The Best Educational Board Games To Give Those Homeschooling Lessons A Boost
Even adults have trouble concentrating for eight hours (hello, coffee runs) so you can bet if your child is learning from home this school year, they’re going to need ample breaks. Sometimes kids just need exercise or a quick snack (I mean, same) and other times they’ll need a more substantial recess from school work, which may come in the form of a book or a game. These 21 educational board games for kids can supplement homeschooling, distance learning, or unschooling sessions because they're really fun (even for adults) but they keep kids learning in a way that doesn’t feel totally structured or academic.
From math, to history, phonics, and even art or coding, there’s a board game here to help expand on every subject. And best of all (especially for siblings who just can’t get along) many of the games on this list are cooperative, meaning players work together instead of competing against each other.
From old favorites you may still have from when you were a kid (like Monopoly or Scrabble Jr.) to new ones you probably haven't heard of but will quickly grow to love, these games will help kids hone their attention to detail, problem solving, and critical thinking skills which will help with all subjects.
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1. Robot Turtles
Younger kids will learn the principles of programming in a fun and creative way. Robot Turtle is designed for parents and kiddos to play together, with different color cards moving the turtle game piece in different ways. The game has additional cards that make the game more difficult, and these can be added in once your little one gets the hang of it.
2. Monopoly Junior
A classic for a reason, Monopoly Junior teaches kiddos the (very) basics of money management. And since all the properties are labeled with a corresponding picture, the game can be a fun way to teach literacy.
3. Continent Race
Continent Race was created by a 6-year-old, Byron, during an extended stay in the hospital for a ruptured appendix. The game teaches geography in an unexpected way. Similar to the rules of classic card games like rummy, in order to win, players must lay down two cards from Oceania and four cards each from Africa, Asia, the Americas, and Europe. Using the included colorful maps, players will also have to locate each country they play on a map which gives kiddos an in-depth look at how the world fits together (plus they'll know the name and location of tons of countries).
4. Trekking The National Parks
A geography lesson and a fun strategic game in one, the object of this board game is to be the first to get to each National Park. Players gather "trek cards" which determine their path around the board, plus each park has a corresponding card filled with facts. If you can't get enough of park games, there's also a fun Monopoly National Parks edition.
5. The Black Wall Street Board Game
This game teaches financial literacy and Black history together, using real events from Tulsa, Oklahoma (sometimes called Black Wall Street) as the stage. It's played similarly to Monopoly with more real-life events, places, and people included.
6. Catan Junior
Fans of Settlers Of Catan will love this version designed specifically with kids in mind. They'll use logic and strategy to build ships and hideouts, all while avoiding Spooky Island. The game cultivates math skills, plus it builds a solid foundation for logical decision-making as players decide which supplies it makes the most sense to trade.
7. Colorful Backgammon
Kids (and parents) won't be able to resist the gorgeous, candy-colored Backgammon board that begs to be played. The game teaches math skills that can be simple for younger kids (counting the numbers on the dice, for example) and can get more complex as kids age. Plus, if they forget to put this away, it makes for a beautiful mess.
8. Wildcraft! A Cooperative Herbal Adventure Game
Somewhat similar to the rules of Candyland, this game asks players to collect berries on their way to grandmother's house. Players will have to overcome obstacles like a sprained ankle or a toothache by identifying the plant that can help them. Parents, too, will learn a lot about wildlife in this collaborative game that values working together above competition.
9. Friends & Neighbors: A Helping Game (only 4?)
Pirates-in-training ages 4 and up can practice the basics (directions, colors, letter recognition) by following the clues on the treasure map to collect gold coins for their treasure chests. Kids will love the "wipe-away" treasure map and the cute little treasure chests (especially if you let them talk like a pirate while they play).
10. Gnomes At Night
The Queen needs the help of the gnomes in this fun, collaborative game designed for kiddos ages 6 and up. Players move magnetic gnomes (the magnets make it less likely that you'll lose a piece) through a maze on a quest to find lost jewels. It teaches decision making, problem solving, and critical thinking.
11. Blue Orange Games Planet Board Game
An awesome science lesson disguised as a game, Planet is a 3D board where players compete to build 12-sided "planet cores" with the goal of creating the most flourishing ecosystem. Not only does this game have stunning visuals, it's a wonderful way to learn about the Earth and what makes it thrive, all while honing motor skills, spatial orientation, and building skills.
Who knew math could be so fun? Cards are laid out randomly in a grid shape, and players are tasked with using addition, subtraction, division, multiplication, and square roots to find relationships between the numbers. When you see, for example, a 3,12, and 36 in a row, you could shout out because 3 times 12 equals 36.
13. Who's She?
A feminist take on the classic, Guess Who, this game features 28 amazing women throughout history. Instead of asking, "Is she wearing glasses?" (for example) players can ask more pressing questions like, "did she win a Nobel prize?" This may seem like a lofty price tag for a game, but it's made with zero plastic and the craftsmanship is gorgeous. Plus, you'll be able to hand it down to the next generation of fierce girls. (There's also a cardboard version available for $19.80.)
Players are tasked with designing and building a palace using beautiful Portuguese tiles known as “azulejos.” Not only is this game stunning to look at, but it teaches pattern recognition, math skills, and spatial reasoning (because one of the goals is to finish the palace without wasting any tiles).
15. A Day at the Barbershop Memory Game
A classic memory game gets a twist with cards featuring scenes from a barbershop. Memory games hone attention, concentration, and focus, which will help students excel in all subjects. This game's illustrations mainly show Black people, which is a great way for Black children to see themselves represented in games, or for white parents to begin a conversation about race.
16. Scrabble Jr.
Scrabble Jr. has the same basic rules as the adult version of the game, except the board is smaller and comes pre-filled with certain letters. Younger kiddos may need some help completing words, but they can work on their letter recognition while older kids hone their spelling.
17. Go Go Gelato!
This game only takes about 15 minutes to play, which makes it great when the kids need a quick break. The object is to quickly scoop the gelato in a way that exactly matches the image on the playing card (a customer's "order"). It teaches dexterity, attention to detail, and processing speed. Just be prepared for everyone to want ice cream afterward.
18. Mole Rats In Space
The name of this game alone suggests a wacky, good time. Another cooperative option from Peaceable Kingdom, this one is basically a reimagined version of collaborative Chutes N' Ladders, except it's mole rats in space, and the goal is to help the creatures avoid snakes.
19. 50 States Memory Cards
Kiddos will learn geography (and so much more) in this brightly colored matching game. Each card features the state's flag, a list of interesting facts, notable cities, and famous faces from each place. Players can use the box to visualize where each state fits into the country's geography.
20. Hit the Habitat Trail Game
You don't have to leave home to learn about the different habitats around the world. This game encourages kiddos ages 8 and up (and adults) to be stewards of the Earth by teaching about environmental hazards and how to be mindful of your own environmental impact.
21. Shaky Manor (7 left in stock?)
Perfect for the kid who loves all things spooky this (not too scary) game takes players on a treasure hunt through a haunted mansion. You have to literally shake, tilt, and shift the board to be the first to get the game pieces into the correct room of the mansion. This game helps to develop fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, quick-thinking, problem solving, plus as the description says, "it's easy to learn, challenging to master) so they won't get bored.