This year, for our 2nd/3rd grade learning, I want to incorporate more board games to go with the topics we are learning.
I started our gameschooling year by compiling an Amazon list of board games to gift this holiday season for family to use when choosing birthday and winter holiday gifts.
Some subjects were easier to fulfill while others took a little more digging. Math is pretty straight forward with lots of options, especially when incorporating point scoring which most games have. Having a struggling reader, reading games were a little trickier as I didn’t want to lose my sons interest with a game that felt too much like “work” or had more reading than he was capable of. I think I managed to find a decent selection.
Other things we are studying/doing include Greek Mythology, Astronomy, Chemistry, Art, Story Telling, and Executive Functioning Skills.
For a more comprehensive list of games, check out Educational Board Games We Truly Play. It includes games we have played up to this point. The list will, of course be growing in the near future!
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And now… our best pick of board games to gift this holiday season
Here is our selection of games we plan to utilize this year, some we have played and love, and some will be new to us.
Math Board Games
There are so many great games for teaching math it was hard to select just a few. Here are my best picks for our 2nd grade year.
Outnumbered is an improbable cooperative superhero math game. My son absolutely loves it. Not only does it help reinforce his math facts (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division), he has also learned about about squaring numbers, prime numbers and how to construct basic algebraic formulas. This is SO much better than math drills and he is really excited by the superhero aspect.
Why This Is On Our List: It’s the perfect amount of challenging for my 2nd-3rd grade mathematician. What’s nice about Outnumbered is, there are two different levels plus a modification suggestion for kids just starting out with math so, this works for a wide variety of math abilities. It reinforces math facts, strategy, and teamwork. Plus…SUPERHEROS!
Proof – This is a fast-paced, fun math game loved by teachers, families, kids and grown-ups alike. It helps improve mental math skills, practicing multiplication, division, addition, subtraction and square roots.
Why This Is On Our List: This was recommended by a couple of homeschooling families and seems to be a fun, fast play with each game lasting at most up to 20 minutes (great for an ADHD brain!). While my son has a strong understanding of math, he is still slow at calculating facts so I’m hoping this game will give him (and me!) a little push when it comes to calculation speed.
Mille Bornes – A French designed game, Mille Bornes is the classic card game of cross-country car racing. Keep a green light handy in case you get stopped and play a tire puncture on your opponent to keep him from getting ahead. Protect yourself with safety cards and save one for the classic Coup Fourre.
Why This Is On Our List: I played this game with my parents when I was a kid and really enjoyed it. It can be a little bit complicated to learn but once learned, it is fairly straightforward. My 7-year-old loves this game which uses math to add up not only the mileage points but also the points at the end of each round. Not only does it strengthen his math but it’s fun enough to keep him coming back. Each round played can have a fairly different pace and outcome. Some rounds whizz by, others get stuck with no one going anywhere!
Reading and Spelling Board Games
Word Witt is a positive way to naturally reinforce flexible thinking, vocabulary, phonemic awareness, spelling, word recognition, and mental agility. Roll the dice. Flip a card. Race to create the most words in a minute. Not only for accomplished spellers. Great for ages 7 and up.
Why This Is On Our List: We have been playing a modified version of Scrabble Slam which my son has enjoyed, however, I can see that he is losing interest in it slightly. Word Witt looks like a fun new game to spark his interest in reading. This was recommended to me by a reading specialist. As someone teaching a dyslexic child to read, I can use all the help possible.
Scrabble is a classic which we just started playing. I was originally considering Scrabble Jr. but after reading reviews, it seems cheaply made with not much of an advantage. Plus, my son finds pride in playing “older” games. (This lock in place version is great for active kids who are not always in control of their bodies)
Why This Is On Our List: It’s a classic and it’s fun for new readers who might feel a sense of pride in being able to play an “adult” game! It’s easy to modify and, if needed you can simply use the tiles and pieces to create your reading/spelling words together, as a team.
A Little Wordy – A sneaky two player tile game from the creators of Exploding Kittens. Great for all levels. It can be modified for newer readers or played in teams with a more advanced reader helping out. It’s a quick 15 minute game-another great one for ADHD brains.
Why This Is On Our List: Compact, easy to learn, great for all levels, can be complex or simple, has an element of “secrecy” which my son loves, reinforces reading, spelling, and writing. My son son often excitedly asks to play this game which is a first for a reading/spelling based game. We highly recommend it.
Story Telling Board Games
Untold: Adventures Await – In this cooperative game powered by Rory’s Story Cubes, you create a world, design your characters and play through an immersive story in an hour. We haven’t played this one yet but it says it’s ideal for all skill levels from first timers to experienced roll-players.
Why This Is On Our List: My son absolutely loves his weekly D&D games with his little group of friends yet still struggles with basic story telling. After many attempts at facilitating some kind of creative writing (which becomes really detailed really fast then peters out as my ADHD son loses interest), I decided a roll playing storytelling game might be a good way to help foster the still. After consulting a few gameschooling groups, Untold seemed like a great try!
No Thank You Evil – A game of make-believe for creative kids and their families.
Why This Is On Our List: Currently engrossed in “The Land Of Stories” and Greek Mythology, my son seems to be interested in the fair-tale and make-believe worlds. I’ve selected No Thank You Evil to encourage him to create his own stories using this genre as inspiration.
