When it comes to learning, people tend to get a lot of things wrong. Many see it as a necessary evil that’s boring, inflexible, and frustrating. The word may well conjure up images of desks, difficult textbooks, and those godforsaken flashcards neither child nor parent particularly likes. And while those things certainly can play an important role in the educational process, they still remain only one part of it. There’s so much more to learning for children and adults than complicated reads or tiring lectures. Similarly, it doesn’t have to be synonymous with negativity. Sometimes learning can be all about fun and games – literally!
The Basics of Learning Games
Before launching straight into the actual games that you should pick up, it’s kind of important to know what they are in the first place. Learning games, also known as educational games, are games created with educational purposes in mind or that can at the very least be used in an educational way. Nowadays, there’s a definite focus on video games as well as general online ones, but learning games come in a wide range of types with two of the common being board games and card games. These fun activities are created for a wide range of ages and are designed to help people learn new concepts, develop creative thinking and problem solving, teach certain skills, or build upon current knowledge.
The specifics of this depend on the age of the players, the game’s content, the players’ current level of skill, as well as other factors, although most learning games usually have a focus on critical thinking, memory and recall, and strategy. For children especially, though, learning games do more than just develop these mental tools. They also teach kids about goals, persistence, rules, adaptation, patience, healthy competition, and how to interact with those around them, whether they happen to be on the same team or not. Together, these ensure that kids are not only receiving an education that will aid them in the classroom, but also in real life long after they grow up.
Best Offline Educational Games
While online and other digital games have their time and place, sometimes lessons beyond technological literacy can take a bit of a backseat. The actual medium of online learning games can sometimes also present a challenge, distracting kids from the valuable skills they’re trying to develop. We don’t want that! This means that some of the best educational games are those that are offline, tangible, and hands-on. Allowing for greater focus, better engagement, easier adaptation, and deeper interaction, 3D card games and board games can be an amazing teacher. But with so many options available, figuring out the one that’s right for your kids can feel overwhelming. Don’t worry, we’re got your back. Here are a few of our favorite offline learning games that we think you (and your kids) will love.
Scattergories is a bit of an oldie, but it definitely also falls into the category of a goodie. This learning game is one that can pack a punch when it comes to developing reading, spelling, vocabulary, and language arts in addition to the usual sportsmanship.
The main components of the game consist of a giant die and several category cards covering everything from insects to body parts to traditional boys’ names. You roll the dice to get a letter of the alphabet and then draw a random category card. After that it’s crunch time, because players have to list out as many words that fit their letter and category assignment in a very limited amount of time. The concept is simple and easy to pick up, but effective at developing spelling and critical thinking skills. In other words, perfect for getting kids to learn without even realizing it! Good for them and good for us.
Are your kids the type who would figuratively (or literally – we don’t know your children) throw their money out the window? It’s a hard issue to broach considering financial literacy is rather dull for any of us to learn. After all, who likes being told they should be smarter with their cash? Nobody, that’s who, and kids are the same. Luckily, there are learning games out there that can help develop these essential skills, teaching them about financial risk, how to make smart investments, and even how to navigate through liabilities and assets just like in real life.
Cashflow is one of the best out there combining practical real-world skills and the fun of a board game. It was also invented by a real businessman and investment specialist, so you know the information your kids are getting is sound and useful. A big bonus to this particular game? It’s entertaining and educational for parents, too. It even comes in a Kids’ version for those who want to teach their kids good money and investment habits from early on. If you have kids older than 10 or 11 the regular version should be just fine, but the Kids’ one is a must-buy if your rugrats happen to be of the younger variety.
Catan – Formerly Settlers of Catan
If you’ve ever been invited over to a friend or family member’s home for a board game night, odds are someone has suggested to break out Catan, and for good reason. It’s a great game and one that even the most resistant or skeptical game night invitee can easily find themselves getting into.
The goal of the game is rather simple: to get as many points as possible. This is done by acquiring resources, which can then be traded for roads, buildings, and settlement upgrades that will expand your empire and reward you points. The rules are easy to learn and the game is incredibly engaging, but there’s a little more to it under the surface. Settlers of Catan also happens to be an ideal learning game for children thanks to its focus on strategic building and trading, resource management, and long-term planning.
An age-old favorite, Scrabble has been enjoyed by all walks of life. Children, parents, teachers, rock stars – all have fallen victim to its charm. Thankfully, Scrabble rewards that by providing not only hours of fun but also encouraging proper spelling, strategy, and on-your-feet thinking. If the other players are like most, the game also has a tendency to build patience as most love to ruminate over poor tiles or put down their words way too slowly. The gist of the game is easy even for young children to pick up. Players simply take turns placing by placing letters on the board and forming words. Points are rewarded and the person with the most wins. Parents and older children can do well with the original Scrabble, but there’s also a junior version should you want to play with kids who are still budding readers.
Despite the fact its name sounds like something you’d tell somebody after sneezing, this learning game is perhaps the best you can come across. For those who want the most bang for your buck, this is it. Spielgaben is an advanced learning game and educational tool for children ages 1 to 12 years old.
It’s actually comprised of 14 different sets, all with different pieces and guides to help your child learn in a fun and versatile way. It can be used for everything including art, literacy, imaginative play, mathematics, scientific exploration, and for the younger children, fine motor skills. In all honesty, it’s really a home learning resource first and game second, but the included curriculum feels like playing even for the more knowing and suspecting kids out there.
A staple in many households for generations, chess is perhaps one of the most well-known learning games on the market. Like many of the others on this list, chess is a perfect activity for the whole family. Kids can learn from it, but parents aren’t going to be missing out either. The play can be challenging and intense or relaxed and simplified for those who are still new to the rules or don’t want too much of a challenge. That flexibility makes it easily scalable so anybody can play, but people ages 8+ will likely have a better time and be able to engage with its strategy components more effectively.
Vaguely reminiscent to bingo or tic-tac-toe, the goal of Sequence is easy and familiar. The endgame is to get 5 chips in a row and win. Players achieve this by choosing a card from their hand and placing a chip on the corresponding area of the game board. Their card is then discarded, they draw a new one, and the next person takes their turns. It’s fast-paced and appears simplistic at first glance, but a significant amount of thinking, planning, and tactical skill goes into it as one has to account for their current cards, future ones, and the actions of the other players if they want any chance at winning. The result is that Sequence makes a great learning game to test and develop related skills. The boardgame can be played by anywhere from 2 players to 12 players as long as teams are established, which means teamwork, communication, and group planning are all learned during the game as well.
The result is that Sequence makes a great learning game to test and develop related skills. The boardgame can be played by anywhere from 2 players to 12 players as long as teams are established, which means teamwork, communication, and group planning are all learned during the game as well.
Are you and your children highly competitive people? Are you willing to play a game for hours with no end in sight? Well, if so, we can’t with good conscience recommend Monopoly. We would prefer not being held responsible for any slammed doors or ruined friendships. If you’re just wanting a solid learning game that’s fun, challenging, requires good tactics, and teaches how to be smart with money, then we supposed we can give our blessing.
Everyone knows how Monopoly is played. You are given a set amount of cash at the beginning, roll the dice, move to the corresponding space, and eventually buy properties, collect rent, and make lucrative deals with other players much as you would when really doing business. Choices feel weighty, gameplay is interesting, and winning is satisfying. Beyond this, however, several good financial lessons are taught such as the importance of diverse investments, wise spending, asset management, and reasonable risk taking. That and how to stop ridiculous fights over fake money, which is an important lesson in of itself.
– What did you think of our list? Have a favorite learning game that didn’t make it here? Reach out and tell us about it. –