(Last Updated on January 31, 2024)
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World history is apparently a theme that board game makers love. There are so many great choices for games to supplement world history lessons in classrooms and homeschools!
This list includes a lot of different types of games: trivia games, card games, themed board games, cooperative games, and strategy games. And all the games on this list are aimed at the elementary or junior high age range. (If you’re looking for world history games for high schoolers, check out the video links at the end of this post)
I’ve arranged these games loosely by intended age range – from youngest to oldest. But don’t let that limit you! I’ve found that success with board games depends more on a kid’s ability and interest level rather than their age.
If you’ve missed the first posts in this series on Board Games for Kids, you can check them out here:
Enough chit-chat. Now, on with the world history board game ideas!
World History Board Games for Kids
This cooperative, I-Spy-type game has been a favorite of my youngest kids, but is still enjoyed by their older siblings, too. Rated for ages 4+, Journey Through Time Eye Found It! is a 1-6 player game that takes kids on a journey through seven different eras in history: prehistoric times, ancient Egypt, the medieval era, the age of piracy, the wild west, present day, and the future.
The 6’ long game board is filled with detailed scenes of the various eras. The illustrations include hundreds of objects that players search for as a team. For example, if the Search Card “hammer” is drawn, then everyone searches for hammers and they place markers on the ones they find before time runs out.
I love that my kids (currently ages 7, 12, and 14) will still all play this together. Being a game played as a team, it encourages bonding instead of competition. Journey Through Time Eye Found It! is a perfect game to introduce kindergarten and elementary-aged kids to the idea of historical eras. They’ll gain familiarity with objects and vocabulary from the various time periods in a fun, hands-on, team-building way.
Top Trumps Ancient Egypt (and others)
I’ve mentioned Top Trumps before, and I’m sure I’ll mention it again before this series is done. This trivia card game has been a win-win for our family since the kids love it and I love that they’re accidentally memorizing facts while playing!
It’s rated for ages 6+, but anyone who can read and compare numbers can play. The game is played like War, and stats are compared to see who wins the cards. Whoever collects all the cards wins the game.
Just like traditional War, the game can tend to run long. When we don’t have time for a never-ending game, we set a time limit and whoever has the most cards when the timer runs out is declared the winner.
This game comes in several themes that could supplement world history topics:
- Ancient Egypt (Warning: there are some creepy mummy images in this one)
- Ancient Roman Gods & Emperors
- World Famous Ships
- World of Tanks
Top Trumps card games are easy to learn and perfect to toss in a purse or backpack.
This very straightforward trivia game for ages 5+ is a great way to start introducing kids to names and events in history. It’s incredibly quick to pickup and play.
A question is read and players guess if the correct answer is A or B. This means there’s a 50/50 chance at getting the right answer, so even young kids can probably guess right half the time.
There are some topics covered that kids may not have learned yet or that are a little intense (as in “How did Joan of Arc die? A – Burnt at the stake or B – Hanging”), so keep that in mind if you plan to use this with very young kids.
But, if you’re looking for an open-and-go game for classroom use or a change of pace from the usual flashcards, Who Knows History Better? is a great option.
This is another trivia game that comes in dozens of different themes. The Ancient Civilizations set covers people/philosophers, buildings/places, and art/artifacts of ancient empires.
Rated for ages 7+, this 2-8 player game includes 180 questions (half easy, half harder) so kids of mixed ages can play together. It can also be used as flashcards for one student to review facts on their own. The answers are on the same side of the card as the questions, but they’re off to the right side so a solo player could easily cover the answers with their hand while testing themselves on the questions.
Professor Noggins trivia games are about as uncomplicated as it gets which makes these sets perfect for quick classroom breaks or a fun themed review.
Timeline Twist is a new version of an older game, Timeline. The “twist” is that the game is now cooperative (listed for 2-6 players, ages 8+). Players collaborate together in teams to build their timelines by placing cards in chronological order and discarding other cards strategically.
The cards include a good mix of inventions, pop culture, and historical events so it helps kids integrate what they’re learning in their history lessons with their other cultural/trivia knowledge.
This trivia-type card game would work well in classroom or co-op settings as well as for families since it’s a very social game. There isn’t pressure to know specific dates (just dates relative to other dates), and the team aspect makes it easier for non-history-buffs like me to jump in and play, too. Players of different ages or ability levels can be paired up intentionally to even out the game experience and give every team an even chance at winning Timeline Twist.
