Comparing Top Educational Board Games for Kids



· 5 min read
Family playing an educational board game, enhancing learning and bonding

Photo by Pixabay


Board games provide many benefits for young kids aged 4-6. They promote learning across multiple domains including math, reading, strategy, critical thinking, and social-emotional skills. Playing board games helps kids develop number sense, counting abilities, shape recognition, and fine motor skills ( source). Board games also encourage language development as kids discuss rules and strategies with others ( source). Furthermore, taking turns and winning or losing gracefully are important social-emotional lessons taught through board games.

In this article, we will compare six popular board games for children ages 4-6: Chutes and Ladders, Candy Land, Hi Ho! Cherry-O, Memory, Hungry Hungry Hippos, and Don't Break the Ice. By looking at the learning outcomes, entertainment value, and family friendliness of each game, parents can determine which options are best suited for their child.

Game #1 - Chutes and Ladders

Chutes and Ladders is a classic board game that has been popular since the 1940s. It is based on the ancient Indian game Snakes and Ladders. The game is simple - players take turns rolling a die and moving their token up the board. If a player lands at the bottom of a ladder, they move up and advance. If they land on a chute, they slide down and go back. The first player to reach the final square wins.

Chutes and Ladders is great for teaching young children ages 4-6 basic counting and number recognition. The linear number board clearly shows the number progression from 1 to 100. As kids move their token, they count the spaces and recognize the printed numbers. The simple gameplay is easy for young kids to understand, with no reading required.

Research shows Chutes and Ladders builds foundational math skills. As reported by The Genius of Play, "Chutes and Ladders is considered a linear number board game, where gameplay helps the child develop a general math sense through the use of counting and one-to-one correspondence."

With straightforward rules and engaging ups and downs, Chutes and Ladders has remained popular for over 80 years. It entertains kids while sneakily teaching them vital early math concepts.

Game #2 - Candy Land

Candy Land is a classic color-matching board game that has been popular with young children since it was first introduced in 1949. The game teaches color recognition as players match colored spaces on the board to move their gingerbread man game pieces along the path. The aim is to reach the Candy Castle first.

Candy Land's simple gameplay and bright, appealing theme of sweets and treats make it engaging for preschoolers. As players take turns selecting color cards and moving along the winding road on the game board, Candy Land also teaches following rules, counting, and turn-taking skills. With its straightforward rules and lack of reading required, Candy Land can be easily played by children as young as 3 or 4.

In addition to color recognition, Candy Land helps develop visual discrimination as children match the colored squares on their cards to those on the board. The colors used in the original game are red, green, yellow, blue, orange, and purple. Variations over the years have included new colors. Candy Land is often recommended by teachers and parents as a color learning game for young children (Source:

With its simple rules and multiplayer format, Candy Land enables family members and friends to play together. The game teaches social skills like waiting your turn and sportsmanship. The affordable price also makes Candy Land accessible for most families (Source:

Game #3 - Hi Ho! Cherry-O

Hi Ho! Cherry-O is a classic board game that has been entertaining kids for over 60 years. First released in 1960 by Milton Bradley, Hi Ho! Cherry-O teaches basic counting skills and simple strategy in a fun, engaging way.

The game revolves around a colorful spinning arrow and a tree filled with cherries. Players take turns spinning the arrow and follow its instructions to pick cherries from their tree and put them in their basket. The first player to collect 10 cherries wins the game.

Hi Ho! Cherry-O helps develop early math skills as players count the cherries and track how many they need to win. The spinning arrow introduces elements of chance and encourages number recognition. As a bonus, the game promotes following rules, taking turns, and developing strategy [1].

With its charming artwork and hands-on gameplay, Hi Ho! Cherry-O engages preschoolers and early elementary students. It's an entertaining family game that sneakily teaches important concepts through fun repetition and interaction.

Game #4 - Memory

The classic Memory game involves a deck of cards with pairs of matching images placed face down. Players take turns flipping over two cards at a time to find matches. If the two cards match, the player keeps the pair. If not, the cards are flipped back over. The game continues until all pairs have been found.

Memory helps improve memory, concentration, and visual recognition skills. By focusing on remembering the images and locations of cards, kids exercise their visual memory. They also have to concentrate intently each turn to keep track of what cards have been revealed. The process of finding matching pairs boosts visual recognition abilities. According to research, memory and matching games can "improve language, concentration and memory" and "give space to strengthen visual memory."


