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The Best Brain Games For Toddlers of 2021


You can make anything into a game for a toddler.  They tend to love everything from peek-a-boo to playing in a random box.  When it comes to toddler games and toys, the choices are plentiful, and sometimes it can get overwhelming.   

Luckily, we have found the best games for toddlers that really work their little brains.  We have reviewed games that foster creative and critical thinking, refine their visual-spatial skills, and work on simple academic concepts. 

Best Brain Game for Toddlers: Wooden Expressions Game
Best Puzzle for Toddlers: Coogam Wooden Blocks Puzzle
Best Learning Game for Toddlers: ThinkFun Roll and Play Game

Best Brain Games For Toddlers

Wooden Expressions Game

CHIYR Wooden Expressions Matching Block Puzzles Building Cubes Toy Borad Games Educational Montessori Toys for Kids Ages 3 Years and Up
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The Wooden Expressions Game is a fun game that works on visual-spatial skills and teaches the concepts of matching, colors, and emotions.

In this game, there is a deck of cards with pictures of faces on them in different colors.  Each face has a unique expression.  Each player picks a card and finds the corresponding color cubes. They then use the blocks to assemble the same expression that is shown on the card.  Whoever creates their matching expression with the blocks first, wins that round.

Creating the expression involves problem-solving and fine motor skills because each side of the cube has a different part of the face on it.  The player needs to turn it around to match it to the correct part of the face they are seeing on the card.  Matching a part of a whole is a great way to work on visual-spatial skills.

This game is also great because it gives an opportunity to teach emotions.  After each round, you can discuss with your toddler what expression the card is showing and name it. 

The game involves following rules, taking turns, and having a winner which helps teach game skills at an early age.  I do think that this game would most likely be difficult for toddlers under 3, but younger toddlers can still play with the blocks and make their own expressions.

The blocks can definitely be used separately from the game to allow a child to be creative on their own by making their own expressions or building with them.  This is another great bonus to this game. 

Pros

  • Promotes critical thinking, problem-solving and visual-spatial skills
  • Teaches game playing concepts such as following rules, taking turns, and winning/losing
  • Pieces can be used separately from the game for other creative fun
  • Helps teach colors and emotions

Cons

  • May be more difficult for younger toddlers to play

ThinkFun Roll and Play Game for Toddlers

ThinkFun Roll and Play Game for Toddlers - Your Child's First Game! Award Winning and Fun Toddler Toy for Parents and Kids 18 Months and Older
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ThinkFun Roll and Play Game is a great first game for toddlers.  This game is very simple for younger toddlers to play, and encourages a lot of learning.

The game comes with a large six-sided cube and cards.  A player will roll the cube and it will land on a specific color.  The player will then pick a card that is the corresponding color from the cube.  Each card gives a fun, simple task for the player to complete such as “bark like a dog” or “find something blue”. 

Each color is a different category.  The categories are actions, colors, animals, counting, body parts, and emotions. This game gives toddlers the opportunity to work on all of these academic and language concepts along with gross motor skills. 

Something I like about this game is that it can be played with just one player or with multiple players. With multiple players, toddlers can take turns rolling the cube and picking the cards which can help them learn the game playing concept of taking turns.

Pros

  • Helps teach concepts such as colors, counting, animals, body parts, emotions, and actions
  • Teaches game playing concepts such as rolling dice and taking turns
  • Allows child to work on gross motor skills
  • Simple for younger toddlers to play and understand
  • Can be played with 1 player or multiple players

Cons

  • Does not provide many opportunities for problem-solving or creativity
  • May not be a lot of fun for older children

Likary Counting Rainbow Bears Sorting Game

Rainbow Counting Bears for Toddlers With Matching Sorting Cups For Ages 3 And Up- Sorting Bears Game- 30 Large and 60 Small Teddy Bear Counters with Activity Cards- Fun And Learning For All Abilities
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The Likary Counting Rainbow Bears Sorting Game is a game that works on sorting colors, counting, and fine motor skills.  This game comes with sixty bears in six different colors and a matching color cup for each color of bears.

The game works by a player rolling a die and then using the tweezers to pick up the bears and put them in the cups.  There are three dice included in this game which makes it be able to be played in multiple ways.  One die has colors on its sides, one has numbers, and one is a traditional die with dots. 

One way to play the game is to just roll the color die, find all of the bears of the color that is shown on the die, and put them in the correct cup.  This is probably the best way to play with younger toddlers.  Younger toddlers can also just place the bears in the cup rather than using the tweezers if their fine motor skills are not there yet. 

A more challenging way to play is to roll the color and one of the number dice together and then put that number of that color bear in the correct cup.  This way your child is working on sorting, colors, and counting/numbers.

