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Educational & Thinking Games: Some of Our Favorites

Educational & Thinking Games: Some of Our Favorites
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“All (homeschooling) work and no play make Jack (or Jill) a dull (or bored) boy (or girl)…”

Sometimes, the simplest childhood sayings can present us with important and universal truths, and the (slightly modernized and modified) example above is a great example. As OTA gets ready to finish up our fall classes, and take time off for a well-earned winter break before our Winter 2018 sessions start up, it’s a great time to remind parents and students alike that playing board games are a great way for everyone to take part in a fun and social experience, while still giving learners an opportunity to be exposed to a wide variety of subjects and skills.

We’ve compiled a list of several favorites in no particular order – feel free to share your own with us in the comments below!

Catan (formerly Settlers of Catan)

Catan is probably one of the more popular board games we’ve seen in recent years; it seems that more and more families are finding themselves enjoying an experience that appeals to both experienced gamers and novices alike. The main aim of ‘classic’ Catan is to be the player whose civilization dominates the board with a combination of roads, settlements, and cities. Players use cards representing needed resources, such as wood, grain, brick, sheep, and stone, to build up their civilizations until they reach the required number of points and win the game.

With Catan, there are expansion packs that allow for up to six players to participate at once, and there are also multiple versions of the game that introduce a variety of elements such as sea voyages, traders, barbarians, knights, and more – all of which provide the player with an enhanced gaming experience.

Take Off

This game is a great way to teach geography, with players using a fleet of (up to) four airplanes to navigate from one side of a Mercator projection-style roll-up mapboard to the other before other players are able to do the same. Players are exposed to new cities and countries as they travel across the map. The game dice propel the player along their route, but they also offer the option of “Take Off!” – which swoops a player’s airplane directly to a variety of destinations.

10 Days in the USA

The first in a now-popular “10 days in…” series, this game will teach both students and parents alike about the fifty states that make up the USA. Players mix and match tiles (representing states, airplanes, and cars) until they have ten connected correctly in order to ‘travel’ across the country and win the game.

Apples to Apples

In this game, players choose seven cards that display either a noun or an adjective. One player will then select another card from the deck and share it with the group, which will then choose from their own cards the one that best matches the one being displayed. The player will then decides on the best match. Throughout the game, players take turns being the lead. There are different versions available covering a variety of topics and subjects, and there is also a children’s version for younger players.

DaVinci’s Challenge

With this board game, players take turns placing shapes on the board to reveal nine unique patterns. Points are calculated based on the design’s complexity. There is also an additional card game that integrates with the classic board game to enhance the playing experience.

Cranium Cadoo

In this game, players select cards – each of which displays a task that they must complete before the musical timer goes off. Cadoo is a combination of traditional board games like Trivial Pursuit, party games like Charades and Pictionary, and adds its own twist with giving the players opportunities to sculpt and draw. The game is designed to be played by both adults and children.

Dinkee-Linkee

Step up from traditional trivia games with this game, in which players read from a list of four prompts, and have to identify the link connecting them all – before the other team does the same. It’s a great game to play with sports and pop-culture fans.

Additional Games

Here are some links to websites that list other gaming options:


Have a great winter break, and we’ll see you in the New Year!


Jonathan Meola, co-founder and instructor at Open Tent Academy, attended the University of Miami, where he earned his B.A., and returned several years later to earn a graduate certification in Applied Quality Management, while helping to manage executive graduate degree programs for their business and engineering schools.

Professionally, Jonathan has worked as a technical consultant, managing enterprise software implementation projects for companies such as AT&T, Boeing, Discovery, Honda, Nestle, and several Federal agencies across the United States, and also worked on projects in Canada, Israel, and Mexico. He also has developed curricula for corporate training, and led sessions as an instructor on many occasions. Today, he resides with Eva in a small town outside of Jerusalem. Jonathan has three children, all of whom were homeschooled at one time or another. In his spare time, he loves traveling, reading, photography, analyzing politics, NCAA college football (Go Canes!), and cinema.

Other blog posts by Jonathan:

Control and Choice: Mainstreaming Homeschool Education

Pareve Homeschooling

Engagement + Experience = Enrichment