Board games are a fantastic way to spend more time with family and friends. While the most important feature of a board game is simply that it’s entertaining, it can also be educational. Why not learn something while you’re having fun?
Some educational board games are clearly for little kids or more focused on learning new concepts than relaxing with an interesting, thought-provoking game. There’s nothing wrong with those games, but the ones in this list are more for everyone, whether you’re a young kid or an older adult. No matter how old you are, you just might walk away from all of these games having learned some new fact or way of looking at things.
Test Your Math Skills: Math Fluxx
If you’re unfamiliar with theFluxx card games, they’re popular for having ever-changing rules. So the initial goal you and other players start out with could change, or the path to achieving that goal could change throughout gameplay. There are many versions ofFluxxbutMath Fluxx is an awesome educational version.
There are four basic card types inMath Fluxx (and typically allFluxx games): Keepers, Goals, Rules, and Actions. You place Keeper cards in front of you and use them to meet the conditions on Goal cards. Rule cards take effect immediately and alter gameplay, and Action cards are used once and then discarded.
WithMath Fluxxyou’re tasked with finding the correct combination of numbers to match the goal. For example, if the Goal card reads “42,” you’ll need to find Keeper cards with a “4” and a “2” on them to win the game. But of course, winningFluxx is never that simple. Action cards and Rule cards can shake up gameplay and make it easier for you to win or harder for someone else. Or they might not accomplish anything at all. Fluxx is always… well, in flux.
There are also special Plan B and Plan C Meta Rules that you can add to the game’s base rules for even more math-focused gameplay. The Plan B Meta Rule lets players use addition, multiplication, or a combination of operations to meet the goal and win. The Plan C Meta Rule only allows a player to win by the non-traditional rules, and you’re penalized if you try to win by the game’s normal base rules.
Anyone ages eight and up can playMath Fluxxand each game takes between 5 to 30 minutes to finish. Two to six players can play this game as well as the other educational versions of Fluxxlike Astronomy Fluxx and Chemistry Fluxx.
Test Your Math Skills
Fluxx games are a ton of fun because the rules are ever-changing and each game you play is always a different experience. Math Fluxx tests your quick wit and mathematical skills, making you use addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division to reach your goal.
Explore the World: Globe Runner
Globe Runner is a great game to teach you about all the countries. You compete against other players or teams to finish a race around the world, answering multiple-choice trivia questions along the way. You’ll find questions on countries, capital cities, flags of the world, and more that’ll teach you the intricacies of each country.
What’s awesome aboutGlobe Runner is that it can be adjusted for different levels of knowledge from younger and older people. For example, a nine-year-old player would choose between two possible trivia answers, while an adult would choose between four possibilities.
Then, there are special squares throughout the large, colorful game board that help you catch up to your opponents. These special squares allow you to use the highest mountain peak on every continent to jump forward or risk the hazards of crossing Antarctica, Cape Horn, the Sahara, or the Bermuda Triangle.
Each game takes about 30 to 60 minutes to complete, depending on how many players you have. You can play with a total of two to six players or teams, and anyone age nine and up can take part in the fun.
Explore the World
Can you get around the world faster than everyone else? In Globe Runneryou get to learn all about different countries throughout the world as you make your way through the colorful game board.
Travel Through Time: Trekking Through History
While playingTrekking Through Historyyou’ll come across 108 remarkable historic events and meet some legendary people along the way. For each of the 108 events, there’s an oversized card with original artwork on one side and a detailed story on the other side. This board game was created alongside a team of historians and experts, so it’s a great way to learn about momentous occasions in our history.
The game comes with a Neoprene playmat, which acts as the game board, 108 History cards, 12 Ancestor cards, a clock used for tracking time throughout the game, and four pocket watch pieces that go on the clock. Then, there are four scoring tokens, a variety of experience tokens, 24 Itinerary cards, four Crystal Tanks to fill up, and 16 Time Crystal tokens to fill the tanks up with. There are 12 hour spaces on the clock, and once each player has reached the 12th hour, the day (or round) is over. The game is played over three total days.
