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Best Toys: 60 Educational Family Games

QwirkleWe love board and card games. Unlike most video games, they provide a great venue to interact with your children (and other adults) and many of them are truly educational. They may teach vocabulary, math, geography, music, and lots of critical thinking.

We have scheduled a couple of hours every week specifically for game playing. The kid really look forward to it (and so do I).

Below are some of our favorite educational games as well as those contributed by attendees of my speaking engagements. My personal top 10 favorites as of today (very hard to choose) are bolded (and are subject to change next week).

Please add your own favorite games in the comments. You can never have too many games!

Best Educational Family Games

  1. 10 Days in Africa
  2. 10 Days in Asia
  3. 10 Days in Europe
  4. 10 Days in the USA
  5. AmuseAmaze
  6. Apples to Apples
  7. Balderdash
  8. Blokus
  9. Boggle
  10. Chess
  11. Cityscape
  12. Clue
  13. Curses
  14. Dominion
  15. Doubles Wild
  16. Eye Know
  17. Global Pursuit
  18. Hit or Miss
  19. Ingenious
  20. Knock-Out
  21. Marrakech
  22. Monopoly
  23. Muggins
  24. Octiles
  25. Oh, Scrud!
  26. Othello
  27. Pictionary
  28. Pylos
  29. Quarto
  30. Quiddler
  31. Quixo
  32. Quoridor
  33. Qwirkle
  34. Racko
  35. Risk
  36. Rook
  37. Rumis
  38. Rummikub
  39. Rush Hour
  40. Scattergories
  41. Scrabble
  42. Scum
  43. Set
  44. Settlers of Catan
  45. Shapes Up
  46. Smart Mouth
  47. Smath
  48. Some Body
  49. Sorry
  50. Stratum
  51. Such & Such
  52. Taboo
  53. Time’s Up
  54. Traverse
  55. True Math
  56. True Science
  57. Where in the World?
  58. Yinish
  59. Zèrtz
  60. Zêtre

More Educational Family Games

Additional recommendations from reader comments.

What are your favorite educational family games?

{ 34 comments… add one }
  • Tina February 16, 2010, 7:40 am

    I love games too! Sequence is a great game for children. Younger children can group colors, identify animals, and match cards to the board. Older children can play memory or matching games. This is a great game for strategy learning.
    .-= Tina hopes you’ll read A Power Wheels Tractor That Can Perform On Any Surface =-.

  • Alison Moore Smith February 16, 2010, 4:00 pm

    Thanks for the additions, PrincessMuhmah! How could I have left off Mancala! One of our favorites! Smack me!

    The only other I’ve played is Pit. We always played that on New Year’s Eve when I was a kid. Loved it. Haven’t had much luck with it in my family because we always had a young toddler trying to join in (and the speed element makes it hard to have a two player team). But now that our youngest is six, we should try it again. We already own it!

  • PrincessMuhmah February 16, 2010, 3:29 pm

    We love Mancala!

    Other games we enjoy not on the list (great list, btw):


  • PrincessMuhmah February 16, 2010, 3:31 pm

    Oh! And, Bananagrams!

  • TinaC February 16, 2010, 4:32 pm

    Okay, Alison, I have read through your fantastic list (alphabetical, unfortunately) and I want to know your family’s personal favorites. Also, are the Out of the Box Geography games really that good?

  • Alison Moore Smith February 16, 2010, 9:54 pm

    TinaC, I’ve edited the post to highlight my top ten personal favorite games. There are lots of others I really like, so it’s a bit random, but hopefully it will help.

    If I had to choose one game to take with me to a desert island, today (and this entire past year) it would have to be Qwirkle. Love that game.

    As for geography games, I’m not quite sure what you mean by out-of-the-box. We’ve had Global Pursuit for years and years — it was a gift from my brother and produced by National Geographic. We have really enjoyed that game long term. Highly recommend it. I’ve also heard raves about Where in the World? from homeschoolers for over a decade. But it’s still on my wish list.

    Hope that helps!

  • Parker February 17, 2010, 12:34 am

    Great list! I’ve got enough games for the next 10 Christmases! (Yes I give that many games.)

  • Alison Moore Smith February 17, 2010, 9:12 am

    Parker, you’re my kind of guy. Or gal. Either way. 🙂

  • Alison Moore Smith February 17, 2010, 10:08 am

    Great list of your own, Jo! Thanks!

    Yes, please explain the Bean Game. The more the better.

    For Christmas many years ago my sister’s kids crafted a board game they made up called Race to 100 and gave it to us. We still have it and it’s great, with lots of rule variations. I’ve always said someday I was going to publish it. I’m having a book published, but game publishing is completely foreign to me — don’t even know where to start. But I’m sure others would like it.

