Fred Rogers said, “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning.” Mr. Rogers was talking about active, non-directed, imaginative play that small children engage in. But as children get older and play with toys less and less, they still need playtime. In fact, adults need recreational play as well!
Board games and card games are one way to keep play in your homeschool while you build necessary skills. Games can build all types skills:
- critical thinking
“Play is the highest form of research.” — Albert Einstein
But best of all, play is fun. And even if there is no measurable learning happening, the sheer joy of playing together as a family is worth the time spent. Realize that games build skills, but don’t over-emphasize those aspects of the game. For kids, games are enjoyable family time, and that’s where you should focus your attention.
Which is going to bring the kids running to the coffee table?
“Hey, kids! Get in here! Your dad and I challenge you to a game of Apples to Apples!”
“Hey, kids! Get in here! Your dad and I are going to teach you cultural history and vocabulary with this card game!”
The answer is obvious. So enjoy games with your kids, trusting that like in all of life, the learning will happen naturally just the way you like it to happen. With that said, here are 101 Reasons to Play Games as a Homeschool Family.
1. Scrabble is a great language arts booster! It hones vocabulary, spelling, and even dictionary skills when words need to be looked up.
2. Game boards (like from Clue or Candy Land) can be repurposed for impromptu homeschool games you make up on the fly.
3. Uno is easy enough for all ages to play but fun enough for even adults to enjoy.
4. Playing games as a family gives fodder for inside family jokes.
5. Specialty games can teach very specific things like government, for example Civitas by Bright Ideas Press.
6. You can learn money management with Monopoly and Life.
7. Fact based games are often the inspiration for later research.
8. A game of chess between two skilled players can easily continue for months.
9. Kids can work on eye-hand coordination with a speedy game like Hungry Hungry Hippos.
10. Children and teens have the chance to practice how to win and lose gracefully.
11. Practice spelling and phonetic patterns with Bananagrams and Boggle.
12. Games can be used to make most any homeschool lesson fun — BINGO, matching, Go Fish, etc.
13. Sorry is simple enough for your youngest children to catch on.
14. Games allow children who may struggle with schoolwork to shine in another way.
15. Twister is a great indoor way to get the sillies out.
16. Playing a new game means you have to read the directions! Reading and following directions — there’s an important life skill!
17. Jenga is a way to practice visual spatial skills and thinking ahead.
18. Family game night is a relatively easy way for a tired dad, home from work, to positively engage with the kids.
19. Strategy games provide a way for kids to take risks in a safe environment.
20. Connect 4 gives younger kids practice in thinking a few steps ahead.
21. By playing games, you will have positive, face to face interactions with your children (instead of texting from the other room).
22. Battleship teaches kids how to plot a point on two axes.
23. Family game night proves that mom and dad can be silly and have fun alongside the kids.
24. Trouble may be the only game you don’t have to worry about finding the dice for!
25. Trivia based games such as Trivial Pursuit are great discussion starters for talking about history, music, pop culture, and the arts.
26. When you play a board game or a card game, you are putting down the screens.
27. Memory games teach matching skills whether you are using the original version or one you made yourself.
28. Family game night doesn’t take a lot of preparation.
29. Your kids will have to multiply and add when playing Yahtzee.
30. Games are often inexpensive and can be played with something as simple as a deck of cards or a few dice.
31. You can often get fancy games quite cheaply at a thrift store. If pieces are missing, your kids can improvise!
32. Work on memory with the old school, digital game Simon.
33. Clue and Guess Who are both great for learning about the process of elimination.
34. Guess Who is also good for logical reasoning.
35. If you often play games as a family, you will probably amass a collection of them. Then when kids are bored, you can point to the game shelf or cabinet.
36. During family games, you learn new facets of each other. For example, during Apples to Apples your learn what mental associations different family members hold.
37. Practice oral communication with a game such as Taboo.
38. Practice non-verbal communication with Charades.
39. More complex games, such as Risk, are great for teens because they have matured to the point of having greater concentration and strategizing ability.
40. Family games provide friendly family competition — adults versus kids, or boys versus girls, for example.
41. You can sneak the games into homeschool lessons and sneak homechool lessons into the games!
42. Many fact based or trivia based games are an opportunity for kids to be gain cultural literacy.
43. Kids love game night, especially if they can choose the games!
44. Turn government lessons into a fun game with The Constitution Quest game.
45. You can have family game night no matter the weather.
46. You don’t need any fancy equipment to play games.
47. You can spend as much or as little time as you like.
48. Learn Bible history with a game such as Kings of Israel.
49. Family game night usually improves family dynamics. Mom and dad relax and laugh. The older kids help the younger ones, and everyone detoxes from technology for an hour or so.
