested in sitting still for a (short) game.
Five year olds can usually count past ten, but may still only recognize a few numbers and letters in print. So we’ll still pick games that avoid reading (but may require matching numbers or letters to each other).
1. Magic Mountain
Let’s take turns to roll a marble down the “hill” and try to hit the students but not the witches! This cooperative, Plinko-style game is a ton of fun. Much like Don’t Break the Ice, this is a game that adults need to set up – but once it’s set up, a five year old can play independently over and over again. And you may find yourself wanting to take a turn with the marble “Will-o-the-wisp” as well!
Put on your detective hat and deduce who stole the pie! In Outfoxed, players race down the path to uncover clues, or reveal suspect cards and find out whodunit. Sturdy clue tokens and a clever decoder will keep kids engaged as they work together to figure out the thief’s identity and prevent their escape!
Who doesn’t love a race? We recommended Monza for four-year-olds, but it’s also great for kindergarteners. Roll the colored dice, then figure out how to use as many as possible to race ahead on the track.
Monza is particularly great for groups of kids, since it accommodates up to six players in 20 minutes or less, without any need for reading.
4. Maze Racers
How about a head-to-head race? Maze Racers is best for kids who can’t stop building things. Two players each build a racetrack/maze on magnetic whiteboards. When both players are done building, it’s time to swap and see who can beat their opponent’s maze first!
The freeform nature of Maze Racers will be hard for some kids, but others will take to it right away. In our family, this was a game where kids often used wildly different strategies than adults, making it extra fun.
5. My First Castle Panic
We recommended this for four-year-olds already. But our son was still happily playing it at age five, and teaching it to his grandparents, too. We love the cooperation and pattern-matching here; and throwing defeated monsters “in the dungeon” means this game cleans itself up as kids play!
6. Color It!
Some five year olds can’t get enough coloring. For them, we suggest Color It!, a very simple roll-and-color game from HABA. Roll dice for color and number and fill in matching space(s). Two rule variants allow parents to pick a more luck-based game or one that uses restrictions (similar colors can’t touch) to start teaching children about probability.
The box includes supplies for four players, but if you scrounge up some markers or crayons in blue, yellow, red, green, and purple, there’s no limit to how many kids can play together.
7. Concept Kids
This stripped-down version of Concept is perfect for children. Kids give clues about an animal – where it lives, what colors it might be, whether it’s fast or slow. A single “guesser” tries to figure out what animal it could be. Concept Kids has two sets of animal cards (easy and challenging) and two sets of rules that can make the game more strategic as the family gets better at it.
Find Concept Kids on Amazon.
Practice “like” and “not like” with Similo, another clue-giving game. After a few rounds of parents giving clues, we bet your five year old will be ready to give it a try themselves! We recommend Similo: Fables or Similo: Animals when playing with young children.
9. Happy Salmon
Kids can’t sit still? Time for a game that’s all about making a dance party. Match cards with another player then do the action. Cards have text, but fun illustrations show what you need to do, and there are only four actions (easy to memorize).
Happy Salmon needs a minimum of three players, but is a ton of fun with a bigger group. “Fish” bump, high five, and dance your way into fun!
Find Happy Salmon on Amazon.
Dragonwood is going to be a stretch for many five year olds. But if your kid is ready for something more “grown up”, this is a great choice. Players make sets of numbers (all the same color, all the same number, or sequences). The more cards they play, the more dice they can roll to try to “capture” a creature or item.
Some of the items and special cards have text on them; playing with a pre-reading child, you can decide if you would rather ignore the text or read it for them. None of these cards need to be kept secret, so a parent can read them for everyone at the table.
As kids get older, their skills and interests diverge. Some five year olds will be reading – you can try games like Point Salad, Sleeping Queens, or Abandon All Artichokes. Some will be ready for a slower and more cerebral game like Onitama or Lanterns. And some may not be ready to sit down and play games at all. Meet your five year old where they’re at, and don’t get stressed if they prefer games that don’t make sense to you.
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