best games for kids

Best Educational Board and Card Games for Kids and Families

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Gameschooling is not a new concept for me, but it’s not something I have utilized a lot in our home education until recently. In the past, we always had babies and toddlers in the house and bringing out games with small pieces seemed futile. Also, with toddlers, trying to sit down and do much of anything organized with the older children (that the younger ones couldn’t be a part of) seemed impossible. Finally, we haven’t had the physical space to store a lot of games in our most recent living situations.

Somehow, though, we have turned a corner! My older children, now ages 9 and 10, can play games independently. The younger ones don’t eat and destroy everything anymore and can entertain themselves long enough for me to be able to sit and engage in a game with the older ones. The younger ones, ages 3 and 5, are also starting to get excited about games so it’s been fun to find suitable ones for them to enjoy.

In a nutshell, we have entered our game era and I am so excited about that!

Over the holidays I started researching and collecting games that are slanted towards education. Between my homeschool mama friends, blogs, reviews, and personal experience, I made a master list of educational card and board games that we enjoy or are working on collecting. Here is my list, along with a description of each game so you can decide which ones to put on your list. 

I have found that "gameschooling" is such a great way to enrich our regular homeschool studies – and sometimes in lieu of formal schooling when we need a break or change of routine. It’s also a great strategy for getting over a “hump” in learning something specific that a child may be struggling with. 

Games for Preschool

best games for preschool

I love using games to gently introduce young children to learning concepts and to encourage cooperation, taking turns, and learning how to handle emotions when they lose! As a part of our daily rhythm, I have been asking the little ones in my home to pick a couple of games for us to play together. They are learning so much as they play, and they get their cups filled as I sit and spend quality time with them. 

Related: Homeschool Preschool: Five Intentions for the Early Years

  1. Sneaky Snacky Squirrel - Sneaky Snacky Squirrel combines color learning, matching skill, strategy, fine motor skills, and hand-eye coordination with this quick-play board game.
  2. Sequence Letters - Practice letter recognition while sounding out the letters on cards and connecting them to pictures on the game board.
  3. Outfoxed - Encourage cooperation, counting skills, and critical thinking in this whodunit game as players work together to crack the case to find out which fox stole the prized pot pie.
  4. Sum Swamp - Gently develop math skills in a fun way as players run through the swamp by adding and subtracting numbers on the dice.
  5. Spot It! - Spot it! sharpens reflexes and observation skills. Players will develop focus, visual perception skills, speech-language skills, and fine motor skills in this fast-paced game. 
  6. Hoot Hoot OwlHoot Hoot Owl is a simple strategy game that emphasizes following directions and taking turns as players work together to help owls fly back to their nest.
  7. Clumsy Thief JuniorDevelop confident math skills along with lots of laughs as players sort through their hands of cards to find any two that add up to 10.
  8. Hi Ho! Cherry-O - Players sneak in math skills as they pick pretend fruit from the trees on the game board, adding or subtracting as they go.
  9. Go Fish! - Go Fish! is a classic, easy-to-learn matching game that encourages numeral recognition.
  10. Richard Scarry's Busytown - Children will practice problem-solving skills as they seek objects and characters on the board, practicing color recognition and taking turns. 
  11. Connect 4 - Another classic that my family has always loved that encourages turn taking and critical thinking skills.  
  12. Head to Toe Dominoes - Match pictures of animals together in this dominoes-style game for littles. 
  13. Feed the Woozle - Practice motor skills with a size of creativity and silliness as players feed the Woozle 12 crazy treats before all the snacks are gone.
  14. Frida’s Fruit Fiesta Game - Practice the alphabet and develop fine motor skills by using Frida the toucan to find the matching fruit.
  15. Rivers, Roads and Rails - Build an intricate transportation system for boats, cars, and trains with this card-matching game.
  16. Tea Party Game - Players hone in their patience and manners as they set the table and collect all the items for teatime – complete with a real tablecloth!

Games for Math

best games for math

I am loving utilizing games as an organic approach to bring math to life and show my children how these principles can be applied in the real world – but also in play and fun! These options introduce math concepts to children, including counting, addition, subtraction, division, numerical order, and even pre-algebra!

