Inside: Everyone loves a good board game. Here is a list of 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.

An educational board game with colorful figures.

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.

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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.

This list of educational board games is from teachers, OTs, and BCBAs.

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.

Ages: 8+

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.

Age: 5+

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+

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.

Ages: 4+

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.

A cardboard box with a set of delicious cupcakes inside.
Mancala is an ancient game that is still relevant today, an educational board game for sure!

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.

Age: 9+

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.

Ages: 12+

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.

Ages: 6+

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.

Ages: 4+

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.

Ages: 5+

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.

Ages: 8-12

Do you have a favorite educational board game that should be on this list? Email us and let us know.

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