As a parent, you’ve been there––your child complaining that she has nothing to do despite the collection of books, toys, and devices cluttering her bedroom floor. This boredom actually presents a great opportunity to connect with your child while sneaking in some brain exercises. The key? Board games.
In addition to encouraging laughter and family time, educational board games can help your child master a variety of skills: problem-solving, critical thinking, focus, and planning. Additionally, they give your child opportunities to practice social skills such as turn-taking and dealing with the frustration of not winning. (Which also provides an opportunity to practice emotional regulation.)
You don’t need to turn to the hottest new game to hit the shelves––some of the best board games are the ones are classics that have stood the test of time.
The best educational board games for kindergarten kids
These family board games are perfect for young children ages four to six (so they can also be great for preschoolers). In addition to the skills listed below, these games can help with refining motor skills and attention.
Hoot Owl Hoot
This award-winning cooperative game is a hoot to play with your four-year-old to eight-year-old. Since there are no words and it involves matching colors, it’s perfect for little ones who aren’t reading yet. Children learn strategy skills, decision-making, and cooperation as they work together to move owls around the board and back to the nest before the sun rises.
In this whodunit cooperative game for children ages five and older, players uncover clues and rule out suspects to discover who stole Mrs. Plumpert’s pot pie. Players have to work together to win the game before the sneaky fox escapes and time runs out.
This simpler version of the classic game is a fun way for younger kids to learn early literacy and math skills. Using pre-spelled words and pictures, this board game teaches preschoolers and kindergarteners letter recognition as they use letter tiles to cover words, many of which are sight words. Players earn points for words as they move their tokens around the board. Once your child masters this game, they can upgrade to the classic version.
Another award-winning educational board game for four-year-olds and older, Zingo is a fast-paced game that teaches language skills for pre-readers and early readers. Tiles are placed in the machine and players press down to reveal two Zingo tiles, each with an image and word written below it. If you have a matching image and word on your card, be the first to claim the tile and cover your card with it. Each player works to fill up a row or column of their card, similar to Bingo. In addition to literacy skills, this game teaches matching, vocabulary, and concentration.
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Best educational board games for elementary school kids
If you have children ages six and older, here are some fantastic educational board games that will help with learning more advanced skills like problem-solving, vocabulary and spelling, and planning. You’ll find a selection of games for children ages seven to ten.
Using Qwirkle tiles, players earn points by creating and completing lines and rows by color or shape Scrabble-style. This game is designed for ages six and up, but since there are no words it can be adapted to younger children working on early math skills or color and shape matching. For older children, this game teaches problem-solving skills, planning, and addition.
Monopoly is another classic strategy game with high educational value as players work to buy property without going bankrupt. Monopoly teaches children a wide range of skills, from strategy and planning to money management.
In this murder detective game, players move around the board taking guesses about who the murderer was, the room where it happened, and the murder weapon. While the premise of the game might sound a bit morbid, it’s a fun game for children ages eight and older that teaches deductive reasoning and critical thinking skills.
Similar to Scrabble but without the board, players use letter tiles to spell out words crossword-style. This game is another fantastic way to build children’s vocabulary. Though the game is best suited for children seven and older, you can use it for younger children to work on letter recognition and for practicing sight words.
In this two-person STEM game of reasoning, logic, and deduction, players take turns as the Codemaker and the Codebreaker. The Codemaker creates a code from four colored pegs. On each turn, the Codebreaker works to uncover the code based on the clues given by the Codemaker before reaching the other side of the board. This is a fast-paced game that’s perfect for children ages eight and up.
Proof! The Fast Paced Game of Mental Math Magic
Proof! is a fast-paced math card game for children 9 and older. A Teachers’ Choice Award winner, players race to find equations hidden within their nine cards. You can adjust the game’s difficulty to fit your child’s math level. This game helps to practice not just math skills, but problem-solving and critical thinking skills as well.
Best educational board games for middle school kids
Here you’ll find a variety of games for children ages ten and older that will help with more advanced planning, strategy, and social skills.
In this popular board game offered to players ages ten and above, players create a civilization, collecting and trading natural resources to build bridges, settlements, and cities, earning victory points as you go. The game involves planning and practicing social skills, as you need to cooperate with other players to trade for resources that you need.
This fast-paced game for children 10 and older gives players 60 seconds to come up with as many words that contain a certain short sequence of letters. Anything goes in this game, including proper nouns, slang, and non-English words. In addition to building vocabulary, there’s some strategy in racking up points as players can earn points for things like having the longest word or fewest crossed out words.
In this cooperative game for ages 13 and older, you must work with other players to save humanity and keep the world safe from epidemics using each players’ strengths. In addition to practicing social skills such as working together, it’s an opportunity to learn about geography, epidemiology, and public health.
From timeless classic games to award-winning gameplay, there’s a wide range of educational board games teaching valuable academic and life skills. Get any of these games at your favorite local retailers or on Amazon.