Games Unit Study

Our natural process of learning together as a family produces an interesting pattern of accidental unit studies.

Right now, we are smack in the middle of a games unit study. Games fill our days. Well, if I think about it, games have been a large part of our life since the day my hubby and I got together. In fact, it was one of the things that drew us to each other. When the kids came along, they got sucked up into our world of playing lots of games. So it’s a natural fit for us to teach our children through games. We enjoy them. They enjoy them. And it’s a good way to touch on pretty much everyone’s interests and strengths.

Right now, by far our favorite game is Pokemon, TCG. We all play. The game appeals to my love of strategy and manipulating the rules to my advantage, it appeals to my husband’s love of collecting things and counting on his natural luck, it appeals to my son’s love of numbers, puzzles and trying to understand how things work, it appeals to my 6 year old daughter’s love of all things cute and doing things her own way, and finally it appeals to my youngest’s love of make believe and stuffed animals.

One game that has something for everyone. Wow.

Another game we picked up at our state-wide homeschooling convention this week was Dork Tower, a gentle satire of the game Dark Tower that came out in 1981. The kids and I have fallen in love with the game – again all for different reasons. Hubby’s not too into this game. But he plays with us cuz he loves us. 🙂

We also play a game called “Rat a tat cat”, we play gin rummy, and another game that’s like gin rummy called Five Crowns. Quiddler is another favorite, in addition to Ziggity, Uno and Yahtzee.

The interesting thing about these games is how much the kids learn that I would normally consider to be over their heads. For example, Allison, at 6, is learning about negative numbers, predicting and statistics, and memorizing large amounts of data. All because of Dork Tower and Pokemon.

Now, what I’m thinking, is that these games tap into her natural ability to do these things. Because before playing these games, there was really nothing that she clung to like her older brother did so early on with phonics and puzzles. It wasn’t until we introduced her to these strategy games with lots of cute monster and character data that she exhibited such enthusiasm. With Cameron, we got lucky that his learning style and interests manifested themselves in things that can be learned early. While Allison’s learning style and interests didn’t get a chance to express themselves until she was older and was able to understand more subtle and complex processes.

Games have been a wonderful tool for drawing out the best in our kids, my hubby and me. In fact, my husband and I just started playing a new game called Spoils, that is intended for the teen crowd and older. It’s a card game, much like Pokemon, but with adult humor and more sophisticated gameplay. Which shows us that no matter how old the kids get, there are games to incorporate in our learning.

One of the very first talks I heard about homeschooling included a short list of games recommended for each grade level. The speaker briefly mentioned that it could be used as a homeschooling curriculum, before moving on to something else. But that really stuck with me. She was right. Games could definitely work as a means to teach/learn pretty much everything. And since we have so much freedom to learn together as a family, in a house full of people who love to play games anyway, it didn’t take much of a leap for me to accept games as a legitimate way to stimulate brain growth.

Which games do you like to play? What have you been playing recently?


8 Responses to “Games Unit Study”

  1. Anna Says:

    I have a post on my blog that I think all things can be learned through games.

    For us right now, games are nearly impossible. The 2YO tries to invade all that we do in that destructively curious way that 2 YOs have. She has given up napping, so that leaves little time for games with the big guy. Before naps were abandoned, we were playing a lot of Great States. SORRY and Monopoly Junior and CLUE were big last winter. I have three or four stashed for when the opportunity presents.

    We just need a few more months of maturity from the little to let her play on mom or dad’s team without her special brand of terror.

  2. Anna Says:

    And Blokus. We had just started enjoying Blokus….

  3. lori Says:

    We’ve been playing The Great Dalmuti this week, and the kids love it.

  4. Jennifer Says:

    Our favorites right now are Apples to Apples, Rat-A-Tat-Cat, and Pacardy.

  5. Kimberly Says:

    Our favorite shift from time to time, and I’ll admit that often it is the boys playing games without us.

    Favorites right now: chess, Gobblet, Operation, Uno (mostly Star Trek Uno), Wildcraft!, card games. We’ve started with Word Yahtzee, so I think it is time to pull down my old Razzle game.

    All told I think we have more than 30 games (maybe way more).

  6. Crystal Says:

    My extended family (aunts, uncles, cousins, mom etc) are all nuts about Palabra lately. It’s like Scrabble meets Uno, sort of. My seven-year-old can play the most basic element of the game (word construction) but it strains my feeble multiplication skills to score some plays and any adult can be challenged by the levels of strategy possible. My five-year-old gets nothing but bored and frustrated by this one unfortunately, but the rest of us love it. Playing games as a family has created some of my most precious bonds and memories.

  7. Beth Says:

    We play LOTS of games.

    The kids absolutely LOVE “Sleeping Queens”. I have to say that I do too.

    “Sorry” is also big in the rotation. I also call this game character building as there can be some stormy emotions and taking it all a little too personally, so there is much discussion about games and strategy. I personally like the conversations.

    “Apples to Apples” was so much fun to play with the grandparents and cousins, the more the merrier!

    When the kids were younger “Fowl Play” card game was an excellent statistical game to assess risk (the adrenaline-seeking son of course would be the one that usually lost, the cautious risk adverse daughter usually had a much better chance). “Pig out” is a similar game (but cuter with little plastic pigs.

    Oh! I forgot! Ds got “Khet” for his birthday. We LOVE it! It is a strategy game much like chess but involves targeting the opponent’s pharaoh with a laser beam, deflected off mirrored game pieces. Did I mention we LOVE it and it has lasers? 😉

  8. liveukulele Says:

    Settlers of Catan! I love this game. Also, Apples to Apples, Zeus on the Loose, Boggle, and Set.

    Have you considered making a game of your own? You can get blank game boards here:

    Off to read about the conference – I didn’t make it this year!

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