Inside: Everyone loves a good board game. Here is a list of the 8 educational board games that are a little unusual–beyond checkers or Monopoly. And, some of them teach executive functioning skills.
Board games are a great way for children to learn skills without even realizing that they’re learning. And, with so many parents worried about screentime, board games are really having a moment right now.
And hey, everyone loves a good game of Candyland or Monopoly and they are classics. But, move over classics.
Educational Board Games
It’s time to introduce some new games to your family’s Game Night repertoire. I had this epiphany while trying to introduce my son to Pay Day.
I was thrilled to find a completely intact, vintage set for just $1. He was less than impressed. And while I am still happy with my vintage find, playing a game that says that rent is $75 a month feels a little dated.
Better Board Games
We have most of these or have played them at others’ homes. I included a couple for 4-5 year olds, but most are for 8-12 and up. I call them new and unusual, but you may have heard of some of them.
But, was just trying to make the point that these games are not checkers or Scrabble, which everyone has heard of.
Unusual Board Games for Older Kids
Azul -A tile-based game that encourages and teaches the importance of thinking strategically without the use of any violence. The game can be played in just 30 minutes and there are a few different versions of the game available.
I am dying to buy this one. Mostly because they advertise it as “accessible” which wins points in my book. Nope, not a guarantee that it is and I will update this post when I find out. But even recognizing that a game should be accessible wins points with me.
- BECOME AN ARTISAN: Craft exquisite tile mosaics in this award-winning board game.
- STRATEGY MATTERS: Plan your moves carefully to outscore opponents and disrupt their plans.
- HIGH-QUALITY COMPONENTS: Enjoy top-notch components and beautiful tile pieces.
- FAMILY-FRIENDLY FUN: Suitable for players of all ages, making it a perfect addition to game night.
- DESIGNED BY A MASTER: Created by world-renowned game author Michael Riesling.
Blokus-Another quick-playing strategy game that teaches problem-solving, spatial reasoning, and also teaches kids how to plan ahead. Blokus and Blokus Jr. are fairly similar, though Blokus Jr. has single-player puzzles and slightly different rules which is why I recommend it over the original.
- Award-winning family strategy game Blokus is reimagined for young minds as Blokus Junior!
- With quicker gameplay, bigger game pieces and visual aids, Blokus Junior provides brain-building fun while helping teach strategy basics and critical thinking.
- There's only one rule: pieces of the same color can only touch at the corners. Place them strategically as you compete to get as many of your pieces on the board as possible.
- Kids can practice spatial reasoning, planning, problem solving, critical thinking, decision making and concentration all while engaging in board game fun!
- With everything young minds need for simple strategy gameplay, plus 8 mini-games to help them sharpen their skills, Blokus Junior makes a great gift for 5 year olds and up.
Clack! -If your children love matching games then they will love Clack! Which takes it to a whole new level. This game does include magnets that are safely inside the discs but it isn’t suitable for children under the age of 3.
- AGES: 5+ | 2-6 PLAYERS: Perfect for children, fun for everyone!
- CONSTANT ACTION: Race to build the tallest stack in this magnetic game with a satisfying “clack”
- NO WAITING!: Every player plays on every turn
- CHALLENGES SPEED & ATTENTION TO DETAIL: Players race to collect discs matching the combination on the dice
- HOW TO PLAY: Spread out the magnetic discs, roll the dice, and scramble to match the picture and the color. Make a match, grab a disc, and use its magnetic clack to build a stack. Keeping score is easy—just line up the stacks to see whose tower is tallest
Hoot Owl Hoot -Help the owls get home before the sun comes up in this cooperative game that cultivates emotional development, encourages creative problem-solving, and encourages teamwork.
There are two levels of play, meaning it is a game that will grow with your children and be fun for older kids as well as younger kids. Brian loved this when he was a little kid. We played it often.
- HURRY LITTLE OWLS: In this color coordinated matching game, players cooperate to help the owls fly back to their nest before the sun comes up. Help all the owls home before sunrise and everyone wins!
- LEARNING AND GROWING: Kids learn simple strategy, following directions & taking turns. Two levels of play allow the game to grow with your child and lets older kids play with younger ones too.
- BENEFITS: Cooperative games cultivate emotional development, shared decision making, positive self esteem, creative problem solving, and develop a sense of community in a non-stressful play environment.
- HOW TO PLAY: Play a color card and fly to that space. Draw a sun card and you're one step closer to daylight. Players can move any owl on their turn and talk together about how to get owls home & win.
- WHO CAN PLAY: 2-4 Players. Recommended for Ages 4-8. Game includes 1 game board, 6 owl tokens, 1 sun token, 14 sun cards, 36 color cards and instructions for two versions of game play
Mancala -Mancala is a 3,000-year-old game that helps kids with basic math skills, logic, and introduces planning skills. Unlike the other games so far this game is only for 2 players, however.
It is portable, making it a great game to take on camping trips, vacation, or just for a visit to the grandparents. Like I said, not all the games listed here are new games. But many have never heard of Mancala.
