How to Make Your Family Board Games Educational
A Sampling of Our Educational Review CardsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Family game night can be a great way to stay connected as a family. Moreover, with a few simple modifications board games can be used for education or test review. Board games that use a die or dice to move around the board are the simplest to adapt.
Adapting Simple Board Games for Education
- First, acquire a set of index cards. I chose all white, but in retrospect color coding by subject would have been convenient and easily accomplished.
- On each card write six numbered questions and answers. You will need twenty to thirty cards for a single die game and about forty to sixty for two dice games.
After you have written out your review cards you are ready to adapt your board game. Board games using a single die are the easiest so we will start with those.
On each player's turn he will have the opportunity to answer up to six questions from a single index card. With each correct answer the player will be able to move forward one space. But upon an incorrect answer the player stops moving forward and ends his turn. The player's turn will also end upon the correct answering of all six questions.
For example if Mike answered three questions correctly but missed the fourth question the reader would stop asking questions and Mike would move forward three spaces before ending his turn.
Adapting Multiple Dice Board Games
For games that use two or more dice you will need at least twice as many review cards (depending on the number of dice).
Begin each player's turn the same way as described above but instead of ending the turn on an incorrect answer (or all questions answered correctly) the reader will pull a new review card and begin asking a second set of questions.
As with the first card the reader will continue to ask questions from the second card until the player misses a question or all questions are answered correctly.
Add the number of correctly answered questions from both cards and that will be the number of spaces the player will move.
For example Mike answers four questions correctly on the first card before missing one. Then he answers three questions correctly on the second card before missing another question. Mike would move forward a total of seven spaces (four plus three) before ending his turn.
Adapting Sorry for Test Review
Because Sorry is a popular game at our house but it is not a dice game I thought I would also mention how we adapted it for education. With a game like Sorry, which uses cards instead of dice, a little more creativity is required.
Sorry uses several specialty cards. Therefore we must adapt the typical play in order to take those into account. These specialty cards include:
- the number 11, which allows the player to split his move between pieces
- the numbers 1 and 2, which allows the player to remove a piece from his start rather than move a piece forward the indicated number
- the number 4, which allows the player to move his piece either forward or backward
- the Sorry card, which allows the player to take a piece from his start and take the place of any other player's piece bumping that piece back to the start or to swap the places of any two pieces on the board
Since the object of our game player, aside from enjoying time together, is to encourage our children to answer as many questions as possible we've adapted the play as follows.
Using a double set of review cards, 12 correct answers equals a Sorry card.
With 11 correct answers the player can either move a piece from his start or move any combination of his pieces already on the board a total of 11 spaces.
With 10 correct answers the player can move a piece from his start, move a piece on the board backward four spaces, or move a single piece forward 10 spaces.
All other numbers of correctly answered questions allows the player to move a single piece forward that number of spaces. Thus taking into account all specialty cards from the Sorry game.
So, for example if Mike answered nine questions correctly he would choose one of his pieces already on the board and move it forward nine spaces. If, however, he answered a total of ten questions correctly he could choose to move a piece from his start, move a piece on the board backward four spaces or move a piece on the board forward ten spaces.
Purchase a pack of index cards (I highly recommend colored cards) and you too can convert your family game night into an educational experience. Learn and play together.