Last Updated on November 16, 2022
Lecturing is a dying form of teaching. Snooze alert! Where’s the pizazz? The excitement? The engagement?
Not only do kids want to play, but learning by playing is also beneficial for them! Playing board games can help kids of all ages with following instructions, critical thinking, deductive reasoning, problem-solving, dexterity, and brain development. There’s a lot of research that shows how playing games positively affects students’ minds & development.
If you’re looking to teach your students valuable skills and liven up your lessons, bring some of these games into your classroom. We’ve got something for students of all ages. Enjoy our list of best board games to play in school & the classroom.
🏆 Our Top Picks for Best Classroom Board Games
In a hurry? Take a quick peek before you go.
Elementary Classroom Board Games
Playing time: 20mins
Ask students what their favorite subject is and you probably won’t hear “math” too often. It’s not always as enjoyable as art or gym class.
While Blokus was created by a mathematician, you can rest assured it is a fun, unique way to teach students skills like spatial reasoning and problem-solving. Get really creative and use the pieces to teach things like area, perimeter, symmetry, or even percentages and ratios.
Even though it is an abstract game, it’s easy to learn and fun to play. Students won’t even realize they’re learning! There’s only one rule to Blokus — tiles of like colors can only touch each other at the corners, so faces cannot touch. This becomes increasingly challenging as the board fills with colorful pieces. Players will engage in important critical thinking skills as they creatively lay their Tetris-like pieces in a way that leaves the fewest tiles unused at the end.
Blokus is an extremely versatile game that can be used to teach a variety of different concepts. Add this to your classroom as an exciting way to spruce up math class.
#2. Robot Turtles
Playing time: 15mins
Let’s face it. Computers aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. So, it makes sense that computer classes are expanding to teach more than just typing these days. Give your kids a head start with Robot Turtles, where they will be oblivious to the fact that they’re learning to program as they play!
All Turtle Masters have their eyes on a precious jewel. To reach this prize, players will lay coding cards to maneuver their turtle through a maze. Through coding and occasionally debugging, a path will be shaped and the jewel can be reached. There are many levels and new obstacles added as the game progresses, so kids can grow with the game.
Kids will have a blast playing this adorable themed game while learning valuable coding skills. This game teaches kids to be analytical, creative, and rational. Bill Gates better watch out!
Playing time: 20mins
In Mastermind, a secret code will be set by the code maker using four of the six colored pegs. Alter the difficulty of the puzzle as needed by repeating colors or leaving pegs empty. The codebreaker will have just 10 attempts to guess the correct code, but players will be given clues after each guess so they can use their newfound information to rationally guess their next code.
With over 2,000 available code combinations, odds are, you won’t see the same game twice. This is a great game to exercise those STEM skills like logical reasoning. It’s a wonderful game to have in the classroom to keep kids engaged.
Who will be the mastermind in your class?
#4. The World Game
There’s a great big world out there with exotic places to visit and once-in-a-lifetime experiences to be had. It’s never too early to start teaching your kiddos about the remarkable countries in the world. Heck, you may even learn a thing or two!
Teach your kids important (and very intriguing) geography facts with the highly educational game: The World Game. Kids of all ages will enjoy learning about all 194 country names, capitals, flags, and facts about each country. Players will race around the globe and pass famous landmarks, challenging players to recall interesting information they’ve learned. Actions cards will keep you on your toes and sabotage your progress with events such as tsunamis, pirate attacks, and snowstorms.
Help your children and students become knowledgeable citizens of the globe. Deliver them the whole world and ignite a sense of adventure and wanderlust in them.The World Game: Fun Geography Board Game
Playing time: 45-60mins
Wildcraft is a uniquely themed game where adventure is met with learning. Kids will learn valuable information about medicinal and herbal plants and how to identify and use them in the wild for first aid.
The adventure starts as you offer to help grandma make her delectable pie by climbing the mountain in search of berries and herbs. Along the way, learn about the 27 different medicinal plants you’ll find in the surrounding ecosystems and how to use them for particular ailments. This information will come in handy as you face troubles like mosquito bites, sore muscles, and sunburn. Heal all your ailments quickly to be sure you make it back to grandma’s before it gets dark out.
