fun

061. Talk, Read, and Sing Together Everyday

Talk, Read, and Sing Together Everyday

Tips for homeschooling your youngest!

It’s been proven that talking, reading, and singing with your child every day makes them happier and builds cognitive development. In today’s episode, we’re discussing this topic and sharing game-changing tips for homeschooling your youngest kiddos creating a memorable journey filled with laughter, curiosity, and the joy of exploring the world together

Episode 061:

TWO WAYS TO LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE:
1. Click PLAY Button Above ^^ to listen here.
2. OR Listen on your favorite podcast platform:

Brand New to Homeschooling?
GETTING START PAGE >>
Kindergarten Page >>
High School Series >>

Show Notes

Homeschooling preschoolers and very young children is a delightful adventure that transforms learning into joyous exploration. The intimate setting of home provides a comfortable and secure environment and helps foster strong family bonds.

With the growing popularity of homeschooling, a lot of families are wanting to start homeschooling earlier and earlier. Some people even know they want to homeschool before they even get pregnant and they are really eager to get started. But getting started doesn’t mean that you have to sit down at a desk with workbooks or a curriculum. The simple act of engaging in daily conversations, reading sessions, and sing-alongs is not only a lot of fun, but it’s really a fundamental and enriching aspect of their early development. 

Talking, reading, and singing together all play a pivotal role in nurturing various aspects of a child’s growth, things like language acquisition, cognitive skills, and emotional well-being. Regular conversations contribute to expanding their vocabulary, and a rich language environment is crucial for development. It strongly influences early language, vocabulary, reading, and math skills, as well as children’s social development. Cuddling up on the couch with a great book and sharing stories fosters a love for reading and also enhances their vocabulary and imagination.

Word Gap

Research shows that some young children are exposed to more language in their homes than other children. This difference in the number of words and back-and-forth conversations to which children are exposed is called the “word gap”. And this word gap is significant! By 3, there is a whopping 30 million word gap between children. That means that the kids at the lower end heard 30 million fewer words. Researchers can already tell a difference between these kids by 18 months so when we get those listeners reaching out, asking what they can do with their very young child, this is definitely the episode for you!  There are lots of ways to improve this word gap, many of which we will talk about today.  Learn more about What Your Preschooler Should Know

When you’re ready to begin academics, where do you start? Learn all about Homeschooling Kindergarten

All children, no matter how young, listen to people talk. It is how they learn new words and begin to understand the world around them. Just talking to your kids throughout your day is such a fantastic way to support their development. And singing together, with its rhythmic and melodic elements, not only enhances language skills, but also makes for happier children and strengthens your bond with them. 

We discussed this beautiful book, The Boys in the Boat. on this episode. There’s even a Younger Reader’s version of The Boys in the Boat.

Here are some creative and educational ideas for encouraging more talking, singing, and reading in your homeschool (9:52):

Conversations during Activities

  • Engage in conversations during everyday activities like cooking, cleaning, or playing. This helps build vocabulary and language skills. Talk with your child as you go about your day: making food, riding in the car, getting ready for bed, any time. 
  • Get down on their level.
  • Tune in and listen to what they have to say. If your toddler says “flower,” you can say, “We saw a flower today.”
  • You can respond to babbling or even silence. If the child does not speak yet, look at what they are doing or pointing to and use these moments to talk with them.
  • Add new vocabulary words to the ones children are already using when talking to them. If he or she says “apple,” you can say, “Do you want an apple? That’s a very healthy food.”
  • Restate children’s language using correct grammar.
  • Don’t be afraid of using adult words.  People love to baby talk to young kids, but if you talk to them in normal language, you’ll be surprised at how much they can articulate.
  • Asking stimulating and developmentally appropriate questions can help boost the language environment.
  • Ask children about what they are doing.
  • Have them connect playing to their own lives. For example, Are they playing with Legos? You can build a little house and put a Lego person inside and ask them what the Lego person is doing inside their house. 
  • Ask them what they are doing or how something works. And you don’t want to stress out your kid with questions, these should be just light exchanges during play. Some people get really intense in their teacher/student roles as most of us have been programmed on what education should be by the public school system. Some parents ask a question and really want their kid to answer, almost like it’s an exam, but remember this is just engagement and conversation. Keep in mind that you are parent and child first and educating them is just an expansion on this. You’ve been teaching them all their life.
  • For children with limited language, giving them a choice can help them respond more easily to questions.
  • For example, “did you use colored pencils or markers to draw that picture?” “Would you like to do this or that activity?”  Ask open ended, not yes or no, questions that encourage them to keep talking.
  • You can gradually increase the complexity of your questions as your child progresses in their development.
  • Children can learn big, new, and interesting words through repeated exposures. 

