I thought I was being all clever in my plan to teach United States geography to my kids. I was going to have them label the states they recognized on a blank map before we even started our curriculum. Then I was going to have them repeat the exercise at the end of the year to see how many more they remembered. Well, the joke was on me. Both of them labeled each and every state correctly and even labeled several of the state capitals. I was shocked and stunned! “How did you know all of this?”, I asked. “We learned it from Stack the States (Android here) and Clever Dragons.”
Games? Games, you say? This wasn’t in the Classical Education Handbook! Wait. There is no Classical Education Handbook. That was just in my fantasy world.
So, you can learn stuff from games. Interesting.
Okay, I’ll stop being silly now. We’ve been including games in our homeschool since we started five years ago. Games are a really fun way of getting back on track when you’ve lost your groove or they can be a nice way to break up a challenging day.
My kids play some educational games on the computer, and I’m quite surprised and pleased about how much they learn and retain from these games. But our favorite way to learn with games is to include them in real life within our school day.
We have used games in almost every subject. Some games I purchased purposely to use for school, like Main Idea Bingo.
But the regular old games you have stacked on your shelf can be just as educational. Boggle, Scrabble, and Bananagrams are great for spelling. Games like Chess, Settlers of Catan, Risk, and Rush Hour help develop your strategy skills. Zoom, Yahtzee, and Monopoly are all good for reinforcing math skills. These math dice were so simple, and yet they were one of the things my kids enjoyed playing the most. We have several of these Professor Noggin’s games for history and science. I could go on and on listing games for various skill development and building a general knowledge base.
You don’t have to buy games to use them in your homeschool. We have made several games related to things we’ve been learning about in school.
We have made memory games like the one in the above photo that came from the Colonial America History Pockets book, I believe. We made another memory game for our Ancients study where the kids had to match up the Greek god name with its Roman god equivalent. When we were learning about action verbs, the kids invented an Angry Birds-inspired game called Angry Verbs, and they glued action verbs onto foam balls which they then threw at some stacked up boxes.
I made a few Pinterest-inspired games for them too, such as Scrabble Eggs. I put some scrabble tiles in plastic chicken eggs, and they had to make as many words as possible from the letters. Definitely check out Pinterest for game ideas.
Whatever you do, make time for some fun and laughter in your homeschool. It doesn’t have to be all serious all the time. Even with your high schoolers. Sure, they have a lot of work to do, but a family game of Apples to Apples or Pandemic will be sure to improve the spirits.
Don’t worry about games being educational all the time either. Sometimes it’s just nice to have fun.