Games
Games for Kids
Board
Name of Game: 10 Days in Africa

Origination date: 2007

Number of Players: 2-4

Length of Play: 25 minutes

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Low to Moderate

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Analyzing, Evaluating

Costa: Level I

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Modeling, Planning

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 5 Stars ★★★★★

Description: 10 Days in Africa is the rare game which combines the expected fun of gaming with the thrill of learning about countries in a continent many American middle school kids know little about. The object of the game is to be the first player to travel through Africa on a 10-day journey using foot travel and planes and cars. Of course, opponents will do their best to hinder their competing players’ movements while bolstering their own journey. This game requires a higher level of thinking than the standard board game. If your middle school kid is initially frustrated with the game because of their unfamiliarity with countries in Africa, encourage them to stick with it and the game will progressively make more sense to them. This is a solid game to help your child’s spatial thinking skills and also improve their geographic knowledge about Africa.

Name of Game: Battleship

Origination date: 1967

Number of Players: 2

Length of Play: 15-30 minutes

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Low

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Understanding, Applying

Costa: Level I

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Prediction

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 2 Stars ★★

Description: If you have never played Battleship, it probably means your parents kept you in a closet until the age of sixteen or your family members are recent immigrants to the United States and haven’t been touched by Battleship mania. The purpose of Battleship is to sink your opponent’s fleet of ship, which have been placed in various locations on a ten by ten grid. The game is essentially a guessing game as to where your opponent has placed their ships. The guesses continue as middle schoolers attempt to determine whether their opponent has placed their battleships either horizontally or vertically on the grid. Most of the fun in Battleship occurs in trying to make accurate guesses and the ensuing explosion sounds middle school kids get to make when they have sunk their opponent’s ship. Battleship is a fast and easy game to play. There are many varieties of this game on the market—so don’t hesitate to consider them as options. Even though this game is much-adored by many individuals, it really is a very shallow-thinking game. There are lots of better games for middle school kids on the market.

Name of Game: Carcassonne

Origination date: 2000

Number of Players: 2-5

Length of Play: 30-45 minutes

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Moderate to High

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Analyzing, Evaluating

Costa: Level II and III

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Modeling, Diagnosis, Planning

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 5 Stars ★★★★★

Description: Carcassonne is perfect for middle school kids who enjoy strategic empire building games which don’t require killing your opponents or their allies. Here, the object of the game is to accumulate more points than your opponents through careful placement of land tiles and followers. In some respects, Carcassonne is similar to Sim City and other simulation games. The difference is that while you control your destiny in Sim City, as you create your city out of nothing, in Carcassonne middle school kids will need to take into account the other players and their actions. Consequently, the best-laid plans may be thwarted in Carcassonne by opponents laying a field tile right next to where someone else had planned a city tile. The rules at first may appear daunting but most kids will learn the game fairly quickly. This game is a good choice for players who enjoy adventure games which require empire building and strategic thinking.

Name of Game: Chess

Origination date: 1475

Number of Players: 2

Length of Play: 15-60 minutes

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: High

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Analyzing, Evaluating

Costa: Level III

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Diagnosis, Planning, Causation

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 5 Stars ★★★★★

Description: Chess has one of the most easily recognizable game boards and playing pieces in the western and eastern hemisphere. Chess has gotten a reputation as being a rather intellectual game and it’s easy to understand why. Some pieces move only horizontally and vertically. Others can only move diagonally. Still other playing pieces can move two squares horizontally or vertically and another step in either direction. And the pawns—well, let’s just say they are extremely restricted in what they can and cannot do. Chess is an outstanding game for middle school kids who enjoy one-on-one intellectual match-ups.

Name of Game: Chinese Checkers

Origination date: 1893

Number of Players: 2

Length of Play: 15-60 minutes

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Low to Moderate

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Applying, Analyzing

Costa: Level II

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Diagnosis, Planning, Causation

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 3 Stars ★★★

Description: Chinese Checkers is one of those games your grandparents probably played when they were middle school age kids themselves. The object of Chinese Checkers is to get all of your marble-like playing pieces from one side of the board to the other side of the board. The first one who does this wins the game. There are many different versions of Chinese Checkers available, including Space Checkers, Canadian Checkers, and Stadium Checkers. Chinese Checkers is a rather simple but fun game. If you want to really stretch spatial thinking abilities, teach middle schoolers instead to play regular Checkers or Chess.

