158 – Games for School – The Family Gamers Podcast

Episode 158: Games for School

As always, we’re here to talk about gaming as a family. Our kids start school this week, and we are really looking forward to having a regular schedule again. However, it means less time for playing games!

We are thinking about games that our kids could bring to school to play with their friends. Younger kids should check with the teacher first, of course.

What We’ve Been Playing

A ton of Panic Island – although every game only takes 2 minutes, plus about half a minute of set up time. Every time we play, we want to play again and do better.

We visited family in Rochester, NY. While we were there, we visited TWO excellent local game stores that were recommended to us.

Millennium Games

Board games, Warhammer, and… disc golf? Apparently there’s a crossover there.

We got to try Just One with an in-store demo. Easy to see how it refines the concepts from other word/guessing games. This is a lot of game in a small package. Highly recommended!

Cat Lady – fun but a bit long to try to demo in the store. Similar set-collection mechanics to the Trapper Keeper Game – take a whole row or column, but then place a marker so the next player cannot make the same choice.

We picked up Kero and played it a few times after we traveled back home. Two players, rolling dice to get resources while your sand timer runs down. There’s a lot of luck, and it’s not as tight as we’d expect from a two-player-only game. (Two player games that are really tight: Expedition Altiplano, Hanamikoji, and Caverna: Cave vs. Cave)

Unlock! Heroic Adventures

Rocky Road a la Mode – a way to end a night of gaming on a high note. Lives up to the Green Couch Games style: filler with some bite.

Just Games

A very different feel than Millennium Games. This one had a large LEGO section at the front and a very large play area at the back. They had a card-catalog-style organizer for individual Magic cards. The open play area had an option to rent board games! And there were a bunch of family-weight games from publishers we had never heard of – we picked one up and will report back.

Back At Home

SHOBU and even more Panic Island – not very similar except their both short.



Quacks of Quedlinburg

Ticket to Ride: New York – this might end up replacing the classic Ticket to Ride for us. It faithfully keeps the feel of the original, but plays in 20 minutes.


Thanks to Chrissy who has been sharing about the games they’ve been playing while camping.

Aaron shared about The Fairy Game from Peaceable Kingdom.

Excited face on gumball grabber

SNAP Review: Guess It, Get It, Gumballs

Elliot helps Anitra explain this memory game “of faces and feelings” from Peaceable Kingdom.

Read the summary and see more pictures here: Guess It, Get It, Gumballs.

Games to Bring to School

It’s back to school time, which means more schedule, but less time to play. Our oldest child is starting middle school, where there’s no recess anymore. Obviously, you (or your child) should check with a teacher before bringing any hobby into school.

What do you need to keep in mind for games that could be brought to school? Something that kids can have fun with and give them a short break. They need to be highly portable (fit easily in a backpack or a pocket). These games shouldn’t take up a lot of space on the table. They need to be fast to play and fast to teach (since we’re mosting talking about lunchtime gaming).

Stay away from certain themes that might not fit a school setting. “Neutral, if not educational.” Lots of dice is generally also not going to be great.

Again, check with teachers or school rules. Magic: The Gathering might be fine at some schools and banned in others.

Card games

Obviously, simple choices like UNO, Exploding Kittens, Super Kitty Bug Slap – simple games that hit their sweet spot with pre-teens and teenagers.

Get the MacGuffin plays quickly and you could have up to 11 players!

Fluxx – maybe even go “educational” with Math Fluxx or Anatomy Fluxx.

Blank would be a great choice, either with a teacher letting their class slowly customize the deck, or for a high school game group. Take a look at the end of the year and have a memento of where your group has been!

Anomia, Duple, or Anomia Kids are quick to pick up and go, and you could stop at any time, not just when the deck runs out.

Brain-bending? Try Stroop. In fact, a biology teacher might even want to play this in a quick class break.

Potions Class or similar Button Shy games for 2-3 players.

Portable games

We thought of a few favorites that are very portable without being simply card games. Some have no cards at all!

Spot It! especially at the younger age range.

Cinco Linko (formerly OK Play) – super portable and plays anywhere.

Tiny Ninjas – one of Asher’s favorites, and although there are some dice, the whole thing plays nicely in the box.

More than four players? Try Windup War (action programming with tiny cards), The Potion, or A Fake Artist Goes to New York. There are some other great games from Oink Games, who makes A Fake Artist

For head-to-head play, maybe the Sports Dice series. Reserve this for older kids who will keep the dice under control.


Claire suggested puzzles like Cat Stax and Dog Pile from Gamewright.

Kanoodle from Educational Insights makes us think of Katamino (polyominos, match a pattern), but made so that nothing will slide around or get lost.

How about The Stars Align? Slightly longer play, but very portable.

Did you play games during breaks in high school or middle school? Tell us!

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This week’s opening and closing music is Orchid by You Bred Raptors?.