This game can be played alone, or with others.  Players can take turns rolling the dice and putting the bears in the cups.  This helps teach game-playing skills such as turn-taking and rolling dice.  Toddlers also can make up their own game or play with the bears in any creative way that they choose.

Pros

  • Teaches sorting, colors, counting, and numbers
  • Works on fine-motor skills
  • Provides opportunities for creativity
  • Good game for both younger and older toddlers

Cons

  • Does not provide many opportunities for critical thinking or problem solving
  • Lots of small pieces to keep track of 

BEST LEARNING Mushroom Garden

BEST LEARNING Mushroom Garden - Interactive Educational Light-Up Toddler Toys for 1 to 3 Years Old Infants & Toddlers - Colors, Numbers, Games & Music for Kids
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The BEST LEARNING Mushroom Garden is a toy and game combined.  This would be a great first game to get because it can even work as a great toy and game that will grow with baby into toddlerhood.  This toy has four different modes.  Colors, numbers, music, and games. 

In color and number mode, it will say the different colors and dot amounts on the mushrooms when pressed.  This mode also offers questions to be answered about colors and numbers, which can help with teaching those concepts.

In music mode, toddlers can be creative and press the different mushrooms that function as piano keys to create their own music.  The mushroom garden will also play its own songs if you rock it or spin it around.

In the game mode, toddlers will have a chance to work their memory skills.  The mushrooms light up and play a sound in a pattern.  Toddlers will try to remember the pattern in which that the colors lit up, and press them in that order to win the game.  The patterns get harder as they progress.

Pros

  • Allows for creativity in musical mode
  • Teaches colors and numbers
  • Works memory skills and hand-eye coordination

Cons

  • Needs batteries
  • May not be as fun for older toddlers
  • Does not provide many opportunities for critical thinking or problem solving

Lewo Magnetic Fishing Game

Lewo 30 PCS Magnetic Fishing Game Toddler Wooden Toys Preschool Alphabet Fish Board Games for 2 3 4 Year Old Girls Boys Kids Birthday Learning Education Math Toys with Magnet Poles
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The Lewo Magnetic Fishing Game is a game that is meant to work on hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills, but also provides the opportunity for creativity and learning. In this game, toddlers use either a magnetic fishing pole or magnetic cat doll, to pick up fish.  The fish have letters on one side and dots and stripes that can be counted on the other side. 

The game board has two sides to it.  One side of the round wooden board is a smooth ocean scene.  On this side, you can set out all of the fish at once and use the fishing poles to pick up the fish. 

On the other side, you insert the fish into an opening so that they are hidden inside.  Then you use the cat to move the fish that are inside into the opening to take out by using the magnetic force of the cat through the small holes on this side of the board.

The unique aspect of this game is that there are no real rules for it.  Toddlers can pick up fish one at a time and name the letters or count the dots on them.  They can also play with a friend because there two fishing rods provided. The best part is that they can also be creative and make up their own game with it!

Pros

  • Works on fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination
  • Provides the opportunity for creativity
  • Teaches letters and counting

Cons

  • Requires fine motor skills that may be difficult for younger toddlers
  • Lots of small pieces to keep track of

Best Puzzles for Toddlers

Coogam Wooden Blocks Puzzle

Coogam Wooden Blocks Puzzle Brain Teasers Toy Tangram Jigsaw Intelligence Colorful 3D Russian Blocks Game STEM Montessori Educational Gift for Kids (40 Pcs)
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The Coogam Wooden Blocks Puzzle is a great game that can be used in many different ways.  This game is great for all ages, so it can be something that provides lasting fun for many years.  This game improves visual-spatial abilities and can be used to promote both critical and creative thinking.

As shown in the picture, it can be a puzzle where you need to fit pieces together to fill it in.  Filling in the entire rectangle would be a more appropriate challenge for older children, but you can challenge toddlers to fill in just a corner, or give them a few pieces to try to fit together.  Trying to fit the pieces together in the right way is a great opportunity to work on their problem-solving skills. 

To spark their creative thinking, this game provides templates to follow to create fun pictures out of the pieces.  To enhance your toddler’s creative thinking, you can also challenge them to create their own animals or objects out of the pieces without following a template.  

While playing, you can add in some academic concepts by discussing shapes and colors or counting the pieces. This game also gives an opportunity for toddlers to work on their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.  

Pros

  • Promotes creative thinking, critical thinking, and problem-solving
  • Improves visual-spatial abilities
  • Provides an opportunity to work on academic concepts such as shapes, colors, and counting
  • Can be used in a variety of different ways
  • Appropriate for all ages, can be used for many years

Cons

  • The puzzle part may be more appropriate for older children
  • It is not technically a “game”

Wooden Pattern Blocks Toddler Puzzle

Wooden Pattern Blocks Toddler Puzzles, 36 Shape Pieces & 50 Animals Jigsaw Design Cards for Playing Games, Brain Teaser Sorting Stacking Game Early Educational Montessori Toy for Kids 3+ Years Old
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The Wooden Pattern Blocks Toddler Puzzles is a game that allows your toddler to be creative while working on their visual-spatial skills along with shapes and colors.  This game comes with many different wooden shapes in multiple colors. There are also two googly eyes to use to create animals or humans with the shapes.

