When it comes to teaching kids, sometimes the easiest way is with games. If you’ve ever battled the, “I don’t want to do schoolwork,” attitude, you appreciate stealth learning —teaching kids without their realizing they are learning.
You don’t have to have a closet full of expensive boxed games. Who has the money or storage space for such items? I have found that a lot of games can be created with simple things you already have lying around the house.
A Deck of Cards
There are so many educational games that you can play with an ordinary deck of cards, for example, one of my favorites Card War
For math, you play by the rules of War. You deal all the cards evenly to the players. Each turns a card face up. The first one to yell out the answer of all the cards added together, earns the pile of cards. Example: if an 8, 6, and 4 are played, the first one to answer 18 would get the three upturned cards.
The object is for one player to collect all the cards in the deck.
Multiplication is also great practice with this game–and makes it a bit harder. We count Aces as 1, Kings as 12, Queens as 11 and Jacks as 0. In our version, I allow my daughter to multiply the cards each play. If she gets the answer correct, she wins the hand. If she doesn’t multiply correctly, I win it.
To incorporate a history lesson, you can use the cards to represent the feudal system:
- King & Queen (face cards of King & Queen)
- Nobles (Aces, Jacks & 10s)
- Knights (9s, 8s, 7s & 6s)
- Peasants (5s, 4s, 3s, 2s)
In this game, kingdoms are pitted against each other. Each player gets one suit of a deck. Each suit is then shuffled by itself. Then you play by the general War Card rules. Each player lays down a card and the highest card wins the hand. Again, the object is to obtain all the cards which gives that kingdom power, land and people. Each player can name it’s kingdom. One thing to note: Aces are lower than Kings and Queens in this game.
This is a very versatile game that can be used for nearly any topic you are studying. It’s easy to make a simple grid on any sheet of paper you have handy. And letting kids make the cards is another chance for them to memorize facts.
For younger kids, use BINGO cards for sequencing and hand-eye coordination. Draw a line on the cards from one number to the next in order, much like dot-to-dot. Laminated cards and dry-erase markers mean you can re-use cards time and time again.
Play atomic BINGO. You call out an element, and your child places a dot on the atomic number for that element. For example, neon’s atomic number is 10, so the marker goes on square B-10.
You call out a number, and your student covers digits that total that number. For example, you call 15. Your child may cover 5 and 10 or 3,2,6 and 4. Or for 100, they may choose to cover 25,40,30 & 5.
Homemade Matching Cards
Use a stack of index cards to make sets of matching pairs of question and answer or math problem and solution. Then play Go Fish with your homemade cards using the traditional rules. You can also add a joker or an old maid card if you like.
You can also play memory with this set of cards. It’s extremely easy to set up a game of memory, but often it’s just enough fun to motivate a child to learn whatever topic you put on the cards.
As you see, with just a little imagination, you can adapt any game to your homeschool plan.