10 Educational Games for Grade School Kids

     Games can be such great fun!  Whether just your kids are playing one together, with their friends, or the whole family is having a game night, it’s time well spent together!  Most every game calls for everyone to bring their skills to the table, while having a good time, usually laughing a lot, getting competitive, and just enjoying the fun.

     But many, many games are actually a great way for our children to learn as well!  At the grade school ages, many of the classic games us adults grew up with, and others that have come out since, can really aid in building up our kids’ academic skills, and re-enforcing many as well. All while they think they are just playing!  I say it all of the time…..LEARNING SHOULD BE FUN!!  When learning is fun, kids want to learn more, and usually what they learned while having fun, tends to ‘stick’ better.

     There are more kids’ games on the market than can even be counted.  No doubt, most all of them can be educational on some level, when you really break it down. In this post, we’re taking a look at just 10 (mostly) classic games, that are known to be really fun games, but also offer valuable learning skills for our kids.  Whether you are a homeschooling family or not, none of us can ever learn too much, or have too much fun!!  So here’s 10 fun games we thought of suggesting for you, and why we think they are educational too:

 

BANANAGRAMS

“The anagram game that will drive you bananas!”

Ages: 7 and up   Players: 2-8

Bananas is similar to Scrabble, with the letter tiles. The concept of this game is to race your opponents to build your own crossword grids.  The first to use all of their letters shouts “Bananas!”

Teaches: Spelling, new Vocabulary, Math skills, and Sportsmanship Skills

 

scrabble game SCRABBLE

“Every word’s a WINNER!”

Ages: 8 and up     Players: 2-4

Scrabble is a word game in which players score points by forming words from individual lettered tiles, on a game board marked with a grid. The words are formed across and down, crossword style, and must appear in a standard dictionary.

Teaches: Spelling, new Vocabulary words, Math skills, critical thinking, and sportsmanship skills 

 

boggle game

BOGGLE

“The 3-minute word search game.”

Ages: 8 and up  Players: 2-4

The game is played using a plastic grid of lettered dice, in which players attempt to find words in sequences of adjacent letters.

Teaches: basic Spelling, basic Math, critical thinking, and sportsmanship skills

 

yahtzee game YAHTZEE

“The Classic Shake & Score Dice Game.”

Ages: 8 and up   Players: 2+

This is a 5 dice game, where the object is to score the most points by rolling the dice to make certain combinations. The dice can be rolled up to three times in a turn to try to make one of the many combinations.  Once a combination has been used in the game, it cannot be used again. Rolling 5 matching dice gives you a Yahtzee! Highest score wins.

Teaches: Operations of Math,critical thinking, and sportsmanship skills

 

PAYDAY

Parker Brothers’ Classic “Where Does All The Money Go?” Game

Ages: 7 and up   Players: 2-4

In Payday kids learn to have a job, lend money, pay bills and interest, and deal with unexpected expenses.  (Dang, we need to get this one! lol)

Teaches: Math, Money Management, Personal Finances, Life skills, Responsibility

 

MONOPOLY

“The Fast-Dealing Property Trading Game”

Ages: 8 and up   Players: 2-8

As the players move around the board, they buy and sell properties, build houses and collect rent. Monopoly is a great money game for kids learning how to count money and make decisions.

Teaches: Math, Money Management, Life skills

 

all around the usa ALL AROUND THE USA

“The Ten Minute Memory Recall Game.”

Ages: 8 and up      Players: 1 or more

This game gives players 10 seconds to study an illustrated card and memorize as many details as possible. The players then roll the dice to determine which question they’ll be asked what was on the card. This clever memory game teaches players little-known facts about the 50 states while boosting visual perception and recall skills.

Teaches:  Geography, State Facts, Reading, Visual Perception, Concentration, Memory

 

 

APPLES TO APPLES Junior

“The Game of Crazy Comparisons!”

Ages: 9 and up    Players: 4 or more

Players will delight in the crazy comparisons while expanding their vocabulary and thinking skills. The 576 cards provide hours and hours of fun! The kids and junior card sets contain no duplicate cards. The sets may be combined for thousands of new comparisons.

Teaches: Language, Reading, Vocabulary, Critical Thinking, Comparing, Convincing Skills

 

 

stare game

STARE

Ages: *10 and up   Players: 2-10

(*Our triplets have been playing it since they were age 6, no problem.)

