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[Today we have a guest post from Michelle Habrych who shares Why Play Games in Your Homeschool?]
Games in Your Homeschool
Do you take time for games in your homeschool or family time? Games are a great way to learn so many different skills, so I would encourage you to consider planning them regularly. You’ll find even more great games at “New Game Ideas for Your Homeschool.”
Obviously, math games can help you practice math skills. While you can get specific games for whatever your child needs to practice, there are everyday family games which help with these skills too. Yahtzee is fantastic for practicing multiplication. Monopoly is great for counting money, learning about mortgages, and more. Other “math-centered” games you may already have at home include dominoes, playing cards (for War), Uno, and Perudo (or pirates’ dice)– a bluffing game which you can use to teach about probability and reasoning (just need dice and cups).
Language Arts (Spelling, Vocabulary, etc.)
Scrabble is a favorite for words—spelling, vocabulary, and even foreign language! We use it less competitively and instead try to help each other find words and learn the meaning of new ones. Special editions of Scrabble, such as the Book Lover’s edition, offer bonuses for words used from books, which is great fun for readers in the family. UpWords, Boggle, Apples to Apples, and Scattergories are more word games to practice these skills. Mad Libs are helpful and fun ways to practice language arts skills as well.
If you already knew some of these games, and you want more ideas to add to your family game collection, here are European-style strategy games to try.
Settlers of Catan is a great game for ages 8 and up. Players collect resources, trade them, and use them to build settlements, roads, and cities, in hopes of being the first to ten victory points. The game changes every time. It teaches critical thinking skills, as well as probability (how likely am I to roll a 2 as opposed to a 7?). The game is also useful to teach negotiation and flexibility in dealing with others. Minimal reading required.
Ticket to Ride is a train-themed game for players age 6 and up. Reading is only necessary to see city names, so a struggling reader would be able to play this game with some help until the map is memorized. This game is based on the map of the United States and includes some Canadian cities. It is not a perfect map but gives the general idea of where cities are located, and thus may be used to help with geography skills. There are other maps available: Europe, Asia, Africa, Switzerland, Germany, India, Netherlands, and more. Players collect colors to place trains on a map and complete routes. This game also teaches planning ahead, flexibility and critical thinking skills.
More to Try
Settlers and Ticket two are basic “gateway” games to the European style of games. If you have played those, I would suggest trying some of these out:
Power Grid (ages 12 and up, or really skilled younger players) has a colorful map and lots of math as players calculate how to be the first to place a specific number of power plants and then be able to power them using the resources purchased. Bidding is involved in this game as well. Supply and demand, strategic planning, and critical thinking are the key to winning at this game.
Pandemic is a great cooperative game in which players ages 8 and up work together to save the world from diseases. This game facilitates conversations about vaccinations, global epidemics, and more. Map skills, strategic planning, and teamwork are integral to success in this game.
Have fun including games in your homeschool. What are your favorites?
Michelle Habrych has facilitated games classes at her homeschool group to encourage learning and critical thinking. Over the past decade, she and her husband have enjoyed playing these games (and many more) with their two children, who are now teenagers.