In my last post, I told you about five of our family’s favorite games that are also educational. Today, I thought I’d tell you about another five favorites.
1. Twenty Questions – You can play this game the old fashioned way where someone is the answerer and decides who/what/where they are and everyone else asks questions to deduce who/what/where they are. But we play the actual board game, and it is a blast. It comes with a ton of cards that tell you who/what/where you are, and the cards have clues that you read off so the other players can guess. I find this game educational for a few reasons:
- Whether you guess correctly or not, you learn a little about the person, place, or thing on the card from the clues. Especially if you play the game often (as we do), those clues stick and over time, you can end up learning a lot.
- Critical and deductive thinking is definitely encouraged by this game. You have to put together all the clues and try to figure out who/what/where the card is talking about. You have to remember your previous guesses so you don’t keep making them over and over.
- For younger kids, math skills can come into play. You have a game piece that you move forward on the board based on how many clues were read. Younger kids can work on their addition and/or subtraction (depending on how you want to do it) skills to figure out how many squares they, or other players, get to move.
2. Beat the Parents – Beat the Parents is a rather unique game, in my opinion. It pits kids against parents, by definition. Kids ask parents to guess things (from cards in the game) that the kids should know, and parents ask the kids to guess thing the parents should know. It can help parents keep up on what kids are talking about, watching, reading, etc, and vice versa. It’s interesting to realize what you, as a parent, can guess about the kid stuff, and to see the kids trying to figure out the parent stuff – and it’s also interesting to see the reaction when the kids get the adult stuff, or the adults get the kid stuff. A lot of it is pop culture kind of stuff, at least for the kids stuff, but there is some historical stuff and educational stuff. One of the great things about this game, in my opinion, is the fact that it pits parents against kids. I don’t know about your kids, but mine can sometimes start to get on each other’s nerves from the close quarters of being around each other so much. Putting them on the same team, against me, can often work wonders to get them working together and being nice to one another again.
3. Don’t Say It! – This is a great game for expanding vocabulary. You have a card, with a word on it. You must use other words to describe the word given and get the other players to guess your given word, but there’ s a catch – depending on the difficulty level you choose, you have anywhere from 1-4 words you can’t use to describe your given word. Say your given word is pig, for example. You won’t be able to use the words ham, bacon, pink, or oink, depending on if you choose easy or difficult. I love this game for two reasons:
- It is hilarious to see the look on your child’s face when he realizes he just used one of the forbidden words. Or to see his laughter when you do it.
- It forces you (and your kids) to think and expand your vocabulary. When you are forbidden to use the most commonly known, and therefore most likely to be on the tip of your tongue, words to describe something, you have to put forth the effort to find other words that will convey your point and yet still be familiar to the other players. It can be more difficult than you might think sometimes. And there’s a timer, so it can also prompt you to think fast.
4. Apples to Apples – Apples to Apples is fun and funny. The “judge” calls out what is on a green apple card, and the other players choose the red apple card in their hand that best describes what the judge read. This can result in some humorous combinations (as you may remember from the commercials). I call it educational because it requires giving some thought to how to define the “best” fit. When the word is “sticky”, is the best fit booger or peach? That depends on your age and your sense of humor, doesn’t it? And even if your kid does pick booger, at least you’ll know he really thought about it before he slapped that card down, right?
5. Mancala – This game is really cool. I admit, when my kids first wanted it and we first started playing, I didn’t get it. You get a bunch of stones, put them in cups, and move them around. It seemed silly and pointless. But it’s not, and it’s harder than you think. You see, the point is to not run out of stones, and it can be harder to not run out of stones than you think. Critical thinking is most definitely your friend for this game. You need to be able to look at the board, and think ahead, and figure out how best to make sure you don’t run out of stones before your opponent. You get to take their stones if you put a stone in an empty cup across from one of their cups that has at least one stone in it. Strategy is crucial to winning this game, and your strategy has to evolve if your kids each use different ones, or if one kid changes strategies from game to game. It’ll keep both you and your kid (it’s a two player game, so you’ll have to take turns) on your toes, and as far as I can tell, there is no way to “cheat”, so no one can really get an advantage here.
As you can see, board games are big in our house. The fact that they can double as educational tools is a huge bonus for us. But the best part? You can buy your kids games for Christmas, knowing that it will only benefit their education, while they will simply be thrilled because they got games!
Next week, I’ll post a list of other things I’ve gotten my kids for Christmas over the years that has had some really great educational benefit for them. I’ll also tell you a few of our holiday traditions.