The following post may contain affiliate links. Thanks in advance for helping to support my blog so I can provide my fellow teachers with free homeschool helps! {You can click here to read my full disclosure policy.}

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about my family’s favorite board games for Christmas gift-giving. I thought I’d follow that up with a second post, this time giving you a few ideas for smaller, more affordable options that have the added bonuses of also being easy to transport and educational! These would make great stocking stuffers or presents if you need something in the $15 range for a gift exchange.

  • Bananagrams
    If you’re a fan of Scrabble, you will probably love Bananagrams. This word tile game pits players against each other as they compete to see who can use up all of their tiles first. You arrange the letters in a crossword-style grid, either across or up and down, until all of the tiles are gone. The first player to complete his or her puzzle yells “Bananas!” and wins the round. My kids have enjoyed using this to practice their Latin vocabulary: instead of coming up with English words, they come up with Latin ones instead (same rules apply otherwise). Another thing you could do is to hand each student a timeline card and have them create a grid made from words from the back that have to do with that week’s timeline event/person. Looks like there’s also a Double Bananagrams set that includes double the number of tiles if you want to play with more players or play longer games! Big Boggle is another word game that helps to build vocabulary. There are several versions available, but we enjoy this one.
    Bananagrams: Latin style!
  • Cranium
    We found this version in our local Walmart about a year ago and we now keep it at my mother’s house for those lazy Sunday afternoons of gaming. There’s something here for almost everyone: acting, drawing, humming, impersonating, sculpting, puzzle-solving, and trivia answering are some of the skills that you might be called on to perform before arriving at the end of the game! 
  • Cranium

  • Fluxx
    This is a perennial favorite in our house and they just keep on adding more versions! We have the original and Star Fluxx, and my youngest has decided to gift his older brothers with this set (shhh! It’s a secret!). Other themes include Pirate, Zombie, Batman, Cartoon Network, and Wizard of Oz, just to name a few. The basic idea with Fluxx is that you deal 3 cards to each player, then turn up the basic rule card, which is to draw one card and play one card. Players take turns drawing a card and playing a card until the rules change, which can happen on any player’s turn. To win, play the two keeper cards that appear on the current goal. Just be sure to do so before someone plays a *new* goal or steals one of your keepers to play with their own! As you can see, the “rules” are in a constant state of flux… A super fun game that never plays the same way twice! 
    Star Fluxx
  • Story Cubes
    I bought these as rewards for some of my Essential students a couple of years ago and my boys have recently re-discovered how much fun they are. Each set—there are three—contains 9 dice, and each die features an image on each side. There are lots of ways that you can play, but what we enjoy is to give each person playing a certain number of dice (usually 2 or 3). Each person then looks at all of the possible images and chooses one for each of their dice. The starting player starts a story, which then proceeds to the next person. That person has to choose one of the two images he or she has already pre-chosen and make it work for the story that the first person started. As you can imagine, you can end up with some pretty wacky stories! This is a great tool for creativity and one that you could easily take along and play in the car. Sets include Original (pictured below), Actions, Voyages, and a bundle that includes all three (definitely the best value).
    Rory's Story Cubes

And although it’s a bit more than $15, Brain Boxes are another fun, educational game that is still a great value at under $20 (for most versions). There are several available, but the one we have is The World. I’ve found that this is a fun way to use any extra time I may have between the time that one son finishes his math lesson and the time that his brother finishes his. Not only does it build geography knowledge, but it also helps them to learn interesting facts about each country (flags, natural resources, foods, games, etc.) and is a great tool for developing greater attention to detail.
Brain Box: The World

I hope that you’ll find this list helpful. Please leave a comment if you’ve got tips for other affordable, portable, creative game choices!

P.S. Also pictured in my header image is Ridley’s Traditional (Wooden) Pick Up Sticks. Retro fun for younger kids!