(Last Updated on January 31, 2024)
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Board games are such a great way to teach and learn!
In this Board Games for Kids series, I’ve been sharing tons of awesome board game suggestions to supplement elementary and junior high school subjects. So far, we’ve covered:
- US History Board Games for Kids
- US Geography Board Games for Kids
- World History Board Games for Kids
Now we’ll take a look at board games for the K-8th grade age range that would be great for teaching and practicing world geography in your classroom, co-op, or homeschool!
World Geography Board Games for Kids
This updated version of Rivers, Roads, and Rails is a tile game played similar to Dominoes. Players match tiles in their hand to the ends of ones already on the playing area. The tiles feature – you guessed it – rivers, roads, and railroads. Pieces are laid adjacent to matching pieces to build an ever-changing network of these features as the game goes on.
In my opinion, this game would work well for preschool through 5th graders. There is no reading required and minimal skill needed to play the game, which is great for the youngest students. But, there is some strategy involved in blocking other players, so older elementary kids will still enjoy playing, too.
Though no specific places are learned about by playing this game, it’s a great introduction to a general discussion of geography. Educators can use this as a fun jumping off point for lessons on transportation methods or the types of features found in cities and countries.
Rivers, Roads, and Rails is a very simple game listed for 1-8 players ages 5+. (Older elementary kids and junior high students might prefer a similar, but more complex, tile-based game like Carcassonne instead.)
Top Trumps Wonders of the World (and others)
I’ve mentioned Top Trumps in every Board Games for Kids post I’ve done so far for two reasons. First, they come in so many themes, you’re bound to find one that fits with the subject you’re studying. And secondly, you don’t need to know any trivia to be successful at this – so even young, inexperienced players can win!
In Top Trumps card games, players compare the stats on their cards (like in the game, War). Whoever has the higher value in whichever category is being compared wins the cards. And whoever gets all the cards wins the game! Easy peasy!
To use in a world geography unit, try one of the following versions:
Most versions I’ve seen are listed for ages 6+ or 7+, but as soon as kids can read they can start playing and learning the trivia facts on the cards. These decks are great for bringing in the car or on trips – after all, we’re always learning anyway, even on vacation!
The goal of Little Passports Where To? is to be the first player to collect five memories in your Travel Journal. To do this, players roll the die and travel around the game board (a world map) reaching various destinations and collecting cards for their journal.
The gameplay is fairly straightforward and this game is easy to learn. It’s a roll-and-move game with a few additional features like Traveler’s Luck cards, Celebration cards, and scooter boost spaces to keep things interesting.
It’s listed for 2-4 players, ages 7+, but I’d say once kids can read they could get a lot from this game. The continents are prominent on the board, and oceans and major cities/landmarks are labeled. Little Passports could be used to supplement world geography lessons on continents, oceans, famous destinations, and more.
The board itself is thin compared to other game boards, so I’m not sure how well it would stand up to repeated use in a large classroom situation. But, overall, Little Passports Where To? is a cute, simple game for elementary aged kids to start traveling the world!
I love the idea for this game! It’s a cross between iSpy and a memory exercise I played as a kid. Growing up, we used to play a game where we put a bunch of objects on a tray, studied the tray for 30 seconds, and then tried to answer questions about the objects or guess which one had been removed.
Brainbox: The World is such a fun way to accidentally memorize facts about 55 of our world’s countries! Players get ten seconds to study an illustrated card and then roll the die to see which question they’ll need to answer. Questions range from generic ones like “Are all of the people shown wearing hats?” to specific, educational questions like “Does the Sea of Japan border South Korea?”
Like other games I’ve mentioned so far, I think many students could get a lot out of this game, even if they’re a little younger than the 8+ suggested age range. My 7 year old was frustrated at first, but modifications (like a longer time limit and hints) helped her feel more successful.
Brainbox: The World (which, by the way, comes in a bunch of other themes), can be used as a review game after a lesson, a hook to generate interest before a lesson, or you could even use it to create a unit study on different countries (by using the cards as ideas or topics to research more).
Continent Race is a kid-created, educational game for two or more players ages 7+. Players draw cards and strategically discard to be the first to collect groups of country cards from three continents. I like that the element of chance makes it easier for mixed ages/abilities to play together.
Antarctica (wild) Cards, Mystery Cards, and Challenges break up the game and add additional gameplay elements. Overall, it’s a very easy game to pick-up and play without much explanation.
A detailed, color-coded world map along with continent lists and enlarged continent maps all help give strong visual cues to players. Flags and country names are included on the country cards so, over time, flags, country locations, and continents will all be learned by playing this game.
Some kids might find this more educational-looking while others will appreciate the very clear, accurate images (no cartoony illustrations in this game). Continent Race is a nice classroom or homeschool supplement for any world geography unit, especially if the focus is on country flags or which countries are on which continent.
Around the World with Guess in 10 is a “deluxe” version of the Guess in 10 series of games. The typical ones are card decks with 50 cards each, but this version is actually four themes in one with 100 total cards in these categories: Foods of the World, Countries of the World, Cities Around the World, and Legendary Landmarks.
