Board games and card games make for great family nights and ways to occupy kids on rainy days at home. They’re also a classroom staple and make for great distance learning tools! Cooperation, strategy, math, literacy, content knowledge, FUN … there’s a game for that! From classic to brand new, here are 21 of the best board games for elementary classrooms and beyond.
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1. Camelot Jr.
Create paths between the princess and the knight with these 48 puzzles of increasing difficulty. The classroom bonus of this logic game (along with Castle Logix, Three Little Piggies and Little Red Riding Hood from the same company) is in the built-in flexibility. Students can work alone or with peers, progress through the series at their own pace, and check their own answers.
2. Rush Hour
Here’s another well-loved logic puzzle game that students can play alone or with peers. We love having this on hand for kids who need an extra challenge.
Games and puzzles from Eeboo always win for visual appeal, but this one also scores high for effectiveness. Tackle a skill that all kids need to learn in a fun and engaging way. Adaptable for telling time to the hour, half-hour, five minutes and minute—this is a ready-made math center.
Whether you’ve held onto a vintage set or you want to snag the newer version with updated colors, this code-making and -breaking game is a perennial favorite for indoor recess or early work finishers.
Do you have some students who need to learn how to follow directions and both win and lose with grace? Let this old favorite board game do the teaching.
This fancy version of the “What am I?” game is hilarious AND a language-booster. Use the cards provided or make your own to review vocabulary or content information.
Players create a growing map by matching tiles that include rivers, roads, and train track routes. We love leaving this out as a “community game” for students to stop by and play a few turns during a free moment. It is an excellent extension during a mapping unit, too.
Add structure and fun to classroom charades with this game that awards participants for creativity in acting out silly scenarios. It’s easily adaptable for team play during a whole-class brain break.
9. Guess Who?
This enduring game—and its deductive reasoning builds vocabulary and language skills—is one of our favorites on the list of best board games for elementary classes. Beyond the original cast of characters, there are limitless possibilities for adapting this game to help students review content information. Just replace the cards with pictures related to your curriculum.
10. Twister Ultimate
For indoor recess or a movement break, this updated version of the standby group game will get everyone out of their seats and laughing. The larger play mat lets more kids join in the fun.
Capitalize on kids’ love of trading cards with this card game that allows students to choose the statistic that will “trump” opponents. Decks come in many topics, from Harry Potter to geography to dogs. Don’t see a deck on the topic you want? Once they know the game, kids love to create their own decks, too.
12. Old Mummy
This updated version of Old Maid appeals to kids with its werewolves, zombies and other spooky creatures. Introduce it as a Halloween center and leave it out as a fun indoor recess option all year long.
Simple to learn and easy to adapt and extend, Tenzi makes for the perfect classroom math game, especially for kids who love to go FAST. (Save yourself from the noise of dozens of clattering dice and give each player a cafeteria tray lined with a sheet of felt for rolling.)
There’s something so satisfying about these smooth wooden tiles. Scale down this attribute-matching game for younger students, or unleash older kiddos to wage full-on strategy battles.
Build students’ spatial thinking skills with this fun puzzle game. Twist, turn, and flip 16 dice to recreate the patterns shown on cards. As written, the game directions include three different rounds of play, but the materials are easily adaptable for a shortened version at a math center, too.
This Connect 4 and Tic-Tac-Toe hybrid requires no set-up and encourages kids to think one step ahead. Stack X and O blocks to try to get a row of four—but with different colors and symbols on each block face, students need to be careful their move doesn’t inadvertently win the game for their opponent.
Players must match noun cards to relevant adjective cards. This is one of our fave games for vocabulary development, especially for ELL students. It’s simple to customize it to contain words you want to target, too.
Do your students a favor and introduce them to this classic word-lovers’ pastime. Kids can play each other or join forces to beat the teacher.
It takes patience, a steady hand, and thoughtful consideration to place wire pieces on the game structure without toppling it. This is a fun game to connect to STEM explorations of structures or balance.
This unique storytelling game is an awesome addition to the ELA classroom. Players must describe fantastical cards in creative ways and decipher the descriptions of others. We love how this game can give striving readers and writers the chance to shine creatively.
Here’s a great option that allows advanced and upper elementary students to sharpen their mental math skills. Players create equations from an array of cards to make a target number. The directions suggest including addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and square roots as options—but you’re the teacher, so adapt away!
What do you think are the best board games for elementary students? Come and share in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.