Board games are a big part of our lives! We play them often as a family or with friends – in fact, about twice a year we have a “Board Game Day” in our home, inviting friends of all ages to play board games together all day and into the night. We also incorporate board games into our homeschool day. I believe that they are all educational board games – there is something to be learned from any board game. I often tell people that if I had an unlimited income, I would teach using nothing but board games! It would be possible to have a game for every topic and every subject. When thinking of board games, most people are familiar with Scrabble and Monopoly, but there are so many more out there!
Almost any board game includes math concepts – using arithmetic (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division) at the very least, including:
- Wits ‘n Wagers Family Edition – odds and estimation skills (You can even find a link to a lesson plan to go with it at Board Game Geek)
- Sorry – arithmetic and probability
- Battleship – use of Euclidian geometry (the “x” and “y” axis)
- Monopoly – buy, sell, trade, taxes, etc.
- Settlers of Catan – trade, co-operation, and strategy
- The Game of Life – post-secondary education, marriage, family, and retire in the countryside or become a millionaire – real life simplified
- India Rails – resource management, and geography as well
- Scrabble (including the Jr. edition) – if you tire of playing in English, play in Latin, or French
- Boggle – also exercises the spatial, mathematical part of your brain
- Pick Two – this is like playing a fast-paced game of Scrabble, creating your own words while racing against everyone else
- Once Upon a Time – get the creative juices flowing by participating in some oral storytelling as a family, then use it as a springboard to write down stories
- Heroscape – tabletop fantasy battle game involving fantasy storylines and characters (mythology, comic book heroes etc.), strategy, and critical thinking
There are many trivia board games based on literature, or play a game set in the world of the book you’re reading to enhance learning:
- Lord of the Rings Trivia – learn every minute detail of Tolkien’s world
- Chapters: The Board Game – includes categories such as Fiction and Literature, Classics, Non-fiction, Children’s Books, and Canadian Literature
Board games for building strategies and strategic thinking:
- Chess – fantastic for critical thinking – you always have to be thinking a move or more ahead
- Stratego – whether original, Lord of the Rings, or another version
- Clue – use those deduction powers, just like Sherlock Holmes
History & Geography
- Axis & Allies – teaches all about World War II and the geography of the countries involved
- Guillotine – if your family has a morbid sense of humour, have fun with the French Revolution
- Notre Dame – economy, sociology, and the Black Plague
- Risk – learn about the continents while using your critical thinking skills or enjoy a fantasy or futuristic world version (i.e. Risk 2210)
- Ticket to Ride – European or North American version – learn about the cities and countries
- Civilize This – a trivia game with Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance, and Modern categories.
Play games from other cultures to learn more about them (many are available as printouts online):
- Chinese Chess (Xiangqi) – you’ll even become familiar with some Chinese characters
- Mancala – ancient game from the Middle-East.
- Hounds and Jackals – ancient Egyptian
- Planet Earth DVD Board Game – Life Science
- Starfarers of Catan –Space/Astronomy
- Don’t Quote Me Sports Edition – quotes from famous athletes.
- Blood Bowl – football, but with a violent, fantasy twist – deals with probability and geometry.
- Co-operative games are fantastic for teaching children to work as a team:
- The Hobbit – work together to steal all the gems from Smaug the dragon – work with probability, exercise your memory, recitation, etc.
- Any game from Family Pastimes – great educational, co-operative games for all ages.
Yes, the dreaded S-word! Almost any board game involves socializing with others. The ultimate in board game socializing is The Great Canadian Board game Challenge which is held across Canada and which we sometimes participate in at our local convention, Hal-Con.
- Say Anything Family – your children have to think about how OTHERS think and feel.
- Scene It – original, kids, or any of its many variations – enjoy movie clips while exercising your spatial, memory, and observation skills, while laughing together.
Choose a game about the place or time you’re learning about to enhance your homeschool studies. Trivia games can be used as a review of what you’ve learned. Are you trying to teach something specific that you would like to find a board game for? The most comprehensive list of boardgames anywhere is at www.Boardgamegeek.com. You will even find reviews of the games so you can decide if you would like to purchase or not.
*And if you want to be even more creative in your homeschool, give your children some Bristol board and some markers and challenge them to create their own educational board games. Who knows, they may even design the next “Trivial Pursuit”!*
What are your favourite educational board games in your homeschool? Have your children ever made their own board game?
Love, Luck &