Before we talk about using one-player games in your family and homeschool routine, I want to let you know about something special: Never Board Learning! Never Board Learning is a private community for parents and educators who enjoy play-based learning and gameschooling. Featuring a private community forum, guest speakers, live Q&As, regular day in the life family spotlights, and a growing resource library featuring documentation resources, print-and-play activities, and challenges. Check it out here!
Today, I would like to talk about the educational value of one-player games. Single-player board games can be a wonderful addition to your homeschool or gameschool routine. I’ll also share my favorite solo-player gameschooling resources with you. But first, the backstory…
As a school psychologist and homeschool mom, I am a huge play advocate. I have witnessed, time and time again, the power of play and gameschooling.
Many homeschool parents know the value of play, but they have trouble squeezing it in amid all of the other nagging daily homeschool must-dos. And that’s why gameschooling is so valuable. Gameschooling is the intersection of play and homeschooling. It allows you to prioritize play but also make it “count” for those year-end Homeschool Powers-that-Be.
One-player games are fun and they are a wonderful way to keep children happy, engaged, learning, and -often- quiet.
Let’s dive in!
The Most Amazing One-Player Games for Your Family
How to add more play to your homeschool day or family routine via gameschooling
Gameschooling is one of my passions and I could blabber on and on about it all day long. If you are interested in learning more about adding more play to your family or homeschool routine via gameschooling, I have several fantastic resources to offer you.
Gameschooling 101: How to Add More Play to Your Homeschool Day
Do you want to add more fun to your homeschool day, but you’re worried about crossing off all of those homeschool “must-do” boxes? What if I told you that homeschooling could be *almost* all fun and games? Well, I believe it can!
Homeschooling shouldn’t feel super hard or complicated. You can cultivate a family culture of curiosity and joyful, lifelong learning. And it doesn’t need to look anything like the public school of your past.
If there was a simple, step-by-step method for adding more play to your homeschool day while checking off all of those academic must-do boxes, would you finally feel confident enough to ditch that public school mindset and make delight-driven learning and joyful curiosity a top priority in your homeschool?
Adding play can change the entire atmosphere of your homeschool and family routine. Learn how to add more play to your family routine and skyrocket learning and joyful curiosity in the process.
Join the fun today and have a happier tomorrow:
Join our FREE Gameschool Community
If you’d like to learn more about play and gameschooling, but you aren’t quite ready to commit to the Gameschooling 101 course, I highly recommend joining our free Gameschool Community. It’s by far the most playful space on the internet!
The Gameschool Community is filled with over 30,000 homeschool families from around the world as they support each other in play and gameschooling. It’s such an amazing, supportive, and fun community to be a part of!
Join the MLP Gameschool Community:
Check out our Gameschool Resource Page, filled with even more one-player game recommendations!
As a school psychologist and homeschool mom to three, I am a creative resource junkie! Would you like to check out our favorite gameschool resources by academic subject and category? If so, you’re going to want to bookmark these pages!
Using one-player games in your homeschool and family routine
One-player games are a wonderful resource for homeschool and gameschool families. Single-player board and card games offer families an alternative to screens!
Here are some ways I use one-player games in our homeschool:
- Solo-player games are an excellent way to occupy a child when you need to work 1:1 with another child.
- Quiet time
- Crummy weather days
- Sick days
- In the car during errands
In addition, many single-player games travel well and some can even be used while traveling. So, in no particular order, I present to you some of our family’s favorites…
Our family’s current favorite one-player games…
When it comes to one-player games, ThinkFun is a great game company to follow. Our family has yet to meet a ThinkFun one-player game we didn’t like. As you keep reading this article, you will find many games by ThinkFun. But if you want to know our favorite single-player game from ThinkFun, Rush Hour immediately comes to mind.
Rush Hour has been a favorite of ours since the very beginning. In this one-player logic game, you arrange your cars on a grid as depicted on the challenge card. The player must then get the target car out of traffic by rearranging cars on the grid.
It is a logic game for ages 8 and up. I love how the game comes with a travel pouch, so you can travel with it and even play it in the car. Rush hour has four levels of play to keep your child challenged. It comes with playing cards and each card provides instructions as to how to set up the various cars in the puzzle grid. The goal is to move the various cars within the grid in order to free the red car so that it can be freed from traffic.