You know our answer to everything is reading books!  It’s because both of us really value great literature and sharing this with our children. Reading is the cornerstone of all education and higher learning, so it’s essential to start habits when your kids are young. And we are not talking about reading instruction. We’re talking about teaching them how to really enjoy a story. That’s where the love of books begins.

Reading

  • Set aside dedicated time for reading books together. Choose a variety of books with colorful pictures and simple language to high quality books with rich vocabulary.
  • Discuss the story, characters, and encourage them to ask questions.  Have them narrate back to you what a story or book or chapter was about.
  • Pick books and let kids pick books about topics they find interesting. Ask questions that relate to the child’s experiences or interests.
  • Stop in a story and ask children to make predictions about what you think will happen next?
  • Ask them to make up their own stories about those characters. 

Visit the Library

  • If you’re not already plugged into your local library, get familiar with it. Get your child their own card. Make regular trips to the library to expose your child to a variety of books. Library story time has always been one of our favorite activities.  
  • Have kids pick out books they are interested in as well as you make choices off your list.  Mix all those books onto your library shelf at home.

Music

  • Incorporate songs into your daily routine. Singing helps with language development and can make activities more enjoyable. Use simple and repetitive songs to make it easy for them to sing along.
  • Have a “good morning” song and a “putting on your shoes” song, etc.
  • Play music in the car- there are so many kids artists that we devoured as kids- Lori Berkner, Dan Zanes, Justin Roberts (we even saw some of these in concert). Listen to grown up music, too!
  • And I love the Beethoven Wig songs– they are classical music set with lyrics that are pretty catchy and very memorable.  I love being at the symphony and one of my kids says I know the words to this song! I just realized the other day that my washing machine plays a Chopin number when it is done. We also choose to explore the works of famous composers and musicians pretty early. 
This Composer Book Series was a favorite for both of our families:
Getting the Know the World’s Greatest Composers

Musical Instruments

Consider offering your children the opportunity to learn to play a musical instrument. And this doesn’t have to be expensive. You can choose to do private lessons, but there’s also a lot of online lessons that are very affordable like on OUTSCHOOL or you can do lessons on DVDs. Instruments like the piano, guitar, violin, or even the recorder are good choices for beginners.  Have a big basket of musical instruments in your house.  You’ll be surprised at how popular these toys are!

Accordion with 10 Keys Button Accordion
Natural Wooden Percussion
Instruments Musical Toys
Lap Harp
Kid’s Toy Violin with 4 Adjustable Strings and Bow
Click N’ Play Toy Trumpet and Toy Saxophone Set for Kids – Create Real Music

Singing

Singing can be a wonderful way to bring music into your home. Encourage your children to sing along with their favorite songs or learn new songs. Singing helps develop pitch, rhythm, and language skills. You can incorporate singing into your daily routines, such as singing a “Good Morning” song or singing during chores. Singing can also help teach reading.

Wee Sing Nursery Rhymes and Lullabies

Music Classes

We took a couple classes when the kids were really little- Kindermusik and then Music Together.  They are super fun mommy and me classes that really help introduce kids to music.  I mostly took them for my toddler but my baby liked them so much- we did these for a long time.

Karaoke

Karaoke is not only a favorite activity, it helped my kids learn how to read.. Put a karaoke song on YouTube, give them a microphone and the reading instruction is done for the day!

One of the ways I taught my kids how to read is with Karaoke!

