36 – The Family Gamers Podcast – Learning through Games

What do you think when you hear “educational games”? Some are pretty boring, but then there are games that are truly fun games, that happen to teach critical skills as part of their design.

Welcome to our new listeners from the Dice Tower Network!

Don’t forget about our giveaway, which closes on Wednesday.


What we played this week:


Monsters in the Elevator (see our review)

BattleGoats (review coming soon!)

Adventure Pop (PS4/XboxOne) – Puzzle Bobble clone.

Disney Infinity

A big thank you to Scott Anthony, who reminded us that you can usually get Forbidden Island for under $20. (Currently $16 on Amazon)

Both Colt Express & Pandemic on iOS (Asmodee Digital) are currently on sale for $3!

Thinking about buying a digital version of a board game you enjoy? Our advice is to do it if:

  • the focus of the game is strategy, not social
  • it has lots of fiddly pieces (computers are good at keeping track of those)
  • you have a hard time getting people together to play a game you love

On to our main topic: Games that Teach!

Anyone who is a parent or has worked with children knows that games are a great vehicle for teaching skills. But not all educational games are created equal: if a game isn’t fun, it won’t get played.

Our personal favorite: Robot Turtles, a game that is a platform to teach programming skills. One person creates a maze or path, the other player(s) navigate the board with a turtle, giving instructions through cards. Teaches logical progression, relative direction vs cardinal direction, and basic programming by laying out the entire path, including optional loops or functions.

Most games by Gamewright specify skills taught on the box. Examples:

Last year, we reviewed Women in Science – this is the kind of educational game where you learn “by osmosis”. The cards all have interesting information on them, even if it doesn’t help you play the game.

Zeus on the Loose and Monsters in the Elevator are two great games for reinforcing math skills. Zeus in particular is good for “quick math”.

Story Cubes teach creative thinking. This is something many adults need to practice, too!

HABA has a whole line of “My Very First” games. These are designed for really young kids (2-4 years), with basic turn-taking, simple counting, and large pieces.

HABA also makes some excellent fine-motor-skills games for (slightly) older children, like Rhino Hero and Zitternix.

FoxMind Architecto line, which are 3-dimensional building challenges; these teach spatial awareness and logic.

ThinkFun is another great publisher, with games like Rush Hour, Laser Maze, and Roll & Play

We’ve been all over the place today, and wrap up by talking about co-operative games. Did we miss one of your favorite games for learning a skill? Let us know in the comments; and don’t forget to rate and review us on iTunes!