What do you need?

Design a board game

Summary:   challenge your child to design a simple board game, then find out how much fun it is to play!

Set-up: 15 mins

Play: 1-2 hours (designing and then playing)

Complexity: Medium – more complex depending on your child’s interest and ability


  • Paper, a ruler, pencils, small toys or figures, a dice

What to do

Take a piece of paper and divide it into rows and columns to create a grid (like a snakes and ladders board), or have your child create the grid (there’s plenty of mathematics involved in making sure the columns and rows are equal).

Help your child to decide the rules of the game. Which way should players move their toy or figure across the board? Use arrows or number the squares. Should there be special squares which indicate a special move or action? How will you designate these? What about the throws of the dice? Could throwing a particular number (such as 6) have a special meaning? What might be special about the finish line?


Play the game and see how well it works. Are there any rules or features your child would like to change? Does the game take a long time to play, or is it too short? How could they amend this?

Add an extra die to the game, so that as well as having a die to indicate the number of steps taken across the grid, a second die indicates a special move (“If you throw a 1, move backwards; If you throw a 3, miss a go; If you throw a 5, go back to the start”). How does this affect the success of the game?

Decorate the game board.

What learning does this activity promote?

Mathematics, imagination, critical thinking, trial and error

By Dr Vicki Hargraves


Dr Vicki Hargraves

Vicki runs our ECE webinar series and also is responsible for the creation of many of our ECE research reviews. Vicki is a teacher, mother, writer, and researcher living in Marlborough. She recently completed her PhD using philosophy to explore creative approaches to understanding early childhood education. She is inspired by the wealth of educational research that is available and is passionate about making this available and useful for teachers.

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