A confession, mild torture and playing board games with children used to be synonymous in my mind.
When the kids were little, the few games we owned were kept out of sight and therefore rarely chosen. I'd tell myself it was to keep all the little pieces separate from the other toys, but if my children wanted to play with me, I'd suggest we read or craft or play outside, never dig into the trunk of board games. I was happy to play most anything they wanted, but board games were painful.
I now know it wasn't the game playing as much as it was the games we played. Once we found games that entertained all of us, like Camp and Wildcraft, Game Night became a thing in our house. Now that they are older and there are more and more options, we choose Game Morning and Game Afternoon too.
When we play games, I want our time together to first and foremost be about the play, but board games are also great teachers.
Games offer us practice in reading, writing, math, logic, following directions, creativity, teamwork, problem-solving- the list goes on.
When my daughter plays Snap it Up, Apples to Apples, or Bananagrams she practices reading and spelling without it feeling like practice. When she was little Battleship strengthened her awareness of numbers and letters. She wanted to play with her brother and learned what she needed to do so.
My kids don't think about the fact that they are practicing math facts when they want to keep score or working as a team when they play games like Outfoxed. Motivated by wanting to have fun, they are more likely to dive into a challenge when we play games. No longer boring or feeling pointless, games offer a reason to know the skill.
I worked with a high school math teacher who often used math games to teach. His students loved his class, despite the fact that many of them struggled with math. Colleagues questioned his methods, but the games provided as much practice as worksheets and drills. I'd wager more so.
When we tap into our children and students' internal motivation, which looks for FUN and PURPOSE, we help them learn and reinforce skills that can often feel the opposite.
Here is a list of games we love right now:
While I wouldn't consider us "gamers" just yet, board games now live out in the open where we can see them and play them often. They've become one of our family's favorite ways we spend time together, learning and in play.
Our family just joined the 31-Day #Gameschool Challenge. You should join us!
And this post from Geek Dad outlines more reasons why we should play games with our children.
Let us know which games your family loves!
(Note- When possible, games are linked to a local business.)