This is a great game for young kids as there is no reading required. Small children will be able to play using the pictures alone. It’s an educational game that teaches kids about science and connects them to nature. Cooperative games like this are also excellent for building teamwork and social skills.
Middle School & High School Classroom Board Games
Catan. You know the quintessential modern board game. If you don’t, here’s your chance. Careful though — your kids will be begging to play this again.
Students will learn strategy in this game as they play different groups of settlers who are fighting to become the island’s dominant force. Players will trade and spend resources to build settlements, roads, and cities. Everyone works to earn victory points by expanding their empire, forming large armies, and building expansive roadways. Watch out for the robber who wants to steal your resources!
Catan is a very popular game that you’ll encounter in a variety of gaming lists. It’s here because it is yet another engaging game that promotes working together, risk management, and critical thinking. It is easy to create a lesson plan around and teachers and parents alike will love its accessibility to all and educational value.
The fate of the world rests in your students’ hands. And they’ll need to work together if they want to be heroes. Viruses are running rampant throughout the globe, and humanity needs a group of highly-trained specialists to help contain the situation. They’ll need to find the cures to all the viruses before the whole world is plagued and helpless.
If you want a game that will really amp up the team building in your classroom, this is it. Players will all have roles from researcher and medic to specialist, each of which has its own capabilities and strengths. Travel to countries to treat people and contain the diseases while working to discover cures. The goal is to eradicate the diseases and control the outbreaks. These viruses are highly contagious. Will your students be quick enough to save humanity?
Pandemic is an action-packed game with real-world application. Students will use logic to make tough decisions in hopes of an optimal outcome. Working together for the greater good in this cooperative game is the only way to come out on top.
#3. Captain Sonar
Below the ocean’s surface, war is raging in a battle between submarines. In the tense game of Captain Sonar, players will need to use solid communication skills to work together as a crew. Every captain needs a steadfast crew, and every role brings valuable skills to the table.
The sense of comradery within the teams is important to find and obliterate the enemy. Deduction skills will be needed as you work to find out where your adversary’s submarines lie while protecting yours at the same time. This game is kind of like Battleship on steroids. Plus, there are two modes for playing — real-time and simultaneous play and a variety of maps for increasing difficulty.
Captain Sonar is great for teaching effective communication skills and teamwork. It’s a great addition for upper-level second language courses to enforce giving and following directions as well. An additional bonus for the classroom is that, unlike other board games, this game can be played in large groups, whereas others would need to be adapted.
Students will enjoy the excitement of this game and teachers can feel good about the beneficial skills used in playing.
Gibberish. Nonsense. Babbling.
Balderdash is a game of malarky. The words are real, but the definitions — well that’s up to you. Players will combine cleverness and knowledge in a silly or serious fashion to guess the definitions of these obscure words, laws, films, and more. The better you are at bluffing, the more points you can potentially rack up.
Whether you need to leave a filler activity that’s engaging and educational for a substitute teacher or want to reward your kids for their great behavior this week, Balderdash is a great go-to game. Kids will giggle at their classmates’ imaginative responses while learning new vocabulary and facts.
#5. Exit the Game
Playing time: 60-120mins
Escape room meets board game in Exit the Game: The Abandoned Cabin.
After some mechanical misfortune with your car, you’re stuck in the woods looking for shelter to keep you safe for the night. You and your friends happen to stumble upon a cabin that looks abandoned (maybe there’s a reason for that…). After a restful night’s sleep, you realize you’re locked in! Doors are locked and bars have been placed on your windows. You’ll need to use the cryptic book left in the cottage if you hope to escape.
To break free, players will need to use their deduction skills to crack the codes and solve the puzzles. Exit the Game will encourage students to work together and think outside the box.
Place your students directly into the mystery and see if they solve their way to freedom.
We hope you enjoyed our list of the best board games to play in school and the classroom! These educational board games are a great way to get students interested in a variety of topics while learning important life skills like cooperation and critical thinking.
Have you tried any of the games on this list? Did we miss any of your favorites? Drop a comment below and let us know! We’d love to hear from you.