Whether you are a homeschooling parent, a teacher, or a parent looking to supplement your child's education, learning board games can be fun and functional tools. With the right games, your child will be having so much fun she won't even realize she's learning!
Choosing Educational Board Games
When you are choosing educational board games for your children, look for games that are designed for the correct age range and are just slightly above your kids' current educational level. If the games are too easy, your children will lose interest, but if they are too difficult, the kids will become discouraged.
You'll also want to select games that are fun first and educational second. No one, kids included, wants to be hit over the head with a lesson! If the educational component is too blatant, skip it. This is doubly true for older kids.
Since preschoolers and young elementary kids are constantly learning, look for games that teach at multiple levels, offering room for advancement. This greatly extends the shelf life of the games. Even better, it saves you money.
Games for Preschoolers
Preschoolers have so much to learn that nearly all play is educational. They practice their all-important fine motor skills each time they grasp a game piece; each time around the game board reinforces their developing counting skills. Preschoolers are also learning to sort, match, distinguish differences, and recognize patterns. They're learning to recognize shapes, colors, letters, and numbers. The following games focus on important preschool skills:
- Goodnight Moon Game is based on the popular Goodnight Moon book. The multi-level game focuses on memory, color recognition, matching, language skills, and strategizing. Ages 2 to 6.
- Monkey in the Middle is an award-winning game focusing on counting, grouping, and pre-math skills. Ages 4 to 7.
- The Little Engine That Could "I Think I Can" Game focuses on shapes and colors. Ages 3 to 5.
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar Game reinforces counting, color recognition, fine motor skills, and turn-taking. Ages 3 and up.
Learning Games for Elementary School
Games for elementary school kids often focus on specific skills, such as fractions, counting money, phonics, or creating sentences. Since children of this age are often resistant to learning, games must be exciting enough to capture-- and hold-- their attention. Some of the best educational board games for the elementary set combining learning with wild adventures. Here are a few games to consider:
- Sum Swamp lets kids add and substract their way out of a crocodile-infested swamp. Okay, so the math angle is a little obvious, but kids enjoy this award winning game all the same. Ages 5 to 7.
- Buy It Right is a fun, interactive buying and selling game that teaches kids how to recognize and count money. Adding, subtracting, and making change are also emphasized. Ages 6 to 9.
- Money Bags is a game by Learning Resources and is just as fun as most of their other offerings. This one makes learning to count money fun and exciting for kids. Ages 7 to 9.
- Great States is a fun game of geography and map skills. Although that might sound dry, a timer creates a sense of urgency and excitement. The games teaches map skills, directionals, distance, and United States geography. Ages 7 to 10.
Junior High Learning Board Games
Many pre-teens think they are too cool for board games, so you have to intrigue them first. Games must really grab their attention. The following should do it:
- Totally Gross disguises learning as disgusting experiments. Kids learn about biology, chemistry, physics, and zoology through hands-on, zany activities. Ages 6 to 12.
- Grocery Cart Game takes money play to a whole new level. Players study advertisements to determine the best deals before going shopping. They also keep financial records. Ages 9 to 15.
Games for High School and Beyond
High school learning games often focus on critical thinking, logic, and analytical skills. Wordplays and brainteasers are also popular with this age group. If you're looking for educational games for teens or adults, try these:
- Anagramania is a wordplay board game for highschoolers and adults. This fast-paced, quick thinking game focus on anagrams and wordbuilding. Ages 13 and up.
- Perplexcity is a mindbending game of puzzles, anagrams, wordplay, riddles, and brainteasers. Ages 15 and up.
- Opps! is a multi-level pre-algebra game emphasizing addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of integers. Ages 13 and up.