Sneaking in Education with Board Games – Preschool Edition
Greetings! My name is Melissa and you will often find me on the “children’s side” of Labyrinth or teaching our First Moves Game Club for Little Kids. Before working at Labyrinth I spent almost 15 years working as an elementary and middle school teacher. Now, I find myself once again in the role of teacher, but this time to my 5-year-old daughter. Using games to reinforce concepts is something that has worked well in this unexpected homeschooling adventure. Here are three of our favorite games and how we are using them.
Ticket to Ride: First Journey
(image from publisher: https://boardgamegeek.com/image/3116341/ticket-ride-first-journey-us)
This game is a simplified version of the classic train game Ticket to Ride. You collect cards of the same color to create train routes between different destinations. This game has become a fast favorite! Not only does it help with skills like turn-taking and counting, but it has also been a great way to sneak in some geography. I ask simple questions like, “Why do you think there is a picture of an alligator on Miami?” or “Is San Francisco or Calgary closer to Winnipeg?” My daughter also has a wonderful time planning routes between our old home in California and our new home in Virginia.
My First Bananagrams
(some rights reserved: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/ )
This is the most blatantly education game on the list for today. My First Bananagrams uses lower-case letter tiles for players to form crossword style words. We use this both as a game and as a learning tool. We use the letters to spell out sight words or to lay out the alphabet in order. For a fun sensory activity these tiles can be hidden in a tub of rice or sand. They are also fun to use to make crayon rubbings! As an added bonus the game comes in a silly banana-shaped pouch.
(image from publisher: https://www.habausa.com/dragons-breath/)
We use this game as a “brain break” between more structured Zoom School lessons. In this game you remove “ice” rings to free different colored crystals. We use this game to reinforce basic counting and colors. It is also great for teaching children about estimation, probability and fine motor control. We estimate the number of crystals each person has before counting the final totals. We discuss which colors are most likely to fall each turn, and we also discuss removing the ice rings and collecting crystals.
I wish you all well on your homeschooling adventures and hope you are able to find some time to incorporate some games into your daily schedule. Stay safe and healthy!
For those of you with older children (say between 10-15 years old), another option you all may want to consider is our online Kids D&D sessions, as these are also a great addition to current homeschooling practices. They offer the children a chance to socialize like they would at school, while being structured and guided by an adult who helps them to hone their creative storytelling skills as well as some basic math reinforcements with ability and skill checks. We'd like to also recommend D&D as a great family choice that can bring kids and parents together as a shared learning and storytelling experience.
If you've been using games to supplement your homeschooling methods, then why don't you let us know which games you've been using and what concepts they reinforce in the comments below?