From the box:

“Quickly – you have 20 seconds to stare at the image on the card. It might be a movie poster, an old advert, a comic, a funny photo, or maybe even a work of art. When the timer runs out, you’ll be asked a series of questions about the image – What color is the woman’s hat? How man teddy bears do you see? In which hand is the man holding the gun?

“How much can you recall? Don’t worry, wild guesses count. Answer correctly and you keep going – unless your luck runs out first! Will your powers of concentration hold, even as you burst out laughing?”

Teaches: Observation skills, Concentration, Visual Perception, Memory, Reading

 

QWIRKLE

“Mix, Match, Score, and Win!”

Qwirkle consists of 108 wooden blocks with six different shapes in six colors. Using the blocks, players attempt to score the most points by building lines that share the same shape or color. The simple setup makes this an instant winner for younger kids, while adults will enjoy strategizing to win.

Ages: 6 and up    Players: 2-4

Teaches: Sequencing, Colors, Shapes, Strategy

* * * * * *

That’s our 10 for this post!!  So tell us…..Which games of these listed does your family have? Which ones do your kids love to play?  Are there any you’d like to get, now that you’ve read a little about them?  I’ll be chiming in the comments to give you our own answers, too. We’d love to hear what you have to say,  and we’d also really LOVE it if you added any educational games for this age group, that you think are great!  We know there are lots, so give us the scoop!

 


 

Our School Year 2011-2012, Kicks Off!

Well, forgive me for the delay with any updates about our new school year we’re in the midst of here!  Once we kicked it off at the beginning of September, we’ve been very occupied finding our groove, with our new schedules.  Things are quite different for us this year! With the kid’s respective ages and levels, life has opened up new and exciting opportunities, of experiences and learning, for all of them.  Not to mention new territories for us parents!  We have a high schooler now, for example, and with it comes all kinds of things.  But the younger ones are also following their passions and gifts, more so than ever.

Some of you may know this, but for those of you who do not, we are year round home schoolers.  We keep a lighter (academic) schedule in the summer, and begin a whole new school year/grade levels, in September.  It’s always a very, very exciting time, as we love to plan out and begin a new school year!  We’re really blessed that our kids are enthusiastic students, who love school and learning.  This coming school year, was filled with more anticipation than ever, and it’s been as CrAzY and exciting of a ride, as we expected.

I always take the kid’s new school photos on the first day of school.  This year, it was almost a week later, but we got it done.  We have also ‘always’ taken their portraits in the school room, at the side of the cabinets.  But if you follow our blog, you may be aware that we drastically changed our school room set-up, and those cabinets are gone!  You can see the  old and new set up of our school room, as well as the style of school photos we were taking in all previous years, in this recent post.

So this year, I did all of the kid’s school photos outside.  These photos will be in the sidebar quite soon, so that new comers can see the kiddos who make up our home schooling world.  In this post, we wanted to share with you a little about their (book) subjects they are studying this year, as well as some other little interesting tidbits of information.  In coming posts, we’ll be sharing a lot more, including activities/learning experiences outside of their academics, some deeper thoughts and observations I have had as a home schooling parent, and lots of other fun and interesting home schooling related posts. We hope you’ll join us for it all, with discussion and sharing of your own!

 

This is our oldest daughter/student, Alexis (14). Also known as {A} around the blog here.   She has been home schooled (not necessarily at home…right? lol),  since 3rd grade, and just started 9th grade this year. We can’t believe we have a high schooler now!  That means I worked hard over the summer, researching, and piecing together a serious 4 year college prep plan for her. And maybe panicking, just a little. The girl scares me, and excites me, and makes us all proud, all at the same time!  She has huge aspirations, and her heart set on really big name colleges.  We cannot let her down, and we believe in her, because she is so unique in her focus of her life at her age.   She is so faith-filled, determined, intelligent, tough, independent, and firm on the path she is laying out for herself.  What fascinates me, is it’s all a far cry from anything her father or I ever dreamed for ourselves, or were interested in.  But that’s why each one of us has our own calling, and why it’s important as home schooling parents, to help shape our children’s character, and foster the calling they feel God has put in their heart, as the work He has meant for them to do, in their life.   It’s all about guiding and supporting them, to be the people they are meant to be.

Throughout this past summer, Alexis taught the 4th Grade Religious Education at our parish (2 weeks), and ran the games activity for the kids of Vacation Bible School (1 week.)  She also earned herself a Catholic High School scholarship, that has covered all of the expenses of her academic and extra-curricular school year. We’re proud of her, and grateful as well!

