When I play games with my children, I want our time together to be first about the play and the connections spending time together builds, but I also appreciate how games can be the best kind of teachers.
Games offer practice in reading, writing, math, logic, following directions, creativity, teamwork, problem-solving ( the list goes on) without ever lecturing, assigning homework, or even mentioning the word learn.
When my daughter plays Snap it Up, Apples to Apples, or Bananagrams she practices reading and spelling without it feeling like practice. When she was little Battleship strengthened her awareness of numbers and letters. She wanted to play with her brother and learned what she needed to do so.
My kids don’t think about the fact that they are practicing math facts when they want to keep score or that they are working as a team when they play games like Outfoxed. Motivated by wanting to have fun, they are more likely to dive into a challenge when we play games. No longer boring or feeling pointless, games offer a reason to know the skill.
I once worked with a high school math teacher who used math games to teach. His students loved his class, despite the fact that many of them struggled with the subject. Colleagues questioned his methods, but the games provided as much practice as worksheets and drills. Actually, I’d wager more so.
Because when we tap into our children and students’ internal motivation, which looks for FUN and PURPOSE, we help them learn and reinforce skills that can often feel the opposite.
Here is a list of games we love right now. While my children don’t think about our games in terms of subjects or lessons (and if you want your children to enjoy playing with you, neither should yours), it can be nice to have a wide variety to choose from. Many teach across multiple subject areas (like all good lessons do).
Science & Cooperative:
Make your own- My children love making up their own versions or creating new games. Gifted to my son a few years ago, this Make Your Own Game Kit (and now game) is loved.
Thursday is our family game night, but we often spend mornings and afternoons playing together. Games, especially as my children age, have become one of our family’s favorite ways we spend time together- learning and in play.
Let us know which games your family loves!