Genius Square and Genius Star
These two games are new to our family and we are completely obsessed. A friend gave us Genius Square in 2019 and it was love at first sight.
When we learned that there was a second, more challenging version called Genius Star, we added that to our collection in late 2020. In fact, it helped us muddle through that challenging year!
Want to see it in action??
What I love about these games is the option to play them as a solo-player game or a two-player game. Adding versatile games to your game closet increases playability!
Kanoodle is an incredbily fun and challenging three-dimensional one-player game.
I love Kanoodle for its 3D challenge, but also because it is at a great price point and it is small and travels easily.
A brand-new one-player game that we just discovered…
The most recent addition to our one-player game collection is a couple of sets of Block Chains by Thinkfun. If your children enjoy puzzles or the Rubik’s Cube, they will enjoy these little games!
I have been using the Block Chains to keep my kids’ hands busy while I read aloud to them. When children’s hands are busy, they are often better listeners! Bonus? This approach also tends to reduce read-aloud interruptions!
Psst! Before I share more of our favorite one-player games…
Would you like some tips and tricks for having a successful family game night? I’ve got some for you!
More fantastic educational single-player games for your homeschool:
Do you want to know the part that kids will love about this game? There’s a legit laser, you guys. The goal is to set up your playing board according to the challenge card that you select. Then it’s up to you to position the various tokens (some of which are mirrors) so that the laser hits the targets indicated on the challenge card. This logic game involves planning and sequential reasoning skills. The challenging game has levels from beginning to expert so it has a lot of longevity.
Gravity Maze is another one-player logic game from Think Fun. It is similar to Laser Maze in that it includes a game grid and challenge cards of increasing difficulty but instead of getting a laser to its target, you must construct a marble run. The colors in this game are great and the challenge is even better. The game involves planning, sequential reasoning, and visual-spatial skills. Like Laser Maze, it’s just as much fun for the grown-ups as it is for the kids.
Just as in Laser Maze and Gravity Maze, Circuit Maze is a one-player logic game designed for ages 8 and up. The game is played on a grid and includes 60 challenge cards of increasing difficulty. Challenges are outlined on one side and the reverse side has the answers. The goal is to place tokens on the grid, according to challenge card criteria and create a working circuit. When you complete the challenge correctly, the tokens light up.
In addition to being a beautiful game that you want to leave out on your coffee table, Katamino is versatile. It can be played with one player or two, and it has won a number of awards. This game has several different playing variations and many challenge levels. This game would be perfect for a child, a teen, a family, for display, or for your office. Warning: it is addicting!
This guy has been around forever, hasn’t he? My kids love this game, just as I did when I was a child. You can play Simon by yourself, against the computer, or you can set it for a two-player game. The goal is to memorize and follow the increasingly difficult light and sound sequences. Once you start playing, you’ll want to keep playing. My oldest holds the Simon record in our house at the moment!
Keeping with the 1980s theme, my children have recently discovered the joys and frustrations of the Rubik’s Cube, the world’s best-selling puzzle. In case you are unfamiliar with this puzzle, each side of this cube has nine colored squares. The goal is to make each side of the cube one color. If you get too frustrated, there are cheat-sheets online! And oodles of YouTube videos!
This is another awesome game from Think Fun. Clearly, we love Think Fun over here! These transparent cards are heavy-duty and hold up well over time. This game is enjoyable for children and adults, making it a great family game. This fast-paced game taps into players’ spatial skills. The goal of this game is to make matches, known as swishes, by getting balls into hoops of the same color. This game can be played with multiple players, or as a solitaire. And, this is random, but every time I play it I think to myself that I wish I had this game back when I was a swimmer. It would have been perfect for long meets and the plastic cards would hold up well.
These challenging maze balls are amazing. Have you guys seen these things? There are a whole bunch of different Perplexus maze balls, with the hardest level known as Perplexus Epic. These mazes are an extremely challenging and frustratingly-fun experience. The goal is to get the little metal ball bearing through the entire maze. Good luck!
