Chutes & Ladders: A Beginner’s Version for 3-5 Year Olds Sorely Needed!

The box claims this game is appropriate for ages 3+. It’s wrong. There’s just no way. Where do I even begin? There are so many chutes and ladders that it’s difficult to discern each individual box on the game board. It’s also hard for my three-year-old to know if she’s moving towards the right or the left. (The board is a series of switchbacks. Start from the bottom left corner and move across to the right. At the end of the row, move up one row and progress from right to left.) Although there are arrows at the end of every row, this does nothing to help when her piece is in the middle of the row.


Learning Math Through Games: Ideas for Improvement

In short, I want to create my own game board! I’d start with a hundreds chart using the numbers 1-100, with a 1 in top left corner and the numbers 1-10 across the top row. I’d clearly separate each row creating a chute that wrapped from the end of one row to the beginning of the next row. (For example, the first chute would start at the number 10 and end on the number 11.)

The skill of wrapping is actually very difficult for kids, and this would have her practicing wrapping with a physical movement. Where would I add the ladders? I’m not sure — anywhere between rows, but not crossing over the physical spaces of the boxes for each number. I’ll bet my three-year-old would like this game much better than the old version. I could even use different dice or various spinners for determining each move. As she gets older, we could return to use the traditional game board. But I need something between now and then. Anyone out there ready to create my beginning version of Chutes & Ladders?

  • DinaM

    I can’t create it for you, but I would love to purchase it! I teach kindergarten and that game creates stress every year. The fact that the hundreds chart starts at the bottom really throws them off! I don’t think they had an educational professional on their team when they did the board lay out. I teach them to really look at the situations when they climb the ladder or have to slide down the chute. Of course, these are pretty dated. I don’t like that the ladders aren’t always right in the box, making it diffictult for young children to tell if they can climb that one or not.

  • Stein Llanos

    I just stumbled upon your post looking for pictures of the C&L board to show my game design students for an “improve this game” challenge, but I have to say you have some pretty good insights there.

    While we’re both out to fix the game I can see we’ve approached it from very different angles. I have also identified the low readability of the board as an issue, but didn’t consider the placement of the 100 to be a problem, until now! It seems obvious that the flow should follow the normal reading direction. Also, isn’t sliding down a shute more fun than climbing a ladder? The 100 should definately be on the bottom!

    Being able to choose between different dice would add a tactical element to the game, making it more interesting for older kids and adults as well. If my students conjure up some even better designs for us I’ll stop by again! Your kid will never go back to plain old C&L again!

  • Mickelle

    Thank, Stein! Please do let me know if your students have other ideas. I’d love to try them with my 4 1/2 year old.