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Kids aren’t the only ones who get stir-crazy when the weather causes outdoor plans to be canceled. So what to do when you’re home unexpectedly, you’ve already binge-watched your favorite shows, or you’d like to get away from screens for a few hours? Maybe it’s because of the unfortunate homonym, but we think board games are an underrated solution. We chose these (extremely-not-boring) games because, in addition to having fun with family and friends, you’ll actually learn something.
If your idea of a fun movie involves unlikely heroes fighting unexpected global catastrophes, you’ll love drawing the epidemic card in Pandemic and being forced to infect a city. Gain an appreciation of the teamwork required to fight and eradicate diseases as you travel around the globe in roles including Quarantine Specialist, Dispatcher, and Contingency Planner. Pick up geography and population facts along the way. You can play this game with just two people if friends are also stranded at home, and multiple expansions offer additional exciting themes.
Searching our brains for random factoids gathered from history, science, geography, art and pop culture is fun. But if you’re craving something more, you’ll enjoy the additional thinking skills required to move around the game board in Wit’s End: identifying the Odd-1-Out in a category, ordering sets in Sequence questions, or solving rhyming riddles with a Teaser.
This unique and beautifully designed game is deceptively simple. Grow trees, harness sunlight to turn carbon dioxide and water into food, and get points for things like soil quality. But when you see things from a tree’s perspective, more trees mean more shadows—and that means more competition for sustenance. Whether or not you win, you’ll develop your strategic thinking and deeper respect for the order of the natural world.