Games for 18 month olds: They can play even if they’re crappy at taking turns!

Did you know that most games start at the age of 3 because that’s about the time when most children can manage the concept of taking turns? (It also has to do with when kids stop trying to eat pieces and safety stuff – but that’s a little less fun to talk about.) Everyone knows that toddlers tend to be self-focused and impatient, so asking them to wait while someone else takes a turn makes playing games like Candy Land, Raccoon Rumpus on Amazon, Memory, and other “First Games” virtually impossible. So what are gamer parents to do when they’ve got a kiddo who hasn’t reached that threshold? Here are two “games” that can get your little gamer started… roll-n-play

Roll ‘N Play from Think Fun

What gamer parent doesn’t love the idea of an giant plush die that gets tossed by your kiddo? Got to get those dice throwing skills going early!

How the game is supposed to go: The kiddo throws the soft die (hopefully not at your dog or cat) and then they select the color card that matches their roll. The parent/caregiver then reads what they have to do (give hugs, make faces, find something green, clap a number of times, etc.). They set aside the card and roll again until they’ve done one of each color.

How the game likely goes: Kiddo throws the die (possibly a few times) and maybe they tell you what color it is, maybe the pick the right card, maybe the flip the die to their favorite color and pick another card. Maybe they do what it says – maybe the parent ends up doing what the card says.

move-and-grooveVerdict: The rules aren’t rigid which is great, but it works best if the kiddo can match or say colors (kids start recognizing different colors ~18 months but may not be able to say/match until closer to 2 or later). If they aren’t at the point of recognizing colors it’s a little more difficult but still playable.   With that said, it’s a great game to play with a kid who is just starting to learn colors! A warning about playing this with multiple toddlers: because everyone wants it to be their turn to roll the die, it’s a little harder.  The one really nice thing about this game is that there’s a pocket for the cards with some sturdy velcro that makes storage a breeze.

There’s also a Move ‘N Groove (on Amazon) version of this game that I haven’t played but it looks like all of the cards are about moving so you’ll be missing out on the counting and color finding, but getting a mini-workout.

Roll ‘N Play Stats:

~$20 at Roll N Play on Amazon or your local game store
1 player, 1 caregiver
how ever long you want to play for
Ages 18 months+


Seeka-Boo from MindWare

Using small square “Find Me” card and larger circle “Seek Me” cards, toddlers run around and find familiar objects.

How the game is supposed to go: The parent/caregiver is supposed to place 6 large “Seek Me“ cards face-down on the floor. There are 6 different categories so there’s a nice variety of objects in the box. Choose the top card from the smaller “Find Me” deck and show the kid(s) and say “Can you find the ___?” Lot of kisses and praise when they find the right card and you continue until all six have been found.

How the game likely goes: The toddler might stand on the circle cards instead of flipping them. Maybe they’ll just gather them all up instead of picking them up one at a time. Maybe they’ll start kissing the puppy card or bring you the cookie card and ask for one. Beyond any major distractions, the game goes pretty smoothly even if a couple are left face-up.

Verdict: This game is a nice way to teach words and matching and as the kids get older you can put out more circles. For younger kids, putting the circles face-up but spread throughout a larger space adds running to the fun. The other great thing about this game is that you can play with more than one toddler as you can give them each a different picture to find.

Seek-a-Boo Stats:

~$20 at Seek-A-Boo on Amazon or your local game store
1+ players, 1 caregiver
how ever long you want to play for
Ages 18 months+