About games in education and development

Ready to play?

When children play, they learn: they solve problems, cooperate or try to outsmart others, think about strategies and deal with all the emotions surrounding winning and losing. The superpower of games is that children learn while letting their curiosity run wild and having fun.

This is not only true for children, by the way; teenagers, youngsters and adults also get excited by a game. And if that enthusiasm can combine with learning, it’s win-win!

Are you looking for a different way of learning, for playful forms of work that stimulate and challenge the curiosity of pupils and students?

Then you are in the right place. I’m Marion, I’m a teacher, mother, blogger and games geek. A combination of interests and practical experience that made for this website. On Pen & Pion (= Pen &Pawn) / Kenniscentrum Spel (= Game Knowledge Centre) you will find everything about the power of games in teaching and education.

Discovering the world through play

This is what children do from birth. Who hasn’t played Peekaboo with her/his baby? Of course you do it for fun and the bond you build with it. But at the same time, your child is practising motor skills and visual tracking. We humans, mammals, are made to learn through play.

Yet play gets less and less space as we grow up. Instead of a game, books, worksheets and iPads appear on the table: the serious work starts.

But do we really need to separate serious and play?

I don’t think so. Even stronger: I am sure. Because: serious = head and play = heart and emotion. The more you feel involved in a subject, the more you empathise, the better that content sticks.

Moreover, the world is changing faster and faster and it is our job to teach children to navigate that changing world. You can increasingly look up knowledge. But how do you know if that knowledge is correct? How critical are you of your sources? In a game, you practice that when you have to judge your fellow players. Do you believe their fancy talk or are you cautious?

New skill unlocked!

Another skill that the 21st century requires is that of flexibility and quickly adapting to new rules and challenges. In the society of the future, there will be jobs we do not yet know. Technology moves fast and can make your job obsolete just like that, requiring you to learn new knowledge and skills, skills (again).

A game in miniature is such a changing environment. You have your moves figured out, but there are two more players in front of you who can change the whole game. How do you react to that? How flexible are you?

Education for the gifted often uses games to practice these kinds of executive functions te oefenen.

Can you read the rules of the game? 

Children and young people who love games soon have a larger and more complex collection than the one in the cupboard at school. Want to keep up with your pupils a bit in that? Then look in the menu under spellen (games). Here you will find an overview of interesting games for your gifted class, for your special needs group, but also for example for language and maths lessons.

If you purchase such a game, I would be delighted if you do so by kopen (buy) By doing so, you support my work for Pen & Pion and this website.

My son played the game Werewolves in primary school. The other day, he came home from his tutoring hour in second high school And he had played it again! Obviously a topper that game. Nice bit of suspense and you can keep a larger group entertained for a while. But there are so many more games on the market now! Browse this website for inspiration.

Schools are looking for ways to use games. There are many possibilities. Do you only do it during a mentor hour? Or if it rains heavily during playtime? Or can you also use it as part of the lesson. I choose the latter, of course!

On this page, I tell you about the different schools where I was allowed to observe. They each use games in their own way. You will also find some quick rules on this page, which will show you (and your pupils) at a glance how to set up and play the game. This page is still under development and will be added to all the time. And if you are looking for arguments to use more games in education, please look under the heading Research & Literature. On this page I collect (scientific) articles on games in education / care / work.


Looking for inspiration? Designing your own game idea? Visit a games fair? There is a wide range of offerings around board games. Pull out your diary and have a look at what’s on offer on the calender (plans).

I wish you lots of gaming fun!

About me

‘m Marion and I love board games. Born somewhere in the seventies, as a child I mainly played monopoly and goose board. Later, all kinds of card games were added. I can still remember rainy holidays when, crammed at the table of a small caravan, we played Canasta endlessly and fanatically.

During my studies, the games went with me, but took a bit of a back seat. Although, they moved outside and were for larger groups. In fact, I joined a children’s activities committee run by students. We organised holiday weeks for children from families who could not easily afford a holiday. Throughout my studies, I was playing outdoor games full-time for a fortnight every holiday. Under the guise of ‘fun for the kids’, I played a lot myself.