  1. Prime Climb - Inspire deeper math skills by learning multiplication, division, factorization, and prime number concepts.
  2. Check the Fridge - A hilarious game of bluffing where kids develop confidence and solid math skills as players use strategy and logic to accumulate cards adding to 25.
  3. 4 Way Countdown - Players challenge addition, subtraction, multiplication and division skills by using the numbers on the dice to formulate a specific number.
  4. I Sea 10! - Develop number sense as players make combinations of number cards to add up to 10.
  5. Blobby’s Pizza - Strengthen STEM math, fractions, decimals and percentages in this strategic pizza-eating contest game.
  6. Racko - Race to draw and discard cards to position 10 cards in numerical sequence. 
  7. Clumsy Thief - Develop confident math skills and laugh along the way as players pile up stacks of cash (amounting to $100).
  8. Yahtzee - Take turns rolling the dice to score different number combinations, practicing addition and multiplication.
  9. Balance Beans - Witness pre-algebra concepts come to life as players set up beans according to a challenge and place them on a seesaw to keep it from teetering. When the seesaw is balanced, players are actually balancing an equation!
  10. Five Crowns - Players use their hand of cards to keep their own scores low and their opponents score high in this rummy-style game with a one of a kind deck of cards.
  11. Monopoly - Monopoly is all about buying, trading, and selling properties in order to win! It's great for money math practice. 
  12. Shut the Box - Practice addition to close all of the tiles on the game board in this classic dice game.
  13. Sums in Space - Blast off as players use addition and subtraction to explore space in this math game.
  14. Pay Day - Earn money, make deals, pay salaries in more in this classic money game.
  15. Tiny Polka Dot - This is an easy to learn game that teaches counting, arithmetic, and logic.
  16. Sleeping Queens - This is one of my family's favorite games. Develop memory, strategy, and elementary arithmetic skills in this imaginative card game.

Games for Language and Spelling

best games for words language spelling

Games are an excellent way to promote letter recognition, spelling, storytelling, phonics, conversation, and more. While many of these games can be played with both older children and adults, many can also be adapted for the little ones to participate as well.

  1. Scrabble - Use wooden tiles to string letters together and build words in order to win.
  2. Listography - Create unique lists based on a challenge and the best one wins! (This one is best for ages 12+.)
  3. Zingo - Pre-readers and early readers can practice word recognition and critical thinking skills in this bingo-style game.
  4. Boggle - Shake up the letters and perform rapid word searches in this quick, competitive game.
  5. Bananagrams - Race to spell and arrange letters in a crossword-style grid.
  6. Word on the Street - Develop vocabulary skills, creative thinking, and encourage teamwork as players move the consonants in the chosen word to their side of the street!
  7. Apples to Apples Freestyle - Players write in their answer to the fill-in-the-blank and the best answer wins!
  8. Upwords - Practice spelling and critical thinking as players use letter tiles to spell words across or down and on top of tiles to change words altogether.
  9. Create A Story Cards - Foster imaginative play, storytelling, and narration as players arrange the cards to prompt and create a new story every time!
  10. Table Topics - Engage children in conversation with a range of silly to thought-provoking questions.
  11. Sight Word Swat - Players build reading, spelling, and vocabulary as they race to swat the word that’s called out loud.
  12. Story Cubes - Roll the dice and combine items, characters, places, and animals to craft and share unique tales as players engage in storytelling.
  13. P is for Pizza - Encourage talking, critical thinking, and laughter as players shout out words that link the letter on one card to the category on another.

  14. Mad Libs - Stretch vocabulary and grammar skills along in a funny, silly way as you words to fill in the blanks.

  15. Word a Round - Build vocabulary and improve concentration as players try to unravel the letter on a card and decipher what word they spell.

Games for Logic

games for logic critical thinking

Games that emphasize logic skills like reasoning, critical thinking and mental flexibility are an asset to any home education setting. These games each have a unique way of encouraging logic and deduction skills for both older and younger kids.

  1. Hoppers - Practice sequential reasoning as players set the frogs on the pond and jump frogs until only one is left standing.
  2. IQ Circuit - Build concentration skills, problem-solving abilities, spatial insight, logic, and more in this compact brainteaser.
  3. Mastermind - Players test logic and deduction skills with this classic, code-breaking game.
  4. Roller Coaster Challenge - Practice critical thinking, engineering, reasoning, and planning skills as players complete challenges of increasing difficulty in this STEM game.
  5. Kanoodle - Players use combinations of colored connected beads to complete colorful 2D and 3D puzzles in this assembly and disassembly game.
  6. Laser Maze - Laser Maze requires players to use mirrors, beam-splitters, and science skills as they make plans to direct the laser through a series of mazes.
  7. The Genius Star - Players will use logic, spatial reasoning, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills to fit uniquely shaped puzzle pieces onto a star-shaped grid.
  8. Mindware Q-Bitz - Practice symmetry, visual dexterity, and quick thinking in this competitive game.
  9. Onitama - Onitama is an abstract reasoning game where players use cards to move their monk followers across the board in an attempt to beat their opponent.
  10. Battleship - Battleship is the classic, ultimate seek-and-destroy naval combat game that uses strategy and coordinates to locate and destroy the opponent's naval fleet.

Games for Science and Nature

games for science and nature

Not only do these games encourage the subjects and topics l love, but they are a fun way to expose children to different science and nature concepts and vocabulary. 

