Written by Caitlin Curley of My Little Poppies
From history to language arts, math to music, and everything in between, don’t miss Cait’s full list of games for every subject!
A week before Christmas, my husband turned to me and asked, “So… have they been doing any math?”*
I felt myself bristle at his words. I sat up straighter, jaw set, defensive. “Of course we’ve done math!” I sputtered.
We had done math, just not much traditional math because it was the holidays.
My mind raced:
- We had read piles of math storybooks
- The kids had followed a recipe for bird cookies independently, tripling the recipe so they would each have plenty
- There had been lots of baking
- The children had done some holiday shopping
- We had watched a favorite DVD
- And, of course, we had played countless board games
But there was nothing tangible, no proof.
And that happens a lot with homeschooling.
Despite the intangible nature of our pre-Christmas mathematics, I was prepared to defend my case. After all, I know how well my children learn when I combine fantastic read alouds, experiential learning, and educational games.
I need not have worried; he believed me. There were no further questions. The doubt had passed.
* Now this is where I need to pause and tell you that my husband is my biggest homeschool supporter and cheerleader, but even the most amazing homeschool dads fall victim to occasional doubt and second-guessing… especially during holiday chaos!
The truth is, I used to doubt this approach to learning.
- Is it okay to set curriculum aside and pick up a book?
- Can games be considered curriculum?
- Does this really count as homeschooling?
Thankfully, this doubt has passed, too. I’ve been homeschooling long enough to know when we are doing something well.
I even have a name for it: gameschooling.
How to add more play to your homeschool (and not feel guilty)
Our homeschool is not perfect, not even close. We have hard days and crabby days and sick days and full-of-doubt days, just like everyone else.
We have hard seasons when motivation plummets and you just feel stuck.
But, right now, we are in a good season and I’d like to share it with you, just in case you are feeling stuck.
I hope it will help.
Yes, homeschooling can be [almost] all fun and games. I’d like to show you how.
Put simply: play matters.
In our homeschool, we play board games every single day. They are part of our homeschool curriculum. Time and time again, I have witnessed amazing learning and growth happen with this approach to learning.
I am convinced that, with a little planning, you could create an entire curriculum using educational board games and high-quality read alouds.
Games are fantastic learning tools because they allow children to practice skills is a safe, supportive way… without red marks and criticism. Games encourage conversation, build connection, and make memories.
Still unsure? Let me give you some examples, broken down by subject.
Everyone is always worried about math and I’m here to tell you that games have not only improved my children’s mathematical skills, but they have also boosted their confidence!
Here are just a few of our family’s favorite math games:
- Countdown! – This game is so versatile. It can be played solo or with up to four players and it is a great way to work on addition, subtraction, multiplication, and/or division- whatever you need to practice!
- Sumoku – I always describe this game as a mathematical Bananagrams. Best of all? It fits in your purse!
- Prime Climb – This is a visual masterpiece and our family’s favorite math game.
And while we’re on the subject of math, let’s not forget logic. There are many fantastic logic games on the market today including:
- Rush Hour – If pressed to choose, this would be our family’s favorite one-player game. Kids love it!
- Blokus – This is one of those games that can be explained in two minutes and enjoyed for years.
There are countless games to choose from in this category. Our favorite games for pre-readers (and beyond) include:
- Tell Me a Story Cards and Rory’s Story Cubes Both of these games work on imagination, creativity, and verbal skills.
For early readers, we love Sight Word Zingo… and kids do, too! I credit this game for helping all three of my children learn to read.
Older children will enjoy the following:
- Bananagrams – This crossword-style game is easy to learn and always a hit, plus it travels well.
- Boggle – Kids love this word search game, and it helps them learn spelling rules.
Science and Nature
If I ever feel like we’ve been slacking on science, I pull out one of our favorite games. Examples include:
- Gravity Maze – In this one-player logic game, children learn the concept of gravity and cause-and-effect using a marble run.
- Valence – The only requirement to play this card game is that children be able to add to zero. Kids will love the stunning graphics and they will learn advanced chemistry concepts.
- Hit the Habitat Trail – In this game, kids learn all about animals, habitats, and environmental concerns.
- Cardline Animals – This card game teaches children about various animals and sequencing as they race to put cards in order according to one of three categories: lifespan, size, or weight.
History and Geography
- Timeline – I am thankful that my homeschool sister, Kara, introduced our family to this game, which is available in several versions and is such a fun way to learn history.
- GeoBingo – Available in both USA and World editions, this game will teach your children geography in no time!
- Flag Frenzy – If your children love Spot It, they will adore Flag Frenzy… and they will learn flags from around the globe!
What about all those other subjects?
I promise you, there is a game for every subject.
Amazing learning happens when a family plays together. Trust me.
Give yourself permission to have more fun in the new year
So much learning happens when you relax and let it.
If you are looking to add more play to your homeschool day in the new year, I invite you to join our family in our 31-day Gameschool Challenge. I promise to share my best tips, tricks, and strategies for making games an integral part of your homeschool (and I have a few giveaways planned, too).
Tell us: Are you a gameschooling family? What is your favorite game right now? Share here.
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