Play Games, Get Smarter?


We’re all spending a lot more time indoors these days, so what better way to keep the family occupied (and off their phones) than playing a few board games together? Many board games can be exciting, competitive, and good for your mind! We’ve compiled a list of our favourite games that are fun to play and sneakily build English and math skills. Enjoy!  

English games

From personal experience, I can safely say that Codenames really makes you think! As Code Master, you are responsible for getting your teammates to guess as many word-cards on the board as possible—the trick is that you can only say one word to link the word-cards. This is a great way to practice drawing creative connections between disparate concepts.  

Scrabble, of course! Scrabble is a classic game that makes us realize how many (or how few) words we know how to properly spell. Make sure to have a dictionary handy for all those two-letter words that don’t seem like they should be real. (Did you know that ‘aa’ is a type of jagged lava?)  

Very similar to Scrabble but infinitely more fun because the letters come in a banana bag, Bananagrams also tests your ability to create words out of the letters you’ve drawn. Happy spelling!  

Math games

Cribbage is my grandparents’ absolute favourite game, but I remember never wanting to play it with them as a kid because there was too much math involved! As an adult, I still dislike math, but I can now appreciate that cribbage is a fun game once you get the hang of it.   

If you want to think in a way you likely haven’t since you were a child, Set is the game for you. It’s a visual game that asks your brain to quickly deduce patterns in shapes, colours, and numbers. Exercising the part of your mind that recognizes patterns can be beneficial for various mathematical concepts, particularly geometry or sequences.  

Although not technically a board game, Sudoku is excellent for building the logical part of your brain. Experts have suggested that Sudoku can have various benefits such as helping students to study for the LSAT exam for law school or delaying the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s.   

The next evening you’re all home together (probably tonight), rally your family and/or roommates to play one of these board games with you! While these games can’t take the place of doing your English and math homework, playing one is more beneficial (and more social) than watching Netflix. Alternatively, you could just browse the Scrabble dictionary and learn what an ‘io’ is. (It’s a small, very rare hawk that lives only in Hawaii.) 

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