Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Great Learning Games

In our homeschool, I try to include fun learning opportunities whenever possible. That's not to say we don't have to memorize certain facts sometimes or work through difficulties in more tedious areas occasionally (like handwriting or grammar rules). But we enjoy using educational games to transfer information and provide mental stimulation. Let me share some of my favorites (so far)... and I want any of you who have favorite games in this vein to PLEASE SHARE YOUR FAVORITES in the comments!

The Ten Days games were commended by Mensa as being both challenging and informative... and they really are. We have the Ten Days in Asia & the Ten Days in the USA games (so far)... and we've all learned more of Asian geography just from playing this game together. The goal is to put together a ten-day trip using a variety of transportation methods across the map. It's a fun and natural way to increase geography skills while building strategic thinking mental skills as well.

ZooLogic is a logic game for preschoolers. With simple rules (like "keep mice away from cheese, keep cats away from mice", "keep dogs away from cats & bones", etc.), children fill in the spaces on each puzzle with the pieces while following all the logical rules. Our oldest son has enjoyed this game for a while, but just today, our four year old sat down and figured the game out quickly and was captivated for nearly a half hour.

Blokus - this game is GREAT for building spacial awareness, strategic thinking, and also for transmitting simple things like counting (because, generally, you want to use up the larger pieces before using up the smaller pieces). Our four year old loves this game (and very recently has started to beat me-- without including any kind of "handicap"!). Our six year old loves challenging us to Blokus tournaments. And Doug & I love it. It comes in 2-player or 4-player versions, and is a very quick, easy-to-learn game that changes every time you play.

SOME BODY - This simple anatomy game is just right for early elementary aged kids to begin understanding basic body organs and their functions. Made similar to how "colorforms" used to work, with plastic re-stickable body parts, this gender-neutral, very simple game has given our older two children an understanding of the digestive process and how our various body parts work together, in a tactile and fun way.

We also enjoy Scrabble, Memory games, Dominoes, and other more traditional games as well. I'm considering adding "LoopIt" to our collection as a math game for this upcoming school year. I enjoy browsing this list of educational games each year as we consider what to add to our homeschool library/curriculum. And in the comments section of a semi-recent Challies blog post, readers contributed lists of their favorite family games, so if you're looking for ideas, you may want to check that out.

Do you have any games (educational, skill, or just fun) to add to the list or recommend to me or other parents? Please share them in the comments!


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