This school year, as a high school Freshman, Alexis’ courses are:  Language Arts (Alpha Omega /LifePac),  Algebra (Math-U-See), Biology (Apologia), History/Social Studies (Streams of Civilization-Volume 2 Cultures in Conflict Since the Reformation), Latin (Latina Christiana), Spanish (All Bilingual) , Art and Music (Piano – private lessons, and the Recorder – all kids at home.).

Alexis is also playing sports now, for our town’s public South High School! She is really involved there. That is a whole other exciting post. I could easily ramble, so I’ll save it, but suffice it to say it’s been really wonderful for her so far, and exciting for us.  It is extremely time-consuming on a daily weekday basis.  But I’d say we best get used to it and keep making it work.

In the light of sharing all of their subjects in this post, I feel it’s important to mention, that we live our personal faith, which is Roman Catholic. So it’s not a subject the kids study for school, but more something we are always teaching them, and they are always living and learning it as they grow. Just as we still are as adults, actually. That said, they do begin each day all together, with a Scripture, discussion, and prayer.  As a tool, we still really love Living Faith-Kids!!

JackMichael(9), the first-born of the triplets.  Also known as {JM} around here.  He and the other 2 have the same academic subjects of course, being in the same grade level and age.   As I said, I’ll be posting more about what they love to do outside of their academic studies, and I’m excited to do so, because they are all so unique, with their interests and personalities. And yet, the differences from within their unique selves, meld together so well with each other.  It’s fascinating to me, to observe, frankly.  But anyway, for today, here are the subjects all 3 of them have this year:

Language Arts (Alpha Omega / LifePac),  Math (Delta / Math-U-See),  Science (Exploring Creation with Astronomy-Apologia), History/Social Studies (Christian Liberty Press / Our Nation Under God, and, History Stories for Children), Writing Strands, Spanish (All Bilingual), Latin (Prima Latina), Art and Music ( Recorder – all kids at home).

 

Olivia Faith (9), the second triplet born. {O}, which we tend to call her 1/2 the time, ourselves. The boys especially, refer to her as “O”, a lot. And you know what she calls them, when she’s talking to the both of them? “Boys”. It always cracks me up, because there is such a motherly air about the way she says it. So….our own little baby boom is “O and the Boys”, I guess. It has a cool little ring to it, now that I think about it. : )   Oh, speaking of their names, and {name initials in brackets}, I know we’ve been a little all over the place with it.  The thing is, using initials for any sake of privacy or protection, is pretty irrelevant by now, considering they’ve been on TV a few times now, (related to our Catholic faith) as well as the newspaper, for different things. All times with full names.  On the flip side, I have found myself continuing to use their initials in brackets sometimes, for the sake of brevity.  As you can see, my posts tend to be perhaps a little lengthy, so I need to use all the brevity tricks I can.  : )   The kids are all well aware, lots of people know who we are by name, but the reverse isn’t necessarily true. (Especially around our town, and the people we meet and run into in person.)



Shane Jacob (9), the last born of the trio.

(Reaching for ‘brevity’ now………..).  Shoot. I forgot what I was going to say. Ummmm. Oh yeah.  You see that beautiful little school desk in the background?  That is Michael’s, from when he was a little boy!!  What a treasure, huh?  That sweet and sentimental little antique is going to be another blog post coming up, that I am planning, as well. There’s some story to tell, and some specific things that are part of the desk, that you will not believe!!  Michael’s antique school desk, is not the only one we have to show you, either. So if you’re interested, be on the look out for that post too!

 

I am glad I thought of doing a quick ‘class picture’ of sorts, while we were at it.  I sure love my class!!

Honestly, I’ve struggled a little with this Home Schooling section of the blog, right along. It’s a lifestyle to us for sure,  but one that is just so normal to us, I think…”What is there to blog about?”.  But I know there is LOTS.  Lately, my realization of that has really broadened, and in the process, I have realized why I am not as active in this section. Which is crazy, because I so passionately love home schooling my kids, and living this life I do with my family, that it hardly makes sense.  But I see now where it comes from, and I think I’ll be sharing those thoughts very soon too.