Game #5 - Hungry Hungry Hippos

Hungry Hungry Hippos is a classic four-player board game that has been popular since its release in 1978. The game features four mechanical plastic hippo game pieces that players use to gobble up colorful marbles on the game board.

The goal is to collect the most marbles in your hippo's mouth by rapidly pressing down on a lever to make the hippo's mouth open and close to pick up marbles. It's a fast-paced and exciting game as players compete to gather the most marbles.

Hungry Hungry Hippos helps develop hand-eye coordination and motor skills in young children as they try to quickly maneuver their hippo to capture marbles. It also incorporates color matching and visual perception skills as kids try to grab marbles of their hippo's color while avoiding others.

With its silly hippo theme, marble gobbling action, and unpredictable gameplay, Hungry Hungry Hippos is a fun and entertaining game for families and kids ages 4 and up. The competitive play encourages participation and gets kids moving.

As noted in this lesson plan from PEC Central, Hungry Hungry Hippos can be used in physical education classes to work on spatial awareness, body awareness, and color matching:

Game #6 - Don't Break the Ice

Don't Break the Ice is a classic game that has been entertaining kids for decades. The premise is simple yet suspenseful. Players take turns tapping out plastic ice blocks one by one from underneath a plastic penguin, trying not to make the penguin fall.

The game starts with the penguin perched on top of a tower of ice blocks. Players use a plastic mallet to gently tap out the ice blocks from below. As more blocks get removed, it becomes harder for the penguin to stay balanced. Eventually, one player will tap out the block that makes the whole tower collapse, and the penguin breaks through the ice!

Don't Break the Ice helps develop fine motor skills and strategic thinking. Players need to carefully choose which blocks to remove, while avoiding the key blocks that support the penguin's balance. According to Amazon, it's an exciting, suspenseful game that keeps kids engaged.

The element of surprise and anticipation around when the penguin will fall creates laughs and squeals of delight. As noted in a review on In Life and Littles, Don't Break the Ice is a great option for developing fine motor skills in a fun way.

Game #7 - Jenga

Jenga is a classic stacking game that was released in the 1970s by Leslie Scott. It involves 54 wooden blocks that are stacked in a tower formation. Players take turns carefully pulling out blocks from the tower and placing them on top, with the goal of not collapsing the tower.

Jenga is great for developing hand-eye coordination, dexterity, patience, focus, and strategy in young kids. To successfully pull out a block, children need concentration, steady hands, and planning to find just the right block that won't make the tower fall. As the tower gets higher, the tension builds as kids try to keep it standing.

According to, Jenga teaches balance and focus by challenging kids to keep the tower upright. Players learn trial and error as they figure out which blocks they can safely remove. Jenga also develops logic, prediction, spatial awareness, and problem-solving as kids strategize their next move.

Overall, Jenga allows kids to have fun while improving their fine motor skills, concentration, planning, and patience. It's an entertaining game that provides a variety of developmental benefits for young children.

Comparison Chart

Here is a comparison chart highlighting the key aspects of each educational board game:


Based on the analysis, here are some recommendations for selecting the best educational board games for 4-6 year old kids:

For building counting and math skills, top picks are Hi Ho! Cherry-O, Candy Land, and Chutes and Ladders. Hi Ho! Cherry-O in particular helps kids learn numbers and counting while having fun picking cherries. Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders also incorporate counting spaces and numerical order.

To improve memory, pattern recognition, and concentration, classic Memory is ideal. Flipping over cards to find matches boosts focus, visual discernment, and retention.

For hand-eye coordination and motor skills, try Hungry Hungry Hippos or Don't Break the Ice. These games get kids moving and interacting physically with the game pieces, working on dexterity and control.

Jenga is great for patience, strategy, and problem-solving as players try to avoid collapsing the stacked blocks. This game helps with planning, analytical thinking, and taking turns.

For well-rounded skill development, pair a math or memory focused game with one that develops motor skills and strategy. For example, playing Memory followed by Hungry Hungry Hippos gives a cognitive workout along with physical practice. Hi Ho! Cherry-O and Don't Break the Ice together teach counting, numerical patterns, and hand-eye coordination.

Matching games to your child's interests and abilities will ensure enjoyment and engagement while optimizing learning through interactive educational play.


About Davide

Davide is not just a co-founder of ProKids; he's also a dedicated father who understands the joys and challenges of parenting firsthand. Passionate about games and child development, his mission is to make parenting a more enriching and ...

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