Board Games for the Elementary School Classroom

Updated on March 16, 2018
randomcreative profile image

Rose is a full-time freelance writer who frequently writes about education, special education, DIY projects, food, Milwaukee, and more.

I've been planning a classroom board game article for a while. In this article, I focused on games that I think are especially good for the classroom because they:

  • 1) involve some sort of skill building
  • 2) do not involve tons of little pieces (i.e. Mousetrap, Operation).

It's important to have games in the elementary classroom that are both fun and involve some sort of skill building. These skills can include, but are not limited to, the following: counting, 1:1 correspondence, color identification/sorting, problem-solving/strategy work, and thinking several steps ahead. It's good to have variety in the game collection, which includes variety in game materials (cards, a board with dice or a spinner, etc.), ability levels, and length of time to complete.

Rotate the games that are available for students. If you have a center with games or puzzles as part of center time in younger grades or you have a selection of games out for indoor recess or free periods, rotate the games that are available for students. The students will stay more interested if the selection of games changes frequently.

All of these games are appropriate for home as well!

Uno

This is a classic game that has always been one of my favorites. This is a perfect game for elementary students of any age. If students get tired of the traditional method, consider teaching one of the variations detailed in the game package or research other variations. You can also consider purchasing other versions of the game, such as Uno Attack!, Uno Flash Game, or one of the character-themed Uno games (i.e. SpongeBob, Disney Princesses, etc.).

Skills: Color identification and matching, number identification and matching.

Parchesi

This is another classic game that has always been one of my favorites. I actually don't have a classroom set, but I've brought my own set in on occasion. Students will enjoy the dice cups and animal game pieces.

Skills: 1:1 correspondence, counting, strategy work, strategy, thinking several steps ahead.

Name It

I inherited the first Name It game in my classroom. I honestly wasn't sure how much appeal the game would have, as there is no set objective or winners and losers. But my students have really enjoyed this one. Players simply roll a dice to move around the board. Each square has a noun that you have to name, such as a sport, fruit, vegetable, or car. There are several chance squares where you will pick up cards, which have additional nouns or tasks to name (community worker, chores, etc.).

Both Name It I and II are available through PCI.

Skills: Parts of speech, vocabulary building.

Jr. Versions or Travel (Fun on the Run) Versions of Games

If original versions of games are too complicated or simply too long for your students, consider purchasing the Jr. or Travel versions of the games. (I feel old because I did not know until I searched for some of these games on Amazon while writing this article that many travel versions are now called Fun on the Run.) Jr. versions will often bring the skill level down to one that is appropriate for your students. Travel versions sometimes shorten the playing time for the game, such as Travel Clue.

Trouble

This is another classic game that my students really never get tired of playing. The pop die is always a hit. There are character editions of Trouble now as well including Scooby Doo and R2-D2.

Skills: 1:1 correspondence, counting, strategy, thinking several steps ahead.

Sorry!

Personally, I don't like this game quite as much as Parcheesi or Trouble, but the strategy and skills are very similar. The slides and different tasks for the different number cards keep it interesting. Other versions available include: Sorry Sliders, Sorry Spin, and U-Build Sorry.

Skills: Counting, 1:1 correspondence, strategy, thinking several steps ahead.

Queen Frostine as she appeared in the 1980s and 1990s.
Queen Frostine as she appeared in the 1980s and 1990s. | Source

Candyland and Candyland Bingo

Most parents I know have hidden Candyland at some point or simply rigged the game after the first or second time through the cards so some wild cards mysteriously disappeared, making the game not quite so endless. I wouldn't even include it on this list except for the fact that kids really enjoy it. The characters are cute (who doesn't love Queen Frostine, right?), and it provides a fun way to work on colors and generally work on playing games at an early age (turn-taking, etc.). I inherited a copy of Candyland Bingo in my classroom, which even older students also enjoy.

Skills: Color identification.

Allowance

This is another board game that I inherited in my classroom. I have an old version of this that was available through PCI. Each player starts with a set amount of money and then earns or spends money throughout the game by completing different tasks. The player who collects $20 first wins. It is a chance game without the problem solving involved in Monopoly but is still a great game for practicing money counting skills and for starting discussions about real life money scenarios.

Skills: Counting, 1:1 correspondence, counting money.