This is a game by Melissa and Doug was another Christmas winner in our house, gifted to us by the beloved Santa Kate! Suspend is a balancing game for 1-5 players. This game is simple to learn and yet challenging, offering several levels of play. Use your patience, kids!
Word A Round
Word A Round is not technically meant to be a one-player game but we use it as a one-player game. The goal is to find a hidden word on each card. There are three rings per card and there is a hidden word in each ring.
What can I say about this game? I grew up playing Scrabble. It’s one of my all-time most favorite games ever. Bananagrams is like a throw-it-in-your-purse Scrabble. You can carry it anywhere, and play it anywhere. I will often bring it to restaurants and go over letters and words with the kids while we wait for food. Best part? You can play a solitaire version!
This is yet another fantastic one-player logic game for ages 6 and up. It comes in a compact case so it can be easily stored and is perfect for travel. The challenges start off easy and get quite difficult. All three of my kiddos enjoy this game.
This is a fantastic word search game by Think Fun. Each puzzle tells you which tiles to use and you have to place the tiles in such a way so that each tile covers a word. The puzzles start off easy and get increasingly difficult. Our Pathwords came in a cool little travel case so you can play it in the car or at a restaurant.
These tubes keep kids occupied during quiet time, in waiting rooms, and at restaurants. Last weekend, I had to bring Miss T to the ER (she’s fine) and this thing saved the day. You guys know that we are I Spy obsessed, and this is like an I Spy game that you can carry with you. There are a ton of Find It tubes out there and each one has a list on the top of the cylinder of items to find within the cylinder. Lots of fun for kids of all ages.
This is a complex puzzle using cubes. There are 130 cubes and, with them, you can create 6 different puzzles based on well-known works of art. This puzzle is recommended for ages 12 and up. The puzzle blox come in a plastic carrying case to prevent loss, and so that you can work on your puzzle and then close it up and save it for later. It’s challenging and quiet.
I love this game because the box is small and portable and the logic challenge cards start out quite easy but grow more challenging over time. The goal is to follow the clues to arrange the links in the correct order. It gets tricky very quickly and is a fun challenge.
I love this game! It is adorable… and super challenging! This one-player logic game encourages children to develop reasoning skills through fun, multi-level challenges. To play, your children must use the clues provided to fill the tray with all nine chocolate pieces in their correct positions.
Back Spin is a double-sided interactive puzzle for ages 8 and up that will keep kids engaged for long periods of time. Winner of the Oppenheim Award, Back Spin is a double-sided disc filled with multi-colored balls. The goal is to get the balls to their appropriate color-coded slots. In order to do so, players must pay attention to what is happening on both sides of the disc.
Shape by Shape
Shape By Shape is a tangram-style pattern game for ages 8 and up. With 60 challenges, your little geometry lover will work on those conceptual thinking and spatial reasoning skills while having a blast!
Snap Circuits are right up there with Magnatiles as one of the best parental investments Schizz and I have ever made. While technically a game, Snap Circuits are fun, hands-on, and extremely educational. There are oodles of different Snap Circuit kits (although, if you think your family is interested, I would recommend one of the larger ones because you’ll just want more), and Snap Circuits have won a multitude of awards. With the Snap Circuit Pro SC-500 (our first Snap Circuit kit), you can create 500 different projects. My oldest received this gift for Christmas last year when he was five and a half. He was reading well at that time and could complete projects happily and independently. He’s now 12.5 and he still uses Snap Circuits all the time!
This is a three-dimensional twist on the traditional four-in-a-row game. This two-player game is for ages 8 and up. The goal of the game is to be the first player to connect four spheres in a row, in any direction.
These are second only to Magnatiles in our home. Recommended for ages 3 and up, we received these blocks as a gift and they make a great addition to our Melissa & Doug unit block set and are more challenging. This set contains 200 blocks and it is amazing what kids create with these blocks. You can also use them to play your own version of Jenga, which is also fun!
This is a logic and reasoning game from the fine folks at ThinkFun. Balance Beans is a one-player game for ages 5 and up. The game teaches young children early algebra and physics.To play, set up the seesaw and select a challenge card. Arrange the red beans on the seesaw according to the instructions on the challenge card. The object of the game is to add additional beans in order to balance the seesaw.