So stay tuned!!  This home schooling section should be picking up steam, real soon!   You should know, we love comments and hearing from all of you! But if you are a home schooling blogger as well, we especially encourage comments with your blog-linked names, so that we can visit your stories and shared, comment, and connect with you all as well. Our hope and goal is that we are all an inspiration and encouragement for each other, in raising and educating our children, as home schoolers or not. Home schooling happens to be the route we have happily taken, with a deep love and passion for it. So our posts will derive from that life we live, as a home schooling family.  But proving a great education, however any of us do, is the more common thread.  So thanks so much for stopping by, and please DO again!  God bless you all!

Gosh, I promise I’ll work harder on that brevity thing, too.

******

 





Now Reporting

It’s always nice to have friends, who care about your kids in a sincere way, almost as much as you do.  Don’t you think? I have had a friend in particular like that, for 13 years now or so.   About half-way into our friendship, I began home schooling our oldest, and at the time, only child. Eventually, we added 3 more students to our school, ;-) and are now transitioning into our 7th year of homeschooling .

My friend had 3 kids of her own, all close to my daughter’s age, adding a 4th along the way. She has also happened to be a teacher.  But somehow, all along, those two facts or common interests, have never really come together between us.  Until this year.  Oh, I may have, at times, happened to say something to her about our schooling, as a friend would in sharing what is happening in their life in girlfriend chit-chat. She in turn, has talked about her teaching, as a friend would in catching up as well.

Mind you, we are good friends, and see each other frequently enough. Our families get together here and there.  So it’s always apparent we care about each other & each other’s kids.  But I was especially impressed when on one day she came over this past winter, she brought something for my kids.

A big bag full of books, for them to borrow!  She knew how much they loved to read, and perhaps I had mentioned to her how difficult it always is, to keep up with keeping new material around for them to read as well.  They devour them, tending to read every book 2-3 times, because they’ve read them all. And we can only hit the library so much, you know? With 4 kids who aren’t easy to remove from the library once we’re in, I think twice some days!  Oh the guilt. So, I was thrilled with this surprise delivery!  So were the kids, gathering around.

But wait….she had more….

She then told them that she brought each of them their own journal, and she wanted them to write book reviews in it.  She kept the suggested format simple, and their excitement grew.  Because she’s not only a very qualified & passionate teacher who loves kids, but a mother too, she knew just the manner in which to communicate with them. Her presentation was exciting, and so they were inspired. I was smiling inside, a great big grin!

The simple and casual format she suggested they use to write, following each book they read, was as follows:

  • Book Title
  • Author
  • Whether they liked the book or not, and why.
  • What their favorite part was, or what part they really did not like, and why.

She told them she really loved so many of these books herself, and she couldn’t wait to read all about what they thought of them.

And they were off! They couldn’t wait to get to work.

Now honestly, my kids need no encouragement to read, as you may have gathered by now. Writing, they actually don’t mind doing too much either. But I like them to write as much as possible.  Not for the sake of penmanship, but for the sake of formulating thoughts, organizing them, and putting them down on paper in a meaningful way. So needless to say….but I’ll say it anyway….This ‘surprise activity’ was one I thought was fabulous!

 

On the other hand, their penmanship can always use more practice too! In the course of our school days, they have days where they print super-neat, and days when they don’t.  That depends on one thing: effort!  Sometimes, they are excited to express what they want to say, or are just in a hurry for whatever reason, so they just whip it out at lightening speed! So it comes out messy.  They need to practice s l o w i n g  d o w n, and being a little more mindful of each letter (or number) they are forming. Other times, they are not focused enough on the use of space between the lines: being sure capitals go to the top, and lower case are around half the size of the upper case.  They need to practice adjusting their letter sizes, to the kind of paper they are writing on.

 

But for their book reviewing, in these journals, the qualities of their penmanship, was not a factor that mattered to me to press at all. I mostly wanted them to focus on their thoughts about the story they read, and what they had to say about it. Keeping it a fun and leisure activity, was the approach our friend gave them, and I wanted to maintain that.  I had them for all of their schooling, to address the rest. And I sure do. ;-)  Also, correct use of punctuation, spelling, indenting, paragraphs < I’m a freak about these things.

I was amused to find a book, that brought back some fond book- enjoyment memories for me …..

Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson.

My memories involving this book, make me smile.  I started a new school, in 6th grade.  I had only gone to one other school, in my whole entire life. :lol:  It was scary to start at a whole new school, with all new kids.  But I got a teacher that I not only loved, but my whole class loved.  Mrs. Curry made everything o.k.  She was petite, and pretty, with dark eyes and long black hair, and she had such a soft-spoken voice, with an accent….that was really fun(ny) to listen to.