Karaoke Microphone

Rhyming Games

  • Play rhyming games to enhance phonological awareness. Encourage them to come up with words that rhyme with everyday objects or create silly rhymes together.
  • This is a great way to encourage older siblings to play or teach younger siblings.  One of my kids’ assignments was to do finger play with their toddler sister when they were little.
  • Nursery Rhymes are a great way to encourage speech and vocabulary and memorization work.

Letter and Number Fun

  • Introduce letters and numbers through playful activities. Use alphabet and number magnets, sing counting songs, or create simple crafts related to specific letters or numbers.
  • Letter of the day or the week is a fun way to do this and great for preschoolers just starting to learn to recognize letters and read.
Magnetic Letters and Numbers

Nature Talks

  • Explore nature together. Discuss the different colors, shapes, and textures you find. This not only encourages conversation but also fosters an appreciation for the world around them.
  • Have some field guides and learn how to identify different animals, birds, plants or trees.
  • Some of our best talks have been on walks, too.  Sometimes it is easier to talk side by side than face to face.
Kids Explorer Kit with Safari Vest & Hat and more!

Imaginary Play

8 Pack of Fabric Hand puppets with movable mouth and hands. Puppets are so much fun and we love this diverse pack that comes in variety of skin colors. 

Remember to adapt these activities based on your child’s interests and developmental stage. The key is to make learning enjoyable and foster a positive attitude toward language and literacy. The daily ritual of talking, reading, and singing creates a supportive and stimulating environment that lays a strong foundation for a child’s lifelong learning journey, fostering curiosity, creativity, and a lifelong love for learning. Being able to tailor activities to a child’s unique interests and pace of development is so great and having the freedom and flexibility to choose engaging and interactive lessons turns every day into an opportunity for discovery and growth. From hands-on experiments that spark curiosity to creative arts and crafts projects that unleash imagination, homeschooling fosters a love for learning that goes beyond textbooks.

This Week’s Freebie:


Download your Free Nursery Rhyme Posters

060. 20 Fun Activities to Improve Your Student’s Writing

20 Fun Activities to Improve Your Student’s Writing

Do your students grumble when it’s time to practice writing? Is getting them to write an essay painful for both of you? Maybe it’s time to try some fun writing activities instead!

Episode 060:

TWO WAYS TO LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE:
1. Click PLAY Button Above ^^ to listen here.
2. OR Listen on your favorite podcast platform:

Brand New to Homeschooling?
GETTING START PAGE >>
Kindergarten Page >>
High School Series >>

Show Notes

Over the years, we’ve tried countless writing programs and curricula in a constant effort to keep writing fun and interesting. While we’ve had success stories with a few programs, we found one of the best ways to keep kids engaged with writing is to integrate a fun activity alongside our regular curriculum. When they’re having fun, they want to write more, which helps them develop stronger creative writing skills and become better writers. In today’s episode, we have some great ideas and activities to make writing fun for your kids.

Writing is a skill that can be challenging for some kids. It encompasses the intricate understanding of grammar and vocabulary. As homeschooling parents guiding our children, we recognize that nurturing effective writing skills is crucial for their future endeavors in college and the workforce. While the task may seem time-consuming and taxing, you have the ability to not only teach these skills to your children but also cultivate a love for writing in a gentle manner.

We also want to add that this is different from just handwriting.  We often see posts or questions from people about writing (especially when it comes to young kids) and we always like to clarify first- do you mean the physical act of bringing pencil to paper or are you talking about foundational composition, sentence structure, detailing thoughts?  These are two very different age appropriate things.

It is very normal for young children (especially boys) to be resistant or struggle with the act of handwriting, and it’s also not really age appropriate to expect a lot of writing out of a 6 year old. I, personally, don’t do a ton of writing work outside of handwriting with under 10s.  This can be a really frustrating subject to force when a little time and maturity will often make this a much easier endeavor.

We talked about this in Episode 28 “How to keep learning fun.”  If you are struggling with the physical aspect of writing, you want to make sure to rule out an actual physical limitation to writing.  Visual tracking and other learning differences can also be a factor. If you feel like there might be some underlying issues, we have an entire page and episode devoted to learning differences. 021. How Do You Homeschool a Child with a Learning Difference?

