Whether you’re looking to spice up your classroom activities or kick off a family game night, these are some of our favorite games to play with students. Each offers it’s own combination of fun and educational activities sure to engage even your most reluctant players. Enjoy!
ELEMENTARY (GRADES 2-5)
Roll and Move: In this classic, players must press their luck with dice and choose combinations tactically to close out three columns. The board has one column for each possible total of two six-sided dice, but the number of spaces in each column varies: the more probable a total, the more spaces in that column and the more rolls it takes to complete. The player places or advances progress markers in the open column(s) associated with their chosen totals, then chooses whether to roll again or end their turn and replace the progress markers with markers of their color.
Tsuro – The Game of the Path
Roll and Move: Create your own journey with Tsuro: The Game of the Path! Place a tile and slide your stone along the path created, but take care. Other players’ paths can lead you in the wrong direction—or off the board entirely! Paths will cross and connect, and the choices you make affect all the journeys across the board. Find your way wisely and be the last player left on the board to win!
Roll and Move/Resource Management: Basari is a game of gem merchants competing in a marketplace, racing, collecting, trading, and predicting what the other merchants will do. Several games use the simultaneous action selection mechanism, but this is perhaps one of the best.
Resource Management: Catan Junior takes families with children ages 6 and up to a place quite different from Catan as we know it. Players slip into the role of pirates who build their hideouts – called pirates’ lairs – all over the islands and set sail to find new places and build more pirates’ lairs there.
Theme Discovery, Visual Literacy, ESL: Dixit is the lovingly illustrated game of creative guesswork, where your imagination unlocks the tale. In this award-winning board game, players will use the beautiful imagery on their cards to bluff their opponents and guess which image matches the story. Guessing right is only half the battle – to really succeed, you’ll have to get your friends to decide that your card tells the story!
Card Game: They say that the ocean is the inspiration for countless works of great art. Such is the case with Mermaid Beach, a game that came about while 8-year-old Emily Ehlers spent an entire year living aboard a sailboat and travelling the world by sea. Emily, along with help from her brothers, Jake and Drew, came up this wildly imaginative card game that has all elements of a great Gamewright game: fantastic art, whimsical characters, and a set of rules that are easy to learn, yet engaging enough to lure you back for more.
Escape – The curse of the Temple
Cooperative Resource Management: An adventure in Real Time! If a player is left behind, you need to rescue him. Otherwise, you´ll all lose! You are a team of adventurers – trapped in a cursed temple. Together you must activate the magic gems in the temple chambers in order to banish the curse. Look out for one another. Some tasks can be accomplished only as a team – and you have only 10 minutes before the temple collapses! Escape is a cooperative real-time game that is not played in rounds. Instead, each player rolls as quickly and as often as he can with his five dice.
Spacial Awareness, Strategic Thinking – The goal of Blokus is for players to fit all of their variously shaped pieces onto the board. It promotes strategic thinking and spatial awareness as you try to block out your opponents and fit in your own oddly shaped pieces.
MIDDLE & HIGH SCHOOL (GRADES 6-12)
Resource Management: Picture yourself in the era of discoveries: after a long voyage of great deprivation, your ships have finally reached the coast of an uncharted island. Its name shall be Catan! But you are not the only discoverer. Other fearless seafarers have also landed on the shores of Catan: the race to settle the island has begun!
Card-Based Resource Management: Dare to discover Forbidden Island! Join a team of fearless adventurers on a do-or-die mission to capture four sacred treasures from the ruins of this perilous paradise. Your team will have to work together and make some pulse-pounding maneuvers, as the island will sink beneath every step! Race to collect the treasures and make a triumphant escape before you are swallowed into the watery abyss!
King of Tokyo
Competitive/Cooperative Resource Management : Play mutant monsters, gigantic robots and other monstrous creatures, rampaging the city and vying for position as the one and only King of Tokyo! Combine your dice to gather energy, heal your monster or just slap the other monsters down! Spend your energy to trigger permanent or one-shot special powers: a second head, body armor, nova death ray…Stop at nothing to become the King of Tokyo… but that’s when the real trouble begins for you!
Ticket to Ride
Resource Management: Ticket to Ride is a cross-country train adventure in which players collect and play matching train cards to claim railway routes connecting cities throughout North America.
Cooperative Resource Management: As skilled members of a disease-fighting team, you must keep four deadly diseases at bay while discovering their cures. You and your teammates will travel across the globe, treating infections while finding resources for cures. You must work as a team to succeed. Pandemic is a cooperative game, all players win or lose together. The clock is ticking as outbreaks and epidemics fuel the spreading plagues. Can you find all four cures in time? The fate of humanity is in your hands!
Resource Management: A long time ago, the Emperor of China offered the Emperor of Japan as a symbol of peace. Your delicate mission is to take care of the animal by growing a bamboo plantation. But be careful with the animal and its unhealthy appetite for the crispy shoots….
Memory, Literacy Development, Creativity – A classic party game, Scattergories requires players to brainstorm words to fit into certain categories, and skills like word recall and creative thinking are rewarded. If you’re looking to get a bit more vocal with your gameplay, consider Taboo as well.
Literacy Development – Players race against each other to build a crossword grid and use up all their tiles. Kids get to practice spelling and vocabulary skills, plus the pace of play is much, much faster than Scrabble, keeping kids invested.
Strategic Thinking, Deduction, Problem Solving – By taking good notes and making valid inferences, players can eventually deduce the correct identity of the hidden cards, strengthening deductive reasoning skills, in this classic game. If you’re wary of playing the original version, consider using one of the many adaptations of Clue, including everything from Junior to Harry Potter to Game of Thrones versions.