Play Your Way Through Learning

 Nutrition and Manners: A great way to learn about nutrition (other than workbooks) is to play MyPlate Food Bingo (www.smartpicks.com) for ages 9 and up. It encourages eating nutrition-dense foods with important questions such as “What are gluten-free grains and added sugars?” Responsibility Bingo for grades 1–5 (www.kaplanco.com) teaches character skills such as responsibility and respect. There are even games to learn manners for ages 5 and up with Blunders, and fun Manner Mats placemats (www.patchproducts.com) to reinforce them at dinnertime.

Bible: Expand your knowledge of Christian history by comparing people, places, and events with Apples to Apples, Bible Edition. Or blurt out topics like “Names of Christ” or “Sons of Jacob” in the fast-paced game OUTBURST Bible Edition. There is even BibleOpoly in which you build churches instead of hotels and lose a turn by landing on “Go Meditate.”

 

 How can you incorporate games and puzzles when your list of book work is ever growing? It helps to plan. Some families use games once a week in place of a particular subject to mix things up; for instance, instead of studying language arts on Thursday afternoons, instead, play a game that reinforces language arts skills. Using games as a reward is a great motivator to complete daily or weekly school subjects so children can have “game time.”

 Older children can play a game with restless younger children. Games can also be used when a child is behind in math or language or has a short attention span. Boys in particular have a need to “wiggle.”

Making your own homemade games such as Bingo, Go Fish, memory/matching, or phonogram cards can enhance a young child’s eye-hand coordination. Children can use scissors to cut out images from magazines and glue them onto card stock. This is a great activity for a younger child who may need to keep busy while Mom is schooling the older children.

 Kris Bales, author of Weird and Unsocialized Homeschoolers blog, suggests repurposing traditional board games to practice basic skills in vocabulary, math, sight words, or events: “Players roll the die and must answer questions/state facts before moving the number rolled. For example, a child might read six sight words if he rolled a six.”3

Educationally Challenged Children: By keeping games and rules simple, you give the ADHD child time to master skills incrementally, which helps him to feel good about himself. Carol Brady, Ph.D., a Houston child psychologist, counsels parents of ADHD children to look for games that help build the capacity to focus, handle frustration, and play by the rules.4

Playing games increases one’s concentration and expands learning boundaries in a non-threatening environment. Ellen Kingsley, contributor to ADDitude Magazine, Living Well with Attention Deficit, lists the following Milton Bradley games as helpful for children with attention disorders:5

 • Incremental Learning: This can be bolstered nicely with the Fishing Game. It’s great because it grows with a child when he is 5 to 8 years old. He can master simple skills one step at a time.

 Anticipating Consequences: Chinese Checkers is simple and helps kids develop their capacity to plan and think ahead.

 

 Anticipate Success and Dealing with Failure: Chutes and Ladders fosters these qualities, something vital for the ADHD child. Dr. Brady believes “you can help them practice how to manage failure, particularly when you’re so close to winning. And you can stress the importance of recovering quickly from disappointments, because if you continue on, you still can get to the top.”6

 

 Problem Solving and Organization: Clue, the crime-resolving game, can create a safe environment where children can learn that impulsive actions are counterproductive.

 

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