Chutes and Ladders

Like Candyland, this game can get tedious for parents or teachers who are playing, if nothing else, because it is also a chance game. I prefer games like Trouble, which involve at least a little strategy. However, this is another game that students really enjoy. It's also a wonderful way to work on counting skills and general number sequencing. In addition, it can lead to discussions about the actions and consequences for the different chutes and ladders in the game.

Skills: 1:1 Correspondence, number sequence, counting.

Boggle

This is another personal favorite game of mine. I know that there is a junior version of this game available as well. However, I have used the regular version with students as young as second grade who were successful with it. Students enjoying the word aspect of Boggle but tiring of the game itself? Try switching to Scrabble for a while.

Skills: Vocabulary building, spelling, grammar (homophones, singular vs. plural, etc.).

Sequence

Another personal favorite of mine, this game is more appropriate for older elementary students (third-fifth graders). Students can play individually or in teams of two, allowing anywhere from two to six players for this game. There is a junior version of time game, which I've honestly never even seen in person, but it may make this game accessible for younger students. Other versions available include: States and Capitals, Letters, Numbers, and Bible.

Skills: Team work, problem-solving, thinking several steps ahead.

Skills Games, Bought or Created

If you're reading this and are also a teacher, I'm sure that you've created at least a few of your own games for specific academic skills. Personally, when I'm making them, I'm never sure which ones will be a big hit, but some of them have been really popular with my students. Sometimes students enjoy playing these games during indoor recess or when they've completed their work and are waiting for their next task, so make them available during these times.

Connect Four

This is another classic game that my students have always enjoyed. If students are looking for a new challenge, borrow a couple more sets from other classrooms and create a mini-tournament. Other versions available include: Connect 4 With Five Ways to Play, Connect 4 x 4, U-Build Connect 4, and character Connect 4 (i.e. SpongeBob, Toy Story).

Skills: Problem solving, thinking several steps ahead.

Questions & Answers

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • randomcreative profile image
        Author

        Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        I appreciate your input on this topic. My article is by no means a comprehensive list of all the possible board games available for elementary school age children. One of the reasons that I did not include many longer strategy games in my list is that most classroom schedules are not conducive to longer games. While taking an occasional afternoon to teach a more time intensive game is, this is an activity better left to outside school time.

      • profile image

        Clive Lovett 6 years ago

        As someone who is a board game hobbyist, who has worked in the school system and whose wife is an elementary school teacher I am always saddened when I see the board games that are available in the average classroom. There are so many games out there that let the students make decisions, cooperate, plan strategically, and allow for higher level thinking. Games like Candy Land and Monopoly require very little decision making or planning. Missing from your list are Kids of Carcassonne, Dixit, Forbidden Island, Ticket to Ride and thousands of other games...

      • randomcreative profile image
        Author

        Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        I have not used a Smart Board personally, but from what I've seen of them, they are not worth the effort. The markers would drive me up the wall, especially because they have pretty poor control. That's just my opinion. Many students do enjoy them, but there are better technology options out there.

      • mary-lambert profile image

        mary-lambert 6 years ago from Charlotte, NC

        If you are lucky enough to have a Smart Board from http://smarttech.com/, there are a bunch of great games that you can modify and interact with. Just another great way to motivate students.

      • randomcreative profile image
        Author

        Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        Thanks Prasetio! I'm glad that this is useful for you. I hope that it will he useful for parents, too.

      • prasetio30 profile image

        prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

        As a teacher. I give my thumbs up to this information. You have done a great job here. I hope this hub useful for us as a parent and we can give the best to our kids. Rated up as usual.

        Prasetio:)

      • randomcreative profile image
        Author

        Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        Thanks! I'm glad. :)

      • profile image

        rorshak sobchak 6 years ago

        I love all of the games you listed! They are fun to play :)

        rorshak sobchak

      • randomcreative profile image
        Author

        Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        Thanks! I'm glad.

      • Denise Handlon profile image

        Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

        Good hub about all of the games that aid children in learning skills. I like how you pinpoint the particular skill.

      • randomcreative profile image
        Author

        Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        Thanks! That's great that Scrabble and Boggle have been big hits with your students. The students really enjoy Name It. It's more expensive than a lot of board games, but it's offered through PCI so you may be able to get it paid for through your school.

      • cardelean profile image

        cardelean 6 years ago from Michigan

        Great ideas for learning games. I have used scrabble and Boggle Jr. in my classroom for literacy workstations and my students love them. I have never heard of Name It before, I'm going to have to check it out, thanks.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, wehavekids.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://wehavekids.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)