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Top Board Games That (Secretly) Support Your Child’s Learning
As Oscar Wilde famously once said ‘The best way to make children good is to make them happy’, and you know what there’s something in that. Studies repeatedly show that using play as a tool for learning is a great way to engage children and encourage them to learn about the world around them.
And when you think about it, we do this intuitively from a young age – distracting them with silly faces when they have a tantrum, using cartoons to teach them about friendships, and of course not forgetting, playing interactive family board games together, that secretly bring out a learning streak. We say secretly because it’s all about making children feel like they’re having fun and it’s on their terms, of course!
With so many fun family board games to play, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing where to start. Better still, the learning never stops, with games designed for toddlers straight through to teens. Even seniors can benefit, with many brain training games, and those that encourage mental agility, helping to support brain health through the later years.
So really, family board games are a winner in oh-so-many ways, and the perfect activity for everyone to enjoy. If you’re wondering how do board games help child development, here’s a couple of the best family board games that won’t let you down.
Perfect for Primary School Children
Horrible Histories Board Game
- Age: 8+ / Players 2 – 4
It’s around Year 2 or 3 in Primary School, when Horrible Histories the TV show starts to pique their interest. Loaded with blood, sweat and gore, the fiendishly compelling stories are so brilliantly produced, that even parents enjoy watching them. It was only a matter of time before the franchise exploded, and we’re pleased to say that the Horrible Histories game it’s one of the best new family board games on the market.
In typical Horrible Histories style, the game tests your historical knowledge, as players frantically race through history. Covering everything from the Middle Ages to the turbulent Tudor period, there are multiple-choice questions that kids love to guess correctly. Better still, all the while they’re brushing up on their historical knowledge. Learning through play has never been so much fun, and best of all, it’s fun for all the family to get involved.
Good for Supporting Maths
Times Tables, Galt
- Age: 7 / Players 1 – 4
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of doing maths homework with your child, you’ll realise that the way they learn is very different to the way you did. For starters, Times Tables is all about building the foundation, compared to the intense memory recall of yester-year. To make sense of this, games like ‘Times Tables’ are the perfect Segway into learning, helping to support their in-school education.
This colourfully illustrated game makes a relatively dry subject as fun as it can be and reminds us why board games are important. Another benefit is that it also supports independent play. Allowing your child to undertake 1 to 12 times tables, with double-sided counters and corresponding pictures, allows them to self-correct their answers – a valuable skill to have. All in all, this is a great tool for encouraging early development and supporting numeracy skills through visual learning.
Inspiring Imaginative Play
Pizza Pizza, Orchid Games
- Age: 3 / Players 2- 4
For nursery-age children, there’s nothing more entertaining that a bit of imaginative and pretend play. It’s also the perfect time to capitalise on this, with games like ‘Pizza Pizza’. You will be surprised at just how simple yet effective this game is – which they will ask to play again and again. The rules are easy to pick up – everyone grabs a pizza base and needs to add toppings as they go, depending on the spinner’s choice. If you’re into mushrooms, pepperoni and peppers – you’re in luck!
However, watch out for spiders and other grossness that you will have to add to your toppings if you aren’t so lucky. Perhaps the favourite part of the game, however, is the option to ‘steal’ from another player, which always ruffles feathers! This is definitely learning made fun, as children learn a number of social skills, sharing and problem-solving skills and interpersonal skills as they play along. A thoroughly interactive family board game you’ll be glad you invested in.
Learning Through Entertaining
- Age: 8 / Players 4
Yes, even through impressions, children are building their repertoire` of knowledge and learning about themselves and the wider world. This is why ‘Randomise’ is one of our top 10 family board games that inspires learning at the same time. Players are invited to take on a hilarious identity, which they have to either act out, draw or describe to their opponents. This can be anything from doing an impression of a hairy Viking in a bath, or a blushing robot scuba diving in the Pacific.
Although if you get these, it truly is random, because there are over a million possible combinations, ensuring that every single game is unique and different. As far as longevity goes, this is a game they won’t tire of quickly. You might be having so much fun you don’t realise that this is secretly helping your child to grow their confidence, along with honing their creativity and communication skills. If you have a budding actor or a child that could do with a confidence boost, this is a fun game to help them.
For Levelling Up on Spellings
- Age: 7 / Players 2-8
We know what it’s like, your child is given a weekly list of spellings, which you never have time for. It’s ok, this is a judgement-free space! In all honesty, it’s hard to get the kids to do their homework, which is why Think Words is a saviour. One of the best games for families to play together, it taxes your brain to think of new and creative words, helping with spelling and general language competency.
It’s ever so easy to play too. You simply set the timer and pick up a card, which offers a theme. It might be ‘Wild Animals’ for instance. The first player thinks of a word that corresponds to a letter and presses it down on the board. One by one each player follows until they beat all the letters – or the letters beat them. It’s a game of agility, of creativity and of testing your knowledge to its limits… and that’s just for adults!
For Thinking Outside the Box
- Age: 8 / Players 1+
Although Gravitrax might not instantly strike you as a family board game, Amazon reviews beg to differ. In a short space of time, this has become a hugely popular game for boys and girls, loosely based on marble games mixed in with a touch of canon run for good measure. And the premise is one that children from 8 years and older will enjoy, while secretly honing their STEM skills and problem-solving agility.
For those new to the game, players use constructors and master builders to create a marble run, using kinetics to propel it. It’s pretty compulsive playing, so much so that parents are equally as into it as kids! Ensuring that you never get bored, there are various starter packs and additions you can add to the set to grow it. Helping children to express their creativity and play around with gravity and different challenges, it’s a very fun interactive family board game that you won’t regret investing in.
Advances Strategic Thinking
Ticket to Ride, London Edition
- Age: 8 / Players 3
If you’re looking for the best games for families to play together from all ages, ‘Ticket to Ride’ is… well, just the ticket! Don’t be put off by the less-than-exciting packaging, this is a rather thoughtful game that appeals to newbies as much as seasoned players. This London version is particularly fun, as it throws back to the capital in the 70s, in its heyday of fashion, music and culture.
Start by jumping abroad a double-decker bus, taking a journey back in time through London’s historic streets. This whistle-stop tour doesn’t miss off any of the tourist highlights, from the River Thames to Buckingham Palace, which requires players to claim bus lines and complete their destination tickets throughout the capital.
Keeping it simple, the winning player is the one who scores the most points. In terms of aiding learning, this adventure-packed game involves strategic thinking and tactical playing to keep a competitive edge. Perhaps, it’s also teaching them that parents play to win too – and that’s no bad lesson either!