Children's Board Games: Spotty Dog

Children’s Board Games: Life’s A Game

I love board games. Or, at least, I loved them as a kid. And I’ve been counting down the days until my kids can begin their own journey, discovering their own favourites. Children’s board games are a joy – and I’d like to chat a bit about why, before describing the three doing the rounds in a big way in our house at the moment.

Before I start, this isn’t going to be a Board Games vs Computer Games thing. I love computer games – hell, I even design them at Pora Ora – and I will certainly post about kids’ computer games at some point in the future. But for now, on with the games…!

Learning Through Games

Children's Board Games: Dice

All great games teach us something. Games can mirror real life in safe, closed spaces. For children, especially, games can be their first encounter with many of the conventions and structures we take for granted as adults.


Almost every children’s board game has an element of turn-taking. It seems like such a mundane, almost depressing lesson to learn – but for me it encourages a child to exercise patience and to respect others. Turn-taking is a cross between sharing and teamwork, without being either. It asks your child to think about others, while pursuing their own goal.

Frameworks & Boundaries

Call them rules if you like, although I’d argue there’s more to it than that, but games teach a child to operate within a framework. That means taking instruction, understanding what is and isn’t possible and knowing the boundaries of play (and beyond).

Cognitive Skills

Great children’s board games will focus on memory recall, counting, shape & colour matching, and observational skills. It’s worth stating the obvious – games are fun ways to build these fundamental skills in your child.


Dice are magical. Full stop.

Our Favourite Games

My 3 year old daughter has a few firm favourite board games at the moment – all, coincidentally, from Orchard Toys (who, I should say, are not in any way involved in this post). They are simple, starter games – great for introducing the very basic concepts at around 2 or 3 years old.

Quack Quack

Children's Board games: Quack Quack

Quack Quack is a simple memory game where children have to guess (or remember!) what animal is on each face-down card. Crucially, it uses a (coloured) dice – my daughter’s first ever encounter with this beloved game mechanism. This is a fun game which doesn’t really need a winner or loser, and can last as long as you want it to – simply sneak a few cards off the board if bathtime is approaching with no end in sight.

Red Dog, Blue Dog

Children's Board Games: Red Dog Blue Dog

Red Dog, Blue Dog (aka Matching Puzzle in our house, as a legacy of when we first started playing and my daughter probably didn’t even realise it was a game – coming, as she was, from a diet of jigsaw puzzles) is a turn-based collecting game where your child simply chooses a card, hoping or recalling that it matches a picture on their board. You can play to win, or just help each other fill your boards then everyone’s a winner.

 Spotty Dogs

Children's Board Games: Spotty Dog

Spotty Dogs is a great introduction to that other beloved board game mechanism – the spinner! It’s so simple, and yet so awesome to watch a child negotiate its gameplay. Spin, read the number, find the dog with that many spots. This is total beginner stuff – but my daughter is at an age where this brings several huge new skills together, not least reading and counting. We even managed to put two “1” dogs together the other day and figure out that 1+1 was 2. There is a random bone-counting element to the back of the cards to help determine a winner, which we currently ignore completely but which may be fun in time.

The Game Of Life

I wrote previously about swimming as a life skill, and I think children’s board games help advance other fundamental life skills such as turn-taking, operating within a framework, and pure and simple play. And they are lots and lots of fun, for you and your child.

I’m always on the lookout for great new games so if you have any recommendations, do pop some suggestions in the comments section.

Useful Links


4 thoughts on “Children’s Board Games: Life’s A Game

  1. Hi! Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    I wouldn’t necessarily make a massive distinction between the two, and in fact I was referring to games and apps generally in my post when using the term “computer games”. My 3 yo already plays iPad apps but would not be ready for games either on a handheld console, a fully-fledged console or a PC/Mac. They would all require, to greater or lesser extents, much more advanced coordination than she currently possesses.

    What do you mean by hand-held specifically, and what would you introduce first?


  2. Excellent post! Our ‘games’ currently consist of Peak-a-Boo etc but can’t wait for dice and solving things to the equation. Also adds another item to my list of things which have remained the same for millennia – the dice.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Cheers for the comment 😉

    I don’t know how things will develop but the best part so far has been going from nothing to the very basics. That initial discovery of the basic game mechanics is such fun.


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