Board games help develop teamwork, life skills, and flexible thinking while having fun!

In this era of high tech games on tablets, computers and phones, is there a place for the humble board game, or is this outdated? Do board games help in inquiry based learning? Do they make learning more relevant? What are the advantages of board games?

board games
Games are fun

In the classroom, games give students an opportunity to process concepts they have learned in a fun way. When my daughter was in grade 8, she was learning about the stock market in her history class. It all sounded very abstract and dry to her, until the teacher pulled out five games of Stockticker, and the students all got to play the stock market themselves. The students were so engaged they didn’t want to go outside for recess. What a difference that made!

When I taught spelling in the junior grades, we would spend time every few weeks playing Scrabble. Finding words, playing with words, developing vocabulary, and developing fast thinking skills with Speed Scrabble are all part of the learning. Simple games like Snakes and Ladders teach patterns and reinforce the concept of the number line for young children. Many board games like the classics: chess, mancala, and checkers encourage the players to plan ahead, detect patterns, make predictions, take risks, develop memory and develop team work. Aren’t these all things we want our children to learn? What a great way to enhance their learning.  Games also teach life skills, for winning can very quickly change to a loss. How do we deal with that?

Knowing how tight our curriculum is, be assured that games don’t just need to happen in class time. We started teaching chess in grade three to the entire class as part of the curriculum. Once they are hooked into the game, a lunch hour chess club is a great way to develop their skills and create new challenges as they compete against students in the higher grades. Bring some seniors from your community into the chess club, and they will love to mentor these young players. Research has shown that chess lessons show improvement in basic math skills. (Scholtz et al 2008)

Families are also encouraged to play board games at home – it’s a time to spend time together in an enjoyable way, along with learning new skills and developing dexterity and flexible thinking. Be prepared though, it can be disconcerting when your six year old beats you every time at “rat-trap”. (card game) Dig your games off the shelf and dust them off. If you don’t have any, go to the nearest second hand store, and buy some up for a bargain! They are great learning tools!

Here are a few of our family favourite board games:

  • Monopoly
  • Chess
  • Stockticker
  • Masterpiece
  • Boggle
  • Scrabble,
  • Various card games
  • 10 Days in Africa (or other variations)
  • Dutch Blitz
  • Wide World
  • Risk

What is your favourite for home or classroom use?