50. Kids learn negotiating when devising family/house rules for your favorite games.
51. Family game night is perfect with family movie night or family pizza night.
52. Many games are portable and can be taken on road trips or camping trips.
53. Go Fish is a classic that can be applied to most any topic for making homemade games.
54. Many games can be played with paper and pencil like Hangman.
55. Kids can learn the value and care-taking of having a collection with the Pokemon game cards.
56. Tic Tac Toe can occupy all ages while waiting in restaurants.
57. The game of Operation greatly enhances fine motor skills.
58. Skip-Bo is the ultimate sequencing card game.
59. The cross-country train adventure game, Ticket to Ride, is a fun way to learn North American, European or Asian geography.
60. Qwirkle is the perfect game to hone player’s tactical maneuvers, strategical planning, and forward thinking.
61. A blast from the past, Rock ’em Sock ’em is a great way for kids to spend time with grandparents who may remember the game from their own childhoods.
62. Forethought, luck, and backup plans are the keys to winning the card game, Sequence.
63. Checkers can be a stepping stone to the more complex game of chess.
64. What kid doesn’t love marbles? Chinese Checkers is loaded with marbles and fun jump-skip rules to go along with them.
65. The game Santiago teaches negotiation skills, patience, and money management.
66. In the Scattergories game, teams come up with answers that fit the categories listed on their card. Sounds easy, but cooperation is a must!
67. Pie Face is a fantastic game for kids (and kids at heart) who adore suspense and slapstick messes.
68. Dominos can be utilizes in a number of different ways, one of the most popular is to use to the tiles to teach number recognition.
69. Whether of not you are skilled at art, Pictionary will be a blast for you and a group. Sometimes, the worse of an artist you are, the more fun the game is.
70. A nerve-wracking game of intense concentration, Kerplunk requires high predictability skills.
71. Deception is not usually a skill we are eager to teach our kids, but Balderdash is a hilarious game in which the best bluffer ends up winning.
72. Plinko is a fun, hands-on game that began on the game show The Price is Right and teaches probability.
73. Don’t Spill the Beans teaches the scientific principle of stabilization and balancing.
74. A perfect game designed to teach shape recognition and fine motor skills, not to mention dexterous speed, is the classic game of Perfection.
75. The simple card game War can be played in a number of ways, incorporating addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.
76. Never Have I Ever has a family edition that can be played for hours of unique getting-to-know-you fun.
77. The ultimate mind-challenging portable game for strategic thinking is Rush Hour, great for all ages.
78. Hi-Ho Cherry-O is a game that helps preschoolers practice counting and numbers.
79. Let’s Go Fishing is a fast-paced competition that teaches hand-eye coordination.
80. A hilarious game that is perfect for antsy preschoolers is Ants in the Pants, which is multi-player and does not require waiting for turns.
81. Reading the instructional manual and the in-game cards teaches general literacy and can enhance vocabulary.
82. Designed for small hands, Cootie is a simple game that older children will still enjoy playing with their younger siblings.
83. Don’t Break the Ice requires strategic thinking, very careful thoughts, and a delicate touch with each and every move.
84. If your family likes fast-paced race to the finish games, Parcheesi is a wonderful addition to family game night.
85. Mouse Trap is a great game for future engineers. Assembling the mouse trap at the beginning of the game takes an understanding of how things fit together.
86. Barrel of Monkeys is a great game for to help kids learn patience and coordination.
87. Any game can turn into a team game and older siblings can defer to younger siblings without having to let them win.
88. Chutes and Ladders is the classic game of rewards and consequences.
89. A perfect game to get little kids moving and get the sillies out as they jump and lunge to grab the butterflies from the Elefun trunk.
90. Complicated games with many pieces, like Monopoly and Scrabble, can teach organization and responsibility when kids help put the game away, storing it neatly.
91. Hedbanz engages the kids to be creative with questions and to really think outside of the box.
92. Blokus develops logic and visual spatial perception while kids learn to be tactical.
93. With games ranging from Disney to Harry Potter and more, Scene It is a great family activity to test your pop culture knowledge.
94. Settlers of Catan is perfect for adventure seekers, as no two games are ever the same. Clever trading and development is needed.
95. Brain Freeze teaches kids logic and deduction through exciting back-and-forth game play.
96. Families can learn facts about both the natural world and the man-made world with the game Explore the World.
97. Laser Maze Logic and Gravity Maze build sequential reasoning and planning skills.
98. Code Master Programming Logic Game teaches basic to complex programming and coding concepts.
99. The card game Swish challenges players to flex their mental muscles as they try to out-Swish their competitors with their spatial intelligence.
100. Kanoodle is a solo game, filled with hundreds of possible combinations, perfect for developing problem solving and strategic thinking skills.
101. Kids who love puzzles and geometry will love the game of GeoBrix, which is unique 3-in-1 puzzle.
We LOVE playing games together. I try to make sure we are always playing a variety of games too. Pinned.
Wow, this is a wonderful post! There are so many great games to choose from.
Great list! I have to add Racko to the list. I’ve heard it’s great for executive function skills. It’s also fun to play. As long as you know how to put number up to 50 in order, you can play!