Name of Game: Clue

Origination date: 1949

Number of Players: 3-6

Length of Play: 30-60 minutes

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Moderate

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Analyzing, Evaluating

Costa: Level II and III

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Prediction, Judgment

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 3 Stars ★★★

Description: Clue is one of those oldies-but-goodies which have stood the test of time, to the extent that the characters from the game, Professor Plum, Miss Scarlet, Mr. Green, Mrs. Peacock, Colonel Mustard, and Mrs. White have become household names. After all, who hasn’t accused Colonel Mustard of committing some crime in their own household? I think we’ve all been there. Middle school kids today play Clue mostly because their parents have purchased the game for them out of nostalgia for their own childhoods or because it has remained in the family game closet for the past 20 years. The primary objective in Clue is to make accusations and then take careful notes or try to memorize what rooms, characters, and weapons have been eliminated as possibilities to the murder—(most foul!)—which has occurred. Of course, if the middle school kid guesses incorrectly, they are out of the game, so it can be a frustrating game for kids who like making random guesses without putting a lot of thought into their guess. However, this is also a good game to force the video and computer generation kids to slow down and use their synthesis skills to solve the murder-mystery.

Name of Game: Marrakech

Origination date: 2007

Number of Players: 2-4

Length of Play: 30 minutes

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Moderate

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Applying, Analyzing

Costa: Level II

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Modeling, Planning

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 4 Stars ★★★★

Description: Marrakech is an unusual game which operates somewhat like Monopoly. If a middle school child happens to land on a colored carpet (or hotel as in Monopoly), owned by an opponent, they must pay for the pleasure of having that unfortunate roll of the die. The object of the game in Marrakech is to be the salesperson owning the most rugs. This is accomplished by moving the figure of Assam around the local market and placing carpets where it is hoped other players will land and have to pay rent money. This game involves real pieces of cloth, wooden money chips, and a die which can be rolled anywhere between and including, a one and a four. If you are tired of traditional games and looking for something different for middle school kids, I’d consider giving Marrakech a try.

Name of Game: Monopoly

Origination date: 1933

Number of Players: 2-8

Length of Play: 60-180 minutes

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Moderate

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Applying, Analyzing

Costa: Level II

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Modeling, Planning, Influence, Negotiation

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 3 Stars ★★★

Description: Monopoly is one of the most well-known board games in America. In this game, middle school kids battle it out for properties, houses, hotels, utilities, and railroads in the race to see who can be the last to declare bankruptcy and win the game. This isn’t necessarily a game to bring the family or class closer together, as the more ruthless any player acts, the greater the likelihood they will be able to drive their playing partners into insolvency and thus win the game. There are many different varieties of Monopoly on the market. Still, middle school kids who enjoy empire building games will like Monopoly. The pace of this game is relatively slow, compared to most other games suitable for middle school kids. If your child has trouble in controlling their impulses, having them play games like Monopoly will help.

Name of Game: Parcheesi

Origination date: 400

Number of Players: 2-4

Length of Play: 30 – 60 minutes

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Low

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Understanding, Applying

Costa: Level II

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Diagnosis, Planning

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 3 Stars ★★★

Description: You will probably be able to find a box of Parcheesi in your grandparents’ hallway closet, as it has been a staple of family gaming for a long time. The object of the game is for middle school kids to move their pawns from the start to “home.” Along the way—if they want to win—they’ll have to annoy their playing buddies by blocking their moves and capturing their pawns. Parcheesi is not a difficult game to learn so your middle school child will be able to play it with their younger siblings. This is a decent and quick way to spend an hour while the blizzard swirls, the thunderstorm rages, or the hail pounds the sidewalks.

Name of Game: Pirateer

Origination date: 1978

Number of Players: 2-4

Length of Play: 15-45 minutes

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Moderate

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Applying, Analyzing

Costa: Level II

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Diagnosis, Planning, Judgment

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 4 Stars ★★★★

Description: The object of the game in Pirateer is to capture the gold treasure piece with one of your three ships or capture all of the ships belonging to your opponent. Of course, this sounds easier than it actually turns out to be because of the prevailing tradewinds which, as any good pirate knows, can either blow in your favor or not blow in your favor. The rules of the game are fairly easy to follow although a middle school child’s biggest obstacle will be trying to figure out in which direction their ship can maneuver and in which direction it cannot. This game does require thinking but can be played very quickly and be over in as little as 15 minutes or last for a maximum of 45 minutes.