  1. Tree Bingo - Master the trees of the forest with this bingo game featuring information and quirky facts for 64 well- and lesser-known trees.
  2. Wildcraft! - Discover herb names and uses as players go on an imaginary adventure foraging plants through forests, trails, and waterfalls!
  3. Organ Attack - Laugh while learning about the human body as players use immunity, affliction, and other tactics to protect themselves while inflicting disease on their opponents. 
  4. Totally Gross: The Game of Science - Learn about gross and icky topics as players perform investigations on topics ranging from biology, chemistry, geology, astronomy, zoology, anatomy, and physics.
  5. Professor Noggin’s Card Games - This series of educational card games encourages kids to learn interesting facts about their favorite subjects.
  6. Cardline Animals Card Game - Strategize and learn as players rank animals by length, weight, or lifespan in this quick card game.
  7. Pandemic - Players collaborate as they plan their strategy of eradicating the diseases before it overwhelms the world in this imaginative game.
  8. Periodic Game of Elements - Master chemistry topics like atoms, elements, and compound in this strategy game.
  9. Science Ninjas: Valence Card Game - Assemble teams of science ninjas to build new molecules out of elements to earn points in this action-packed card game! 
  10. Fish n’ Flip - Work together to rescue maritime animals from entanglement, using cards strategically to navigate the rescue mission.
  11. Arboretum - Create a path though a beautiful garden in this simple, elegant game. 
  12. Gathering a Garden - Players develop basic skills like patience, counting and categories of plants and gardening.

Games for Geography and History

games geography history

I am loving the way these games add meaning to places in the world and events in history, and give context to things we learn about in stories and books.

  1. Trekking the National Parks - This game was created by a couple who traveled to every single national park before working with their son to make this game.
  2. Scrambled States - Players learn the names, capitals, nicknames, shapes, and positions of the states through visual teasers, language riddles, and geography challenges.
  3. Sequence States and Capitals - This version of the classic game of Sequence helps you learn states and capital cities!
  4. Ticket to Ride - Players race to build train routes across iconic American cities in this award-winning board game.
  5. Rand McNally: The Ultimate Map It! Seek & Find Atlas of Brainy Challenges - Each cleverly designed challenge features a section of the Rand McNally atlas and sneaks in geography while learning how to use and read maps.
  6. Wild Kratts Around the World Game - Race around the world with the Kratt Brothers and their friends while learning about animals and their habitats.
  7. The World Game - Players will race around the world, training their memory and brain while learning to recognize flags, capital cities, landmarks, and more.
  8. Flag Frenzy - Learn the flags of major world countries by being the first to match one flag to another in this fast-paced game.
  9. Continent Race - Become the first player to collect all the continents and locate the countries on the map.
  10. Passport to Culture - Grab a passport and travel the world as players discover new facts about domestic and overseas countries.
  11. 7 Wonders - As a leader of one of the seven greatest cities of the ancient world, players will gather resources and build cities to create architectural wonders.
  12. Trekking Through HistoryHistory buffs will love exploring the world and meeting legendary people – meet all the people you can before the time runs out.

Related: Incorporating Geography and Cultures in Your Homeschool [Free World Map PDF]

Games for Laughter

best family games for fun laughter

I love any game that gets us laughing! While this isn’t an educational subject, I think these are worth mentioning, because laughter breaks up a hard homeschool day and connects hearts. 

  1. Happy Salmon - This exciting, thrilling game will have players laughing as you compete to move faster, shout louder, and outwit your opponents in this exhilarating 90-second free-for-all.
  2. Throw Throw Burrito - This game combines a card matching game, dodgeball, and some toy burritos for a lot of fun!
  3. Exploding Kittens - Exploding Kittens is a crazy card game full of some strange and funny cards, including exploding kittens and more!
  4. Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza - This is a quick and simple party game where players race against each other to slap a match between a card and spoken word.
  5. 5 Second Rule - Pick a card, read the topic, and race against a five-second timer to name three things along with laughs and funny answers.
  6. Cartoon It! - This is a fast-paced memory game with an artistic twist.
  7. Hedbanz - Pick a headband, place a card in it and play to figure out what’s shown on your card in this family fun game.
  8. Slapburger - Divide the deck of cards among players and be the first to slap the pile when a SlapBurger Card, Double Decker or Sandwich is laid.
  9. Telestrations - Telestrations is the classic game of telephone with illustrations thrown in.
  10. Say Anything: Family Edition - Players prompt people to talk about interesting things and to make ridiculous statements.

Does your family have any favorite games? Let me know in the comments below.

1 comment

CMeg

What a great list, thank you! Qwirkle and Azul are two of our family favorites! They are great for patterns, sequencing, counting with score keeping, and engaging adults and kids alike!

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