Our family loves games! Board games play a role in our family fun time, but they can be excellent for educational purposes as well! Last month, I shared some games that my younger kids enjoy. This time, I'm sharing our teens’ favorite games (although frequently the 10-year-old jumps in on these, too).

Note: Several of these games are not actually played on a board. Also, we do not always follow the recommended age or number of players.

Apples to Apples (ages 12+, 4–8 players, 30 min)

Apples to Apples is an old favorite for my kids to play with their friends or cousins, but it also works with just siblings and parents. In this game, cards with nouns (“the beach,” “superman,” “pirates,” “bungee jumping,” etc.) must be paired with cards with adjectives (“brilliant,” “scary,” “sharp,” etc.). Players take turns being the judge who decides which of the noun cards (submitted by other players) is most appropriate. This means you must know your judge and try to choose the card they will think is most appropriate—or simply the funniest! Educational benefits: parts of speech, vocabulary (adjectives), general knowledge (nouns), social skills. Note: There is also a junior version of the game for ages 9+.

Poetry for Neanderthals (ages 7+, 2+ players, 15 min)

This word game is like the old classic Taboo, but with one major difference: you can only use one-syllable words. Discouraging the use of larger words may seem anti-educational, but on the contrary, it forces you to think more creatively with your descriptions! Bonus: If someone uses an illegal word, you have the option to bop them on the head with an inflatable caveman club. Benefits: vocabulary challenges, creative thinking.

Mexican Train (with dominoes) (ages 8+, 2–8 players, time varies)

Though played with regular dominoes, this game typically comes in a special “Mexican Train” set. As with regular dominoes, players build strings of matching numbers end-to-end, but there are multiple “trains” all being built at once: each player's personal train as well as one “Mexican train” that everyone shares. Finding a place for all of one's pieces can be a challenge, but with planning and a little luck, it can be done! The first player to get rid of all their dominoes wins the round, while the rest rack up penalty points for the dominoes they have left. Benefits: number/pattern recognition, logic/planning.

Sequence (ages 7+, 2–3 players or more with teams, 20 min)

An “oldie but goodie,” Sequence uniquely combines playing cards with a board game. A combined two decks of regular playing cards are used, along with a board displaying pictures of these cards in a set arrangement. As players draw cards, they place tokens on the board, matching the card in their hand to the picture on the board. The goal is to get five tokens in a row, but even when luck allows this, it can be challenging with others working against you. Quick and simple, this game is a great option for 2–3 players. Benefits: logic/planning, probability.

Acquire (ages 12+, 2–6 players, 90 min)

Though Acquire may not be easily recognized today, it has been around for 60 years and was one of my favorites as a teenager. Using a board with a grid, players match the tiles in their hands to the spaces on the board. When at least two tiles are adjacent, a “company” can be formed, with stock for players to acquire. Players can continue to add on to their companies, increasing the value of their stock and eventually forming mergers with other companies. Acquire the most value in your company to win! Benefits: logic / planning, probability, general math skills, simple understanding of the stock market.

Ticket to Ride (ages 8+, 2–5 players, 60 min)

In this train-themed game, players can build railroads to connect various US cities, collecting points along the way as well as once they reach their destinations. Simple enough for upper elementary schoolers to participate but challenging enough for adults, this game is a great choice for the whole family. (There are also simple versions accessible for younger ages, as well as expansions that introduce other game elements and geographical locations.) Benefits: logic/planning, US geography.

Settlers of Catan (ages 10+, 3–4 players, 60 min)

Settlers of Catan has been popular for years in the homeschool community! This classic has simple rules, but it turns out differently every time. Using a board composed of adjustable hexagonal tiles that picture various resources, players must strategize to collect the resources they need to build up their settlements. Strategy combines with chance as every turn begins with a roll of dice. If the original game isn't big or complicated enough, there are multiple expansions (Cities and Knights is our favorite), as well as extensions to add up to two more players. Benefits: logic/planning, basic civics, probability, history (at least in theme).

Kingdom Builder (ages 8+, 2–4 players, 45 min)

Kingdom Builder has a similar feel to Settlers of Catan, but is shorter and simpler. On another semi-customized board, “settlement” pieces are placed with a variety of different goals—such as placing the most pieces on a horizontal line, the most pieces on a particular type of terrain, the most pieces adjacent to one another, etc. The challenge is to find the balance and best strategy between the various goals! Benefits: logic/planning. For a similar game, you could also look into Carcassone (which we own but don't play as often).

Splendor (ages 10+, 2–4 players, 30 min)

A new family favorite, Splendor is a fun challenge but also simple enough that even newbies can consistently win. This game comes with a set of “gems” (displayed on poker-like tokens) as well as a set of cards. Players must acquire both gems and cards, building up their ability to buy more expensive cards and gaining victory points along the way. We have played this game so much since buying it a few months ago that we already bought an expansion! Benefits: logic/planning.

Azul (ages 8+, 2–4 players, 30 min)

Another recent favorite, Azul is played with colorful tiles which must be collected and added strategically to one's personal board. While the game play itself is pretty simple, it may take a few rounds to start picking up on good strategies. Unique and pleasing to the eye, this game is among those that are easy to play but difficult to master. Benefits: logic/planning.

With so many great choices, what are you waiting for? Let's go play a game!