Cue Alice Cooper, because school’s out for summer!
Or winter break. Or even spring break. Whatever the reason for vacation from school may be, it’s most likely your child’s favorite time of the year. But you don’t want them to turn into TV-watching couch potatoes on their break; all their newly-learned knowledge going right out the window.
Luckily, no matter how old your children are, there’s something for them on our list of best board games for school holidays.
These games will challenge them in a fun way so they won’t even realize they are expanding and sharpening their minds. Read on for our picks for the best board games for school holidays!
🏆 Our Top Picks for Best Board Games for School Holidays
In a hurry? Take a quick peek before you go.
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Playing time: 15mins
Where How to Train Your Dragon meets Kingdomino, you find Dragomino. It’s a strategy game where kids can build their epic fantasy kingdom while collecting as many dragon eggs as possible.
Explore new lands and build up your kingdom by consistently adding more dominoes to your territories. Use strategic tile placement to lay matching landscapes next to one another. For each matching domino placed, you earn one dragon egg.
With a quick play time, kids can practice new strategies and pattern-building skills over and over again and keep their brains sharp when class is not in session.
Who will be the ultimate dragon trainer in your house? And we’ll tell you now, it isn’t Daenerys Targaryen.
Playing time: 30mins
With no art or music classes taking place, and no creative writing prompts up on a blackboard, it’s up to you to craft some opportunities that encourage creative thinking. Enter Dixit.
In this storytelling game, players take turns selecting a card from their hand which they feel inspired to create a one-sentence story. Other players then choose a card from their own deck that they feel also fits with the story. Shuffle up the cards and the players will vote on which card they think unlocks the tale.
The beautiful surrealist art encourages players to think imaginatively and whimsically. Don’t let that creative flair fizzle and fade over the holiday break. Dixit will transport your kids to resplendent dreamscapes. Which will be way cheaper than summer camp, by the way.
Playing time: 50mins
This one is for all the Disney lovers out there — and there’s absolutely no age limit on that. But players won’t be wearing crowns and flying around on magic carpets. No, instead, they’ll be conjuring up evil plans for the dark side.
In Disney Villainous, players will take on the roles of the most beloved villains from your favorite Disney movies. Complete your objective by whatever means possible. Cast curses, form corrupt alliances, and maliciously sabotage the other villains to earn the title “evilest of them all”.
Within the box, you’ll find an amazing game with a wicked theme where players can be devious without ending up in detention for their bad behavior.
Zombie Kidz Evolution
Playing time: 5-15mins
The zombie apocalypse has begun and your school is being targeted! In this cooperative legacy game, players need to work together to prevent the school from being completely overrun with zombies.
Refer to the zombie handbook for step-by-step instructions on how to fend off the living dead. With each roll of the die, another zombie will be reluctantly let into the school. It’s up to you and your classmates to formulate strategies to get to all four entryways and lock them up as fast as humanly possible — zombies can be pretty slow after all.
This legacy game grows more exciting and challenging the more you play. Earn brains and trophies as you complete games and missions, allowing you to unlock secret envelopes, which alter the rules, give you powers, and mutate the zombies.
Disclaimer: All characters, alive and living dead, in this game are fictitious. Your school, sadly, has not been overrun by zombies and you will need to return to school when the break ends.
Playing time: 15mins
Student by day, spy by night.
Codenames is a game of word association and out-of-the-box thinking where you’ll need to strategically communicate clues to your secret agents. In a race to be the first team to make contact with all their agents, players will use their deduction skills and logic to pick up on the one-word hints given by their spymaster. All this needs to be done carefully, as everyone needs to dodge the assassin.
Play mind games with your friends and watch them rack their brains as they try to interpret your top-secret clues. Whether you choose the original game or one of the many expansion packs, there’s a version for you!
Playing time: 15-45mins
We hope you didn’t take off your trench coats and remove your ear pieces after Codenames. Decrypto is another spy game where you’ll need to be extra clever and doubly creative.
The encryptor needs to get the team to guess the numerical code by giving clues about the secret words. Each team will be working to decode their own hidden messages, while also trying to intercept their opponent’s. Every miscommunication is an invitation for an interception by the opposing team.
Through logic, deduction, and maybe a little bit of understanding of how your teammates think, you’ll be well on your way to decrypting the messages. It’s another great game sure to exercise the noggin during the off-season.
Catan or Catan Junior
Playing time: 60-120mins
Head to the Island of Catan on your next school break, where you’ll be responsible for controlling and expanding an entire civilization. In this strategy game, players must gather and trade resources, build up their settlements, and form massive armies to earn victory points.
Every dice roll gives a new opportunity to collect resources, which you can use to develop and improve your settlements. Need to trade resources with another player? Use those negotiation skills to secure the trade and inch your way towards collecting 10 victory points and a win!
There’s a reason Catan is a classic. Its competitive nature and endless replay value make it addictive. While the original is best suited for middle and high schoolers, younger kids can try Catan Junior, which is simply a shorter, simpler version of the original.
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Playing time: 30mins
Congratulations on your recent election as mayor! The citizens of your city are expecting a lot from you, and you want to be a standout leader. You have big dreams for this city and a die that will help you fulfill them.
Machi Koro is a fast-paced game that’s similar to Monopoly. It’s all about capitalism, collecting resources, and community development. Oh, and profiting off of your competitors’ dice rolls. Strive to keep the public happy while keeping a close eye on your competition’s progress.
This is a quick, easy-to-play game where you’ll need to have a little luck on your side. It’s a relaxing game to play on vacation that sneaks a little business lesson into the mix.
Playing time: 30mins
Why wouldn’t you want to spend your holiday break on an island vacation?
Okay, maybe not Forbidden Island. You won’t find pristine waters and white sand beaches here. But you will find four sacred treasures left by the Archeans. Legend tells us these artifacts have the ability to control the elements of Earth and they were hidden on the sinking island where they hoped it’d be safe from humanity.
Feel the tension (and the water levels) rise as the island sinks deeper into the abyss with every step you take. If you want to survive this perilous paradise, you and your team need to work together to move the artifacts to your helicopter before the whole island floods and sinks from under you. Players will be forced to make snappy judgments and unfortunate sacrifices if they want to make it off the island.
This cooperative game will get your kids strategically collaborating to solve problems in a tense survival setting. Every game is different, so you can visit the island time and time again to plot your escape.
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Heist: One Team. One Mission
Playing time: 5-15mins
In the heist of the summer, players take on the role of an explosives expert, hacker, lookout, or money man and work together to crack the safe in less than 5 minutes to retrieve the $50 million in gold.
Think fast and carefully follow the commands of the electronic safe as it orders you to perform tasks in a timely fashion. Each of the five levels gets progressively trickier, and if you achieve master thievery skills, you’ll unlock a top-secret sixth level. Be mindful of your movements; three wrong actions will trigger an alarm and the police will be on your tail.
This speedy concentration game is action-packed and every heist will be different. Kids will be too busy trying to master these heists to create any real trouble — like dirtying up your kitchen or fighting over the video game console.
We hope you enjoyed our list of the best board games for school holidays! Whether your kid is home for winter break, spring break, or out for the summer, these board games will keep his or her brain active during the whole holiday!
Have you tried any of the games on this list? Did we miss any of your child’s favorites? Drop a comment below and let us know what you think! We’d love to hear from you.
Liz has no objections to being referred to as “nerdy.” Maybe it’s the educator in her — or her maturity level— but when it comes to board games, those best suited for children are the ones that spark her interest. When she’s not looking for the next game to incorporate into the classroom or play with her niece and nephew, you can find her trying out nature-themed games like Wildcraft or Trekking the National Parks.