Playing games is such a fun way to learn! We use games in our homeschool quite frequently. They let kids practice essential skills, both academic ones and also soft skills. If you want to bring some fun into school for your younger learners, here are five of the best learning games for kindergarten.
- Are ones my six-year-old kindergartener can play on his own or with minor accommodations (explained below)
- Correlate to grade K academic goals
- Are fun to play!
If you have students in different grades, here are two more posts in this series:
Ready to see what my top picks are for kindergarten? Let’s get playing!
But first, here’s my disclaimer. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission.
1. Ticket to Ride First Journey
My kindergartner got this for Christmas in 2019, and has been playing it at least weekly ever since. This game board is a map of the United States. Each location has an image, which makes the game accessible to non-readers.
The game is played similarly to others in the Ticket to Ride family. The goal is to complete tickets and be the first to finish five. Each ticket has two cities on it. To claim the ticket, you have to play your trains in a line between the two cities.
A few things make this game perfect for kindergartners:
- If your family enjoys the “original” Ticket to Ride games, this one is a way to make younger players get a sense for how the game works
- Game play is fairly short, it takes about 20-30 minutes to finish
- The symbols on the cities match the symbols on the card
- Most routes only have a couple of trains, so you the game moves more quickly
While they play, your kindergartner will be working on:
- Geography skills (beginning to recognize different states in the country)
- Map skills (matching symbols on a map)
- Social studies (learning more about the images selected for each city – makes a great “dive deep” fun project for the two of you to do together)
- Math – (you have to have the right number of matching colored cards to play your train, and have to have enough trains to claim the route you want to take)
- Soft skills (taking turns, patience, strategy)
- Literacy (reading symbols, matching symbols and colors)
It’s a fabulous game for kindergartners!
Pick up Ticket to Ride: First Journey from Amazon today:
2. Apples to Apples: Disney Edition
If he’s the judge, we have someone else read the green card and explain what it means. Then, he does the rest on his own.
Game play is identical to the original Apples to Apples. One person plays a green card to the center of the table. The other players all play a red card from their hands that match the card played. For instance, if the green card says fast, someone might play a card of Lightning McQueen. Or one showing a roller coaster at Disneyland.
After everyone has played a red card (face down), the person who played the green card gathers them all up. This person’s job is now to show everyone what all the cards are, and select the one that they feel best matches the word played. The winner gets to keep the green card.
Then, play moves onto the next person being the judge and playing a green card.
The game is over when one player collects a certain amount of green cards (based on how many people are playing…)
While playing Apples to Apples: Disney Editi0n, your child will be working on:
- Vocabulary skills (synonyms, new words, making connections)
- Making decisions (which card should I play? Which card should I hang onto? For how long?)
- Critical thinking (which card was the best?)
- Soft skills (taking turns, waiting, not having their card selected, explaining why they put in that particular card)
Pick up Apples to Apples: Disney Edition today!
3. Tell Me a Story
We love this game so much, I’ve written an entire post about how to use it for literacy instruction. You can check that out here:
The cards each feature a full-size image. They are colorful and engaging to look at. Your child can take time to notice all the details before they play.
The goal is to tell a story. There are a few ways to accomplish this goal. Typically, we take turns drawing cards and playing them down. As we each take a turn playing a card, we add more to the story in an audible way. So we are literally telling the story as we play the cards shaping the story.
This game is also perfect for free play. You can let your little one sort them by character or event, create their own story to tell their stuffed animals, or look for similarities and differences between cards.
While they play, your kindergartner will be practicing:
- Early reading skills (using pictures to tell a story)
- Story telling (so important to be able to get the ideas from the brain out of the mouth)
- Making connections (to connect one story event to another)
- Vocabulary (practicing new words in the story, and using transition words like next and then)
- Soft skills (taking turns, keeping the story appropriate, communication)
Pick up Tell Me a Story today!
4. Race to the Treasure
The goal is to work together to collect the keys you need to unlock the treasure chest. But, you have to be careful. There’s a nasty giant on the loose who wants to keep you from that.
If you collect the treasure, you all win. If you don’t, all players lose.
You really do have to work together to win, which really reinforces teamwork and how essential it is.
As your child plays, they will be:
- Learning about coordinate planes (the game board is one!)
- Deciding which direction a path should go (you put down a path to try to get to the keys, and on your turn you can place it anywhere.)
- Cooperating (working together is the name of the game!)
- Communicating (explaining why they think the path should go this way instead of that)
- Calculating risk (once you’ve played a certain number of giant tokens, you lose. Being able to keep track of how many are left is important)
It’s a fun game, and one that really is age appropriate. Since there’s no reading, it’s very accessible for kids of all ages and abilities.
Pick up your copy of Race to the Treasure today!
5. 5 Second Rule Jr.
We’ve had this game for years, and it’s so fun. I appreciate how simple it is. We do a bit of accommodating for this one as well, in that we select one older player to be the permanent reader. This way we aren’t bouncing between readers, and having our non-reading kindergartner struggle to take a turn.
There’s a board, but honestly we play without most of the time. We just pick a number of cards (5-10) and declare that the first person to collect that many cards is the winner. If you prefer to do things by the book, feel free to play by the rules in the game. It’s still fun either way.
The goal is to name three things for each card when it’s your turn. For instance, “Name three things you keep in a refrigerator.” If this was your card, you might say eggs, ketchup, and cheese. Any answer is acceptable as long as it matches the topic.
However, there’s a catch. You only have five seconds to spit out your answer. No stopping or dawdling.
Once the time is up, someone else gets a chance to steal your cad if they didn’t collect it.
Then, a new card is drawn. Play continues until one person has collected the agreed upon number of cards (or reaches the finish of the board.) This game will help your child:
- Think quickly (you only have 5 seconds)
- Make connections (items that go in a car, items that fit in your pocket, etc.)
- Math (you have to name three – and collect a certain number of tickets)
- Build vocabulary (they might hear words they haven’t before, which is great!)
- Soft skills (taking turns, staying on topic)
It’s a fun game, and very quick to play.
Pick up your copy of 5 Second Rule and enjoy:
5 Games for Kindergartners
There you have it, five our my six-year-old kindergartners favorite games. They’re a great way to integrate some fun into your school day.
Did I miss any of your family’s favorites? What ones would you add?