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I’m sure I’m not the only homeschool mom who has days when I feel like I’m just going through the motions. You know, the days when it feels like we’re just plodding along and not really getting anywhere. On those days, it can be really helpful to add some educational board games into our homeschool routine.
Using games, or gameschooling, can provide a fun and interactive way to learn.It can also help us to break out of any ruts we may be in. If you’re looking for a little inspiration, here are 10 educational board games that will help you spice up your homeschool routine, as well as build new connections and cement relationships in your family.
Educational Board Games for Homeschool
Family games are a great way to bond and have fun together, especially during the holidays or when the weather isn’t amenable to being outside. However, with so many different games on the market, it can be difficult choosing the best ones. I’ve listed a few of my top recommendations here but first let’s talk about gameschooling as an actual mode of education as well as what makes a board game educational.
What is Gameschooling?
If you are feeling burnt out with your normal routine you might want to take a day or 2 or 5 and try game schooling. Gameschooling is the use of games for practical applications of educational concepts as well as logic and critical thinking. Although I use a curriculum most of the time, we have also been known to play Monopoly for weeks on end.
Generally, gameschooling refers to board games or card games but with newer developments in technology some people will also include these.
What Makes a Board Game Educational?
As a former recreational therapist, I believe all games can be educational – some are just more explicitly so than others. In general, educational board games are designed to help you learn about certain subjects, expand concepts, understand a historical event or assist in learning skills. Educational games should also teach logic, critical thinking, strategy and problem-solving.
From a social perspective, educational board games should teach communication, fairplay, good sportsmanship, turn taking and other social skills.
Both competitive and cooperative games can be educational.
What is the Best Educational Board Game?
When selecting which family games to invest in, you need to consider the age range of the people playing, along with everyone’s interests. It can be challenging to find a game that suits everyone’s tastes and strengths, that’s for sure!
To make it a little easier, I’ve given you a list below of the top 10 educational board games for homeschoolers. If you are low on funds, check with your local library. My library has games we can check out – maybe yours will too!
If you prefer strategic based games, you’ll love Catan. Most games use a mix of skill and luck but Catan is really more skill. Simple and straightforward to learn, this board game has become one of the most addictive family games on the market. It even won the “Game of the Century” award.
Catan can be used to learn about: colonization, conflict, economics, and exploration, and resource management.
Designed for 3-4 players, each game lasts around an hour and it offers excellent replay value. The goal is to help your settlers tame the Catan isle. Throughout the game you’ll reveal the regions and harbors of the isle, acquire resources and develop your settlement. This is done via trading with other players, lucky dice or cards.
No two games are ever the same. Each time you play, you’ll experience something slightly different. A full instruction booklet is included so you and the family will quickly learn how to play
2. USAopoly Clue Harry Potter Game
Does the mention of the game Clue bring back nostalgic memories? If you love “whodunnit” games and Harry Potter, you’ll love this USAopoly Clue Harry Potter game. It takes the old classic Clue to a whole different dimension. Your goal is to solve the mystery behind a student’s disappearance at the famous Hogwarts school.
Each player gets to play as one of the Harry Potter characters. Along the way, you’ll need to figure out who did it, what item or spell they used, and where the missing student was attacked.
One of the most exciting aspects of this game is that as you move around the board, moving staircases and hidden passages are revealed. You could also find yourself face to face with the Dark Mark. However, you can gain protection through allies, help cards and spells. Once you’ve figured out all the clues, head to Dumbledore’s office to report it.
My homeschool curriculum includes a unit of Harry Potter and this would be a great supplement while reading the book. This game facilitates strategy and problem-solving.
This is a game the entire family will enjoy playing. It’s designed for children aged 9 and over and requires a minimum of 3 players.
3. Machi Koro
Machi Koro is a game for 2-4 players and is great for teaching probability and strategy. Your kids will also get to practice addition and critical thinking. The goal is to make Machi Koro the jewel of Japan by constructing different properties.
This game takes just a few minutes to learn and each game will take 30-45 minutes. It is recommended for ages 10 and over but in our experience younger kids can do pretty well with it as well.
4. Mattel Games Blink – The World’s Fastest Game!
Sometimes as homeschoolers you just want a game you can play quickly to break up the day or something the younger kids can do while waiting for the older kids at an activity. Blink is perfect for when you want quick, fun gameplay.
It is a 2-player game and recommended for ages 7 and up.
Known as the World’s fastest game, players are required to match the color, shape or number of the cards on either 1 or 2 different piles. You’ll be competing head-to-head with another player and the goal is to eliminate all of the cards in your draw pile.
This is a game which tests your reflexes and response time and it is super-fun to play.