Guess in 10 games are a new take on the traditional game, 20 Questions. This particular Around the World version comes with a game board and pawns, wild cards, and conquer coins to add some extra gameplay elements.
The Countries of the World version is another theme that would work well as a world geography supplement. The countries-only game is a single theme with 50 cards and no game board, perfect for using on-the-go.
The Around the World deluxe board game version is a 2-6 player game that can easily be played in teams, so educators can make this work for a homeschool co-op or classroom setting. And, if needed, it’s easy to modify the game for different ages/abilities by adding extra clues or rearranging teams.
This game is listed for ages 8+ which I think is about right. Just like the game 20 Questions, players need to know enough about the topic to know what to ask. And they can’t guess an answer that they don’t know exists. For example, if a student has never heard of falafel or the Taj Mahal, they’ll never be able to guess the answer, no matter how many clues you give them. For this reason, it’s best to use this game as a review after some country/culture studies have already been completed.
Around the World with Guess in 10 is great practice for learning how to ask intelligent, strategic questions and gather more information while learning more about world geography and cultures at the same time!
Designed for 2-4 players ages 7+, The World Game is a comprehensive world geography game. It includes all the countries and the cards include basic stats (area, population, highest point, number of neighboring countries) in addition to the country name, capital, and flag.
I love the sleek, clean design of the cards and reference map – it reminds me of The 50 States Game I mentioned in this post, which was made by the same game publisher. The box itself is much smaller than I thought which makes it perfect for tossing in a purse or backpack for use while traveling.
This is an easy-to-learn card game where country stats are being compared (like in Top Trumps) and players also ask each other challenge questions (for example, “Can you find Cuba on the map?” or “Which country’s flag is this?”).
The World Game is easy to use with kids of all ages because players can learn as they go. It’s easy to modify rules for younger kids or mixed ages/abilities (one idea would be to only compare stats so no trivia knowledge is needed). The more kids play, the more they’ll learn!
Ticket to Ride Rails & Sails is a worldwide (stand-alone) sequel to the board game classic, Ticket to Ride. It’s actually a double-sided board with a map of the Great Lakes of North America on the back making this two games in one!
For 2-5 players, ages 10+, this is a great game to use when studying transportation/travel, world continents, or well-known cities around the world. It’s light on detailed educational content (that is, it’s not a trivia game), but that makes it great for generating geography-related discussion with kids who might balk at a more obviously educational game.
In this entry-level strategy game, players collect cards and build rail or sea routes to various cities before other players block the way with their own routes. The addition of the steamboats and harbors make this slightly more complicated than the original game, but the gameplay is the same.
Because a full game of Ticket to Ride Rails & Sails takes quite a while (typically at least an hour up to two), this might not be the best choice for classroom or homeschool co-op use unless the game could be left out and split over two class periods.
There are several other games in the Ticket to Ride series (besides the original USA version) that would be great supplements for geography studies of specific countries/areas including: Europe, Nordic Countries, and Germany.
Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego
I’m including Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego on my list even though it’s hard to find (try Ebay) in case there are any other Carmen fans out there like me. We got our copy at a garage sale – I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to introduce my kids to this important part of my own childhood.
The board is a world map (unfortunately it’s outdated, but I like to think of it as “nostalgic” and use it as an opportunity to teach the kids how human-made/political borders can change over time).
Players each control a V.I.L.E. henchman and an ACME detective, and they try to move around the board to get clues. The eventual goal is to obtain a warrant to capture the main villain which is sometimes Carmen herself and other times it’s other baddies like Justin Case or Lynn Gweeny (gotta love the clever names).
For 2-6 players, ages 10+, this game is best used as a review after students have some geography and history trivia under their belts. I was able to play this with my 7 year old, but only by giving her significant assistance since she simply hasn’t learned a lot of the trivia yet.
Trekking the World is a beautiful, high quality, educational game with high replayability for 2-5 players, ages 10+. The board is a map of the world, and players are racing to become the most experienced traveler by traveling around the continents visiting real world destinations and landmarks. Some examples of the 48 destinations included are the Acropolis of Athens, The Great Barrier Reef, Mount Fuji, and Machu Picchu.
This game is another in a series of awesome games by Underdog Games. (I’ve already mentioned Trekking the National Parks, Trekking Through History, and HerStory in my posts on US Geography Board Games for Kids and World History Board Games for Kids.)
I’d consider this a “light” strategy game. There is a lot more going on than just a roll-and-move game, and it’s even a little more complex than Ticket to Ride. But once the rules are explained, most 4th and 5th graders and up would understand and enjoy this game.
It’s a longer game, typically at least 30-40 minutes up to an hour. And you’ll want to allow extra time for the moderate learning curve the first time you play. Overall, Trekking the World is an excellent option to supplement a world geography unit, spice up a lesson about travel or famous landmarks, or just to play for an entertaining family game night.
If you’re looking for more game ideas, check out the other posts in this series for US History, US Geography, and World History since there’s often a lot of overlap between history and geography games.
Stay tuned for the next post: Government & Civics Board Games for Kids!
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