Carcassonne is a 2-5 player strategy game (listed for ages 7+) and is based in Medieval France. Players build the game map with tiles as they play, so the board will be different every time.
Tiles include illustrations of walled cities, monasteries, farms, and other scenes. Players place their pawns (“meeples”) on the tiles in certain locations to make them monks, knights, farmers, etc. Points are accumulated throughout the game depending on where your meeples are located as tiles are placed.
Like several other games on this list, this is only a little bit educational. There isn’t specific historical information being learned or reviewed. But, I’ve included it on this list since I’ve seen how history-themed games can generate excitement about history in general.
There are a few rules that require some explaining, but most 2nd graders would be able to enjoy this game once they get the hang of what moves are allowed. Overall, Carcassonne is an entertaining, low-stress, interesting game for all ages. And many expansion packs are now available to add new elements, more players, and more complex strategies to the original gameplay.
Like Carcassone, Akropolis is a tile-based, strategy game that’s only loosely educational. But this 2-4 player game (for ages 8+) would be a great themed intro or conclusion to a lesson on ancient Greece.
Players are competing architects, expanding their cities both sideways and also stacking tiles as the game progresses. The fairly straightforward gameplay and setup make this a relatively quick game to play (typically around 25-30 min).
I love the illustrations on the box and tiles. In order to make Akropolis a little more educational, the illustrations can be used to spark conversation about the types of housing, temples, outdoor markets, and barracks that have been found in ancient Greece and other Mesopotamian excavations.
Players in the game of Thebes are archeologists trying to collect artifacts from ancient Egypt, Greece, Crete, and Mesopotamia. The game is played in two stages. First, players collect the supplies, knowledge, and assistants they’ll need in order to succeed with their excavations. Stage Two involves the actual travel and archeological digs.
This unique strategy game is a mix of luck and skill. While the element of random luck can be frustrating for serious strategy game-lovers, it’s great for leveling the playing field for younger kids who are playing with older kids, adults, or more experienced players.
This game is best suited to families or classrooms who have a lot of time to dedicate to a game. There’s a steep learning curve that will take some time to explain, and the game itself typically lasts at least an hour. The setup and cleanup will take some time, too, so this wouldn’t be ideal for a classroom setting unless the game could be left out and continued over multiple class periods. (I’d recommend to explain the game, complete the setup, and play Stage One the first day. Then a second session could be to play Stage Two and cleanup).
Thebes is listed for 2-4 players, ages 8+. It’s very unique and does a great job immersing the players in the role of archeologist and the time period of ancient civilizations.
Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego
Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego is now considered “vintage” and it’s hard to find (I’ve seen it on Ebay), but I’m including it on this list for any other Carmen Sandiego fans like me.
Note: Can I just say how old it makes me feel when they use words like “vintage” to describe things I grew up with? *sigh*
Meant for ages 8+, this trivia-type game is best used after basic world history events have been covered. I like that this game includes things like inventions of various technologies and sports, and mixes them in with more traditional school history textbook events (like Columbus’ voyage to the New World).
The gameplay is fairly quick to learn. Players are trying to put historical events in order and also match other cards to their correct century. Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego would be a fun addition to your history game collection if you can find it!
HerStory is a unique board game for 2-5 players, ages 8+, that covers 120 women who significantly impacted history. The list of women includes: Cleopatra, Joan of Arc, Abigail Adams, Mother Theresa, Julia Child, Dolly Parton, and many others.
The premise is that players are authors writing a book about famous women in history. While completing the actions needed to progress in the game (researching and drafting chapters to finish their book), players are learning information about the various featured women.
While kids will be learning trivia-type information by playing this, it’s not a trivia game. It’s an introductory-level strategy game – fun for all ages but not too complicated for younger players or those new to this type of game.
HerStory is unique in concept and an excellent confidence builder for daughters (and good for our boys to play as well – it’s not too girly). Besides being an interesting game, the very cool neoprene board game mat and bonus bookmarks, stickers, and postcards make this an especially neat game to have.