To set up the game, you lay out the playmat, give each of the two to four players four Itinerary cards and a Crystal Tank, and place the Ancestry cards face up on the board. Each player also chooses their preferred color pocket watch token and scoring marker token. You’ll separate out Day One History cards from Day Two and Day Three and deal out five cards face up on the playmat for players to choose from. Players then look at their Itinerary cards and choose the one they want to start the game with.
On each player’s turn, they’ll choose a card from the available options on the board, strategically choosing older dates if possible. The card tells players how many spaces (or hours) to move their pocket watch token ahead on the clock.
There will also be symbols at the bottom of the History card that indicates which experience tokens you can collect to place on your Itinerary card. Some cards reward you with Time Crystals, which you can use to extend your trek and move your pocket watch token fewer spaces during the next historic event you visit. The longer it takes for your pocket watch to reach the 12th hour on the clock, the more events you can visit and collect for points.
If you keep your History cards in chronological order as you progress through the game, you’ll earn extra points at the end of the game—and the person with the most points is the winner! Ancestry cards have a flexible date, which can help keep all your historical events in chronological order.
Players choose a new Itinerary card from their unused stack when a new day begins. After three total days of play, everyone calculates their final scores. You earn points from History cards, Itinerary cards, unspent Time Crystals, and for how many cards each of your chronological Treks have. Anyone ages 10 and up can play, and despite the rules sounding a bit complicated, a game only takes about 30 to 60 minutes to play.
Travel Through Time
Trekking Through History
Trekking Through History is the perfect way to make learning about history a bit more fun. With beautiful artwork, plenty of ways to earn points, and intricate strategies mixed into gameplay, this is an educational game you’ll want to have in your collection.
Tell a Story Like a Pro: Dixit
Reading and writing are two educational skills that people seem to either love or hate. No matter which camp you fall into,Dixit helps make storytelling fun, something to look forward to rather than dread.
There are 84 oversized, charmingly illustrated image cards, six wooden rabbits that act as player tokens, 36 voting tokens, and a scoreboard. Players take turns as the storyteller, choosing a card from their hand and giving a clue word or sentence related to that image. Based on the storyteller’s clue word, all other players choose a card from their hand that best represents that clue.
Once everyone has chosen a card and placed it face down in the center of the group, all the cards are shuffled and revealed at the same time. Players then use the voting tokens to guess which card is the storyteller’s. The scoring system is complex, as the storyteller doesn’t earn any points if everyone or no one votes for their card. When you’re the storyteller, you essentially need for at least one person to vote for your card, but not everyone.
After each round, everyone draws back up to six cards and the person to the left of the previous storyteller becomes the new storyteller. The first person to reach a total of 30 points is declared the winner! You can playDixit with three to six players, ages eight and up, and each game takes about 30 minutes to complete.
Tell a Story Like a Pro
Dixit is a fantastic game to foster creative storytelling capabilities. Each story card is beautifully illustrated, and the replayability possibilities are endless.
Learn the Life Cycle of Trees: Photosynthesis
Photosynthesis focuses in on one specific aspect of the sciences: the life cycle of trees. With two to four players, you compete to see who can take the most trees through an entire life cycle, from seedling to full maturity. As with many games, the player with the most points at the end is the winner.
In the Photosynthesis phase, you earn points as your tree’s leaves collect energy from revolving sun rays. On the main game board, there’s a sun at one corner, and that’s where you put a large sun piece that rotates throughout the game. If the sun is in the top right corner, it’s going to cast light diagonally to the bottom left of the board, following the on-board arrows.
There are three sizes of trees: small, medium, and tall. Each tree size casts a different amount of shade, translated into a number of spaces. For example, a small tree casts shade one space behind it when the sun is shining in its direction, while a medium tree casts shade on two spaces and a tall tree on three spaces.
You and other players strategically place your available tree pieces on the board, starting in the outer circles of the board. You have to be careful where you place your trees because if your tree ends up being in a shadow cast by other trees, it won’t collect light, and you won’t earn points. Since the sun rotates to six different locations around the board, you also have to think about where shade will be cast in future turns.
