Learning with Games

For many, it’s that time of year. You’re on the home stretch, you were focused on finishing the school year strong, and then it happened… the mid-term blahs settled in. You’re not alone. Even the most gung-ho of homeschool moms can fall prey to these insidious attacks.  But, don’t worry! The remedy is simple; shake up school by breaking out some educational games!

Our family is big into games. In fact, where most people have a linen closet, we have a game closet! Being a unit study mom, and author of Once-a-Week Unit Studies, it’s not unusual for me to teach outside the box while placing an emphasis on making learning fun and interesting. That’s one reason I like to include hands-on activities and employ various means of “getting the point across.” And, that’s where games can play an important role too.

Games are invaluable for keeping our brains sharp, teaching critical thinking skills and teamwork, and instilling good sportsmanship and creativity. But games are also useful for teaching vocabulary, math, spelling, and even geography. I’m a big believer in the more fun you make learning, the better kids will retain the information they are taught. Games help them do exactly that!

Word games are an obvious choice for improving spelling and vocabulary. In fact, rather than completing a typical writing or spelling assignment, why not reach for the game cabinet every now and then? Some of our family’s number one picks are Upwords, Scrabble, and Boggle. Our more recent favorites are Quiddler and Bananagrams.Math games are a great reprieve from mundane workbooks. Two great options are Rummikub and Skip-Bo. Both are what our family refers to as excellent “brain games” that also involve a surprising amount of strategy. Othello, Pentago, and Chess are some other great options.rummicubWe found playing Constitution Quest has been a great way to improve our Constitutional I.Q., and our geography and critical thinking skills have been put to task with 10 Days Across the USA , 10 Days in Europe, and Discovery Toys’ Know That Country. Each is outstanding!BLUE_01

I’ve often replaced a typical school assignment with a game, but there have been some days when I just plain woke up on the wrong side of bed and knew we needed to shake things up a bit. I figured if I needed a change my kids probably did too. For that, the remedy was an entire day devoted to nothing but reading and playing educational games.

Indeed, games are a great way to teach important skills, but they are priceless for sharing family moments AND changing our homeschool mindset. Remember, learning doesn’t always have to be driven by curriculum. Some of our best learning can happen while we’re having fun learning with games!