Yes, even in our technological age there is a place in the home for “old-fashioned” board games. Well, at least I think so. I’ll admit that they aren’t always educational though you can usually find a few good redeeming points about any board game. If nothing else, they give you something to do as a family with a tactile element that video games just don’t provide.
I can’t possibly list all the good games you should try, so I’m not going to try. Here are the favs in our house, along with a few thoughts on why they are good for learning.
Scrabble – I would guess this classic needs no introduction. It can be a little slow-paced but it’s a great way to get creative with vocabulary to practice word choice and spelling. It can also help build patience while you sit waiting for the next player to make their move. We sometimes switch it up to allow other languages or set a theme. And there is a little math skill involved in adding up the points and figuring out the double/triple bonuses.
Full House – This is an older game that I played as a kid, and really just bought it for the nostalgia. You run a hotel and earn money by having guests come and go (nothing to do with the 80s TV show). Unfortunately, there is little strategy and it’s based on the luck of the draw as you choose cards. It’s a good game when you don’t want too much deep thinking. But as guests check out, there is a good bit of math adding up all the rates.
Blokus – Blokus is quick to play and is simple to learn, placing odd shaped tiles on a board to fill in more space than your opponent. Requires concentration and a good exercise in spatial visualization.
Struggle for Catan – Settlers of Catan is the better known variation, but since we generally play 2-player games around here, this card version of Catan works great for us. It’s a quicker play too. Requires planning, strategy, and a good memory to manage your cards and build your settlement.
Carcassonne – In my constant goal to avoid the plain roll dice/move around board style of games, I have always had a soft spot for Carcassonne. Map tiles are laid out to create cities and roads, earning each player points. Now that I’ve mentioned it, I can’t really say it’s educational other than it makes you plan and work out strategy. I just like it.
Scabs and Guts – I found this at a local second-hand store and it was a hit during my daughter’s human body phase. Emphasis is on gross information, which makes it fun and you almost forget it’s “meducational”. The game itself is simplistic, just move around the board, answering human body questions (or acting out some of them). Lots to learn even if many of the facts are too obscure to really be helpful.
Monopoly – Not my fav but we do play it now and then. Our zombie version is pretty fun when we’re in the mood for a longer playing game. Negotiating skills, planning, money math and patience all come into play through a standard game of Monopoly.
I think a more in-depth look at the benefits of family board games should be following along soon. Stay tuned for another article!