An educational board game doesn’t mean it’s boring. In fact: quite the opposite! Learning something new while having a great time with friends and family can be even more exciting than regular board games. You can choose a game you’re already comfortable with to master that technique. Or you can choose one that’s a little out of your comfort zone to challenge yourself. The best educational board games come in many different shapes and sizes. Round up your competitors and get ready for the most fun you can have while still learning a thing or two.
1. Trekking The National Parks
Editor’s Choice #1: This game is great for a wide range of players. It appeals to all outdoorsy types and is a great way to learn about the national parks. The creators are a family themselves, so you can really feel the love and attention that went into creating this game. It has a unique feel to it that everyone can enjoy.
Sometimes getting outdoors is hard to do. Some of us live in cities or colder climates where it’s rare that we get to enjoy the blues skies and fresh air that other places take for granted. Thankfully this great board game is here to tide you over until your next adventure into the wilderness.
About This Board Game
Trekking The National Parks is made for anyone who loves the great outdoors. It features facts and colorful art that depict all 63 national parks in America. It’s made by a family who has traveled to all of them. Their experience is what makes this game so special. Not just a piece of art, this is an extremely fun game as well. The object is to collect more points throughout your travels than your opposing players. There is more than one way to do this.
The Competition Can Get Really Heated
If you’re the first one to reach a park, you collect the colored stone there. These count for bonus points at the end of the game. The other way to collect points is by claiming parks. As you move around the board you can collect park cards, when you have enough matching, you can trade them in to claim that park. Whoever gets six park cards first or all the park stones are gone, then the game is over. At this point, players add up their scores and the winner is determined.
Families will have a blast learning new things about all the national parks. It’s great for planning future trips and introducing young ones to all the wonders of the wilderness.
2. Double Bananagrams Word Game
Editor’s Choice #2: This is as educational as any game gets. It celebrates those who know a lot of words and how to spell them. It’s a great way to get kids and adults playing the same game, and with the quick pace, there won’t be any lulls in the action. The more words you learn, the better.
If you’re good at spelling, there are only a few games out there for you. The original Bananagram made waves with its fast-paced style of play, and now they have found a way to improve upon that.
Bananagram vs. Double Bananagram
Double Bananagrams is just like the original but with double the pieces so you can play with up to 16 people! If you’re unfamiliar with the original then you don’t know how hectic this game can get. This isn’t the same spelling game you play with your grandparents–although they would like it also.
Double Bananagrams not only requires a large vocabulary but also quick thinking. One of the great features of this game is being able to change your words at any time. Since this game moves so fast you can always adjust your word grid to suit your letters better.
It’s Not For Quiet Game Players
Once you have used all your letters and there are fewer in the pouch than the number of players you yell “BANANAS!” At this point, your competitors will examine your word grid to ensure each one counts. If you make a mistake, your whole word grid goes back in the pouch. You must start over while the other players continue with their grid.
With the addition of 144 more letter tiles, the educational value of this game is through the roof. No two games will be alike and you will see your lexicon grow exponentially.
As one of the older games on this list, we can safely say this is one of the best educational games on the market today. It has been around for almost 40 years, so it has become a game passed down to the next generation. It’s exceptionally easy to understand yet can have you racking your brain searching for what seems like a simple answer. The best part is that in order to have the highest score you have to think about things that no other player does.
Here’s How It Works
Each round starts with a list of categories that all players use. The dice included is special since it’s marked with 20 different letters. Each player must list an item starting with that letter to satisfy each category on the list for that round.
For example, if the letter “S” is rolled and the category is “U.S. Cities” then you could write down “Sacramento” on your score sheet and move on to the next category. For each response you provide, you get one point.
There’s Only One Catch
However, your points only count if you are the only one to have it. If another player answered with “Sacramento” then neither of you gets the points.
It’s this caveat that makes the game so enjoyably frustrating. It forces you to think outside the box a bit and test the limits of your knowledge. It’s a great game to practice critical thinking and with the timer ticking away, you also practice time management.
4. Catan Board Game
Another recognizable name on this list is Settlers Of Catan. This game has become massively popular over the years and is played by people from all walks of life. It has a strong cult following and is also used in corporate team-building seminars.
An Educational Board Game With Excitement
As an educational game, Catan will teach you strategy and how to stay one step ahead of your opponent. There is a dice in this game so the element of chance is present, but with practice and skillful gameplay, you can get better at this strategic board game and start winning more often.
The object is to score victory points. This can be done by either building cities and settlements, gaining achievements or by playing certain development cards that award you victory points outright. The first player to get 10 victory points first wins.
Here’s A Tip
A huge aspect is generating resources. Wood and brick are used a lot at the beginning of the game while stone and wheat will be needed later on. This is where each player’s strategy will differ. It’s very hard to gain access to all resources so you will have to plan accordingly to not fall behind your opponent’s production.
A bonus of Catan is that there are expansion packages available. You can purchase more cards and game pieces in order to play with more people. This will take the competition to the next level.
