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Fun, educational games to play at home or in the classroom

Guest writer Ronnie Koenig shares her top picks for preschool and elementary age kids

As a mom of seven-year-old twins some of the best ideas for new toys come from my kids’ teachers. The games that they play in their classrooms are often ones that they will also want to play at home. The best thing about these classroom toys is that the kids have so much fun playing them, they don’t even realize they are educational.

Toys and games that teach kids the skills they need to succeed in school are my favorites. For example, my son came home and told me that they had played a new game called Headbanz in school that day – where players give the wearer of the headband with a word card on it clues in order to guess the word! We got him the game for his birthday and it now has a place among the many other games and toys that have taught both of them valuable skills such as reading, counting, matching, strategizing and so much more.

Here are some of the other school games that will not only provide some educational value but are fun and easy to play at home or in the classroom.

Preschool is Cool

Fun educational games for age 3+

  • My First BANANAGRAMS – this little kid version of the addictively fun anagram game will encourage your child to match letters, put letters in alphabetical order, and begin to spell simple words. Teachers will love you for having it for the spelling practice alone!
  • Boggle Jr. – with oversized dice that show letters, kids will have fun matching the letters to the word cards and beginning to spell and sound out vowels. This game is one of the best ways to encourage literacy!
  • Hoot Owl Hoot – this cooperative game will encourage turn-taking and conversations about nocturnal animals (the object is to get the owls to the nest before sundown!). The concept of working together vs their being one “winner” encourages team-building skills in the smallest players.
  • I Never Forget a Face – we’ve all played the classic memory game, but in this matching game kids will gain exposure to faces from different cultures around the world. In addition to helping with cognitive skills, this fun educational game will encourage multiculturalism and acceptance!

Elementary Education

Engaging learning games for ages 4-7

  • Zingo – it’s everybody’s favorite game of bingo – with a zing! My kids loved using the tile slider and gained skills in word recognition and expanded their vocabularies (even if one of them may have been spooked by the “ghost” tile lol). Definitely teacher-approved!
  • Uno – amazingly I had never played this as a kid but now that my whole family is into it it’s easy to see why this fun game that helps with color and number matching and strategizing is popular in and out of classrooms across the country. I’m pretty sure my kids don’t even realize how much they’re learning when we play!
  • The Allowance Game – teachers who are interested in a hands-on approach to money know that this game hits all the big life skills to use outside the classroom including adding, subtracting, making change and considering those big purchases.

Bigger Kids Choice

Educational games to play at home with older elementary – ages 7+

  • Battleship – this classic game of strategy can help students and teachers with critical thinking skills as you try to guess the coordinates to sink an opponent’s ships. Education has never been this challenging – or fun!
  • Taboo – getting your team mates to say the key word while some words are off-limits (aka taboo) can be a lot of laughs. This game not only helps expand players’ vocabularies, it encourages creative thinking and literacy.

Remember, the ages listed on the games are just suggestions so don’t be afraid to try games that are for kids a little older (or keep ones around that are for the young ones that you still enjoy!).

Let us know – what are your favorite games that kids love at home and in the classroom?

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