Board games to boost your kids’ life skills

Published by Moira O'Neill on 14 December 2017.
Last updated on 14 February 2018

Board games: boost your kids’ life skills

Unlike the latest bit of plastic or Disney toy, traditional board games will entertain your kids and teach them about money too. 

In our family, the all-time favourite board game for several years has been murder mystery game Cluedo, good for developing logic and speculation skills. But I think this festive season we’ll be playing more of the landlord game Monopoly.

My younger daughter (aged eight) loves being the banker, which is good for her maths, while I can see the eldest (aged 11) benefiting from the game’s important financial lessons: always keep an emergency fund, manage cash flow by earning income, hone your negotiating skills. It’s also an introduction to the concept of investments and long-term payoffs (especially as the game can last for hours).

But we can’t play Monopoly all holiday, so I asked my friends in the financial services industry to recommend their favourite games to teach children about money. Here are the results:

The Game of Life

Players can make their own exciting choices as they move through the twists and turns of life. You move the car token around the game board to experience unexpected surprises related to family, career, holidays, and other milestones of life. The player with the most money at the end of the game wins.

Freelance financial journalist Kara Gammell says: “I loved it as a child and it looks at bills, insurance, family costs and even retirement.”

Number of players: Two to four. Suitable from: Eight years

Pack of playing cards


Faith Archer, personal finance journalist and money blogger at Much More With Less, says: “I used to play Newmarket with my grandma, betting with pennies.” The aim of Newmarket, suitable for three to eight players, is to get rid of your cards first, and to win stakes by playing certain cards.

Lee Blackwell, head of media and public relations at the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association, says: “My gran use to fleece us at Gin Rummy, which taught me the power of saving your pocket money, but I’m not sure about inter-generational fairness!”

The aim of Gin Rummy, a two-player game, is to score points, hitting an agreed number of points or more, usually 100, before the opponent does. The basic game strategy is to improve one’s hand by forming melds and eliminating deadwood.

Scrabble or Junior Scrabble

Scrabble is a word game in which two to four players score points by placing tiles bearing a single letter on to a board divided into a 15×15 grid of squares. It teaches children to spell and there is mathematical skill involved in counting the scores for words in all different directions.

Number of players: Two to four. Suitable from: 10 years (or five to eight years for Junior Scrabble)

Snakes and Ladders


Snakes and Ladders is an Indian board game regarded as a worldwide classic. A player’s progression up the board from 1 to 100 represents the journey of life, while the snakes and ladders represent the vices and virtues along the journey. A simple race contest based on sheer luck, it is popular with young children.

Jemma Jackson, public relations manager at Seven Investment Management, says: “It’s great for numeracy and even better if you play with two dice.”

Number of players: Two or more. Suitable from: Three years

Win a copy of bMoneywize

bMoneywize introduces the complex concepts of financial literacy to kids and opens a dialogue between them and their parents about money. It encourages maths skills, while teaching valuable life lessons. The scenarios that are explained are every-day and mostly commonplace. They were carefully picked to depict the lifestyle of the average person.

The game can be bought via the website, Bmoneywize.co.uk. It usually costs £24.99, plus postage and packing. However, Moneywise readers can buy it for £19.99, using the code Moneywise from 1 until 15 December 2017.

Moneywise also has five games to give away. For your chance to win, email editor@moneywise.co.uk with your idea for the best toy or game to teach children about money.  

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