Games that I have used with students in the classroom
Matthew Roberts
United States
Spartanburg
South Carolina
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I've been a history teacher for 15 years and have used a number of board games with my students. I have found that some worked better than others and wanted to pass along some suggestions to other teachers that might be interested in using games in their classrooms.

I have used all the games listed here with Middle School age children (6th to 8th Grade).

I hope that this is of some use to the BGG community.
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1. Board Game: Kalah [Average Rating:5.86 Overall Rank:3477]
Matthew Roberts
United States
Spartanburg
South Carolina
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I have used this when teaching a unit on African culture. I used this with an entire class.

To keep costs down I made boards from construction paper and laminated them. I used anything from beans, beads, to paper chits for the markers.

I would usually introduce the game and then have a practice round by teaming up students. After a practice round I would run a single elimination tournament in each class and then have the class champions square off at the end. It would take one class period for the practice round and first few rounds of the tournament. After that I would use break times or lunch times to finish out the contest.

The students always enjoyed the tournament and I would usually keep a large bracket on display, like the Final Four.
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2. Board Game: Geografacts [Average Rating:5.26 Unranked]
Matthew Roberts
United States
Spartanburg
South Carolina
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This was one of the first games I used when I started teaching. It actually has instructions for use in the classroom included.

I didn't use the game as much as the geography questions themselves.

It contains hundreds of cards and they make great questions to use to fill short time periods at the end of classes or on those "last day before winter break" days.

The only problem is that now many of the questions have become dated and now have incorrect answers.
 
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3. Board Game: Colonial Diplomacy [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:3573]
Matthew Roberts
United States
Spartanburg
South Carolina
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I bought up a bunch of cheap copies when AH went under and decided to use them in a week long tournament before a vacation. I hoped it would keep the students interest.

I used 3 or 4 games and divided my classes up into groups. I took the rules and typed up a two page version that simplified some concepts. I tried to teach the rules and then have a few practice rounds before starting the game.

Turned out not to work well. I had trouble monitoring the multiple games. My students that were slower learners had a difficult time with the rules. On the other hand the students had a great time. I decided then that games of slight complexity didn't work with multiple copies.
 
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4. Board Game: Strat-O-Matic Baseball [Average Rating:7.64 Overall Rank:1134]
Matthew Roberts
United States
Spartanburg
South Carolina
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We were asked to sponsor a club at my school and I decided it would be fun to draft teams and play a short baseball tourney.

It was a miserable failure. Like Colonial Diplomacy it was impossible to monitor all the games and even though we used the Basic Game I had students who were just lost.

The club was set up as an elective and I had students that signed up that didn't even know what positions are played in baseball.

Utter disaster. After a few meetings we ended up watching baseball videos for the rest of the 6 weeks and I haven't played the game since.
 
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5. Board Game: Go [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:123]
Matthew Roberts
United States
Spartanburg
South Carolina
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This was one like Mancala that I used while studying the culture of a people, in this case China.

I was a young teacher at the time and bought one board and then hand-made the others out of thick poster board with poker chips as pieces.

The rules are a bit more complicated than Mancala and you run into the problem of being able to monitor students all playing the game. Unlike Mancala I only used Go once.
 
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6. Board Game: Ikusa [Average Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:690]
Matthew Roberts
United States
Spartanburg
South Carolina
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This game was a success and it came down to the fact that I had a short break during the day were the kids got to hang out.

I selected a small group of kids that were interested and put them in teams of two. I set the game up on a big table in one corner of my room. We'd play the game during the short break.

It worked great. The biggest challenge was keeping kids away from the board while were weren't playing. I know several went out and bought their own copies afterward so it must have been fun for them too. The smaller group and one game was the key to the success. Even with the complicated rules they managed as I taught the game as we went and played the role of Game Master.
 
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7. Board Game: Diplomacy [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:503]
Matthew Roberts
United States
Spartanburg
South Carolina
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I've used this game many times in recent years. I have a digital projector in my room and I used cyberboard to supplement my game board that sat on a big table.

Because of the projector we could use one board but no one had to cram around a table. I'd use it groups of 15 to 20 kids in teams. Cyberboard also allowed me to save the game and I didn't have to worry about the pieces being moved, or the board being knocked over by a custodian (which happened). shake

I typed up a short rule summary and I'd go over it but then try to teach as we went. Students seemed to have few problems understanding as the game would progress and had team mates to help explain things.

I ran a year long tournament one year with the champions playing a game at the end. The level of wheeling and dealing, not to mention backstabbing I have witnessed would make any Diplomacy fan proud.
 
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8. Board Game: Circus Maximus [Average Rating:6.71 Overall Rank:1592]
Matthew Roberts
United States
Spartanburg
South Carolina
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I used this in my enrichment class twice last year. We meet twice a week and switch every six weeks. We could usually finish one race of three laps in that time. I had 16 players in teams of two, which works great when you have an absence. Teams also make it easier on explaining the rules as team mates can help each other.

