I’m planning to do my Christmas shopping this weekend. Yes, I hope to do all my shopping in one weekend – I get few breaks to go out and do things without the kids, so when I do get that chance, I take full advantage and do as much as I can.
One thing I like to do, when shopping for the kids, is find things that are both fun and educational. But I don’t always go for things that have a traditionally educational approach.
With that in mind, I thought I’d share some of the games we have that I feel are both fun and educational. As far as I know, all of these games are still readily available in stores and online.
- Mad Gab – You’ve seen commercials for this one. It’s the game where you read “Ice Mail Ask Hunk” and eventually realize that it’s “I smell a skunk.” So why do I think a game that makes you read a bunch of unrelated words and come up with a sentence that is completely different yet makes sense is educational? A couple of reasons, actually. One is that it helps with reading skills for younger kids – first, they have to read the words on the cards, and second, trying to put together the seemingly unrelated words and hear the true sentence hidden in them is a lot like sounding out words you’re not familiar with. It also helps with their listening skills – you have to listen to yourself (and to others) in order to figure it out. Another reason is that it helps with thinking outside the box.
- Yahtzee – Yahtzee is such a fun game in general. But it can help with a variety of things. It helps with math, when they tally up their scores. It helps with critical thinking, as they look at what they’ve rolled with the dice and what they have left open on their score sheet and try to decide what they should do next – should they score now? Roll again? Take the crappy final roll and put it in the twos or the sixs? It can even help with memory skills, as they try to remember what a full house, small straight, large straight, etc. are.
- Clue – We love Clue in this house. It’s our go-to game for game night. And no, the fact that it gives you murder methods is not one of the reasons I think it’s educational. 😉 Clue is educational because it requires critical thinking and tracking skills. They need to keep track of the things they’ve already asked about (helped along by their score sheet) and try to remember who showed them what cards. It requires critical thinking because you’re trying to figure out who killed the victim, with what and where – while you might start out with relatively random guesses, eventually you want to start narrowing things down and that requires giving some thought to what rooms you want to go to, what weapons and which characters you want to suggest.
- Monopoly – Monopoly is a great teaching game. It helps with teaching money, as players keep track of how much money they have, how much they are owed in rent when someone lands on their property, or calculate whether it’s cheaper to pay $200 or 10% for the luxury tax. They learn critical thinking as they decide whether they can afford to buy the property they land on, and whether they really want to buy it even if they can afford it, and as they come to comprehend that you want to own all of the same color because of the benefits that come with that. They learn a little about mortgages and being bankrupt, so larger scale money management comes into play.
- Scrabble – Scrabble is another family favorite. Scrabble helps spelling (since you can’t score if you can’t spell the word right), vocabulary (as they try to figure out what words they can make with the letters they have and what’s already on the board), and it also helps with research/dictionary skills when words are challenged. If you have little ones, we also modified our Scrabble rules when my kids were younger and still learning to spell and such: They were allowed to use the dictionary if they already had a word in mind and just wanted to confirm the spelling. That helped with their dictionary skills because they had to have at least some idea of how the word was spelled, and it helped them figure out how to find words in the dictionary.
Stay tuned for 5 more educational games to buy for Christmas.