5. Dragonwood A Game of Dice & Daring Board Game
If your family loves strategy-based games, they’ll love playing this Dragonwood A Game of Dice & Daring. This game isn’t just super-fun, it also teaches your kids more about math and probability and reinforces strategic thinking.
“You’ll get to stomp on some fire ants, shriek at a grumpy troll, and strike the menacing orange dragon with a magical silver sword”, according to Gamewright. Sounds fun, doesn’t it?
The goal of the game is to capture numerous creatures. On each go, the player can choose whether to draw a card or attempt to capture a creature or gain an enhancement. Initially, it looks like there is a lot to learn about the game. However, the instructions provided make it simply for even young children to understand.
Each time you play, you’ll start to learn which strategy works for you. It’s surprisingly addictive and your kids are sure to love it. If you’re doing a middle ages study or dragons unit study in your secular homeschool, this would make a great break!
6. Forbidden Island
Forbidden Island has been popular for many years and it shows no signs of slowing down. It actually won the Mensa Favorite Brainy Games award in 2010 and it features a playing time of approximately 30 minutes.
In order to play, it’s going to take strategic thinking, cooperation and problem solving. You need to work as a team to capture sacred treasure on the forbidden island. The island gradually sinks with each turn so the goal is to find the treasures together before going down with the island.
Because it is a cooperative game it is easy to play with kids and adults of all ages. The older kids help the younger kids with the strategy portion and make sure everyone gets off the island in time.
The board play ends up different every time so it never gets boring. It is complex enough for adults to enjoy, yet not too complex that kids can’t play. The artwork is beautiful.
7. Days of Wonder Ticket to Ride
If you’re looking for a game with a lot of replay value, Days of Wonder Ticket to Ride is the perfect choice. It’s dubbed as one of the most popular specialty games on the market and it provides from 30-60 minutes gameplay per session.
There are now several Ticket to Ride games on the market each with different themes and adult and kids versions as well. You actually won’t go wrong with any of them.
The goal is to make your way around the board, collecting and playing matching cards in order to claim different railway routes. It celebrates Phileas Fogg’s Around the World in 80 Days feat. Each player has to try and travel by rail to as many different cities across North America as they can in 7 days.
It’s a beginner strategy based game which is sure to be enjoyed by young and old alike. We use the different themes when we are studying different places in the world or different historical events. My library has several that we can check out to get the full experience.
8. Castle Panic
Looking for the perfect game for board-game beginners? Castle panic from Fireside Games is the perfect starter game for the entire family. One of the few on the list that can also be played alone, it’s designed for players aged 10 and over. If your kid is young or very sensitive the monster imagery might be a bit much so just keep that in mind. 🙂
Castle Panic teaches communication and strategic thinking.
The goal is to protect your castle against monsters. You win by having one tower remaining and all monsters slayed. If playing as a family, you’ll be working cooperatively, rather than against each other. What’s truly unique about this game is the fact you can customize the rules for different game variations.
If you’re searching for a game that’s fun to play and isn’t overly competitive, this is definitely a great choice. Up to 6 players can play together, and it’s fab for encouraging co-operative play in children. As each game lasts up to 2 hours, it provides plenty of entertainment.
9. Ravensburger Labyrinth Board Game for Kids and Adults
Finally, we have the Ravensburger Labyrinth board game for kids and adults. Easy yet fun to play, the game is designed for 2-4 players, aged 8 and over.
It’s an action-packed game in which you need to find characters and objects in an ever-changing maze. The winner is the player who manages to make it back to the starting square after collecting all of their characters and objects.
In order to win, you need to think ahead. It has an element of competitiveness, allowing you to potentially force other players to different locations on the board. As the walls of the labyrinth move, traps are revealed for additional challenges. It offers a ton of replay value and is a fabulous game to get lost in as it changes every time.
This is definitely one of our family favorites.
Tsuro is a beautiful board game. The setup is very simple and game play itself is relatively quick – about 20 minutes. It is recommended for 2-8 players, ages 8+. Younger kids can have success at this game, too, but might need a little help planning their strategy.
The basic idea is to keep you pieces on the board. Players place tiles which continuously shift the path you are able to take.
When choosing games for your homeschool, try to consider different abilities of your kids. If you have a kid who struggles with reading it might be nice to have a game that doesn’t require a lot of it.
Tsuro is a great game for students who have a hard time with attention issues, or for those students who have a difficulty tracking. Following the correct paths can take a bit of concentration and attention. It will also help children practice those tracking skills.
I’m a huge fan of games and could probably make an ultimate 100+ favorite educational board games for homeschool, but I’ll stop there for today. Whether you’re looking for something competitive, or a game where you can all work together, there’s something above to fit your requirements.
The majority of these educational board games are simple to learn and don’t take days to play (calling out you, my old friend, Monopoly). Anything on this list also makes a good gift for homeschooling families and will provide lots of fun and family memories.