Friday, March 2, 2012

A Curriculum of Games

I have been wanting to do this post for ages but never got around to it. Yesterday, Stephanie at Ordinary Life Magic posted something similar and offered a linky, inspiring me to finally get this done.
We are not unschoolers. I don't know what you'd call us. We just do what works. And one thing that works is games. When I was in school, I felt that school was a waste of time. I could easily get an A yet I felt like I never really learned anything. I wanted my kids' experience to be different. I not only wanted them to actually learn, I wanted them to love it. Games are just one component in our formula for learning and loving it. Games are good for learning facts and the like. Facts stick better when you're having fun getting them in your brain, when you care to get them in your brain. More importantly, though, games teach you how to think. There's not always one right answer that you can just find and write down and forget. You have to use your brain, make mistakes, try again, until you come up with a workable solution. The ability to think helps in math, science, reasoning, life in general.
I buy a lot of our games at used curriculum sales and thrift stores, so I usually get them pretty cheap. But I also think of games as essential curriculum.
Here is a list of most of our games. We also have some less interesting ones we use from time to time, like multiplication bingo, etc. I hope to add to this list over the years. This is just for sharing ideas. The links are to give you a better idea about the game, not necessarily the best place to buy. Don't forget to check out the other links at OLM.


The Civil War Game - Locate the battles and other important places of the Civil War on a map.

Made For Trade - Colonial marketplace game.

The Voyage of the Mayflower - Discover the hazards of crossing the ocean in a ship.

The Jamestowne Survivor Game - Best for kids who are good readers.


GeoPuzzles - Comes in all the continents.

The Amazing Mammoth Hunt - One of Larkin's favorites.

Geo Bee Challenge
Name That State
Scrambled States of America



Mancala - We made ours out of an egg carton and beans. Directions can be found online.

Risk - Long complicated war game. Boys love it, whether playing by the rules or just playing with the pieces.

Rush Hour Jr. - I'd recommend this for around age 5. My 7 & 8 year olds breezed right through all the cards. The non-junior version probably would have been better for them, but we haven't tried it yet.

AnimaLogic - Has various levels of play, suitable for age 5 all the way up.


Chinese Checkers


Mastermind and Mastermind Secret Search

Zertz - Like checkers but even more fun as the game board constantly changes and there are four ways to win.





Scramble Squares
IQ Twist


Sorry - Good for learning to count, one-to-one correspondence, number recognition.

Rooster's 123 Game - Very limited. Teaches numbers 1-5. Fun for preschoolers, though.

Geogems - Sort of a bingo type game for learning geometric shapes.

Knockout and Muggins - Really fun, versatile, and math-oriented.

Math Mouse games - The kids like the grocery store game from this set the best.

Sumoku - Another fun and highly educational math game.

Qwirkle - like sumoku but simple enough for kindergarteners

Totally Tut - Great for learning addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division in a fun way.

Cards - There are lots of ways to use cards for math games. Addition, subtraction, or multiplication war are the most common in this house.

Pirate-opoly - Any -opoly game is good for the money aspect.

Life - Another one with money.

Smath - make number sentences kind of like scrabble.
Sum Swamp - Love this one for learning simple addition and subtraction.
Frog Pond Fractions


Scrabble Jr. - There are several different versions. We use it mainly in for letter recognition.

Boggle Jr.

Fun Park - I can't believe this is $60, and there's no way I'd pay that. I probably paid a couple dollars for it. I really don't care for this game, but Zahana loves it, mostly for the pieces I think.

Go To Press
Tree House Hunt - This is for learning simple punctuation. I couldn't find it anywhere online.
Bananagrams - We played this with cousins, and I loved it. I think it was slightly advanced for my kids. You could play the same game with any letter tiles you already have.


Sci-ology - All the kids love this one.

This is a game we made when learning about fruits, nuts, and seeds. Making games isn't so hard, and you can make one for anything you want to learn about.

The Pollination Game
Into The Forest


Guess Who

Homemade trivia games

Dutch Blitz

Garden Surprise


Greif Zu

5 Crowns
Double Take

Close Up
Where Art Thou


  1. Thank you for making this list. Whenever I see a post of your school in action, I always see wonderful games being played. Thanks for sharing your suggestions.

