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Top 10 Educational Games

Educational Games - Magic Maths

Two years ago, we were in home-schooling hell. Not that I ever miss a chance to get my child to learn something. But mid-pandemic, working from home and teaching full time was a real battle of wits and wills! We had to get sneaky. Find ways to make learning fun for a kid stuck at home on his own with two harassed, overworked, and overstimulated parents! And boy did board games hit the spot! For every topic on the curriculum, we found a great game that matched. What a turning point, and what an education for us too! The power of games to encourage learning at any age in a fun and accessible way is unparalleled, so here are some great educational games choices for the little (and not so little!) gamers in your group!

Educational Games Ages 5+

1. Magic Maths

Published by Orchard Toys, Magic Maths is one title from their great collection of games for younger players which help reinforce kids’ learning in ways that are engaging, colourful, and definitely don’t feel like homework! In Magic Maths, up to four wizards use their budding number skills to solve a range of sums (addition, subtraction, and multiplication) to gain gruesome ingredients which they can place on their cauldron boards.

Players begin with 6 randomly selected square number tiles (with charmingly grim images on the back!) and then take it in turns to try to match their answers to the sums they select from a shared pool of rectangular sum tiles. The first player to solve their sums and fill all six empty spots on their cauldron board completes their potion and is declared the winning wizard! In a magical twist, each sum tile has a heat reactive panel on the back which can be rubbed to check the answer. Combine this neat trick with the chance to shout abracadabra every time one player steals a sum from another (especially fun when that player is a grown up!), and Magic Maths is guaranteed to get your budding wizards number crunching!

2. Magic Market

Magic Market by LOKI KIDS and Coiledspring Games is all about the spellbinding soft sell! Playing mystical merchants, players have stalls of magical items they want to sell for the most Dragos. But, the customers only want to buy specific items (cheek!). As such, you need to ensure that your stall has the goodies they’re going for. If you don’t have them yet, remember where they are located on the rondel and try to grab them on your next turn! You also need to go shopping around the market to fill your own magical bag with just the right things! Just be sure not to pay too much!

Magic market is a great combination of memory, economics, dice rolling, trading and negotiation. The components are lovely and, at around 30 minutes it definitely doesn’t overstay its welcome. Picking items and making change is a win on the maths front, and with advanced modes to keep older or more experienced players engaged, this is a wonderful, colourful, versatile, quality family game with bonus learning opportunities snuck in!

3. Team Story

It feels like there is a magical theme to this educational games blog, but it is not intentional! Team Story by LOKI KIDS and Coiledspring games is a lovely little game where everyone is playing apprentice magicians. This time, players are trying to put the pages of a magical book back together in the right order. Using a selection of beautifully illustrated fairytale inspired cards, one player tells a story whilst the others listen. Then those cards get shuffled and mixed with others. It is down to the listeners to retell the story, putting the right images in the right order

And what is loveliest of all is that everybody gets varying amounts of points if the listeners succeed through clear and detailed story telling! Any excuse to get my own son reading and making up stories (except about doing his homework or where his carrots have disappeared to!) is always taken. But in Team Story, we don’t need a reason – he actively wants to play and re-tell fairy tales in his own way. He also wants to listen which, be honest, in a 7 year old is a mini miracle! Haha. This is a game which is great fun at any age and my own comprehension and memory skills are improving with each educational games play time.

4. Dobble

Dobble aka Spot It! Just one play and you’ll know why; this game is all about spotting! Spotting icons that match and it is not as easy as it sounds! Whichever of the five included mini-game variants (Well, Hot Potato, Triplet, Poisoned Gift, or Tower) you play, you need to have sharp eyes and fast fingers!

The basic Tower gameplay is simple; be first to match a symbol on the card in front of you with one on the central card and you get to keep the central card. When the deck runs out, the player with the most cards is the winner. To muddle up your mind, the 8 symbols used across the cards are always the same, but they are different sizes and orientations. And there is only ever one symbol on your card that repeats on the card in the middle. I don’t know how they do it – it must be magic again! Haha But fast, furious fun aside, the pattern recognition skills in Dobble are essential life skills. They help to develop sequencing, logic, perception, problem solving. And not to mention exercising those eyes and hands!

Age doesn’t seem to factor – in fact the younger the better when it comes to whippet speed and sight! Plus there are so many versions of the classic game that you are bound to find the one that suits your group! Colour independent, portable, and packaged in a sturdy tin, this is a robust, fun, and enduring choice for #learningthroughplay!

5. Outfoxed!

Co-operation. Not always something us grown-ups are good at. So it’s a great skill to learn when young! And Outfoxed! by Coiledspring Games and Gamewright is a wonderful, colourful game where players are working together, hunting for clues and trying to eliminate suspects in the mystery of Mrs Plumpert’s prized pot pie disappearance! There’s a wily fox hot on your tail, however, so you’ve got to be quick if you are going to sniff out the pie pilferer in time!

