Teaching with board games is one of my favorite things. Board games have always been one of my obsessions. Some of my earliest memories are playing “Sorry” and eating popcorn. Sitting on the floor playing “Uno” when I barely knew my colors and I was just learning to recognize my numbers. Being part of a circle of friends and playing “Spoons” or long heated battles of “Skip-Bo”.
Even as a teenager, game time was more entertaining than television. My cousin and I spent hours playing “Clue” and “Connect-Four” or “Battleship”.
Education and Games
Over the years, I have tried to instill that same love of games in my children and my students. Both my classroom and my home have a cupboard stuffed full of games. Some of them are great for game night with the whole family, others my kids take out and play with each other or the neighbor kids come over and play. In my classroom, my students are always excited when we have a snow day because they can play in the game cupboard.
The best part: games are educational and most the time, children just feel like they are playing and having fun. Bonus!!
*this post contains affiliate links, please read my disclosure for more information
The following list is just a few games that are great if you are wanting to use board games in the classroom. Want to see the whole list (plus a few other classics) in one glorious visual array? View the Teaching with Board Games list:
Games for Literacy:
- Boggle: A letter board is shown, and players find hidden words in the letters. You can purchase a version with dice and a timer or for emergent readers and spellers, you can play without the timer.
- Scattergories: This is a great game for building vocabulary. Players pick a card, have a score sheet, and roll a die. Each card has a list of categories and players have to fill in the blank with a related word that matches the letter on the rolled die.
- Apples to Apples: A longtime family favorite. It’s a great way to learn about adjectives and adverbs. One player picks a word, all the other players look in their the hand to find a card that fits the word. This is a great game for a larger number of kids. Be prepared for some laughter and a little craziness.
- Scrabble (or Bananagrams): These games are for students who have a strong grasp on spelling and vocabulary. Players look at the tiles they have drawn and the board and try to create words based on available spaces to play and the words they can create with their tiles.
- Yahtzee: It starts with 5 dice and a score sheet. There are different combinations that a player needs to roll and complete the score sheet. The player that completes the score sheet first, wins. Your students will use all sorts of math skills: adding, multiplying, patterns, and sequencing.
- Battleship: This game kept my cousin and I busy for HOURS. When you are teaching with math games, this one is great for teaching coordinate planes and the x and y-axis. Students will place their ships in a random design on their side of the board. Then, they will take turns guessing locations to try and hit each other’s boats. When all of a player’s ships have been sunk, the game ends.
- Mastermind: A classic. It’s a great game for teaching and practicing logic. One player creates and hides a pattern of color pegs. The other player has a limited number of chances to try and crack the code. It’s an old fashion version of a “Think Fun” Game.
- Uno: (I couldn’t resist linking a Mario Bros version of this game) This one is great for colors, numbers, turn taking, and a little strategy. It works for 2 players or a larger group. Students love this game and another bonus is that the easy cleanup!
- A Classic Deck of Cards: I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t include a good ol’ fashion deck of cards. Besides playing “Go Fish” or “War” there are a number of other ways to play that build math skills. Use it to play a multiplication game. Another way is to play “Twenty-One” so they have to add the face value of their cards. There are so many ways to use a classic deck of cards for math skills that I could write another post!
How Can I Find Time for Teaching with Board Games?
Indoor Recess or Classroom Rewards
If you use a classroom rewards system in the classroom, then incorporating games can be added to the reward list just like extra recesses or movies.
Unplanned time like an indoor recess on a super cold day is another great time to bring out the games in the cupboard. Student’s will get a brain break and you will get a few minutes of non-teaching time to refresh your own brain and get ready for the next session of learning.
Family Night or Parent Night
Our district has a “Family Night” once a month. We set a theme, serve a free dinner for the community that is provided by one of the high school classes, and then have activities for parents in different classrooms. We set up the classrooms as centers or stations. Setting up a bingo game or a board game on different tables is a great way for parents and their children to interact in the educational setting.
Where Do I Find the Money Teaching with Board Games?
This list of games above is linked to Amazon. That’s not the only way to collect the games you want or need for your classroom. Yard sales are a great way to add to the games you use in your classroom. There are a few different ways you can add to your collection. One way is to use money that you receive from Adopt a Classroom or create a Donors Choose request that will help you start a really great collection of games.
You are a teacher. You are resourceful. I’m sure you will be able to build a great collection of games that you and your students will enjoy for years to come. It might be hard to find the time but teaching with board games is a great addition to your lesson plans!