Board Games as Teaching Tools

Let’s face it, parents: We’ve all forgotten long division in the time since we were in school, and the prospect of teaching it to our children is daunting. In fact, we’d sympathize if you were struggling to come up with inventive lesson plans each day (we should pay our teachers much more)—especially while hunkered down for COVID-19. And your children are likely pretty tired of living with their tutors, and are likely to simply tune out. Keep them on their toes, and restart your creative muscles, by inserting some board into your curriculum. Here are some subjects you might want to cover and how board games work as great supplemental teaching materials.

Mathematics

Who’s winning? It sounds like a simple question but it isn’t always as easy as looking to see who’s ahead on the board. Many board games award victory points only at the end of the game, meaning that players are required to work in theoretical numbers when planning their next move. Mental graphs and charts abound when kids start mapping out whether or not a small gameplay investment right now will pay off exponentially down the line. And lest we forget the Pythagorean Theorem—a great tool for determining which path is best when approaching a fork in the road. Younger children can conduct simple arithmetic by rolling the dice. Get them gambling early!

English

Forsooth! The great works of literature can be found in every story, and board games are no exception. Tales of star-crossed lovers and French revolutionaries are baked into gaming lore, depending on which you choose to play. Negotiations take the form of well-constructed persuasive arguments that, when transcribed, could earn your child an A. Don’t forget about all those board games with mice and men! Let your kids flex their essay-writing skills by playing a game like Balderdash. Sure, they might only put down a few words, but as they say: Brevity is the soul of wit.

International studies

The internet has united board game fans from around the globe and afforded more access to international games in the United States. Each carries its own flavor and can be representative of a specific culture, in addition to utilizing a foreign language when naming game components. For example: Thanks to the game Alhambra, we now know what an Alhambra is! Spend time in the African savannah or atop mountains in Asia without leaving the house or wearing a mask.

Theater

Dungeons & Dragons, Warhammer and many other tabletop RPGs afford players with the chance to inhabit characters and provide them with a voice. They might even be playing something non-human like an orc or an inanimate object (if you play with a creative DM). Create a judgment-free zone and let your children shout, scream, dance around and perform improvised magical spells for the good of the party. Who knows, they may even discover they like the limelight and become the next Macaulay Culkin!

Physical education

Can’t help ya there, unfortunately. Full-contact Catan?

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