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 Gameswere 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 (no reproductive system details), 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.

Loopithas been a great addition to our collection as an enjoyable math game. Younger kids start learning about multiplication, and older kids can keep score, giving them plenty of multiplication and addition practice.

I enjoy browsing educational games each year as we consider what to add to our homeschool library/curriculum.

And in the comments section of a 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!

30 comments:

Megan at My Heart, My Home said...

Well, I'm trying to remember games that I loved as a kid...Scattergories Jr. as well as the version for adults is challenging. And my fave is Apples to Apples. They make a Jr. version, but I've never played it. It would be a great vocabulary builder and learning how to use words in context.

TexasHeather said...

Thanks for the game ideas! I would add one of our favorites -- Boggle! Great for even beginning readers/spellers, and even works as a fun "solitaire" amusement for in-between lessons (when one student/child needs to occupy himself until Mom is through with brother....) Can't beat it for word-building skills! (and of course Uno for number/color recognition....)

Renee said...

Very Cool games. I especially like the 10 days games. I am going to look at those.

Thanks for sharing!

Rachel Le said...

Those look cool- I'm especially drawn to the Some Body game. I'll definitely keep these in mind!

I loved doing a wooden USA map puzzle with the 4 year old I take care of. I seriously feel like I've learned more US geography by helping her with that puzzle than I ever did in school!

Jess said...

Megan,
I'm waiting for my kiddos to be old enough to engage in Apples to Apples... if I wait just 3-4 years I think we could get away with just buying the original adult version of the game... SO fun!

Heather,
My sons particularly enjoy Uno, as it is just big enough of a deck for them to "make up" their own game and scatter throughout the house using it as play money. Nice.

Rachel Le,
You are so right. The wooden educational puzzles can be so great! (We have a USA one too, thanks to my mother in law, and the boys love working it.)

~Jess

Leanne said...

Not a parent yet, but I do work with kids for a living, so here goes...

I remember having a blast with "Hi Ho Cherry-O" growing up. It's a great game to teach small kids to count!

My parents pulled out Monopoly a lot to help me learn how to count money.

We used to play Uno in my Spanish class in HS - we weren't allowed to speak English while we played, and it was a great tool to help us remember the Spanish words for the numbers and colors - if you're working on learning the language where you are, this would be a lot of fun for the whole family to learn together!!!

[Or if you have small kids and live in the U.S., it's still a fantastic way to teach numbers and colors!]

Jess said...

Leanne,
BRILLIANT idea about playing Uno in another language! I've got to remember that one to tell Doug so we can play for language practice! Thanks for the idea.

Sandi said...

We love Blokus. It is our favorite game to play with company too.

We like Scrabble and also "Yell Scrabble", which is a variation of Scrabble without the board.

We also enjoy Sequence.

Thanks for sharing your suggestions. I sent it out to my homeschool group for ideas.

Denise said...

I love games. These are ideas I like to keep on hand for family members that want to buy gifts for us. This avoids those noisy toys we don't care to receive. I've added each of these to the wish list! Thanks so much for sharing. Our 5 year old is an old hat at Uno. She has been playing for a year. She is now learning Rummikub. We help her count the initial 30 to start and she really takes off after that. She is getting better at adding each time! I like to teach her games that she can play with her Greatgrandmother. It is quite engaging for both of them!

Brittany said...

A family friend recently gave us the "I Never Forget a Face" memory game(aka the 'Children of the World' game at our house!). It has illustrations of kids from 24 different countries. It helps my 2 year old with his memory skills. It also gives us an opportunity to discuss different cultures and locate countries on the globe. He always wants a book about 'children of the world' from the library now too!

-Brittany

Wenonah4th said...

Our dd is only two-and-a-half, so we've just begun on games. What we play- almost every evening- is a matching-cards game we made (index cards with pictures we drew on them and then covered in contact paper.) It's limited only by our creativity.

Birthblessed said...

It's very simple, but Battleship! When I had a maps page introducing grid maps to my 7 and 8 year olds, they instantly knew exactly what it was and how to use it! Thanks to Battleship!

Heidi said...

Totally agree with your suggestions. The other one that comes to mind is Muggins. If you go to their website (www.mugginsmath.com), there are many variations of the math game for different ages and skills.

laurapeery said...

two great games I've used as a teacher (which are very challenging to my students) are "RushHour" and "Shape by Shape"... in the "RushHour" game children are given cards with cars and trucks in a traffic jam, the cars must be moved one at a time only vertically or horizontally to allow a red car out of the jam... the tangram game, "Shape by Shape" shows children a picture which they must recreate using only the pieces given (there are two colors)... both games are made by the the Think Fun company at this website... www.thinkfun.com

The Three 22nds said...

We are serious Settlers of Catan fans...

and we can't wait for our kids to get just a little older so that they can play too!

When I was a kid we had a game called Journey Through Europe and one called Take Off- both seem to be similar to The 10 Day games. We had some other "educational" games that I don't remember the names of. We were homeschooled, and my mom was always on the lookout for those kinds of things!

