I’ve loved board games since I was a kid. Remember those all-night Monopoly marathons? My children have played games since they were very small and have definitely caught my board game fever.
So, it’s no surprise that I frequently find ways to tie board games into our school day. There are lots of quality educational board games out there, so it’s easy to find one to fit most school subjects.
Personally, I try to find a game that will be challenging for my middle schoolers, but not so hard that they become frustrated when playing. I look for games that will grow with my girls.
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One of my favorite places to use board games is in history. There are a lot of names, dates, and facts that kids need to learn. Games are a fun way to teach this information, as well as to do some review.
Why Board Games Work
- Everyone is having fun, so it doesn’t seem like school. They don’t feel like they’re being put on the spot like some do when being asked if they remember something from a lesson. To them, they’re just answering a question/solving a problem during a game.
- Kids learns by listening to others as they take their turns and answer questions.
- The more they hear facts and work with the subject material, the more they remember. Frequently, my tween and teen will get something right the second or third time we play that they missed the first time.
- When they find a fact especially interesting, it’s an easy opening for further learning.
Playing educational games with my kids helps me see areas I need to focus on.
My Two Favorite American History Games for Middle School
This game is perfect for families because it contains three levels of difficulty – junior (great for most middle school students), expert, and genius. The goal is to race from city to city by correctly answering questions.
Each junior card contains three categories of questions – geography, general, and history, so when I’m using the game as part of our history studies, instead of using the spinner to select our category, we only read and answer the history questions before moving our playing pieces.
The history category spans the centuries.
Junior questions include:
- What killed the most soldiers during the Civil War: bullets, disease, or hunger?
- Who was Jimmy Hoffa: a judge, a politician, or a union leader?
- During what war did hundreds of soldiers spend the winter in Valley Forge?
- What was discovered at Sutter’s Mill in California in 1848?
- What scandal forced President Richard Nixon to resign in 1974?
This card game also has varying degrees of difficulty, so it will grow with your student. I think most middle school students would be comfortable moving between the easy and hard questions.
The goal is to be the player with the most cards at the end of the game.
Each card has three easy questions and three hard questions, all related to a specific American history topic such as:
- Inventors and Inventions
- Early Conflicts
- The Civil War Ends
Players roll a die, which determines what question from the back of the card they’ll answer.
- Who were nicknamed “Angels of the Battlefield” during the Civil War?
- What did “abolitionists” oppose?
- What did the 13th Amendment to the Constitution ban?
- Place these presidents in order, starting with the earliest: Dwight Eisenhower, Herbert Hoover, and Harry Truman.
History Games on My Wishlist
Have you ever played these games? They’re on my list to purchase this year.
Board games are a great way to make learning fun in your home school.