Board games aren’t just for fun — they’re learning tools. Cooperation, strategy, math, science, literacy, critical-thinking … there’s a game for that. From classic to brand new, here are some board games to play with your family.
Blokus — This fast-paced spatial recognition game where players must put down their various shaped pieces to fill in their area while blocking their opponents. Teaches shapes, orientation, are measured in square units, angles, perimeters and more.
Rush Hour — A game that teaches patience, spatial recognition and critical thinking by predicting outcomes.
Animal Upon Animal & Rhino Hero — Students must build the tallest tower out of cards to save their hero, or carefully stack wooden animals upon each other without knocking the others off. Steady hands, patience and the knowledge of predicting outcomes are needed for these games.
Circuit Boards — These come in a variety of different games, plus, you can make your own from common household items (the kids can help you navigate YouTube). Great for beginning coding, if-then-what reasoning, the scientific method and more.
Photosynthesis — This phenomenal game about growing a forest is great for science and biology enthusiasts. This best-selling board game has an amazing table presence with an ever-changing forest. Two to four players each take on the role of a specific type of tree, like blue spruce or oak. Small trees can grow into towering behemoths that cast shadows across the rest of the forest. The unique hook is the ever-moving sun, represented by a game piece that rotates around the board to communicate the passing seasons, demanding that you consider how shade is cast from multiple perspectives over time. Players learn the principles about how plants use light to grow, the ways trees compete for placement in a crowded canopy, and showcases how a tree’s completed life cycle makes way for new life.
Ticket to Ride — Ride the rails and enjoy exploring different geography while building your empire. Explore America, Europe, Nordic countries, Germany, Asia, Africa and more.
Scrambled States of America — The card-based challenges may ask a player to find a state that starts with N, a state that borders California or a state that has water on three sides. But there’s so much more to it than that, making it terrific for middle-grade students.
Risk — Risk involves multiple players building armies, protecting their territories and attacking their opponents in a global quest for conquest. Players must possess or learn skills of diplomacy and negotiation mixed with an insight into timing, odds and long-term strategy.
Chess — As the king of board games, the ultimate in strategy, planning and one-on-one competition. Checkers also uses these skills for the younger crowd.
Clue — There’s been a murder and only the best player’s powers of logic and reasoning can help solve the mystery. This game asks players to create and then test hypotheses to steadily deduce the murderer, the room and the weapon before other competing players do.
These games are great for the middle and high school students in your home.
Apples to Apples — Like Apples to Apples Junior but with more complicated vocabulary words and historical and pop culture figures for the older crowd.
Role-playing Games (RPGs) — These are great as they combine math, critical thinking, storytelling, teamwork, strategy, storytelling and statistics. The most popular is Dungeons and Dragons, but they come in many other genres such as Pathfinder, Starfinder, My Little Pony, Star Wars and more. With easy to find instructions online, this is great for the entire family.
Board games are still great for this age group. Settlers of Catan, Qwirkle, Exploding Kittens, Pandemic, Azul and other types of European board games. These games require more critical thinking, strategy and take longer to play.
Now you’re probably thinking … where can I find these great games? Chances are you may already own some of these, so go search the shelves and closets. No? Then, you might want to stop by your friendly local gaming store (that’s FGLS in gamer lingo). We have plenty in the Lexington/Columbia area and many are offering curbside pickup. Plus, they are a great resource to find more game suggestions. You can also find many of these at big box retailers and online shops.
A place to find great reviews is Board Game Geek. Start a family account, play and rate your games, as well as, see suggestions from other players. I hope you have a great time playing these and other games with your family — have fun learning.