Safari Rush Hour
Yes! It’s true! There is a Safari Rush Hour. Unlike traditional Rush Hour, the grid is larger and players can move their Safari Rover in all directions making for an added challenge!
I cannot mention games or toys to keep kids occupied without mentioning our favorite parental purchase of all time. Our friends had Magnatiles for years before we finally decided to buy them ourselves. Every time we’d go to their house for a function, boys and girls of all ages were playing with the Magnatiles. Every. Single. Time. For years.
I kept thinking to myself, “But, gosh they seem expensive!” and then one day I asked my friend about them and she gushed. She told me that, by far, they had been the best parental investment they had ever made. They were played with daily, by boys and girls, by kids of all ages, they are easy to clean, they are easy to clean up (um… they’re magnetic! They clean up in a minute!), they are easy to store (again: magnetic!), and they are virtually indestructible. They don’t hurt your feet like Legos (which I love, but I love Magnatiles more), they will never end up in your vacuum, and they are incredibly fun.
If I had to think of one con about Magnatiles, it would be that you can never have enough. You always want to build bigger, higher, more. We have had them for several years now and they are played with daily.
Brick by Brick
Brick by Brick offers 60 challenges with three different levels of play. The goal is a simple one: combine the five bricks to match the image depicted on each challenge card, but the game offers a fun challenge!
Perfect travel-sized one-player games
I love how easily so many of these single-player games travel! Here are a few of our favorite single-player games to pack on your next road trip:
One-player games are a must-have for busy homeschooling moms!
I rely heavily on single-player games in our homeschool. They are a perfect way to keep kids busy (and learning!) when they are bored. They make a fantastic quiet time or calm down activity, and they are a wonderful way to occupy one child while working with another.
Are you looking to read more about pint-sized games for your homeschool? Check this out:
- Gameschooling: How to Use Travel Games in Your Homeschool
- Gameschooling: The Best One-Player Games for Your Homeschool
Download our FREE One-Player Games Resource List, featuring everything listed in this article and so much more!
Do you love Gameschooling?
I rely heavily on educational games in our homeschool. If you’d like to learn more, be sure to check out these resources:
- Gameschooling by Age: How to Homeschool with Fantastic Educational Games
- Budget Gameschooling: How to Play More without Breaking the Bank!
- Gameschooling by Subject: The Best Games for Your Homeschool
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I love, love, love Laser Maze. At our Hanukkah party, the people who were all over it? The CalTech physicist-turned chip designer and his (much older) kids. It is so much fun!
It is so addicting!!
Thank you! We need more games. Katamino and Snap Circuits are a big hit here. My son loves Goblet,too. It is a two player game.
Oooh I will now have to check out Goblet, although Schizz has said, “No more games!!” 🙂
This is a great list. My youngest is terrible at entertaining himself (i think it comes from having 2 brothers around all the time) I’ve been looking for fun learning games he can play by himself… I’m going to have to get a couple of these!
Let me know what you think, Krista!
Am loving the sound of one player games – playing games with my son get’s very complicated, tiring and ends in too much family frustration as he hates to lose or to make a mistake. Will definitely look into these maze ones – he loves mazes! Thank you for the sanity.
My husband & I were game addicts pre-children, and I still like to play a complex game for relaxation. A lot of cooperative games either have single-player rules or can easily be modified for one player. Pandemic is one both my teen son and I enjoy both as a single player & as a multi-player cooperative. My Christmas present this year was Mage Knight, which is usually on gamers’ “top” lists for single players. Looking forward to having time to get into this game – it’s challenging! And I think we own every ThinkFun game in existence- the now teen mentioned above would play these nonstop as a younger child, and the 8 year old is currently obsessed with their Solitaire Chess.
Love this! We do the same… and we also turn one-player games into two-player games (or more) by taking turns and adding a stopwatch. We love to do this with one-player logic games 🙂
My 14 year old daughter likes “Friday”. It’s a one player game based on Robinson Crusoe!
Kanoodle is my all-time favorite one-player game! Its newer version even has 3-D puzzles and it keeps my kids thinking hard longer than just about anything.