10 Board Games for a Great Special Needs Game Night
I love a good game. To a fault. I love Scrabble and Pictionary and chess and checkers and poker. I will play to the death, which is why I usually have to sit out a round or two while the rest of the family continues. They put me in time out. Games are all about connection—with other people, with abstract ideas, with logical thinking. They can teach with fun what often takes years of skill-building in the classroom. That’s why it’s crucial that every child gets to play. These 10 games will make family game night worth it for any child with special needs.
No, this isn’t the beginning of a lecture. This is a walk in the park and a slide down the slide and a visit to Waterland. With each turn the player draws a card and must choose between two options. Each choice has consequences, hence the name. I love this game for its logic, but also for the fun and for the blank cards that are included so parents or teachers can write their own tasks and results.
Dungeons and Dragons
Hello 1974. This game might be over 40 years old but it still sucks you in. Dungeons and Dragons teaches fantasy and role-playing better than any other. What kid wouldn’t want to be a hero on a quest seeking treasure, rescuing those in distress and battling foes? For kids with special needs, thinking figuratively can be tough. But this game draws you in and stretches the imagination in a way that makes you forget it’s just a game.
Thinkfun Roll and Play Board Game
My son who has cerebral palsy loves this game and so do his brothers and sisters. This is one game they can all play together despite his limited language skills. It also sneaks in a little physical activity. The game comes with a big plush square with a different color on each side. Toss the square and draw a card from the pile in whatever color lands up. The cards teach colors, counting, animals, body parts, and the best one for us, emotions. This game is not about competition, it’s a big group quiz that gets you to move around and show off what you know.
This one was a childhood favorite. It made it on every car trip or plane ride because it’s small and comes in a banana-shaped carrying case that I begged to use as my pencil holder for school. The premise is simple: try to form as many words as you can from your tiles faster than anyone else. The best part—you get to yell “Bananas!” as loud as you can when all your tiles are gone. It’s like Scrabble with less rules. This one lets your kids practice spelling without struggling to hold writing utensils—you just sort the letters and keep going.
(Continued on page 2)