And we got to listen to her a lot!  Because every afternoon, for a little while, she took off her shoes, climbed up on an empty student desktop and sat on it, facing us, with her bare feet on the chair, and she read to us.  I loved watching her read, and listening to her voice. Soon, we learned Mrs. Curry was going to have a baby.  We watched her belly grow, her walk turn into a cute waddle over the weeks, and how she started sliding up on to the desk with her big belly and arched back, rather than the way she so used to so casually just hop up there before.  She read many books through that year.  But the only one I really remembered, was Bridge to Terabithia. I think the story line drew me in enough at one point, to make me forget about focusing so much on how nice Mrs. Curry was, that I was actually, truly listening.  Studying the book cover that faces us, as we listened, was another part of story time, for me.  I was an illustrator in the making, so the cover was almost everything.  If the cover was lousy, I’d probably never find out if the rest was good, because I wouldn’t bother reading it.  I don’t remember now, exactly what this book cover (of Bridge to Terabithia, that year in school) looked like, but I recall quite enough to know that it was different than this illustrated cover above, from the kid’s bag. The one from 6th grade had a brilliant yellow/orange/red color fade, and I believe a silhouette of kids.

Or something similar.

Turns out, my own daughter loved this book best too….

So strange to to think of it, too long.  As I do.

A full circle of sorts,  from my own grade school life, to my daughter’s, and this book.

Her book review reminded me of more of the story, than I originally remembered.  I think it effected her in a deep and sad way, as it probably did for me.  Maybe that’s why it is the book I remembered most?  Possibly. Disturbing things do tend to stick with me.  But tragedies are part of life, and it’s best to start grasping that reality through books first, in our young lives, before we are faced with such difficult circumstances in real life.

Come to think of it, I think that was the last book Mrs. Curry read to us.  And perhaps it did prepare me for an imminent tragedy in my own life.  Well…through the perspective of a 6th grader, anyway. But not enough for me.

Mrs. Curry announced she was leaving.  To be at home with her baby on the way that summer.

I was devastated.  Sr. Cathy was just o.k., on a really good day.  She was a far cry, from Mrs. Curry.

 

Our oldest got her own bag of books, being of an age that was suitable for more mature content.  She is a true, true book lover.  A collector already, I would say. In fact, maybe I should be sure she returns these books she took on loan from our friend, come to think of it. ; )

Along with her books, came this from our friend too……

This is a scan of just the front page. In reality, it is 9 pages, stapled together, full of writing prompts.

Wow.  No excuse for ‘Writer’s Block’ this time, huh?

(Gosh….maybe I should grab it, for my blogging! ; )

 

As I said, with schooling, all 4 kids write a lot anyway.  Their reports are actually much longer than these brief book reviews they do.

But the point of these was to encourage both reading & writing, and keep it in the light of a leisure and enjoyable activity, that is always available to us throughout our lives.

To update you as to how they did with all of this :  When the kids quickly made their way through the first bag of books, my friend picked it up, and brought another to replace the first. : )  As a multi-grade-level teacher over the years, she has en enormous collection of books, off the shelves of her various classrooms.  The younger kids read probably 95%, if not every book, she has brought, and they have written reviews for….far fewer than that.   They started off gung-ho with the writing part!  But it lost some fizzle along the way, as they jumped straight from one book to the next, to the 8th, to the 14th, in a matter of a week or 2, before I thought to casually ask if they were continuing journaling for each.  “No, not for all of them.  But some!!” And that’s ok, because again, there is plenty of writing not only in school, but willingly on their own for other things as well, such poems, notes, copying (they do for fun? lol…), recipes, and more. They have all read 100’s of books, on the side of the bag, as well, since February.

So the book-reviewing in their journals is stop & go, giving random reviews in their journals along the way. But the book reading is non-stop, in their day-to-day life.  They play hard outdoors, and everywhere we go.  But they have always used reading as their way of resting.  I love that!

Oh the places they have been, and the places they will go, through the pages of a book.

I’m really so happy to have such a good friend, who deeply understands the joy of teaching and encouraging children in their learning process, and watching the rewards of their development in them, along the way.  It’s one more mutual appreciation, we can share now.

I’ve got a feeling I’ll be sharing more about her with you, too.

Meanwhile, consider getting your little scholars a journal for some book reviewing, suggest the simple format above, or your own ideas,  and see what they do with it.  You may just find you have new & entertaining reading for your own enjoyment!:  their reviews!