The ultimate list of games for 2 year olds includes board games, DIY games, classic games, free online games and apps, learning games. All of these can help boost your child’s focus, memory, problem-solving, teamwork and critical thinking skills.
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“For a small child there is no division between playing and learning; between the things he or she does ‘just for fun’ and things that are ‘educational.’ The child learns while living and any part of living that is enjoyable is also play.” ~ Penelope Leach
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What are the best games for 2 year olds?
When I’m looking for a toddler game, I’m looking for a couple of things:
1. Is it easy to set up and put away? If you have a 2 year old not listening, you don’t want a huge mess to clean up.
2. Is it taste safe? If your child likes to put things in their mouths, this is something to consider.
3. Is it something your child can be successful with? No need to purposely instigate a toddler tantrum.
4. Does it involve some fine motor or gross motor movement? Young children want to move, not sit still for periods of time.
Benefits of games with toddlers.
At first glance, a game seems like a simple way to occupy your child and maybe have a moment of peace.
Surprisingly, you are accomplishing so much more when playing ANY kind of game with a child!
In just twenty minutes of game play with your kids, you can help your child develop:
- color, shape, number, letter recognition
- hand-eye coordination
- increased attention span
- fine motor skills
- gross motor skills
- social-emotional skills
- language skills
- critical thinking
- planning skills
- memory skills
- focus ability
- ability to follow instructions
That’s some pretty serious parenting multi-tasking if you ask me!
The Center for the Developing Child at Harvard University shares that when you play many kinds of games with your kids, you help them develop executive function skills.
Translation: Playing games develops the awesome brain skills listed above.
Let’s dive into the many types of awesome games for 2 year olds!
Best board games and learning puzzles and toys.
10. Ladybug Montessori Memory Game (So much fun!)
19. Acorn Soup
Find a comprehensive list of best board games for 2 year olds here.
Fun DIY Games (Using things you already have at home!)
Many of these are educational games that you can create at home, and most of the time, they are created using things you already have on hand. No need to head to the store.
Bonus: I often find that my kids love a homemade game better than a traditional board game. And they like to help set it up too! When kids help create what they play with, they are naturally more inclined to use it and enjoy it.
Skills often learned during these games include:
- learning different colors / color recognition
- letter and number recognition
- social-emotional skills like taking turns
- imaginative play
13. Flashlight Games
Top Picks for Classic Games
These are great for preschoolers too!
1. Simon Says
One person is Simon or Elmo or Dora or Spiderman or Teacher or Whoever, and this person is the “leader.” Simon gives a set of instructions and everyone else follows. The person who doesn’t follow the instructions is “out.” And the person who follows the instructions throughout the game, wins Simon Says.
2. Red Light, Green Light
One person is the leader who calls out “Red Light” or “Green Light.” When the leader calls out “Red Light,” everyone stops. When the leader calls out “Green Light,” everyone goes. Anyone who doesn’t stop or freeze during “Red Light” is out.
3. Follow the Leader
Take a walk around your house or outside and whatever you (or the leader) does, everyone else must follow. This is a great game to allow your child to be the leader and have you follow your child. It’s a perfect opportunity to model following directions for your child!
4. Visual Direction “Games”
With kids, visual directions are so important! You can make life simpler and fun using visual directions for your kids, such as a printable daily schedule for kids.
5. Scavenger Hunt
You can do a verbal version of this and just tell your child what you’ll be looking for next, or you can find some pictures of items, print it out, and have your child look for these items around the house, and mark them off as they find each item.
6. Dance Party
Turn up the music and have a dance party. 2-year-olds have a lot to teach us when it comes to unhindered dance moves!
7. Count and Clap
Clap for certain number of times while counting aloud. Have your child repeat the claps the same number of times. Keep going with different numbers 1-10.
8. Draw on Back
Draw letters or numbers on your child’s back and have them guess the letter. Then have the child draw a letter or number on your back and you have to guess what it is.
9. Hide and Seek
Have your child hide while you count to 10. Find your child. Then have your child count (if they can’t, it’s okay. Have them pretend) and come find you.
10. Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes
Music games for 2 year olds are my favorite because they keep a toddler engaged and happy!
You and your child sing the song while pointing to your heads, shoulders, knees, and toes. Speed it up to make it more challenging, and throw in some different body parts—eyes, elbows, mouths, and nose—to mix it up. Or leave out one of the body parts to see your child is paying attention.
Other song games include:
11. Freeze Dance
Find a great dance song and and your child dances. Stop the music at various intervals and your child has to freeze in whatever crazy dance position they’re in.
12. Sleeping Lions (or Bears)
Ask the kids to lie on the floor as still as they can possibly be. Each person that moves is out. And the person who stays the most still wins.
13. Pretend to Be Animals
Turn on some fun songs and have the kids pretend to be different animals.
14. Keep the Balloon Up
Blow up a few balloons and have your child try to keep them in the air.
Free Online Toddler Games and Apps
I try to avoid screens as much as possible with a 2 year old. But the reality is this: Sometimes technology comes in real handy when your child is “on the verge” and you need to wait for a long period of time.
Keep these apps as a backup if you need it!
4. Peek-a-Zoo | iPhone
5.Toca Kitchen Monsters | iPhone
Games Keep Kids Happy and Mom Sane
While I wouldn’t say that games for 2 year olds are my favorite time of day (I prefer naptime ☺️), they are a fantastic way to help your child develop awesome brain skills, break up the day, keep kids engaged, moving and happy.
This is all a huge stress relief to me as a parent.
“Play is the work of the child.” – Maria Montessori
Want more on parenting?
- Frustrated with Disciplining Your 2 Year-Old? Try These Ideas!
- 2 Year Old Sleep Schedule That Works Every Time
- 2 Year Old Sleep Regression Explained: Why It Happens and How to Fix It
- 5 Sample Daily Toddler Schedules From Real Moms
- 10 Empowering Ways to Improve Toddler Listening
- How to Get Your Toddler to Follow a Routine Without Reminders
- 2 Year Old Not Listening? Try This Remarkable Tip
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