The game comes with a pack of cards with patterns on them to follow to create different animals and objects out of the shapes. Following the patterns to create the design is a great way to work on visual-spatial skills. 

Toddlers can also be creative and make their own designs out of the shapes.  For younger toddlers, this may be a more appropriate task.  The pieces can also be used for teaching colors and shapes and you can do other activities with them such as sorting and counting.

Although this is not technically a “game”, it could possibly be made into a game by having players race to see who can create their object or animal first.  This way you can teach some game-playing concepts as well.

We also like that this game can be stored well and taken with on the go.  Check out our favorite travel toys for toddlers here. 

Pros

  • Promotes problem-solving, fine motor, and visual-spatial skills
  • Allows for creativity
  • Teaches shapes and colors
  • Pieces can be used in multiple ways
  • Can be played as a “game” if you want to
  • Can be fun for older children as well

Cons

  • Many small pieces to keep track of
  • Not technically a “game”

TSYAN Montessori Slide Logic Puzzle

TSYAN Montessori Learning Toys Slide Puzzle Color Shape Sorting Matching Logic Game Brain Teasers Preschool Educational Wooden Toys for Toddlers Kids Age 3 4 5 6 Years Old Boys Girls Classroom Travel
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The TSYAN Montessori Slide Logic Puzzle is a game that will definitely work your toddler’s brain.  This game allows your child to use critical thinking and problem-solving skills to create a variety of patterns on a special slide puzzle board.

The child will pick a card that shows a specific pattern.  They will then start the provided sand timer and try to recreate the pattern in the slide puzzle, by sliding the pieces around to get them into the correct places to match the pattern on the card before the time is up.

The slide puzzle is two-sided with a color side and a shape side.  There are color pattern cards and shape pattern cards in the game.  This can help your toddler practice their shapes and colors, but the real brain building in this game is the critical thinking and visual-spatial skills that the toddler has to use to solve the puzzle.

This game is meant to be played alone, but it could be a multi-player game if you get two puzzles and have the players race to see who gets the pattern first.  Younger toddlers may have a bit of a hard time with this game, so it is definitely geared towards older ones.

Pros

  • Works on visual-spatial skills, along with critical thinking and problem solving
  • Teaches the game playing aspect of only having a specific time to do something
  • Teaches patterns, shapes, and colors

Cons

  • May be more difficult for younger toddlers
  • Does not provide many opportunities for creative thinking
  • One-player game

Coogam Wooden Sorting and Stacking

Coogam Wooden Sorting Stacking Toys, Shape Color Recognition Blocks Matching Puzzle, Fine Motor Skill Educational Preschool Learning Board Game Gift for Kids
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The Coogam Wooden Sorting & Stacking Toy is a great toy/game to work your toddler’s brain.  This toy comes with four different shaped wooden blocks with holes, a pegboard, and a lacing string. 

In order to work your toddler’s critical thinking, problem-solving and visual-spatial skills, have them solve the puzzle of fitting the shape pieces onto the pegboard in the correct spots.  To do this, they also have to sort by shape and stack from largest to smallest.

If you want to work on fine motor skills or creating patterns, they can thread the shapes onto the lacing string.  For creativity practice, they can build with the shapes to create buildings or objects.  Toddlers can work on sorting practice by sorting the shapes by color, size, and shape.

Although this toy is not technically a game, it is a great brain-building toy.  You could possibly make it into a game by taking turns putting shapes on the pegboard, or seeing who can build an object with the most shapes.

Pros

  • Promotes creative thinking, critical thinking, and problem-solving
  • Improves visual-spatial abilities
  • Provides an opportunity to work on academic concepts such as shapes, colors, sizes, sorting, and patterns
  • Can be used in a variety of different ways

Cons

  • Not technically a “game”
  • The pegboard may not challenge older toddlers

Comparing the Best Games for Toddlers

The table below compares only the recommended products on this page. A low or high Price means it is low or high compared to the other products listed. The Popularity Score reflects how often readers click on and buy the product. The Quality Score is our assessment of the overall performance and satisfaction with the product compared to others in the table.


Brain Games For Toddlers Buying Criteria

Creative Thinking

In order for your child’s brain to develop creativity, they need to be given the opportunity to be creative.  This means that you do not want them always playing games where there is only one correct way or answer.  Although these games are great in other ways, we tried to look for games that could provide toddlers the opportunity to be creative as well. 

