Following a request by a group of schools, I’ve put together a list of some great games for different key stages. You’ll find five game recommendations for each of the five key stages… 25 games in total.
This list is the tip of the iceberg. There are thousands of games and I could have made hundreds of different lists. These are just a taste of some of the game that I think work with different age groups.
A game that is great for KS1 might also be great for KS5 – in fact, all five on this list are games that all ages would enjoy. In many cases, it is also true that younger children can play games in the lists for older learners. But I’ve put the games in key stages at which I think pupils learning will most from playing these games.
The learning skills listed are not exhaustive! Playing any board game will have all sorts of learning and development benefits including increasing processing speed, developing logic and reasoning skills, improving critical thinking, increasing attention span and concentration, teaching problem solving, developing confidence and improving decision making.
Of course, board games don’t just improve learning skills. Here’s a list of fourteen benefits of playing board games.
Key Stage 1
Rhino Hero: Build a tower block, which a rhino climbs up.
Learning skills: Simple decision making, turn taking, dexterity.
Rhino Hero features in our 3 fun games to lighten lockdown video.
For Sale: Bid on houses then sell them for the highest price.
Learning skills: Number practice, addition, risk & reward.
For Sale features in our Including all the family video.
Tsuro: Lay tiles to extend your line and stay on the board.
Learning skills: Visual spacial awareness, simple decision making.
Tsuro features in Trent Howell’s 8 games for 8 occasions guest blog.
Cobra Paw: Roll the dice and grab the tile that matches both symbols shown.
Learning skills: Pattern matching, speed, dexterity.
Telestrations: Chinese whispers with writing and drawing. Learning skills: Language acquisition, drawing.
Telestrations features in our article on Stress-busting games for exam time.
Key Stage 2
Qwirkle: Place tiles on a growing tableau to score points.
Learning skills: Pattern matching, tactical thinking.
Qwirkle features in our 5 tile-placement games video.
Just One: One player must guess a word from one word clues that others give.
Learning skills: Lateral thinking, deduction.
Just One features in our Board games you can play via videoconferencing article.
Kingdomino: Select domino tiles to develop your kingdom and score points for regions.
Learning skills: Multiplication, visual spacial awareness.
Kingdomino features in our 4 easy-to-teach games video.
Dixit: Select a picture card that best suits someone else’s word or phrase.
Learning skills: Storytelling, lateral thinking.
Dixit features in our Top 10 family games for Christmas video.
6 Nimmt!: Choose a number card to add to one of the four rows without taking any points.
Learning skills: Simple probability.
6 Nimmt! features in our 3 filler card games video.
Key Stage 3
Planet: Draft magnetic terrain tiles to build up your 3D planet.
Learning skills: Visual spacial awareness, strategic thinking.
Planet features in our Including all the family video.
Azul: Select tiles to score lines and build your own personal tableau.
Learning skills: Tactical thinking, awareness of others.
Azul features in our Top 10 coolest game components video.
The Mind: Without communicating about which cards they have, players place cards down in numerical order.
Learning skills: Awareness of others, probability, cooperation.
The Mind features in our Games to play on a train or plane article.
Codenames: The code-master gives one word clues to teammates, to help them identify specific words from a tableau.
Learning skills: Deduction, lateral thinking, communication, collaboration, discussion.
Codenames features in our Top 10 family games for Christmas article.
Splendor: Gain gems to gain cards that give you permanent gems for points.
Learning skills: Strategic thinking, forward planning.
Splendor features in our Top 10 most played games of 2019 video.
Key Stage 4
Dominion: Build your own deck that maximises your actions and ultimately gains you victory points.
Learning skills: Strategic and tactical thinking.
Dominion is featured in our 5 engine-building games to get your motor revving article.
Exit (multiple titles): Work together to solve an escape room in a box within an hour.
Learning skills: Deduction, lateral thinking, collaboration.
Exit: The Abandoned Cabin is featured in our 3 cooperative games video.
Ganz Schon Clever: Choose dice to score in different games – Yahtzee on steroids.
Learning skills: Mathematical thinking & probability.
Photosynthesis: Plant seeds and grow trees to take advantage of the direction of the sun.
Learning skills: Visual spacial awareness, strategic and tactical thinking.
Photosynthesis features in our Top 10 most played games of 2019 video.
The Sheriff of Nottingham: Smuggle contraband past the sheriff to collect valuable sets for your market stall.
Learning skills: Bluffing, negotiation, communication.
The Sheriff of Nottingham features in our Top 10 coolest game components video.
Ganz Schon Clever
Key Stage 5
Hanabi: Looking at other players cards, but without being able to see your own, take actions that let the group create a fireworks display.
Learning skills: Memory, strategic thinking, cooperation, awareness of others.
Read this review of Hanabi written by Alfie Dix, 17.
Wingspan: Place birds in your habitats to gain points and optimise other actions.
Learning skills: Strategy and forward planning.
Wingspan features in our 5 engine-building games to get your motor revving article.
Captain Sonar: Two teams man submarines in a real-time underwater cat & mouse game.
Learning skills: Communication, listening, quick decision making.
Read this review of Captain Sonar written by Alfie Dix, 17.
Cryptid: Discover the location of the mysterious cryptid within the map.
Learning skills: Deduction, questioning, information management.
Read this review of Cryptid written by Alfie Dix, 17.
Welcome To: Number houses on an estate to gain the most points possible.
Learning skills: Probability, strategic planning.
Welcome To features in our Roll & Writes video.
Don’t forget that Dark Imp games have been especially designed for young people to play with adults. And our two placemat games – Beach Life and Castaway – have been designed to be used in schools with whole class groups. These can also be played over videoconferencing. Join us for online games every Tuesday at 4pm.