This is a great strategy game to involve the younger members of your family. Its theme is the great outdoors, and it offers an excellent chance to learn about all aspects of the wilderness. Ecosystem is a fun game where players work towards scoring points through their own grid. A score sheet tells you how many points you have based on where you place your cards.
Scoring Is Unique And Challenging
For example, if you place a bear card next to a salmon card, then you would score two points. The person who has the most wolf cards scores 12 points, and so on. There are many ways to score and the more familiar you are with the scoresheet then the better you will do during gameplay.
At the beginning of the game, each player is dealt cards. However, this is not only your deck. After you play a card from your hand, you pass your remaining cards to the player on your left. You then receive the hand from the player on your right and play continues. This happens every turn.
Gameplay Is Unlike Other Games
Having this unique feature really adds some excitement. You have to play the hand you’re dealt and it keeps changing every hand. Knowing what cards score the most points is crucial for those who want to win often.
This great game is easy to learn but still has the element of strategy woven in. The cards themselves are beautifully designed and are a great way to educate younger players on how the ecosystem thrives.
6. Ticket to Ride
Pack your bags and get ready to travel all over the US with this classic game. It has been around since the glory days of railroad travel and hasn’t lost steam since. The competition is intense as players try to build their railroad tracks first. Learn how to think ahead and strategically plan your routes the most efficient way. Do this before your opponents, and you win.
Be Your Own Railroad Baron
This fun board game starts with a detailed and artistically designed board. It’s large and easy to read so you know where all the destinations are and can clearly see the available routes. Each player is dealt cards that show you which routes you will be working on. Examples would be: Duluth to Los Angeles, or Denver to Miami.
Your routes are kept secret since you don’t want your playing competitors to know where you’re going. They may try to block you with their railroad construction. Of course, you can do the same to them.
Carefully Plan Your Track-Laying Strategy
Players take turns drawing color-coded train cards. These can be used to place your trains on the board when you have enough to complete a route. Some are longer than others so it may take a few turns to get the one you want. Don’t wait too long though, your opponent may be eyeing the same route. Once all your destinations are connected the game is over.
As a bonus, you can play this game against Alexa if you have the app. This is great to practice your skills and be ready for the next big family game night.
7. Election Night!
You don’t have to wait four years to get the excitement of an election in your house. Election Night is an educational board game that brings the tense nature of becoming president to your kitchen table. This is the only game of its kind; the premise is one-of-a-kind and has never been done before. You can teach your kids or newcomers to the country about how our electoral system works in a fun and competitive environment.
Work Together Just Like A Real Campaign Trail
There are only two teams in the game, red and blue. So you can play with as many players as you like, just assign everyone to either the red or the blue team. The goal is to score 270 electoral votes and become president before your opponent.
The game board itself makes it easy to play. It’s a dry-erase board so you mark your states and vote directly on it. It also comes with 2 dry-erase pens but it will work with any dry-erase markers you have as well.
The Board Makes It Easy To Keep Track Of Votes
The game board is two-sided as well. One side is called the addition side and one is the multiplication side. Here’s where the real education part comes in: the special dice will determine how many votes you get. If you roll a 9 and a 3 then you have 12 votes assigned on the addition side.
This teaches kids how to add and multiply quickly. The most popular states require candidates to answer more challenging equations correctly. So California and Texas require higher numbers and, therefore, more demanding addition or multiplication equations.
Use your votes wisely and work together to earn enough votes to become POTUS first.
8. The World Game
Test your knowledge of the entire world with this game. It focuses on facts about all 194 countries globally, and it’s a race to the finish line. Those who demonstrate the most knowledge will win.
Every Country Is Represented
Each country has a card associated with it that contains facts about that country. The fact categories are the same for each country. It includes: population, area it covers, highest peak and neighboring countries. It also has the country’s flag clearly displayed.
To start the game everyone is dealt 20 country cards. The first person to get all their opponent’s cards is the winner. To do this you must prove that you know more about the world than everyone else. You can challenge players by naming one of the facts on the country card and whoever has the largest number wins those cards.
Multiple Ways To Score
There are also actions that can be done to earn cards. For example, you may be asked to identify a country only by its flag. You could be asked to point to a country on the game board map or have to name its capital. There are many ways to show your skills and earn cards.
This is one of the best educational board games simply because of its content. There is a strong emphasis on learning and memorization, but whoever does it best in the game wins.
The only reason this game is so low on this list is because we assume everyone already has it! Despite that, it’s still worth mentioning as one of our favorite educational board games because players don’t realize how much they are learning about math and statistics.
A Legendary Educational Board Game
It’s a staple in game closets around the world since math is a universal language. Almost everyone plays this as a kid and future generations should get the same chance. Its risk vs. reward nature will never get old.
What makes this one of the best educational board games though is its close relationship to odds and statistics. Players are constantly weighing their options on what they need vs. what is possible. This decision-making process can be made easier when you understand probabilities.
Do You Play It Safe Or Go For It All?