Name of Game: Sorry

Origination date: 1929

Number of Players: 2-4

Length of Play: 30 minutes

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Low

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Understanding, Applying

Costa: Level I

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Experimentation

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 3 Stars ★★★

Description: Sorry is a relatively simple game that can be brutal because other middle school players around the board can easily—if they get the right card—knock off their opponents’ pawns and send them back to the starting line. In this sense, Sorry is similar to Parcheesi and Trouble, in that the core requirement for the game is to send playing pieces around the board as fast as possible while attempting to simultaneously annoy opponents by sending their playing pieces back to their starting point. Sorry differs from its game companions in that a set of cards are used to determine how many spaces any player gets to move. In addition, it is also possible to actually move backward. Sorry is easy to learn and a fun, relatively fast game to play with friends or siblings while waiting for supper. It’s a good choice for an evening activity. An oldie-but-goodie.

Name of Game: Spy Alley

Origination date: 1992

Number of Players: 2-6

Length of Play: 30-60 minutes

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Moderate

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Analyzing, Evaluating

Costa: Level II and III

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Evaluation, Diagnosis, Judgment

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 5 Stars ★★★★★

Description: Spy Alley is a fairly short game in which the object of the game is for the middle school child to reveal the nationality of their opponents’ spy. If the child guesses right, their opponents are out of the game. If they guess wrong, they are out of the game. It is a short but vicious game because of how quickly kids may find themselves out of the game—especially if they guess wildly without putting much thought into it. During the course of the game, the kids will be randomly given the nationality of their spy—French, German, Russian, American, Spanish, or Italian. They will then purchase items their spy needs, such as a passport, code book, a key, and a disguise. Of course, the kids will also be able to purchase items their spy doesn’t need, in order to throw off their opponents and prevent them from guessing their own identity. Misdirection and subterfuge is common in this game. It’s a riot.

Name of Game: The Game of Life

Origination date: 1960

Number of Players: 2-6

Length of Play: 30 – 60 minutes

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Low to Moderate

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Understanding, Applying

Costa: Level I and II

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Modeling, Planning

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 4 Stars ★★★★

Description: The Game of Life is eerily close to how adult lives sometimes play themselves out. For example, in real life, adults get married, have kids, own houses, buy insurance and stocks, go to college (or not), and enter the workforce. All of these events are also possible in The Game of Life. The object of the game is to amass the most money and thus win the game. The Game of Life is a game which represents capitalism and traditional family values in America so if you are attempting to raise your middle school child to be an anarchist of modern capitalism, this game isn’t going to help in your plans coming to fruition. Kids usually have lots of fun playing this game and yours will too. The larger the group, the more fun this game can become. Younger middle school kids will enjoy this game more than older ones.

Name of Game: Name Chase: Historical Figures Edition

Origination date: 2008

Number of Players: 4-8

Length of Play: 30 – 60 minutes

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Moderate

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Remembering, Understanding

Costa: Level I

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Prediction

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 3 Stars ★★★

Description: Name Chase: Historical Figures Edition is a game perhaps better suited to upper middle school grade kids, because the object of the game is to solve the clues and identify the correct historical figure. The less academic study the middle school child has undertaken, the more difficult this game will be for them. The object of the game is to be the first team to reach 300 points. Some of the historical figures will be easy to identify, such as Muhammad Ali, John Audubon, Marie Curie, and Neil Armstrong. Others will be very difficult for middle school kids to identify, such as Clark Gable, I.M. PEI, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Still, this is a good game to introduce your child to some of history’s most famous figures. Of course, the faster kids guess the correct historical figure, the more points their team gets. If they nail the answer on the first clue, their team gets 20 points, but if it takes their team four attempts to guess the correct answer, then their team receives only 5 points. A fun, if somewhat cerebral game. This game will be hard to find so you’ll probably have to order it online.

Name of Game: The Scrambled States of America

Origination date: 2002

Number of Players: 2-4

Length of Play: 20 minutes

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Low

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Remembering

Costa: Level I

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Prediction

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 4 Stars ★★★★

Description: This is a game probably best suited for younger middle school kids. (However, I don’t see why older middle school kids can’t also join in the fun.) Speed and accuracy are major components of the game. Just knowing that the capital of California is Sacramento won’t be good enough if the kids happen to have an assertive opponent who has a quick hand to steal the state from them. The object of the game is simple—collect more state cards than any other players. But in order to win, the kids will need to know where the states are located, relative to other states, the capitals, the nicknames for the states, and the general visual outline of what the state look like. This is one of those rare games which combine knowledge and fun together into one pleasing package.

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