 I did take my son to an occupational therapist when he was little because he complained about how much writing hurt his hands.  She gave us some exercises and different kinds of pencil holders and grips.  

These Pencil Grips are fantastic to teach little hands

But today we are really going to be talking about foundational writing.  Writing is a complex process that requires the integration of multiple skills, many of which are executive functioning skills.  Writing involves having to visualize ideas in your mind, so that you can manipulate your thoughts into structured sentences that make sense.  You need to search your brain for the proper sounds that make up letters and words and ideas.  And then transpose those letters on paper by hand.

Important Points to Remember When Teaching Writing:

When working to improve your child’s writing skills, there are some key things to keep in mind:

Be patient

It’s going to take time for your child to develop writing skills. Just like with anything else, the more practice they get, the better they’ll become at it. Learn your child’s limits and know when to push and when to walk away and come back to something later.

It doesn’t seem like it, but sometimes walking away and giving something tricky a rest is all it takes for a skill to finally take root.  Don’t be afraid to do this!  

Encourage effort

It’s important to praise your child’s efforts, even if the writing isn’t perfect. This will help to build confidence and motivation. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Some of the best learning about writing comes in the corrections and while going over their work positively.

Make it fun

If your child is seeing writing as a chore, it’s going to be a lot harder to get them to stick with it. Find ways to make it fun – we have a great list of ideas we’re about to get to!

Be a role model

Show your child that writing is important to you by incorporating it into your everyday life. This will help them to see the value in practicing writing on a daily basis. We will talk more about this but journaling is something I really love to do.

Show interest

It’s important for your child to see that you are interested in what they write. Don’t just focus on how good their writing is or the mistakes they made, but instead, talk to them about the ideas they’re exploring and why you think they’re important. 

I see a lot of parents really wanting to farm this aspect of writing out, and that’s fine if that’s what you want to do, but you really can and should consider doing this yourself.   It really can help with your relationship when your child knows you are interested in what they have to say.

Whether you are working on penmanship or crafting stories and paragraphs, it’s important to remember that your relationship comes first. We are lucky that we are in the unique position that we are with our children daily and have the ability to influence them. The words we choose with our kids can make or break their spirits. When we encourage our kids and give them our undivided attention, their confidence is going to grow.

20 Fun Writing Activities (9:50)

Engaging our young learners in writing can be a fun and collaborative experience. Let’s explore various activities that transform writing into an exciting venture, fostering not only proficiency but also their sense of accomplishment:

1. Story Chains:

There are many ways that two or more people can work together to write a short story. Write down a prompt and have your child contribute to the story in a set time (1-2 minutes). Have them pass the paper back to you or a sibling(s) and then back to you. The objective is to create a coherent story through teamwork, making writing a shared adventure. This is a game we like to do in scouting around a campfire, too.  This is a great activity to do orally.

2. Create Personal Journals:

I mentioned this earlier, that I love to journal. Provide your child with journals and colored pens, inspiring them to express themselves freely. Prompt them to write about their daily experiences, favorite movies, or hobbies. This personal reflection not only enhances writing skills but also fosters a sense of self-expression.


One Question A Day is perfect for children aged 9-12. This fun diary helps kids to get to know themselves a little better. Full of both silly and serious writing prompts in the form of questions, this journal will become a keepsake for years to come! Each day, your young writer will fill out the journal by answering a new kid-friendly question. The diary is undated, so it can be started on any day of the year! The goal of this journal is for children to become comfortable with expressing themselves creatively through writing, and to have fun along the way! Start sharing your thoughts and feelings by journaling, and get on the path to self-discovery!

3. Index Card Stories:

Utilize index cards as an alternative to traditional writing. Ask your children to share funny stories on index cards. You can even make this a regular group activity with friends or homeschool co-op. This type of interactive approach keeps the writing process dynamic and enjoyable.

Lined Index Note Cards with Rings

4. Story Completion with Templates:

Story Cubes are so fun! A game of limitless imagination and infinite stories! Combine items, characters, places and animals to create and share unique tales! Story Cubes are perfect for telling stories but also fantastic for WRITING stories! 