Each player has three turns to make the highest score they can. The score sheets provided make it easy to record your scores. Sets and straights are needed to score. If you roll 3 of a kind on your first roll, you need only roll the other two dice to try and roll another 3 to add to your score. There are many knock-off versions of this game, but nothing is more enjoyable than the original.
If you’re more of a wordsmith than a number cruncher then put your thinking cap on for this board game. Made by Scrabble, this is a variation of its big brother. Upwords moves quicker than Scrabble and the scoring is much easier to track.
Think Fast And Change Words That Have Already Been Played
That doesn’t mean it won’t have you scratching your head trying to think of the highest scoring words though. This game still rewards those who can use the board to their advantage and come up with long words.
Another key difference between Upwords and Scrabble is that you can change words that are already on the board. If the word ‘hats’ has been played then you can change it to ‘cats’ simply by laying a ‘c’ directly on top of the ‘h’.
Score Big Points On Small Words
Stacked letters such as this are worth more points. This is where you can score big points by using stacked letters more and more. Even short words can be worth a lot if they have been changed multiple times.
Add this game to your collection if you need to take a break from Scrabble.
How To Choose The Best Educational Board Game For You
If you’re not in a position to get every one of these favorite educational board games, then we completely understand. Not everyone gets to play board games for a living so let’s narrow down your search, so you find the best board game for you.
Who Will Be Playing?
First, determine who will be playing the most. Will you be playing with your young children or your friends who are professors at MIT? Knowing this will help you choose much easier. There are all types of educational board games to suit all knowledge levels. For playing with your kids, we suggest you take a look at best magnetic tiles.
Some games have expansion packs available for purchase. These can be used to customize your game to a more specific information genre. So one night you can play with adults, and in the afternoon you can play with a much younger crowd.
What Type Of Game Are You Looking For?
If you can choose one or two of these genres, then your choice of game will be much easier.
How Many Will Be Playing?
Buying a game to educate a large family or young children is different from buying one for a couple. If you are less than four people, this will open up your options a lot more. Most games are playable with 2-4 players.
If you are more than four players, games like Yahtzee and Election Night will suit you perfectly. These two games don’t limit the number of players and can be modified easily into a team format.
Fun Vs. Learning
How important is the educational aspect of your board game? Some of these games are so educational that it may feel like you’re in school again. While others are so game-like that you can’t believe you’re learning something as well.
Knowing where you land on this spectrum will save you time and energy in your search for an educational board game that suits you.
The Benefits Of Educational Board Games
Everyone loves board games. But educational board games provide many extras that some simpler games don’t. Here’s what you can expect to gain from playing educational board games consistently.
Increase Reasoning And Problem-Solving Skills
Most board games will require players to make the best of their situation. This alone is a beneficial form of entertainment as it will help you in all aspects of life, not just board games.
If playing with kids, developing this skill early can make their school life much easier. Adapting and changing with the tides is a lifelong endeavor that can never be mastered, only honed. Give your kids a head start on this with educational board games.
Improve Math Skills
Even though we all carry a calculator in the form of our phones, it’s still very beneficial to do simple math equations quickly and from memory. Simply working with numbers by moving around a board or adding up the sum of two dice is still exercise for your brain.
You can choose math-focused games if you want to deal with digits. Yahtzee is the most math-centric game in this article, and it forces players to compute odds and probabilities. Knowing your chances will help you make better decisions in this game and life in general.
Language And Grammar
This benefit can also be found in nearly every game but is evident more than others. For example, you are still using language skills to spell or pronounce a foreign place in geography games. If not done correctly, you may not get the rewards that come with it.
For language-focused games, you can turn your attention to options such as Double Bananagrams or Upwords. These will challenge your vocabulary, and the more you play, the more words you will learn.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, board games are educational. Some more than others, and this article has identified the best educational board games available today. With various types to choose from, there is lots to learn while enjoying the friendly competition of a board game or card game.
The board game that is most educational is Trekking The National Parks. This game educates players on everything there is to know about the wildlife and ecosystems of our National Parks. It also forces players to apply sound strategy to navigate the board and finish first. There is a lot to learn in this strategy game.
A fun educational board game is Double Bananagrams Word Game. It comes in a banana-shaped pouch, making traveling with this game super easy. It works well with all ages as the premise is to spell as many words as possible with the letters you are given. This game moves fast and is fun right from the get-go.
The benefits of board games start with the simple fact that it brings people together. It’s a great way to spend time with family and friends. It demonstrates camaraderie and team-building skills. Not to be overlooked are the health benefits of laughing and enjoying a stress-free evening with good company.
The best board game for different ages is Scattergories. It’s tough to nail down a specific skill or knowledge base that excels in this game. A solid base of well-rounded information is needed to consistently win this game. The more you practice, the better you will get and the healthier your brain will get too.
Just because a board game is educational doesn’t mean it’s boring! These are the best educational board games you can play to learn a thing or two while still having a blast playing it. This is good news because if you’re going to spend your hard-earned money on a game, you want to enjoy playing it many times. These all have a high replayability value, and they are all easy to learn.