Greek Mythology Board Games
Zeus on the Loose – Catch Zeus if you can! The great Greek God has bolted from Mount Olympus and it’s up to you to nab this dashing deity. Play cards strategically, adding numbers as you climb up the mythic mountain. Grab Zeus when the total reaches a multiple of 10. Better yet, summon the strength of Apollo, Poseidon, or all-powerful Hera to bring Zeus within your grasp. Reach the top of Mount Olympus with Zeus in hand and you’re a mortal among the gods.
Why This Is On Our List: We love this game and it’s a perfect compliment to our Greek Mythology Unit Studies which also reinforces reading and math skills. It’s actually what sparked my son’s interest in Greek Mythology! Before we start we like to read through, review, and discuss the Greek Gods! Sometimes we have our son help us with the reading. A fantastic game for practicing addition up to 100. For subtraction practice, simply reverse the points, starting with 100 and subtracting backward until you reach 0.
Santorini – An accessible strategy game that let’s you build like a mortal, win like a God!
Why This Is On Our List: It’s simple enough for elementary students with enough depth and content for hardcore gamers. Recommended by our homeschool gaming group to pair with our Greek Mythology Unit. Update: after playing this, I would say it’s more of a strategy game with a Greek god theme rather than teaching about the gods. But, if you already know your gods, it’s fun to “Quiz” yourself or learn more about your chosen character through Google.
Astronomy Board Games
FLUXX – The ever changing card game of space exploration.
Why This Is On Our List: This was recommended by other gameschoolers as a great addition to our astronomy unit studies this year.
Chemistry Board Games
Valence Plus – Combine elements from the periodic table – recast as science ninjas – into an elite ninja squad to build molecules and win. This appears to for kids just starting out with chemistry as well as those wanting to reinforce more advanced chemistry concepts. Valence Plus was created by the trio of two PhD chemical engineers and a New York Times bestselling cartoonist.
Why This Is On Our List: My son who has already learned about basis and acids from his fish tank project (along with some basic elements) has expressed a deeper interest in chemistry and the periodic elements. Since we are already working through through Real Science Odyssey’s Astronomy unit, I decided not to start their Chemistry unit just yet. However, this game looks like a great way to have a little fun while letting my son explore is interest further. Who knows, perhaps will be ready for a chemistry unit by the New Year. Oh and…NINJAS!
#ArtBox – Using a random selection of set shapes, each player becomes a modern artist while trying to turn said shapes into specific objects through drawing.
Why This Is On Our List: My son loves the process of art, yet struggles with some of the basic techniques of drawing. I’ve been trying to help him see objects as simple shapes and work on a more loose form of drawing. This games looks like it will enhance this concept as well as sneak in a little reading practice!
Other Board games
No Stress Chess is a chessboard with pieces and a deck of cards displaying how the chess pieces can move. Designed to teach how the pieces moved, in the learning versions of the game, players play cards from their hand of either 3 or 5 cards in order to move the chess pieces on the playing field. The other side of the board can be played as a traditional chess game.
Why This Is On Our List: Chess is a classic problem solving, creative thinking, strategic, abstract reasoning came. It helps with executive functioning skills – requiring calmness under pressure, observation, patience, and future planning. We have played no Stress Chess according to the instructions and have progressed through the various stages, now playing without the cards. It has provided a great foundation and, when my son forgets the basics, it offers us an easy review. (Another great game for ADHD kids who need lots of repetition and practice in patience and self-control.)
Ticket to Ride is an award-winning, cross-country train adventure game. Players collect train cards that enable them to claim railway routes connecting cities throughout North America. The longer the routes, the more points they earn.
Why This Is On Our List: This game reinforces, planning, strategy, delayed gratification, critical thinking, problem-solving, number recognition, patter recognition, spatial awareness, executive functioning skills, fine motor skills, math addition and fun! My son begged to play this game when he was little. Since it was a little too complicated when we started, we made a few modifications. The first way we played was without city cards, letting each player just build routes as desired. We gradually added in the route cards leaving them all face up so we could help him build his particular route. Finally, he has worked up to playing the full game on is own, when he is in the right headspace and body awareness. This is still a bit of a challenge in terms of sustained attention but we stop whenever he gets too distracted and “hyper”. It’s a game that has help his interest over the years. He hasn’t tired of it yet.
King of Tokyo King of Tokyo is a game for 2 to 6 players where you play as mutant monsters, rampaging robots, or even abominable aliens battling in a fun, chaotic atmosphere. Roll dice and choose your strategy: will you attack your enemies? Heal your wounds? improve your monster? Stomp your path to victory.
Why This Is On Our List: We bought this game while on vacation and played it daily. To add a little more of a math challenge, we give my son an extra point, if he can calculate everyone’s plays correctly in a round. If your child(ren) feels overwhelmed by the cards, you might want to try pulling 60% of them out and leaving a few easier to comprehend cards for them to read. (Fewer cards helps engage less confident readers.) We recently lent this a friend who promptly bought their own version claiming it to be their favorite game (as is also the case for my son.)
Make Your Own! Challenge your kids (and maybe even yourself) to design their own board games.
Why This Is On Our List: Two years ago, my son designed a math racecar game for my husband’s holiday gift. We have enjoyed it a lot and I am now considering purchasing this set to encourage additional game design. This teaches critical thinking, creative strategy, trial and error, product testing, (writing, reading, math etc. depending on the game created) and would make a great gift for the creative or inventor oriented young mind!
What board or card games are you excited to gift and/or try this year?