Design story templates with pictures and scattered words throughout. Challenge your children to use these elements to craft their own unique stories. This creative exercise not only stimulates imagination but can also showcase the surprising depth of your children’s storytelling abilities. Story Cubes are a fun way to get creative this way too.

5. Letters

Have your children write heartfelt letters to extended family, friends or pen pals. The act of exchanging these letters fosters camaraderie and provides a meaningful context for practicing writing skills. You can also work on formal letter writing.  That’s always a good skill to have.

Postcrossing is a great way for your kids to write to communicate with people from all over the world!

6. Retelling Favorite Stories

Encourage your children to write about stories that have left an impact on them, be it real-life experiences or tales from books and movies. This activity enhances descriptive writing skills and allows for the exploration of different narrative styles.

7. Word Challenge

You can also enhance their vocabulary with creative writing by presenting a recently taught word as a challenge. Ask your kids to construct sentences using the word and then exchange sentences to craft unique stories. This playful approach reinforces language skills in a fun and engaging manner.  You can use vocabulary lists from your curriculum or things like word of the day calendars.

8. Birthday Wishes and thank you notes

Have your child create and write a birthday card for a special friend. This quick and heartwarming exercise seamlessly integrates into your lessons while promoting a positive writing culture. Did they recently have a birthday or receive a holiday gift? Have them write a letter of gratitude thanking them for the gift. These Card Making Kits are fantastic!

Card Making Kit for Kids

9. Reviews

Have your child go on Yelp and write a review for their favorite (or least favorite) restaurant. Do they love a new purchase they recently got from Amazon? Have them write their own personal review. Funny Review of the Bic Pen for Her.

10. Blog

Use technology to your advantage. What does your child love? Do they have a hobby or love legos? Help them create a Free blog to write about their passion. 

11. Image Prompt

A picture is worth a thousand words, right? Why not try photo writing prompts? This is a fun story writing activity. It’s simple and can be pulled off with almost no prep time. You’ll want to choose an image you want to display then set a timer. Have everyone (even you) write a story inspired by the picture for fifteen minutes. No planning for this one; this time everyone is writing by the seat of their pants. When the timer ends, stop writing and read each other’s story.

We’ve talked about programs like StoryStarters before.  This is a book with a series of story beginnings with illustrations and the student then finishes the story. 

12. Writing Club

Join a creative writing club. If you can’t find one, create your own homeschool writing club. Your child can interact with other young writers, share their work, and receive constructive feedback. This fosters a sense of community and motivation.

13. Comic Creation

Encourage your child to create their own comics. This involves both writing dialogue and using visual storytelling. It’s a great way to combine writing and art while fostering creativity. There are even these really cool blank comic books that you can use. 

Blank Comic Books

14. Outdoor Writing Adventures

Take writing outdoors. Whether it’s at the park, in the backyard, or during a nature walk, being in a different environment can inspire new ideas and perspectives for writing. This Hiking Journal is sure to inspire your kiddo!

15. Interviewing

Have your child interview family members or friends. Have them write out their own questions, conduct interviews, and then turn the responses into a written piece. This can really improve communication and writing skills.

16. Newsletter

Have your child create a monthly newsletter for family and friends. They can share updates, stories, or even jokes. This not only improves writing skills but also encourages regular writing practice. One of our homeschool groups does this as a group and it’s all child led.

17. Create Mad Libs

If your child has never played Mad Libs, you will first need to explain this writing game to them and maybe have them do a practice round to get used to the concept. Then have them prepare the story. They can either create it from scratch or use an existing text. For example, they might copy out the first paragraph or two of a book. Have them write it on lined paper, double spaced. Next, they can choose some words to remove from the story. Once they’ve erased the words they want to remove, they should draw a line for the blank word and write a hint under the line to indicate what kind of word is needed. 

It’s helpful if they have an understanding of nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. If they don’t, this is a great time to introduce these concepts. I’ve yet to meet a kid who doesn’t love Mad Libs. They’re such a fun way to approach word choice and sentence structure. Kids get a kick out of making up a really silly story while subtly learning the differences between the various types of words. 

