5 Nature-Based Board Games We Love
Looking for a holiday gift kids will be able to enjoy again and again? We collected a list of nature-based board games for kids across a range of ages. From the foraging of Wildcraft to the deductive reasoning of Outfoxed, each game balances skill-building and information with indoor fun (perfect when the weather outside isn’t too inviting). Check out our picks below!
With four different levels to play at (depending on age, expertise, or number of times played before), Camp from Education Outdoors evolves with its players. At its most essential, the game is information based, and players advance by correctly answering questions about wildlife and the outdoors to move around the board, back to the campfire. In this way, gameplay is simple and straightforward, and Camp is an ideal choice for younger kids, who are just beginning to learn about ecosystems. Simply illustrated, the game instead relies mostly on actual photographs to ensure accurate information is conveyed– information that might actually come in handy, should you find yourself out in the wild.
Into the Forest
Like Camp, Into the Forest is an excellent complement to kids beginning to learn about environmental science, particularly the food chain and where everyone fits in (including plants!). Each card features a detailed illustration of a plant or animal and is paired with information about what it eats and who eats it. In addition to the cards, the game comes with a food web chart and a score pad, to keep track of who’s on top. Like the beloved classic Dominion, Into the Forest includes several different versions of play but is also flexible enough to let players come up with their own rules. If the rain or cold is keeping you indoors, Into the Forest offers the adventure of discovery from the comfort of your home, and provides information you’ll use in the classroom and outside of it.
Made by a family of home herbalists, LearningHerb’s Wildcraft balances herbalism, education, and fun. According to its premise, players are sent out by Grandma to collect blue huckleberries for her pie, in addition to a few choice herbs. Each player must collect two pails of huckleberries and return back to Grandma’s house before nightfall… but, of course, there is trouble (in the form of wasp stings, blisters, and other hiking ailments) along the way. Herbs are collected as players move across the board and can be used to remedy any of the aforementioned illnesses. Beyond the vibrant watercolor illustrations, the beauty of Wildcraft is in its ability to reach beyond gameplay; the spirit of the game encourages players to think about common plants and how they can be used to remedy common ailments and injuries.
The Yoga Garden Game
Created by a San Francisco yoga teacher, The Yoga Garden Game is a cooperative undertaking that encourages players to work together to discover their own practice, and is targeted specifically at children. The benefits of yoga are numerous and well documented, but finding ways to introduce yoga to kids isn’t always evident or easy. To appeal to the younger demographic, The Yoga Garden Game draws on the sometimes playful, whimsical names yoga poses often have, as well as the kinesthetic nature of yoga, to get kids excited about a mindful exercise. Players move the bumblebee token around the board in order to plant a flower before night falls, while simultaneously moving themselves through many standard yoga poses (and with the possibility of inventing their own!).
With its adorable cartoon style illustrations in fresh, modern colors, Outfoxed from Gamewright begins with a wily fox (in a sharp top hat) having stolen Mrs. Plumpert’s potpie on his way back to the foxhole. Players act as detectives (their tokens are tiny Sherlock Holmes-style hats), rolling dice to search for clues and uncover suspects; all the while, the fox token is simultaneously moving towards the fox hole. Outfoxed shares an ancestry with Clue, in that a predetermined culprit has been chosen and it is up to the players to use deduction to discover who it is. But where Outfoxed gets more fun has to do with its cooperative nature, which sees players team up to pool resources and get to the bottom of who made off with Mrs. Plumpert’s potpie.