  2. Hmmm. I see your cupboard is as stacked as our own! :)

    Thanks so much for sharing these, Sarah, it's awesome to have this many more games added as resources!

  3. I found you through Pinterest. What a terrific post! I may do something similar. I'm glad I got a chance to visit your blog. You have an absolutely adorable family.

  4. Wow. This is amazing. I read the list to Rory and he started writing down games we want to purchase FOR OURSELVES. We don't even have kids of age yet but these sound so great!

  5. Games are an awesome part of learning. We have been homeschoolers since 1984 and have always used games. We make most of our games as they fit the exact needs of the child. But we also love games that we purchase. One of our favorites is Settlers of Cataan. If you would like to see some of the homemade games we have made and used check out my blog or website . Thanks for sharing your great list of games. We well be watching out for a few of these.

  6. Mary, Thank you for the links. Your games look awesome.

  7. This is an AMAZING list. I, too, LOVE game play and use it all the time in my work as a children's clinical psychologist. I have several posts on playing games (The Games We Play ... and Why, Parts 1-3) on my blog.

    Thank you so much for sharing your post on the Kids' Weekly Co-Op linky!

  8. PlayDrMom, Looks like you have some great game ideas too. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Fantastic!!! We always just play regular war - love the idea of addition and subtraction war and Katie and Foster will be playing it tomorrow!!! Thanks for putting the work into this post.

  10. This is an awesome list! I can not believe you have all these games.

  11. What a great list of games! Thanks for sharing :)

  12. This is great! My kids play lots of games for school as well, just online. There are so many great resources online, some of the very same games too :)

    I save all the links I find at Links to All Things Free for Homeschoolers.

  13. Thank you, thank you , thank you!! Super list Sarah...we have some of these but I will DEFINITELY be checking some more of these out!!

  14. I am completely amazed by your games. Thank you for this list, we too are big game players and cannot wait to add some of these to our list. Where do you store all of these? Ours are in a hall closet and I'm running out of room!

  15. Amy, My husband built me some long shelves for the games in our school/guest room.

  16. Thanks so much, Sarah (and Stephanie). What a great list of games! We need to get the Civil War game before we go to the re-enactment this summer. Have you guys been to the fort at Sycamore Shoals? We loved it. Yes, I think I need to add more shelves to the honey-do list!

  17. jenny, i hadn't heard of Sycamore Shoals. Thanks for the tip.

    1. You're welcome, Sarah. We found it by accident! We went to the Gray Fossil Site and decided to have a picnic afterwards. We were headed to Raon Mtn, but didn't realize it was 30 miles from the exit and were getting hungry. Then we saw the sign for Sycamore Shoals. We had a blast playing in the river and around the fort.

  18. How AWESOME, Sarah! WOW!! :) My hubby likes Risk, we all love Dutch Blitz and a few others! Where did you get that sweet puzzle? :) I have a lot of games on my wish-list for Amazon, now I'll have to add a few more! To be honest, my hubby likes games more than I do...I like to read with the kids but not play games as much. *blush*

  19. The chicken puzzle? That was from Target. I think it's great that you each have your own thing you like to do with the kids. Honestly, there are a few of these games I can't stand to play with kids - and I won't. They have to play with each other. Generally, I like reading to the kids or playing games or doing puzzles or projects, because it gives me something definite to do. DH is much better at just playing with them. I don't really know what to do when Zahana wants me to play cars or barbies or other little toys.

  20. Wow. Thanks for the awesome ideas! A few of these (probably too many, actually...) are going on our Amazon wishlist. :)

  21. We play a family game every night. My first grader loves games.
    I love these ideas! Thank you.

  22. I had to come revisit this post so I could get some Christmas gift ideas!

  23. I love your list!!! We have used games in our homeschooling forever! I really believe they help kids learn "how" to think and not just "what" to think. I have started my own business selling educational games. They are top quality, have won over 50 awards in 2012, and best of all for this busy mom they all take only about 30min to play!! Check them out at

  24. Landed through Pinterest!
    Kids are grown but games were part of our past. We LOVED cooperative games. I searched the internet to see if they still existed. By the looks they came from here:
    We also loved this one: Rush Hour traffic jam
    Great post!