Interested in hearing a detailed Codenames Game review that shows you if it’s really worth the money? Look no further as we have often used it at parties and in our homeschool classroom.
I had my doubts because realistically it’s mainly just a whole bunch of words on cards. But under the surface, this game is a fantastic game for any classroom, homeschool family, or party goer. It’s both educational and fun and doesn’t require a set amount of people.
While it might seem like a spy game and can definitely be used in an espionage learning unit, it’s actually more of a vocabulary, critical thinking, and deductive reasoning game.
Codenames the card game…quick facts
Game Title & Company 🎲 Codenames by Vlaada Chvátil and Czech Games
Average Time to Play ⏳ Approximately 15 minutes per round
Subjects or Learning Objectives 📚 Vocabulary building/Synonyms, Critical Thinking skills, Teamwork
How we rate the game
This game truly deserves all five stars. It’s a fun game for spy units like when we studied the American Revolution, but also a great vocabulary builder as it’s a great board game for learning English even as an adult but also for building vocabulary, talking about synonyms and homonyms, etc. with school age children.
We have yet to take it to a party where it wasn’t thoroughly enjoyed by everyone who played. Plus a huge benefit is it can be played with an indefinitely number of people because it’s played in teams. Rarely can you find a game title that is for more than 6 or 8 players, but obviously this one is!
The perfect board game for learning deductive reasoning and critical thinking
This game proves it’s time to be a defector when it comes to typical game nights. No more Monopoly, Candy Land, or other worn out titles. This game is both very fun and has many educational opportunities!
Students will be able to demonstrate deductive reasoning to come to logical conclusions based on clues given.
Deductive reasoning is when someone takes certain statements and is able to conclude a logical answer. Therefore, a simple word clue given in the game plus the number of associated words helps players deduce which words should fit the mold.
The interesting part about this is it teaches not just the ability to determine the answer, but players giving the clues also have to analyze whether other words on the table could fit their description. This is also helping them come to a logical conclusion as to what clues are best to give.
Students will be able to interpret and read a symbolic grid map.
This may seem like a simple skill, but we have played with many families and even adults sometimes have a hard time with it. In fact, one time a friend lost on the very first clue simply because she didn’t read the map correctly.
Students will analyze words and their meanings.
This is a vocabulary exercise for adults, English language learners, and children alike. Look at the image below. If I gave the clue “Metal, 3” thinking that Flute, Fork, and Iron all fit the description, my partner might be thinking that iron is a verb for ironing clothes and cognitively miss that it’s also in the metal category.
Similarly, if someone gives me the clue “Geography, 2” I might only think there is one, America. That would be if my mind was focused on Amazon not being a place, rather a store.
How to Play Codenames: A fun spy game review
As you may have guessed from the learning objectives, it’s a pretty simple game in which you give a one-word clue coupled with the number of words associated with that word clue. However, you do have to follow a grid map given to you.
You can see in the bottom of the picture where there are blue, red, tan, and black squares.
So in the example the red team has the words Dragon, Note, Scuba Diver, Vacuum, Night, Loch Ness, Pirate, Aztec, and Amazon. Blue team has Fair, Tap, Queen, Flute, Row, Shark, Pants, Himalayas.
The double agent is the black spot, Mint in this case. You don’t want to turn over the double agent or you instantly lose. All of the tan spaces are bystanders. So calling their code word doesn’t help you reach your agents.
The red dots around the outside of the grid indicates who goes first.
If a team gives a clue and one of their members chooses a word that’s the other team’s, then the other team gets their agent without having to try. Meaning that if the clue from the Red team was “Ocean, 2” and their intent was Scuba Diver and Pirate, a teammate could think “Shark” but that’s the blue team’s word so they get that point. Anyone uncovered is uncovered for the team it belongs to.
Play ends when a team uncovers all of their spies or a team gets caught by surprise with he double agent.
More resources we love about Spies, Building Vocabulary, and More
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