Simple to play; on your own turn, you decide if you are going to search for clues or reveal (and hopefully correctly accuse!) a suspect. Deciding what to do will be the job of the hive mind as together players will be seeking to cover as much of the clue hiding board as they can! And there’s a very cool clue decoder which will tell everyone whether their deduction skills have hit the mark or not! It’s a lovely game and in our house the big kids enjoy it as much as the little one. It’s also versatile as you can increase or decrease the challenge by adjusting the die rolling requirements and fox moving to suit your group. Plus the decision space is not overwhelming which gives younger players a feeling of agency over the direction in which the game is travelling each turn. And the mix of individual actions and co-operative thinking, not to mention recall and deduction skills is superb.

Educational Games Ages 8+

6. Planet

Climate change is a huge issue. So big in fact that it can be overwhelming to try and teach young people about the consequences of it without terrifying them. Well, that was the case until games like this appeared! Planet from Blue Orange and Coiled Spring Games is a brilliant 3D tile laying strategy game all about matching animals to terrain types that suit them best. Innovative in its design, you get to hold the whole world in your hands as you pick and stick magnetic tiles onto your orb. Played over a number of rounds, you will be strategising your selections in order to target animal cards, awarding you points at end-game. With a personal habitat type scoring objective on top, there will definitely be times where you can’t do it all; you simply have to decide between goals.

Whenever we play, our son asks about where the animals live and what happens if their habitats change. It offers us a chance to have a serious discussion without him realising. Planet is a game that breaks the BIG issue down, and presents a significant chunk in a really fun, colourful, and accessible way. Education is always better when it is fun, and, as our broken world demonstrates, none of us are ever too old to learn!

7. Ticket To Ride Europe

Whether you like geography or not, the Ticket to Ride series by Days of Wonder is an education in places and placenames! Through the original base game (USA) and all its various spin offs, editions, map packs and versions including Europe, you can circumnavigate the world by placing its colourful carriages and completing routes. Not only does the networking game place act like a colourful fun atlas, however. It is also an education in basic modern board game mechanics.

Hand management, set collection, card drafting, scoring objective, and euro-y game goodness that will take you and younger gamers places in this hobby that will last a lifetime. A great game in its own right, the Ticket to Ride series has been a wonderful “gateway” or steppingstone for me and countless others to more complex offerings. And I enjoy it as much at this point in my gaming adventures as I did at the beginning of my journey down the cardboard rabbit hole. Our son loves the shorter, smaller Ticket to Ride London, as does my husband. And any time someone suggests we play a game, I am excited to get it to the table to see whether my skills have improved over time!

scrabble componens

Educational Games Ages 10+

8. Scrabble

Quite often, classic games get side-lined in favour of the newest thing to hit gaming tables. But actually, the vintage greats never stop teaching us. Scrabble by Hasbro is the quintessential word game which I love to this day. And when I play with my best friend, I am usually schooled, and schooled hard! If you haven’t played any of its many versions, the classic game is easy to learn. 7 letter tiles in hand, the object is to form words on the central game board. But a word can only be played if it uses at least one letter from a word already on the board.

Each letter has a value (with less common letters like “X” and “Z” worth more). Your score for that word will be based on that total plus the value of any letters you have used from other words, as well as any special multiplier spaces your word crosses for the first time. Saving letters for a super word, blocking spots your opponents might want, and knowing when to pass in order to refresh your tiles are all part of the tactics in this game of veritable vocabulary. Again, you don’t need to be the world’s best speller – and in fact it could be said to be more about the numbers than the letters! But I learn new words every time I play, and it’s a great way to get gamers of any age active in word play!.

9. Aqualin

If you haven’t seen Aqualin by Kosmos Games before, I guarantee you are going to want to touch it when you do. Big chunky square tiles await you, and they are very tempting in an I-must-resist-and-not-nibble-them-like-sweets kind of way! The rules and goal in this game from their excellent 2 player range is simple; slide an existing tile and/or place a new tile on the board, then replenish your hand back up to 6 tiles.

Score more points than your opponent by end game and you win! But to do that, you need to exercise your tactical and pattern recognition skills. Whether you are the player seeking to group the sea creatures into colours, or the one hunting down species, the object is the same; match, group, score! And, as you probably guessed, the bigger the school of sea-creatures, the more points they are worth. Aqualin is a great, accessible abstract game that introduces spatial tile laying, pattern matching, tactical movements in a really fun and easy to learn way. It’s a visual, tactical, and tactile undersea battle for victory!

Educational Games Age 12 + (Age 6+ for us!)

10. Word On The Street

Word on the Street by Coiledspring Games and Educational Insights looks super cute, but I have seen grown ups well and truly educated when they play this game! A party game for 2 players or in teams, the object and rules of the game are simple. On your turn, you (or your team) will select a category card at random. Then, you will have 30 seconds to come up with a word answer and slide the tiles that feature the letters in the word you choose towards your side of the board (the number of spaces determined by how many times the letter features in it). When a letter sides off the board, it is captured by that player/team. It can still be used by everyone to make words in future rounds, but it won’t count for any movements.

The first player/team to capture 8 letters wins! This is tug-of-war, word style, and it's brilliant fun! With the pressure on, brain strain definitely rises! And being able to challenge an opponent’s choice or spelling is sometimes a risk worth tsking to get a letter sliding back again! With 217 categories (split into easier and more challenging), you don’t need to be a vocabulary whizz to play or even win. But it definitely helps us make spelling and word linking a fun activity!

Hopefully these were some good educational games to give you exactly what you were looking for!