Currently, we have a world map shower curtain that is surprisingly accurate. We are always going in there to look for countries and show the kids (and each other!)where things are.

Stacy said...

My husband and I LOVE Othello (aka Reversi). The rules are simple enough for anyone over the age of about 8 or 10, but there is lots of strategy involved.
There's also a game called Rubik's Race that is great for spatial awareness. I think it may be called something else now- we got one at a garage sale years ago.

jwcreath@gmail.com said...

Some of our favorites are; Yahtzee (great for counting & addition), Letterflip- painless way to learn spelling (I think we purchased from Timberdoodle), & of course good old Chinese Checkers.
Thanks for all the good ideas!
Darleen

Jess said...

Good point, Amy! Our 6yo can do Battleship, but our 4yo still needs help... perfect for teaching grid/chart skills-- thanks!

Laura,
We love Rush Hour also... I thought of it after I'd already published the post. Great game for problem solving!


Thanks, everyone, for all the good suggestions... I've got some new games to check out now!

Christine said...

Those are great suggestions! We love games too. Some of our favorites are Doodle Dice (fun with visual/spatial skills, for even the 4 and 5 year olds), Hop-Off (for geography), Bananagrams (similar to Scrabble, but easier for younger players to win)...off the top of my head.

Sundi D. Hayes said...

We have two 7 yr-olds and an 11 y-old. If we aren't playing Uno then we are playing Skipbo. These two win out over board games anyday.

The younger ones for the longest time played another card game that I can't remember the name of for the life of me! A quarter of the deck has one type of shape in 4 different colors in number sets 1 thru ?. The entire set has 4 sets of colors and shapes...similar to standard card decks but no faces or numbers.

The deck is very versital because you can play against each other number to number, color to color, etc for younger ages. For older ages you could play multiples or sums. OR take out cards and add cards depending on what numbers the players know.

The deck is divided equally between the number of players. Each player drawers three cards for their hand from their deck. Each player flips one card from their deck into the middle and play begins in a frenzy. The first person out of cards wins. Play goes slower for younger agest but VERY quickly for older ages.

Um, honestly, I don't win very often! :)

Sorry for the long comment but I thought maybe those of you who create your own games could draw from this in some way...or create your own from a standard deck.

My FAVORITE board game is traditional SORRY. We have Sliders but no one in our family likes it. We also have the portable version with the spinner in the middle and only two pawns per person. We even play it at home because it allows for a shorter game...which means more kids get a chance to win! :)

For those who have the younger version of apples to apples, is it possible to mix the cards for younger kids to play with adults? We have (and love) the standard box when we have enough adults together.

Create an amazing day!

Amber @ Classic Housewife said...

Thanks for these suggestions! My kids love games, and mostly we just have the traditional games, Guess Who, Clue, etc. I'd love to get some more intentionally educational ones! I'll have to check a few of these out. Thanks!

Susan said...

Jess: great post topic and display.
Other commenters:
What an invaluable list and set of resources. With a 3 yr old, 18 month old, and one on the way - I am just starting to think and plan at this 'level' of parenting. Resources like these are just the thing I - and the other moms I know in my stage of life and corner of the world - need!
Will sift and post with gratitude on the blog I just started on raising preschoolers to become Christ-followers...
Blessings all.

Wendy said...

Our new favorite is Bananagrams. Very fun!!

Diana said...

We have a monster games collection in lieu of a video game system. :) We love to play games that are secretly as well as overtly educational. A few current/longtime favorites are the following:

-another vote for Muggins math and all their products. my mom and I even play Muggins without the kids!
-Set
-Quiddler
-Sequence, Sequence Dice, Sequence for Kids
-Monza
-Dutch Blitz/Nerts
-Carcassone
-Cartagena 2 (you have to advance your opponents in order to get more cards, which makes things interesting)
-cooperative games from Family Pastimes; we are currently enjoying The Secret Door.
-Sleeping Queens
-Rat a Tat Cat
-Gulo Gulo

One we tried but which did not last was Zingo. Too much chance and not enough skill or challenge.

SouthAsiaRocks said...

You mentioned Blokus on your blog a few months ago while we were in the states and we brought it back with us! It's so fun! :) Thanks for game ideas - I love games!

Cat said...

We also love Blokus, and I bought the travel edition so my two oldest can play together without me, or I can play with just one of them (dh is deployed so we would never have four people old enough to play right now).

Shannon said...

This is a GREAT list, Jess. Thanks :)

Stephanie said...

I try to scoop up games from Learning Resources real cheap. We love Sum Swamp!

Mom said...

A game that I played when I was young and still at home was called "Wide World Game" by Parker Brothers. It was really fun! You travel around the world to various destinations collecting various products. 2-6 players can play. There are Travel Agent cards, Destination cards & Product cards. Your playing pieces are jet airplanes. It is a lot of fun for young and old. You can google it & probably buy it online or through ebay.

SiewYean said...

I have an 8 years old girl and 7 years old son. Apart from playing board games, I like to make my own learning games. Just like to share it here www.kids-activities-learning-games.com . Hope you enjoy these games with your kids.