Friday, February 28, 2014

Educational Games - Even for Older Students

When we think about using toys and games as part of the homeschool experience, it's easier to think about ways to do that with younger kids. I think it's possible for older students to benefit from playing games as part of their education as well. Here are a few of the things I've noticed from the games and play that my kids have engaged in, whether as part of more formal instruction, or as something they do on their own time that stretches their thinking and helps put concepts into practice.

Science at all age levels offers plenty of opportunities to "play". Something we've done with older students is play and build with Jenga blocks to gain a practical understanding of how structural physics works. We also built working models of trebuchets and several different kinds of catapults while studying physics. If you're brave enough, you can figure out all kinds of fun and safe ways to blow things up or play with fire and still be studying physics or chemistry. I recommend books like Backyard Ballistics or The Art of the Catapult (both by William Gurstelle); or Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction by John Austin (there are at least three volumes). Pitsco Education offers many different kits for rocketry, electronics, robotics, structures, as well as the trebuchet and catapult kits we used. And a lot more too, including books and teachers guides to help you use all those fun toys in your homeschool or co-op.
Educational Games

Educational Games
As far as board games, kids from about middle school up can learn about the election process and electoral college in the USA by playing The Presidential Game. (We reviewed this for the Schoolhouse Review Crew last year - read our review!) Any board game that involves a banker and managing your play money (think Monopoly, The Game of Life, and many others) can help put math and practical economics into practice. Scrabble, Apples to Apples, and other word games put vocabulary and spelling skills to the test. And an old favorite of mine is Trivial Pursuit, which can be a fun way to review history and science as well as some other topics.
Educational Games

How do you use toys and games in your homeschool? Leave a comment and let me know! Other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew are blogging about this subject and you can see the collection of posts in our Toys and Games for Homeschool Round-up. (That link will be live on Wednesday, March 5th, with a summary of all the Crew's posts in one place.) In the meantime, you can check out the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to read the current articles and see the reviews we're working on.
Review Crew
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