Gameschooling. Yes, it’s a thing! You might be amazed at how easily and efficiently games can be used every day in your homeschool. From overtly to covertly educational, there are all kinds of wonderful games your family will have a blast playing and learning from.
Why should you add board games to your homeschool? And most importantly, why should you count them as doing school? Well, games can take a lot of the pressure of learning off and allow mistakes to be less of an issue. If you’re doing a worksheet and get an answer wrong, it feels more weighty than if you make a mistake in a game. Plus, you’ll be there to help your child work through it. Most of the time, kids are more motivated by something they enjoy (like a themed board game), rather than a worksheet. For instance, my son and I really enjoy a game called Quixx. It involves a lot of addition. Since he loved the game, he mastered all of his math facts effortlessly without completing a single worksheet.
I will briefly go over a few games that we have loved in our homeschool.
Sum Swamp is a classic addition and subtraction game for preschool and kindergarten that both of my kids love. Even though the mechanics of the game revolve around math (overtly educational), they still wanted to play it.
Zeus on the Loose, and any game by the manufacturer Game Wright, is always a favorite with anyone we play with. It involves addition and subtraction within 100 and stealing a Zeus figure from other players. Strategy and luck factor in as the running total creeps towards (and away from) 100.
Place Value Safari is an excellent game for learning, you guessed it, place value. Each player has a 10 by 10 grid to fill as they move round the board. You might think this would be an instant ‘no’ since it has obvious educational properties, but you would be wrong! The game elements make the game fun and entertaining for kids and adults. Beware of the tiger! You’ll need to whisper your total if you land on him.
Word on the Street Junior, rather than the adult version that leaves out infrequently used letters, is an excellent and surprisingly fun way to practice spelling. Use the game cards with word suggestions, or use your own list. Players battle to capture letters and take them out of the game.
Frankenwords uses word cards that players combine to make compound words. The cards have two sides, one with the word and a picture, the other with just the word. You’d be surprised at how fun it is to search for compound words!
Timeline is a series of games that features events, people, and other features from history. Players try to guess where their item fits in the growing timeline in the middle of the table. Were dice invented before or after the invention of the pencil and the inauguration of the Colosseum? The Globetrotter version is a fun way to learn world geography. Features like square miles, population, GDP, and CO2 emissions from each country are listed on each card.
Great States, Scrambled States of America, Guess in 10 States of America, and Game of the States are great for learning US geography. Each has different mechanics, but all are super fun. Guess in 10 could even be played in the car!
Pay Day and Exact Change are two games that help teach money. Exact Change is a lot like Uno, and is quick and easy to learn. Pay Day is a hit because it comes with fake money. Sometimes we would even take out our change jar and play with real money that we let the kids keep. This was so fun! The winning totals rarely got above $3.
Science themed games for older kids are easier to find than you might think. Virulence, Peptide, Periodic Quest, and Elementeo are just a few to add to your homeschool. While these don’t constitute a complete science class, they are definitely a fun item to add to your day.
Lastly, deck building games like Pokémon and Magic the Gathering count as educational! There’s reading, math, strategy, and lots of interpersonal skills to be learned. But maybe most importantly with these games; resilience and being a good winner or loser. You definitely need to have gumption to play these games as it can be tricky at first. Local gaming stores usually have very kind and welcoming groups for these games.
Choosing the right games for your family and homeschool might take a bit of research. There are Facebook groups dedicated to gameschooling and the folks on there are a great resource. Be sure to read the side of the box to look for the number of players, age recommendation, and how long it takes to play.