Best of Mad Libs

18. Create a Menu or Recipe

Menu and Recipe writing is a completely different type of writing, which is a bit more straightforward which some students struggling to get creative might enjoy. Students can come up with either genuine menus or recipes that they would love to eat or silly ones! 

Recipe Cards are great for writing!

19. Whiteboard or Chalkboard

It’s important for kids to understand that writing is an integral part of our everyday lives.They need to experience that writing is a great way to communicate with others. One way to help kids see the value of writing is to use a whiteboard or chalkboard in your home for family communications. 

We do this with Wet Erase Markers on windows (so much better than dry erase markers!). I have huge windows next to our front door which is also our homeschool room. And I’ve often used them as boards. I remember I came up with this idea to use these windows when we were doing biology and learning classification and I charted all the kingdoms and the kids would love to come in with markers and write examples of species in their own handwriting. The windows were covered! 

You also can write notes to each other, make grocery lists, write your day’s agenda, or tell a joke. This is also a great way to get kids involved in the family’s daily life and routines. And you don’t have to use a window, you can just use a dry erase board. Be prepared for your young comedians to write “poop” or “fart” a lot.

Magnetic Calendar White Board

20. Reading

Read together every day. One of the best ways to improve writing skills doesn’t involve writing at all! Reading is a critical part of writing development, as it helps to expand vocabulary, improve grammar, and increase overall language skills. Make reading a daily routine that you do no matter what. You can take turns reading aloud, or let your child read to you. Either way, make sure to discuss what you’re reading as you go along. Ask questions, point out new words, and make connections to other things you’ve read or experienced.

Reading should be enjoyable, so try to find books that your child will be interested in. If necessary, start with simpler books and work your way up to more challenging ones. The more your child reads, the better he or she will become at understanding how language works, and the more he or she will be inspired to write.

We have a couple different episodes where we have our favorite books for various ages – Books for New Readers, favorite Middle School Books, and we even have Favorite Books Every Homeschooler Should Read!  

All of these writing activities we listed are designed to make the learning process enjoyable, easy, and captivating for your children. Hopefully you find something helpful here today. Embrace the opportunity you have to guide your kids towards becoming not only proficient writers but also finding joy in expressing themselves through words!

This Week’s Freebie:


Download your Free Creative Writing Image Prompts and Templates

059. Family Favorite Board Games

Favorite Family Games

We talk all the time about how much both our families have loved board games over the years. From the suspenseful roll of the dice to the cunning maneuvers and friendly banter, board games create an environment where families can connect and create cherished memories. We will be kicking off the year playing games with our families and today we are going to share 25 of our all time favorite family games. From your youngest to your oldest, we’re sharing games that everyone in your family will love. 

Episode 059:

TWO WAYS TO LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE:
1. Click PLAY Button Above ^^ to listen here.
2. OR Listen on your favorite podcast platform:

Brand New to Homeschooling?
GETTING START PAGE >>
Kindergarten Page >>
High School Series >>

Show Notes

Board games have long been a beloved pastime for families around the world. The allure of board games lies not only in the thrill of competition but also in the shared moments of laughter and bonding that naturally happens when families play together.

Whether it’s the joy of victory or the camaraderie of shared defeat, board games serve as a catalyst for fun-filled family moments, fostering communication, problem-solving skills, and endless amusement for everyone involved. Choosing the top 25 favorite board games for homeschool families was really hard!  We both really love board games and have both been part of a board game club for years where we met every week at a coffee shop or someone’s house while we played every board game imaginable! And choices can be totally subjective, as preferences can vary based on your kid’s interests, their ages, and what learning goals you have.

 Sometimes you want games that sneak in a little education for everyone.  We did another episode about our favorite math games, for instance.  And for years, I carried Story Cubes and Bananagrams around in my purse because these were easy language arts games to bust out when we were at restaurants or waiting at appointments.

