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Copyright 2006 Julie Shepherd Knapp
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Copyright 2006 Julie Shepherd Knapp.  All rights reserved.
about the book
The Homeschool Diner's Guide to
Educational Games for Homeschoolers

by Julie Shepherd Knapp, copyright 2006

Educational games and puzzles are a great supplement to any
homeschool method or curriculum.  Let's face it - kids love to play!   
Whether it is a homemade board game that you and your student have
created together, a purchased skill-specific game, or an educational
arcade game, games are a wonderful way to promote joyful learning.  

All children can benefit from playful learning, but game-based learning is
an excellent choice when teaching children who need to learn in a more
visual, hands-on, or active way, and for those with attentional issues.  It is
also helpful in teaching "reluctant learners" and children who have been
turned off of learning by a bad school experience.  Learning the rules
and strategies of a new game just doesn't feel like "school", and this is
exactly why many children (and parents)  prefer this method.  If you
happen to have a child who has trouble "losing gracefully" you may want
to choose games that do not have a clear winner or loser (for instance,
avoid board games that involve moving markers to a winning square).  
For more tips on cultivating "graceful losers" take a look at
Family Game
Time -- Strategies to Help Poor Losers.

Games are also a low-stress way to find out what your student knows,
and how well he or she can apply knowledge to new situations.  A
well-designed game can take the place of flash-card memorization, timed
drills, and fill-in-the-blank worksheets.  Success at progressively harder
skill-based games offers tangible proof of skill mastery... without the
stress of "pencil and paper" testing.   

Educational games can be purchased at teacher supply stores and
specialty toy stores, and are also available thru catalog and Internet
suppliers.  Used games can be found at homeschool curriculum sales
and online at places like Homeschool Swap .  

Keep in mind that many of the standard "family favorites" also have merit
as educational games, such as Scrabble (spelling and vocabulary),  
playing card games (patterns, numbers, and counting), board games like
Sorry (counting and reading), and popular trading card games (reading  
and point-keeping skills).  There also are some
great strategy games
that teach abstract skills such as planning and considering alternatives.  
You may also modify your existing family games to make them more
educational - for instance, you can play "Chutes and Ladders" by using
two dice on each roll, and giving the players the option of using any
operation on the two numbers (addition, subtraction, multiplication, or
division) to land on the "best" squares.

Many homeschool groups hold "Game Days" where families bring their
favorite educational games to share.  This is a great way to try out
games with your child before purchasing them.   

Curriculum Suppliers and Other Resources:

Below you will find some game resources for all needs.  There are free
online resources, links to educational games, and some Internet
suppliers of educational board games and puzzles.  Remember that used
games can often be found at homeschool curriculum sales, yard sales,
thrift stores, and on eBay.  Also listed below is a cyber school which uses
an interactive video game environment.  Be sure to also check out the
Homeschooling by Subject" section -- each subject area includes  
lists of additional games that promote specific skills in that subject.

Free Online Resources

Games For Learning Yahoo! Group -  for parents who wish to use
games as part of the education of their children. The goal of this list is to
share ideas for creating games individualized to the needs, interests, and
abilities of each child.

Make your own playing cards a template you can download and modify
Make Your Own Playing Card Box to Put them In! by Craig P. Forbes -- online educational games for K - 6, all subject areas,
free and subscription content

Little Kids Games Online -- a collection of one mom's favorites

Game Aquarium - (3-6) free online games for several subjects - free online educational arcade games for
several subjects  

BBC School Games -- free online games in all subjects for all ages

Fun Brain - (K-12) free online games (many subjects) by Pearson

The Jewish Children's Learning Network - online games for learning
Hebrwew and learning about Isreal, Jewish heroes, and traditions

Online games for Muslim kids - free games from  Muslim Homeschool.  -- (preK - 6) free online fames in several subjects

Primary Games - (K - 6) free online games for several subjects

Curriculum, and Other Products

3D Learn Interactive Academy - (7 - 12) an accredited private school
offering a standards-aligned "multi-sensory 3-D curriculum", a high tech
interactive online environment - a virtual reality learning framework - that
requires an estimated 4 - 5 hours online each day, plus additional
at-home hands-on activities, offers full or part-time enrollment, boasts a
14:1 student to teacher ratio, issues accredited high school diplomas

Brain-e -Inexpensive downloads for educational games
Educational Learning Games - board games for all ages, including
rules to the games (handy if you've bought a used games with missing
instructions),  complete game descriptions may give you ideas for making
your own educational board games
Cooperative Games and Family Pastimes have fun cooperative
games where everyone works together to win or everyone loses.  Some
of the games have educational themes, such as sailing or farming.
Nova Natural Toys and Crafts has cooperative games and activities for
young children

Bare Books -- Treehouse Publishing offers blank books, puzzles, game
boards, and comic books to make your own fun or educational materials
Rainbow Resource Center - search their "(Not) Just for Fun" section
for tons of educational games, puzzles, and activities, or search by
subject  (such as "math game").
Learning Resources - K - 6 manipulatives, board games, and activity
kits for reading, spelling, math, and science
ETA/Cuisenaire - educational products for science, math, reading, and
preschool - check out their "Learning Corner" section for game
products listed by grade level and subject
Bright Minds Critical Thinking Books and CD-Roms - workbooks full
of puzzles, brain teasers and critical thinking activities, and educational
software, download samples for free   
Bright Ideas for the Gifted and Talented (a.w.peller & associates) -
educational games, workbooks, and hands-on activity kits
Escapade Direct -- lots of educational games, toys, and kits

Brain Station - quality educational toys and classroom accessories for
preschool to lower elementary students, check out "Teaching Toys"
The Learning Company - children's fun and educational videos,
CD-ROMs, and software

Other Game Resources

Games for Homeschooling -- a blog and separate list of game reviews
by homeschol mom, Kris, click on the right-hand menu to read reviews,
reviews are sorted by age and subject  
Kid' - reviews of kids educational software, by subject  
American Mensa Mind Games -- listing of game of the year awards
2006 Annual Holiday Toy List by Parenting for High Potential Magazine
NACG Annual Holiday Toy List 2007
Games of the Year Awards by Games Magazine
Reality Bytes: Eight Myths About Video Games Debunked by Prof.
Henry Jenkins, MIT

Hands-on activities and creative teaching resources can be
just as fun as educational games!

For fun science kits and activities check out:
Hands-On Science Kits and Activities

For fun social studies projects:
Hands-On Activities for Social Studies

For fun math games and creative math resources:
Fun Alternative Resources for Teaching Math

Looking for free online educational games and activities?  
Take a look at:
Favorite Websites for Free Educational Enrichment
"Do not train children to learning by force and harshness, but direct them
to it by what amuses their minds." -- Plato (427 BC – 347 BC)

"Try not to have a good time ... This is supposed to be educational."  
-- Charles Schulz