Game day can also be educational
What sort of mother buys educational games for her children and passes them off as Christmas gifts? This one did, and it worked out even better than expected.
I have never used this space to review anything, and I have no connections to any products mentioned. This recent gamble was such a success that I wanted to share some of our favorites.
It started with a friend who visited and brought Pass the Pigs to pass the time. Having a visitor around got the kids' interest, and they had so much fun that she left the game here with them.
Then I came across a book, "The Scrambled States of America" by Laurie Keller. Since we are planning a cross-country trip with the children, I had been looking for some off-beat ways to sneak in some geography and tighten up some map reading skills. We plan to drive both a motorhome and our van, so each driver will have a navigator riding shotgun to help get us where we are going. Who needs GPS when you can teach a kid to read a map instead?
Keller's book will not be much help in trip planning and navigational skills, but it captured the children's imaginations. In this hilarious tale, Kansas and Nebraska get tired of life in the middle of the country and call the other states to have a get-together. While at the party, the states hatch a plan to trade places. Our favorite part is when Nevada and Mississippi fall in love, and Nevada asks if she'd like to become "MRSissippi."
The book led to a game of the same name, and that game was a very popular gift. In their zeal to win, the kids are learning state capitals, nicknames and other trivia about our 50 states.
Since one of the girls has been on a storytelling kick, I finally bought a game called Story Cubes. As a speech pathologist, this game has been on my radar for a while. The nine dice have a picture on each face. When a player rolls, it is time to generate a story using the pictures that have turned up. This one was slower to get into play, but once Brian joined in and started spinning outrageous tales, the cool factor — along with the giggles — went way up.
The big winner all around was Ticket to Ride. This game is teaching some geography as the kids compete to complete train routes across the United States. When one player uses up the planned route, another has to come up with an alternate way to reach their destination. As a result of hours of play, the girls can now pick out most major cities on the map.
I am not a game player, and maybe that is why giving games has not been part of our gift-giving tradition in the past. My job is to keep the snacks coming. On game nights, I stand at the stove and pop organic popcorn the old-fashioned way, using a cast iron pan on a gas burner for perfectly popped kernels. Real melted butter and kosher salt on top finish off the popcorn, and I then I squeeze some lemons to make lemonade. As long as I keep the bowls and glasses filled, I get a pass on joining in the competition.
I get to stay where I like to be, on the sidelines. I join in the conversation, offer a few pointers and watch my family learning, bonding and having fun. I can't think of a better way to spend an evening.
Rose Godfrey is a speech pathologist and homeschooling mom in Yuba County. Her homeschool blog can be found on the Appeal-Democrat website at appealdemocrat.com.