10 ways to learn with board games

Family game time is always fun for kids. It creates happy memories and bonds family members. But you can also use games for a fun school day “break” or a review of certain concepts. When burnout starts to happen or everyone just needs a little fun, consider these 10 ways to learn with board games!

1. Scrabble stretches vocabulary

We play with our kids of all ages. Sometimes the younger kids will team up with an adult or teen family member, but it keeps them involved. When the older players put a clever word on the board, it brings up lots of questions like, “Is that even a word?!” It’s a perfect time to define something new!

2. Boggle helps even the youngest kids practice spelling simple words

Did you know there’s a BIG Boggle, too? We play both versions a lot. Young kids get practice spelling simple words, and older kids get practice with finding the longest words possible. Spelling review is inevitable!


3. Monopoly teaches about capitalism and money management

It’s always fun to watch how each person handles Monopoly differently. I definitely see my kids’ individual personalities show with this game. And now it comes in so many version and age ranges! We have Monopoly, Jr., which is great for the little kids, and then multiple versions of the classic game, with credit cards, modern landmarks and dollar amounts, Lord of the Rings, etc. Counting money, owning property, fair business dealings…there are so many learning opportunities with this game.

4. Risk teaches geography, strategy, and war

We love Risk at our house, even though it takes 9,000 hours to complete. It’s great for geography and strategy. I also found that it illustrates war when we study history. My kids haven’t really seen a real war, but when we study war in various historic periods, Risk helps them understand how armies move and conquer and even lose.


5. Yahtzee teaches addition and multiplication

What a fun review of math skills! Yahtzee can utilize addition for the younger kids, and multiplication when they’ve learned it. It’s a great way to practice mental math!


6. Chess builds strategy and thinking skills

I confess I don’t like chess and do not have the skills for it. But my husband and kids love it, so I’m satisfied. It really does require strategic thinking.

“Studies by Dianne Horgan, Ph.D., dean of the graduate school of counseling, educational psychology, and research at the University of Memphis, has found that chess improves a child’s visual memory, attention span, and spatial-reasoning ability. And because it requires players to make a series of decisions, each move helps kids learn to plan ahead, evaluate alternatives, and use logic to make sound choices.” (Read this entire article at Parents Magazine for more.)


7. Dominoes helps children to recognize numbers and patterns

There’s that math review again! And since dominoes is completely visual, it’s a great game for even the youngest children. Matching dots is so easy!


8. Go Fish encourages children to compartmentalize information

Okay, technically this is a card game. Grouping sets of 4 is a great beginner activity, and there’s a lot of memoraizing, too. You have to remember who might have which card from turn to turn. Great thinking skills activity!


9. Battleship encourages thinking in logic and reasoning

When I was a kid, my dad taught me to play this on paper. So if you need a free version, start there.

Math and Reading Help says, “Battleship requires logic and reason. You have to keep track of the shots you’ve taken. Trying to figure out where to shoot next sharpens probability skills. If you make a hit, you need to decide what square is your best next target. Battleship requires you to formulate a mental picture of your opponent’s set up and to keep that picture in mind, making and remembering adjustments as the game unfolds and new information comes in. Not only that, but you need to be aware of what your opponent is doing also.”

Like Risk, it also helps illustrate war. We played it for school when we studied WW1 and WW2, after reading about different battles at sea.

10. Jenga teaches kids to think in terms of physics

Jenga requires patience, planning, hand-eye coordination, and manual dexterity. But there’s more: you can turn it into a science lesson with help from How Stuff Works!

Board games make learning and reviewing skills painless! Get more ideas in this post Benfits of Board Games for Kids.

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Nicki Truesdell

2nd-generation homeschooler, author of Anyone Can Homeschool, and mother of 5.

Texas born and raised, she is a homemaker at heart, and loves books, freedom, history and quilts. 

Nicki believes that homeschooling can be relaxed and that history is fun, and both can be done with minimal cost or stress, no matter your family’s circumstances. 

Nicki is also a member of the
Texas Home Educators Board of Directors.  

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