Call me the Board Game Grinch if you must, but I believe life’s too short for tedious games that make you want to gouge out your eyeballs. If you enjoy such games, you have more patience than I do, and I respect that. However, playing a game with your child while gritting your teeth doesn’t benefit anyone. When you genuinely have fun, your kids notice and enjoy the game more, and if you’re bored, they’ll pick up on that as well. We all want to have fun – not just our kids! So we’ve put together this list of board games and card games that are favorites for us and super popular with homeschooling families for their educational value, varied ages, and entertainment.

Let’s start with some classics!  There are several games that have stood the test of time and are widely regarded as classics due to their enduring popularity, entertainment value, and ability to bring families together.  (6:08)

1. Monopoly

Monopoly is a property trading game that involves strategy, negotiation, and financial management. This is a game that I am not allowed to play at my house.  If you aren’t prepared to lose all your friends and family in a game of monopoly, you aren’t playing hard enough.

2. Clue

Clue is a deduction game where players solve a murder mystery by gathering clues and making educated guesses. I love this simple detective game. The randomness of the clues does change the game play up enough to make it replayable and it’s fun for all ages. It’s light on strategy while still being challenging. Maybe some people think that murder should not be in a kids game, but I can tell you that children learn about these things even if you don’t teach them about it. Clue is actually a great structured way to teach them that crime and murder are wrong and that there is a detective process for catching the culprits. A bonus is that after playing the game you can watch the movie.

3. Chess and Checkers

Chess is a strategic board game that involves planning, foresight, and tactics using different pieces with distinct movements.  Checkers is a classic strategy game where players aim to capture their opponent’s pieces by diagonal movement on the board.

4. Uno

Uno has been the go-to card game of choice for families and friends around the world for 50 years. This  fast-paced card game where players match colors or numbers while strategically using action cards to disrupt opponents is a favorite whether you’re playing with your grandma or your preschooler and anyone in between. 

5. Sorry! and Parcheesi

Sorry! and Parcheesi are both games of luck and strategy where players race to move their pieces around the board and send opponents’ pieces back to the start.

6. Risk

Risk is a game of global domination involving strategy, negotiation, and conquest. We have a collectors version that we found dirt cheap at a garage sale. My kids were obsessed with this game for years. Our version is a vintage version and some of the countries no longer exist, and it really makes for great topics of conversation. My kids learn geography and history at the same time!

7. Apples to Apples

Apples to Apples is a fun, family-friendly party game involving word comparisons and creative thinking. 

8. Yahtzee

Yahtzee is a dice rolling game that involves scoring points by rolling specific combinations. We love this classic game and it’s perfect for all ages. Young ones learn simple math and older ones get really competitive.

9. Scrabble and Boggle

Scrabble and Boggle Scrabble: A word game that challenges players to create words using letter tiles and strategic placement on the board. Boggle – A word search game using a grid of lettered dice where players find words within a limited time. Boggle Jr. is a favorite that helped me teach my oldest how to read and Scrabble Jr. is also a favorite for learning letter and sound recognition!

10. Connect Four and Jenga

Connect Four and Jenga are both popular tabletop games- you find these a lot in restaurants. Connect 4: A two-player game where opponents aim to create a row of four colored discs in a vertical, horizontal, or diagonal line. Jenga – A tower-building game where players take turns removing wooden blocks without causing the tower to collapse. 

Waterproof Cards: You also can’t go wrong with just a simple deck of cards. I always keep a deck of cards in my car and it’s simple entertainment no matter where we are. Games like hearts, spades, poker, spoons, GO FIsh- there’s a million things you can do with a deck of cards. These waterproof ones are perfect for kids and clean easily. I’ve had the same deck for years!

11. Catan (formerly The Settlers of Catan)

Catan is a cross between Monopoly and Risk. The directions were long and my initial thought before playing was too hard. Once I played, it really is easy to play and I love that you can employ different strategies every time. It teaches your kids resource management and strategy. I also love the Catan Expansion Packs, too. 

12. Ticket to Ride

Ticket to Ride helps with geography and strategy. There are different versions- American, European, etc.  Ticket to Ride Junior version is fantastic because it takes 30 minutes to play.