Pandemic Fall of Rome is one of several versions of the original Pandemic game. This one, as the name suggests, is set in the Roman Empire and players are working to assemble armies and unite together to prevent the fall of Rome. It’s intended for 1-5 players (there are instructions included for solitaire play).
This game is definitely a step up in complexity from the other games I’ve mentioned so far. While listed for ages 8+, is best suited for kids who are really into war strategy games.
The game is based on history, starting with a weakened Roman Empire vulnerable to attacks from barbarian hordes. As gameplay progresses, it obviously won’t necessarily match what really happened in history. But the geography, theme, and general concepts can still be educational especially if supplemented with discussion.
Pandemic Fall of Rome is well made. The card illustrations are detailed and, in my opinion, really help immerse the players in the theme and time period.
I love that Portals and Prophets was created – it’s not your mama’s felt board Sunday School lesson!
This Bible-themed time travel game for 2-5 players, ages 10+, is great for learning more about the events recorded in the Bible in an engaging way.
The game board is a map of the land of Israel in Biblical times and the game includes over 100 event cards, each with time period, event, location, and Bible verses. The goal is to travel around the map (by road or portal) and be in the right place at the right time to witness historical events.
This strategy game would be approachable for most 4th graders once they get the hang of it. And, because player strategies change based on other players’ choices, even less experienced players can keep up by foiling the plans of their opponents.
Portals and Prophets is a great game for kids and adults alike. The beautiful illustrations, relevant Scripture, and game board map all help solidify knowledge of Biblical events (including their time period and location) for anyone who plays this entertaining game.
In Trekking Through History, players are trying to collect event cards and gain points by achieving goals on their itinerary card. It take a little time initially to setup. But, once everyone understands the rules, the gameplay moves quickly.
The game itself looks lovely with colorful pieces, high quality cards, a neoprene game board mat, and a unique time clock for tracking player progress.
This 2-4 player game is appropriately rated for ages 10+ (or possibly a younger child who excels at strategy games). There are 108 history cards of events from throughout human history. While it’s heavier on strategy than history, players will be accidentally learning the dates of the historical events simply through playing the game.
There are additional facts about each event on the back of the cards, however in mid-game there’d be no reason to flip the cards over and read those unless the players make an intentional point of doing so. Educators might want to make it part of the game rules to read the back-of-card facts aloud when you take a card.
I love that Trekking Through History includes events across the world and throughout time giving a very broad, sweeping overview of history.
Age of Civilization is a semi-complex card game for 1-4 players, ages 10+. It’s best for kids who are interested in the rise and fall of empires and civilizations in ancient history and who really enjoy strategy card games.
Players start by selecting a civilization to build (based on real places) and then gaining workers and resources, and taking actions. The actions include things like researching technologies, building wonders, hunting, conquering, and more.
The game is played in three rounds and circumstances change in each round, which leads to some civilizations falling and new ones rising up. For kids who like this type of game, Age of Civilization is a very enjoyable way to increase familiarity with dozens of ancient places and explore the complex reasons civilizations come and go throughout history.
There are a whopping 858 events included in the classic 2-8 player timeline trivia card game, Chronology. It’s super simple to play and, though it’s rated for ages 14+, middle school kids can enjoy it, too. As they make educated guesses, they’ll gradually retain the information.
The game is simple. Players have to determine where a card goes on their timeline, placing new cards in chronological order to be the first to build a timeline of ten cards.
Interestingly, it’s accessible for inexperienced players, but still engaging for history buffs. On one hand, some events are so far apart, they’re easy to place, especially at the beginning of the game when timelines only have a card or two. But, as gameplay continues, and timeframes between cards get smaller, even experts in history trivia will be challenged.
Like some of the other timeline trivia games on this list, I love that the history events kids learn in school are mixed with cultural events and “fun stuff” (like when Harley-Davidson introduced their first motorcycle or when Etch-a-Sketch was introduced).
Chronology is quick, fun, and simple to grab and play at home or in a classroom setting.
Phew! If you made it to the end of this post… congratulations! Hopefully you’ve found something on this list that will work to supplement your world history lessons in your homeschool, co-op, or classroom! For more history game ideas specific to America, check out this post: US History Board Games for Kids.
And, if you’re looking for world history games for high schoolers, check out this video by high school teacher and gaming dad, Lakeside Gamer:
For more fun and educational game ideas, check out the other posts in the Games for Kids series:
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