That is why we love the Wooden Expressions Game because the game pieces can be used in creative ways as well. 

Critical Thinking/Problem Solving

Allowing your toddler to think critically and problem solve is a great way to stimulate their brain.  Critical thinking is when you observe an issue, analyze it, and problem-solve to find a solution.  Puzzle games are a great way to work on this kind of brain-building and we considered the amount of critical thinking and problem solving used in a game when choosing our favorites.

We love the Coogam Wooden Blocks Puzzle for working on critical thinking and problem-solving. Also, check out more of our favorite toddler puzzles that help with these concepts. 

Academic Concepts

We want our toddler to start to learn academic concepts such as colors, shapes, numbers, and letters, but sitting them down with flashcards is not appropriate for them at this age.  The best way for them to learn is through play, which is why we looked for games that included these concepts along with the other brain-building behaviors they provide.  Some games work on more concepts than others, but they all work on at least colors and shapes.

The ThinkFun Roll and Play Game probably works on the most academic concepts. 

Game Playing Concepts

For toddlers, many of these games may be the first ones they ever play.  While some of the games we recommended are more of a one-person activity, we also looked for games that would teach toddlers the concepts used in games.  We looked for games that teach concepts such as taking turns and winning and losing.  We also found games that introduce the concept of rolling dice or picking a card.  Working on these concepts is good for the social and emotional development of toddlers.

Long-Lasting

One other criterion we considered is how long the game will last.  We know that parents like to buy toys and games that will give them more bang for their buck and last long.  Luckily, we found many games that can be appropriate for small toddlers to enjoy, as well as older children. 

Sometimes the game has different levels, or it can be differentiated to be enjoyable for a variety of age groups.  We also looked for games that can be played in multiple ways, so that the toddler won’t get bored of it. 

FAQs About Brain Games For Toddlers

How can I stimulate my toddler’s brain?

Toddlers are constantly learning about the world around them, so it does not take much to stimulate their brains. Just engaging with them while they do their everyday activities can stimulate their brain.  Reading, singing, and playing are all great ways to stimulate the brain.  Brain games such as our recommended favorites are great because they can really allow you to engage with your child.

What games can toddlers play?

Toddlers can play more games than you may think.  In addition to all the games that we have recommended, you can also create games out of most anything.  Toddlers can play simon says, hide-and-seek, and hot and cold.  Pretend play is also great for two-year-olds, so engage them in pretend play with dolls or pretend food.  One great thing about the game is that you can create more games out of it by using the pieces. 

How can you keep your toddler busy?

Even though toddlers seem to always be on the go, sometimes you have to work to keep them busy and out of getting into all the things they are not supposed to.  Luckily, there are many ways to keep your toddler busy.  Games and toys like we reviewed above are great to pull out when you need something for your toddler to do. 

Toddlers also enjoy creating art, so it is good to keep some toddler-friendly crayons and stickers on hand.  They also love playing pretend and sensory activities.  If you do not have any toys or supplies around you, you can also keep your toddler busy by just giving them some measuring spoons or Tupperware from the kitchen to play with.  Taking your toddler on a walk or allowing them to enjoy and explore the outdoors is a great way to keep them busy as well.

What academic concepts should toddlers know?

Some academic concepts that you can work on with your toddler are:

At the toddler age, the best way to teach these concepts is by providing exposure to them through play and books.  Many of our favorite brain games for toddlers provide opportunities to work on these concepts.

Wrap Up

When it comes to brain games for toddlers, it is hard to pick a bad one.  Toddlers don’t need much to stimulate their brain, so you really cannot go wrong.  Our favorite is the ERUGI Wooden Expressions Game.

ERUGI Wooden Expressions Matching Block Puzzle Educational Games Montessori Toy for Kids Preschool Ages 3 Years and Up,Face-Changing Rubik's Cube Building Blocks

It is great because it provides opportunities for toddlers to work on their visual-spatial, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills, while also introducing game-playing concepts such as turn-taking, picking a card, and winning/losing.  We also love that it teaches concepts such as colors, emotions, and matching while also allowing an opportunity for toddlers to be creative. 

In our list of favorite games, you will find ones that promote critical thinking and problem solving and ones that promote creativity.  You can choose from games that teach different academic skills and ones that will introduce game-playing concepts.  Your toddler will have fun and build their brain from playing any of them.


Rachel Lacy    

Rachel Lacy is a teacher turned stay-at-home mom to a 1.5 year old daughter and another baby on the way. She has taught 1st Grade, Kindergarten, and Gifted Education K-5. She has a BA in Early Childhood Education and has also worked in Early Intervention with children ages Birth-Age 3. She lives in AZ and enjoys exploring the outdoors.



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