  • Jo Romero February 17, 2010, 9:59 am

    We are GAME people too! I love games and have a very “fun” competitive nature :). We love Zarahemla (Just like Settlers of Catan), Golf (a card game), The Bean Game (one my father made up, I could explain if you’d like), Mormon Bridge, Greedy (a dice game), the Pig game (you roll pig dice), a spanish top (as in the toy top) game, spaz uno, and so much more! It is hard, there are so many games, so little time 😉 and it seems that each game rotates and takes its turn as the top game. ohh, and Mafia in big groups, I love that game 🙂

  • LeAnn February 18, 2010, 5:42 am


  • Sarah Patino February 18, 2010, 1:38 pm

    Just got this in the mail from the in-laws for my birthday…. Foodie Fight. Great food trivia and knowledge game.

    Also like Trivial Pursuit…most versions, Disney Charades, Dominoes (Chicken Foot & Mexican Train), Scrabble, Sequence, Yatzee & Cranium.

  • Sherrin Drew February 18, 2010, 4:13 pm

    Wow, that is a lot of games! The geography ones look useful. I am looking forward to the time when my son can play games with us.

  • Alison Moore Smith February 18, 2010, 5:25 pm

    LeAnn, I haven’t heard of that one, but it got good reviews. I’ll have to add it to my list. Thanks for the heads up!

    Sarah, nice list. We have Sequence. Forgot all about it (our games are packed in the storage unit and so I went off memory) until Tina mentioned it. That’s a great game and we also like Kings in the Corner. We also have Cranium, which is fun for a wide range of ages. Food Fight? Now that certainly fits you, doesn’t it? 🙂

    Sherrin, it’s great fun when your children are old enough to join in with you!

    Thanks to all of you for stopping by and commenting! I’ve added your suggestions to the post.

  • Alison Moore Smith February 20, 2010, 6:43 pm

    You have great taste in games, Victor. 🙂 My oldest son became a Blokus fiend at about age six. He would wipe the rest of us off the board. I’ve only played Catan once — on a double date with some friends. It was fun but it did take half the evening just to set up and explain the rules. I think it would be more fun the second time!

  • Victor February 20, 2010, 6:14 pm

    Board games are a great way the pass the time with friends. My top two games are Settlers of Catan and Blokus! Though the Settlers of Catan has a longer learning curve and a longer game in general, Blokus is quick to learn and is available online for free play at http://www.blokus.com.
    .-= Victor hopes you’ll read Broiled Lobster Tails =-.

  • Tex March 4, 2010, 5:17 am

    Love your blog!

    I never realised the amount of people still interested in playing board games.

    Since the introduction of the games consoles most board games are no longer the “in thing” with youngsters and because of this seem to be limited in production.

    However since reading your blog I have noticed a large range of wonderful sounding board games that i am currently looking forward to purchasing.

  • Alison Moore Smith March 4, 2010, 10:55 am

    Tex, even with the vids, there is nothing like sitting around and having fun with people. Board games will always allow interaction that no video game (dual player or not) can match! Thanks for dropping by!

  • hilongos August 2, 2010, 12:57 am

    They are so attractive to toddlers with the multi-color feature of the game.
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  • Paul February 10, 2011, 6:39 am

    Cranium is a great board game for Educational purposes. Whilst it may not seem like it at first this game tests loads of different skills so it doesn’t matter whether you’re not too good at arithmetic but are good with your hands. Cranium is the perfect board game for family occasions.
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  • Alison Moore Smith February 10, 2011, 11:26 am

    We have Cranium and I agree, it’s a good game. (You’ll see it is listed in the “reader additions” section. Monica even has a keychain version that is tiny, but completely functional. We’ve played that, too. Hilarious.

    Thanks for your input, Paul.

  • Sean June 15, 2011, 5:08 am

    Whoa! This is a pretty extensive list of some really interesting family games. Wil try some of these out. Thanks aton for the cool list 🙂

  • William August 21, 2011, 9:32 am

    I love Set, but I can never get anyone in my family interested in it :p
    It used to be a big hit with my church group, though..people would always say they didn’t want to play, but as soon as the game started they couldn’t help joining in.
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  • Virginia Brown January 19, 2012, 1:20 pm

    Absolutely! I have SO MANY REALLY GOOD GAMES! Can NOT have too many! I am SO EXCITED to have found this sight! God bless you guys REAL GOOD! :o)

  • sean March 1, 2012, 8:51 pm

    This is an awesome list. A ton of games I haven’t heard of before. I AM ADDICTED to Settlers of Catan, such a good game, and there is also an online version for when you don’t have friends who want to play. Like one of the other readers, my family also plays Pit, and let me tell you…it gets intense. Its crazy to see how cutthroat cousins can be reaching for that bell haha.
    sean recently posted…Educational GamingMy Profile

  • Leon March 10, 2012, 12:42 am

    My family and I used to love to play Monopoly! It gets super competitive! And I also like to play Risk because of the strategy and it also taught me about the different countries around the world.
    Great list!

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  • Grace April 15, 2012, 5:30 am

    Thanks for sharing these, I’m really in need of new stuffs to play with my kids. I think they are kinda bored playing board games and xbox, so I wanted to buy new toys that we can play together. These are great lists because they are also educational, perfect for my babies.. Thanks again!
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