As someone who hated maths at school, it feels strange loving working out the number puzzles inherent in board games. I think like many kids I was fine with the basics. But when letters starting appearing in equations, and I stopped seeing the connection to my life, I thought – what’s the point?
But I was good at basic maths – and I know many kids aren’t that lucky. And whether its lack of motivation, or just getting to grips with the concepts. Board games can play a genuine part in helping children improve mathematics skills. Hence why I’ve put together this list of board games that help with maths.
Below you’ll find a list of useful games, many of which have proven their worth in the classroom. I have several close friends who are teachers and teaching assistants, across all age and ability ranges, which certainly helped put it together. But they can prove equally useful at home. what can be better than having fun around the table, while sneakily actually teaching your kids something?
But I’m aiming things slightly higher than most lists you’ll see elsewhere – everything is from 6+ and beyond. Here, my focus is on the parents enjoying themselves too! There’s not a game below I wouldn’t play myself, and enjoy it, with other adult gamers. Links below go to my full reviews. And you should easily be able to find all these games to buy. I’d suggesting stating via Board Game Prices (which will also help the blog).
Board games that help with maths
- Qwirkle & Ingenious
(2-4 players, 45 mins, ages 6/8+)
These are both colourful pattern and shape recognition games with nice chunky pieces. There are multiple versions available of both games, and in high street stores. Every good family games collection should have at least one of them.
- Tsuro & Kingdomino & Carcassonne
(2-8/2-4/2-5, 20-30 mins, ages 6/6/8+)
While perhaps a less obvious maths skill, spatial reasoning is super useful. Tetris is a classic example, but you get some real meat (and no time pressure!) in the board game world. Tsuro is an abstract game, where you try to build your paths using tiles. Carcassonne take it all up a notch, having you create roads, towns and fields to score points. While Kingdomino seats neatly between the two. Again, all are very easily available.
- Ticket to Ride
(2-5 players, 60 mins, ages 8+)
Ticket to Ride is a great example of multi-step problem solving. Collect coloured cards, which you then use to complete train routes on a board. And you can then use the routes placed to extend on to complete more routes. A massive best seller for a reason.
- Zeus on the Loose
(2-5 players, 15 mins, ages 6+)
As a tool for understanding maths calculations, this little card game should be in every teacher and parent’s arsenal. I often see it in charity shops for a couple of quid. But at retail, it’s only about £10 anyway. It basically gamifies simple calculations in a fun way.
- Yahtzee & Can’t Stop & Pickomino
(2-6/2-4/2-6, 20-30 mins, ages 6+)
We’re spoilt for choice when it comes to board games that help with probability. Yahtzee is another game you can essentially have for free by printing off some score sheets – or by finding in most charity shops. But my favourites are Can’t Stop (very simple dice push-your-luck game) and Pickomino, which takes Yahtzee up a small notch and adds a little flavour.
- Sushi Go
(2-5 players, 15 mins, ages 6+)
This pretty and fun family game helps teach probability, deduction and strategy. A great game for any family, with cute artwork and theme.
- For Sale & Catan
(3/6/3-4 players, 30 mins/1-2 hours, ages 8+)
money and value seem impossible concepts for children. Monopoly is an obvious example, but it’s too long to be fun. Light card game For Sale cleverly uses basic bidding and seems a good learning tool. While Catan relies heavily on negotiation, and attributing value that way. Property game Acquire is also brilliant, if you want to look more specifically at real estate.
(2-4 players, 20 mins, ages 5-10-ish)
A popular ‘first cooperative game’ choice, as well as helping children with their deductive skills. Gather clues together to solve the mystery, and win or lose together.