13. Pandemic

Pandemic is one of the most popular modern cooperative games and love Cooperative Board Games. We’ve yet to play a pandemic game that we haven’t enjoyed. This game teaches cooperation and problem-solving well, everyone works together during a global health crisis.

14. Carcassonne

Carcassonne focuses on spatial reasoning and tile placement. This game is easy and clear and I like that they start off with a simple set of tiles and rules, then allow you to add more tiles and rules with the included mini expansions. 

15. CodeNames

Code Names can enhance your kid’s vocabulary and critical thinking skills through word association. This is definitely on my list to play over holiday break with my kids! I have not played this one with my kids, but we had a couple of ladies game nights and this game was so fun. We laughed our butts off! I really want to play it again and I love that you can play with a lot of people.

16. Forbidden Island and Forbidden Desert

Forbidden Island and Forbidden Desert are cooperative games that promote teamwork and critical decision-making.

17. 7 Wonders

7 Wonders is easy to learn how to play but takes some practice to be good at it. In the game, you are building your city around the wonder you are given to construct. So, you even get some history lessons while learning strategy. 

18. Sushi Go!

Sushi Go! is so fun! My entire family loves sushi so it was so funny when we found this game! Each player is attempting to make the best overall Sushi dishes to serve their patrons in order to become the best sushi restaurant in town!  Your kids will learn probability and strategy in this fun card game and it’s so easy to play. 

19. Timeline

Timeline is a game that has taught me so much! I have several versions of this from TV & Music, Inventions, American History.

20. Exploding Kittens

Exploding Kittens is a light, humorous game known for its quirky artwork. There’s strategy and luck involved. It is a fast paced, strategic game for 2 to 5 players. The objective is to be the last player remaining who hasn’t drawn an exploding kitten. It sounds a lot worse than it is! My kids love this game! It’s one of their favorites. 

21. Zingo

Zingo is the greatest game for the little ones in your family! It is BINGOesque but so much more fun. Our kids loved it when they were preschool age, but older kids are happy to play too. I also love this game because 2 people can have fun playing but more are welcome.

22. Cover Your Assets

We have played Cover Your Assets as a family so many times and it never gets old (or less stressful!). You try to get pairs of assets (stocks, jewelry, houses, etc) and then steal others’ assets while protecting your own. This is one of the games that we featured and our favorite math games post. It’s super easy to learn and has a short play time. Your whole family will love this—young kids all the way to teenagers.

23. Rack-O

Our whole family loves Rack-O. There is a little strategy, but not so much that it ruins the fun for younger players. It also teaches great sequencing skills. It’s really nice that it’s a very quick game so if you don’t have a lot of time, this is a go-to easy game that anybody can play. 

24. Rummikub

Rummikub is FUN–it’s pretty easy to learn and once you play one round you’ll want to play it over and over again. One funny thing about this game though is there are two “joker” tiles that are totally creepy looking. The game is played with 2-4 players. Each player draws 14 tiles and the goal of the game is to get rid of all your tiles by making groups or runs. This is my go to game that I love to play with my friends when I’ve had a few beers. A lot of conversation tends to happen while somebody is playing their tiles and it makes for a really social game. But don’t let that sway you. My kids love this game too and we love to play as a family. It is an incredibly addicting, and challenging game to play with kids.

25. Trekking the World

Some people are a little intimidated by Trekking the World, but don’t be! It is so worth it. After playing it for 10 minutes, you soon figure the game out and it’s so fun. We as a family have loved Ticket to Ride for years and this is similar but better. There are more ways to score points and the scoring system itself is easier to navigate. Every time we get a different winner and the game is never played the same twice. Added bonus is that your kids will learn geography while playing. I guarantee, your entire family will love this game!

All of these games offer a mix of educational value, strategic thinking, creativity, and fun.  Homeschooling can be incredibly rewarding, but it can also be stressful and when your family is feeling a disconnect, games have a magical power for bringing everyone back together with smiles and laughter. We hope you found some new games to add to your list, and we would love to hear some of your favorites too! 

This Week’s Freebies:

Have your child reflect on 2023 and help them think about their goals for 2024 with this Reflection Sheet!
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