A medium tree that’s in front of two small trees when the sun is shining directly at it will block those small trees from earning light points, even if they’re all your trees and not an opponent’s. It’s possible to grow one of those small trees to be taller than that medium tree, and then they’ll both earn points—at least, when the sun is shining in that one location and not its five other locations.
In the Life Cycle phase, players can use earned light points to reserve seeds or trees, plant them, and grow them on the board. Points are then scored by maturing your trees and collecting them from the board, thus ending their life cycle.
A full game lasts 18 rounds, each of which cons ists of a Photosynthesis phase and a Life Cycle phase. Anyone ages eight and up can play, and it takes roughly 30 to 45 minutes to complete a full game.
Learn the Life Cycle of Trees
Photosynthesis lets you follow along the life cycle of a tree, from seedling to fully grown to rebirth, and learn about the environmental science behind the process. How many trees can you see fully through their life cycles?
Exercise Strategy Skills: Mastermind
There’s a reasonMastermind is one of the best-selling board games of all time. The game’s premise is simple. One person creates a code using the included colored pegs, and another person tries to figure out the code. These roles are referred to as codemaker and codebreaker, respectively.
There are over 2,000 possible codes, so the replayability factor withMastermind is high. You can use multiple pegs of the same color or leave one or more peg holes empty to make the code harder to break. This is a great way to make the game more difficult once you and another player have mastered the basics.
Only two people can playMastermind at once, and you take turns playing the role of codemaker and codebreaker. This game teaches STEM principles like deductive reasoning and logic. Anyone ages eight and up can play, and a single game takes only 20 minutes.
Exercise Strategy Skills
While not educational in its content, Mastermind helps you exercise strategy and keep your brain sharp. Whether you’re the codemaker or the codebreaker, Mastermind will keep you on your toes.
More Niche Educational Games
There’s probably a board game out there for every educational topic you can think of, but that would certainly be too many to list. Here are just a few of many unique educational games that teach essential, often overlooked concepts and subjects:
- Rock & Mineral Game Set:This is actually an educational STEM tool for one to four kids, ages six and up, comprised of 25 large rock specimens, over 150 polished gemstones, and multiple fun games to try out. Depending on which game you play or how many games in total you play, you could easily spend five minutes to an hour with this set. There are six double-sided game boards so you can play rock bingo, mineral memory, gem-tac-toe, trivia, and more.
- Planet:Two to four players can partake in this environmental drafting board game in which you take on the role of super-beings and compete to create a perfect world. Each player’s “board” is a 12-sided 3D planet core, and you take turns collecting animal cards and selecting landscape tiles that represent oceans, deserts, mountains, or frozen lands. Whoever arranges the best conditions for wildlife to flourish is the winner! Anyone ages eight and up can play, and each game takes between 30 to 45 minutes to finish.
- Pay Day:By going to school, you learn about math, science, literature, and history, but how much do you learn about finances?Pay Day teaches players all about earning a paycheck and budgeting as much as you can amidst bills and inevitable emergency expenditures. Two to four people (ages eight and up) can play, and you can choose how many 31-day game cycles you want to play. Whoever has the most money at the end of the game is the winner. In a game that lasts three months, you’ll be playing for roughly 30 minutes.
- Election Night:This game teaches kids addition and multiplication facts, US state geography, and how the Electoral College works. Anyone ages eight and up can play, and either two players or two teams compete against one another to earn critical electoral votes. The game board (updated with the 2024 Electoral College) is dry-erase and double-sided, with one side focusing on addition and the other on multiplication. By rolling the unique 12-sided dice, players compete to find the right number to win a state, prevent opponents from winning a state, and ultimately win the necessary 270 votes. It takes between 30 to 60 minutes to play a game ofElection Night.
- Evolution: Oceans: If you’ve ever been intrigued by everything that lurks beneath the ocean’s surface, this is the game for you. Two to four players, ages 12 and up, create unique species by playing trait cards, feed those species by foraging for food or eating other species, and gain points as surviving species grow older. The game’s artwork is gorgeous, and with over 200 trait and power cards and 25 scenario cards, the unique species possibilities are endless. A typical game lasts between 60 to 90 minutes.