I took the board and magnified it 200 times larger and printed in color and then laminated it. I bought some chariot miniatures and painted them up to match the game colors. They worked great and allowed all the players to gather around the table. I didn't bother printing up the rules instead I just went over them and would repeat as needed.
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9. Board Game: Advanced Civilization [Average Rating:8.02 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.02 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.02 Unranked]
Matthew Roberts
United States
Spartanburg
South Carolina
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I tried to use this in my class using the projector and cyberboard (see Diplomacy). I printed up extra cards and laminated them for class use. I incorporated the game into several other lessons on the ancient world. In these lessons I incorporated some vocabulary that the game uses like "deism" or "monotheism" to help the students get familiar. I divided my classes up into groups for each civilization. It worked well and the game turns lend themselves well to learning as you go. But as with any game of Adv. Civ. length became an issue.

My second attempt at using the game was in my enrichment class. I only had 8 students and we played the game as written. We used the map extension and set up the game at two big tables in the media center. I used the learn as you go rule method and it worked great.
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10. Board Game: Wings of War: Famous Aces [Average Rating:6.87 Overall Rank:793] [Average Rating:6.87 Unranked]
Matthew Roberts
United States
Spartanburg
South Carolina
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I used this for a mini-course over a six week period. I had eight students divided into teams of 4 (Allies and Central Power). We played several scenarios including a dogfight, balloon busting, and a bombing run. The mini-course wasn't designed to be super educational but the game did allow me to talk about World War I as questions came up. It would have been easy to use it as a spring board into a research project on some aspect of the war or early aviation. I used miniatures on a large felt mat. The students loved it and didn't want it to end. I know a few bought their own copies.
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11. Board Game: The Stock Market Game [Average Rating:5.29 Overall Rank:14415]
Matthew Roberts
United States
Spartanburg
South Carolina
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I used this to teach the basics of the stock market. It comes with instructions for the entire class that work great. I had a study hall type class and used it twice a week for three weeks to finish (about 30 minutes each session). I had 25 students in the class. I used color paper held on the board with magnets for students to record their purchases on. Even with a class full of students you could finish the purchases using one minute on the timer. I found it easiest to call up the students by purchase type after they had made their choices to complete the transactions. The students enjoyed it too.
 
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12. Board Game: Dungeons & Dragons: The Fantasy Adventure Board Game [Average Rating:6.51 Overall Rank:2117]
Matthew Roberts
United States
Spartanburg
South Carolina
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I actually used the Master Maze sets by Dwarven Forge and the Basic rules from 1983 not this board game but this was the closest entry I could find. This was done for another mini-course and wasn't designed to be particularly educational. I had a group of 8 students. I came up with a simple dungeon that covered a table top and used my painted miniatures for the figures. The game was played more like a boardgame even though I used the role playing game to generate the characters. Using the master maze tiles I was able to slowly reveal the board as they explored and defeated monsters. They had a great time and it was fun, but other than practicing simple math and cooperation skills it wasn't very educational. Probably wouldn't do it again.
 
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13. Board Game: Memoir '44 [Average Rating:7.54 Overall Rank:118] [Average Rating:7.54 Unranked]
Matthew Roberts
United States
Spartanburg
South Carolina
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I used a community grant to buy multiple copies of this to use with my Strategy gaming mini-course. It is easily the most popular game I have used. My mini-course has become so popular because of the game I had to limit the number of members this fall because of lack of space and chairs.
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14. Board Game: Battle Cry [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:626]
Matthew Roberts
United States
Spartanburg
South Carolina
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Because of the success of Memoir '44 I introduced this game to a few of the experienced players this fall. It was also popular with the students.
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15. Board Game: Catan [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:282] [Average Rating:7.22 Unranked]
Matthew Roberts
United States
Spartanburg
South Carolina
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I added the 5-6 player extension and used this with a group of students in my mini-course. It was an experiment to see if I could teach the game and then leave them to play it while I taught a different group of students how to play Memoir '44. It worked well. The students were given copies of the rules and read them beforehand. I observed a few rounds and corrected and explained a few things and let them have at it. Ended up working well.
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16. Board Game: Naval War [Average Rating:6.22 Overall Rank:3557]
Matthew Roberts
United States
Spartanburg
South Carolina
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I needed a quick game at the end of the semester for our last mini-course meeting. It needed to be easy to explain and playable in one session. It worked well with my group of 8 students.
 
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17. Board Game: Diamant [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:620]
Matthew Roberts
United States
Spartanburg
South Carolina
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Like Naval War I needed a quick game to fill in at the end of a semester. The students enjoyed this game and I had requests to play it again later.
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