Once Upon A Time– Once Upon a Time encourages creativity and collaborative play as you weave a story together.
There have been a number of expansions that allow for different stories to be told. This is an award-winning game that kids and adults are sure to love.
- Tell a tale based on random topics in your hand and try to steer the story toward your secret conclusion.
- Appeals to players of all ages.
- Once Upon a Time is a game in which the players work together to create a new fairy tale using elements from their cards like dungeons, giants, and cauldrons. Steer the story toward the secret ending you hold.
- To win the game, play all of your story cards and steer the story to the ending card held in your hand! And they all lived happily ever after…we hope
- Richard Lambert (Author)
Qwirkle-An easy to learn game that helps kids learn to plan ahead, solve problems, and develop their spatial recognition. This game is incredibly easy to learn and start which makes it great for playdates where time is limited.
This is another game we really like.
- Strategy Game: Qwirkle is the perfect game to hone player's tactical maneuvers, strategical planning, and forward thinking. This family game features a massive amount of choices, including 3 tiles each of 36 possible color-symbol combinations
- Easy to learn: An engaging game with easy to follow rules, Qwirkle is great for younger players while still challenging them mentally. Simply build lines by matching tiles based on either color or shape, and score points as you go
- Games that teach: Qwirkle is playable from early ages up, allowing young children and older individuals alike to develop and hone their spacial recognition, planning, and problem solving skills. Plan, win, and learn simultaneously
- Family favorite: Qwirkle is a fantastic game for families, as it can involve a wide range of ages, from children to adults. It only takes a few moments to explain, so new players, like extended family or your child's friends, can jump right in
- Award winning: This game has won multiple awards including the Major Fun Award, National Parenting Center's Seal of Approval, Parents' Choice Gold Award, and more. Includes 108 wooden Qwirkle tiles, 1 drawstring bag, and 1 rule book
Richard Scarry’s Busytown – Eye Found It– A 6ft-long board game that encourages teamwork and paying attention to details. It can be played solo and takes between 15 and 20 minutes for one round.
I don’t know why more kids aren’t introduced to Richard Scarry these days. It feels like it’s not as popular as when I was little.
- What you get - The game includes 1 game board, 4 movers, 4 mover bases, 1 spinner, 1 ferry tile, 10 magnifying glass tokens, 6 food tiles, 30 goldbug cards, 1 sand timer, and instructions
- Fun play experience - Eye Found It is a ton of fun for 2-4 players and makes a great gift for kids and families. It's a cooperative game for preschoolers where you race across Busytown along a game board that's more than 6 feet long
- Clear instructions - The game is easy to learn with clear instructions, so you can start playing right away!
- Great replay value - You can race across Busytown over and over, and have a new and fun experience each time!
- Develops critical skills - Eye Found It encourages teamwork, promotes attention to detail, and reinforces object identification and matching skills
Scrabble Jr.– The Scrabble Jr. board has two sides. On one side it is the normal Scrabble game as you already know it where you have to come up with your own words. The other side is a bit different though. It has some simple words that you have to try to spell, like Cherry, Duck, and Sea.
This is another one that Brian loved when he was this age. I loved that we got several years out of the game due to the 2-sided board for different abilities.
- Letter-matching fun for your little one
- Features cute character tokens for score keeping
- Features cute character tokens for score keeping
- Players create their own words in the advanced level
- Scrabble Junior is letter-matching fun for your little one
Wit’s End Jr.– An award-winning trivia game for 8-12-year-olds that tests their knowledge history, geography, science, and math while also teaching them logic skills, concentration skills, and much more.
The original version of this game is for ages 16 and up.
- No wonder kids love to be at their WIT’S END! In this fun and unique game, children expand their knowledge base and develop important skills. This game is a Parents Choice Award Winner and A National Parenting Publications Award pick.
- Specially-designed cards contain different questions for younger and older children (Yellow Sides for Ages 8-10 and Blue Sides for Ages 11-12), so they can be challenged at their own levels. Parents may also join in the fun! There are four different card categories to add plenty of exciting variety.
- The Teasers category contain amusing and intriguing riddles for kids to solve – What Am I? Where Am I? Who Am I? – often disguised as rhymes. In the Odd1Out category there are three choices for kids to consider but which one doesn’t belong?
- In the Sequence category questions involve kids arranging items in order, like animals by size, events by date, and special features such as Silly Syllables, Dictionary Detectives, etc. Anything goes in the Wild Card category, including Alphabet Soup, Word Whiz, Matching Pairs, Vowel Owl, and more.
- Parents can smile knowing that the kids are learning while having fun! An award winner! Great for Family Game Night and Kids party gatherings. For 2 to 6 players/teams. For Kids Ages 8 to 12. SCROLL DOWN THE PRODUCT PAGE TO SEE MORE IMAGES, DETAILS AND DESCRIPTIONS.
Do you have a favorite educational board game that should be on this list? Email us and let us know.
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