Below are a variety of educational and learning games. These can be a good source of education for parents to do at home with their kids.
Developing your Child's Learning Ability
Teaching your child how to learn at school is a little bit like teaching them how to walk. When they are trying to walk you help them, you support them, you hold their hand, you take them for walks with you. It is fun to see them develop the ability to walk.
The same has to apply to their ability to learn. If you do not do anything to help them develop their ability to learn they will find it difficult to do.
Parents are constantly asking schools what the school is doing so they can replicate the work at home.
IT IS A GIVEN FACT that if someone is struggling to learn something at school they will struggle to learn at home.
They need support to learn how to learn.
There are thinking games which help children develop this ability in the same way that, with support, they are able to learn how to walk.
Rather than always trying to do more of the same at home as the school is doing, parents are better advised to play these type of games with their children or get brothers and sisters to play them together.
Schools have the tools and expertise to teach the complex skills and knowledge necessary in this complex world, but parents have to give their children the ability to gain from this experience.
We have attached some example of ‘thinking games’ families can play together which will make their school work easier to learn.
This is a very adaptable game, which can be fun on a rainy afternoon or a plane journey! It takes a little preparation.
You will need:
Letter tiles - lots! Use tiles from an existing game (such as Scrabble), make your own by cutting pieces of card into small squares and lettering them.
How to play:
Choose a collection of words for your challenge, which you believe that each child will be able to unscramble. Younger children will need simple words and fewer of them; older age groups can probably cope with 5 or 6 longer words at a time. You should try to theme each group of words.
- For young children, farmyard animals - duck, cat, dog and cow.
- For older children, farmyard animals - duck, cat, dog, cow, goose and chicken
- For mixed age groups, including adults, animals - goose, chicken, giraffe, lion, antelope
Give each player a stack of the letters that will form their words, and a hint to get them started. Your hint could apply to the group ("you will find all of these on the farm") or specific to one word ("it has two stomachs").
The first player to unscramble all their words wins.
This game can become quite addictive! Once children understand how to play, they can set each other challenges. Suggest they pick a 5, 6 or 7 letter word (as appropriate to their age) and find the correct letters, then simultaneously hand the letters to another player and see who can work out their anagram first. If a player makes another word - as long as it is correct - that still counts!
Battleships is a fun game for developing logic and deductive skills and practising coordinates. Scroll down for our printable version of the ever-popular Battleships game.
How to play:
Give each player a pencil and a print-out of the Battleships game. The top grid is for your own fleet ("My Ships") and the bottom grid is where you try to locate the other player's fleet ("Their Ships").
First you decide where to place your own fleet within your grid. A fleet is made up of one Aircraft Carrier, one Battleship, one Cruiser, two Destroyers and two Submarines. Each type of ship covers a different number of boxes in the grid, as shown on the print-out, and is drawn vertically or horizontally (not diagonally). Ships cannot occupy the same square.
To place a ship, check how many boxes are covered by the ship (shown to the left of your grid) and then write the first letter of the name of the ship in the boxes it covers. For example, a Cruiser covers three boxes so you would pick any three adjacent boxes and put the letter C in each box. Keep your fleet location secret from your opponent! When each player has marked their fleet on their grid, begin play.
Take turns to shoot at your opponents fleet by calling out the number of a certain box by its grid location. For example, you could call out "B4" or "D1". Your opponent must say whether the shot is a "miss" or a "hit", and, if it is a "hit", what type of ship it is. You can keep track of what you have shot on your lower grid, and the ships you have sunk by crossing off the ships at the bottom right of your print-out.
Play continues until one player wins by successfully sinking the whole of the other player's fleet.
First Name Game
This is a very simple game for children of all ages which just requires a supply of pencils and paper and a bit of thinking-power!
Number of Players: 2 +
Age Range: 6+
You will need:
Paper and pencil for each player.
Choose a name randomly (shorter for younger children, longer for older kids) and write it down the left hand side of the page, one letter under another. Now give everybody 5 minutes to write down as many first names as they can think of which begin with the letters in that name. Score one point for each name that you come up with.
You can make the scoring more exciting by awarding two points for any name that no-one else comes up with .. but when we played like this we found ourselves in a big argument over one or two "made-up" names and whether they counted or not!
Chess is an excellent game for kids. It teaches them strategic thinking, logic and it's fun, too!
We have the rules of Chess, here, written so that children can understand them. Read online or download a printable version.
Here is the black army from our printable chess set lined up and ready for battle!
The Game Of Chess
"After a subtle contest of strategy, the White Army suddenly unleashed a devastating attack; emerging victorious by outflanking the enemy army and destroying the defences around the opposing King."
Every game of chess has its own story. Some are long-drawn out strategic affairs; others can be quick, but complicated, tactical battles. The winner is the player who can out-think his or her opponent, and make the best plans for attack and defence.
Chess is one of the oldest games in the world. Though no-one knows for sure, it was probably invented in India more than a thousand years ago . If you have a chess set, or decide to make your own, here are the rules you need to play the game.
What you need:
A chess board and pieces
Aim of the game:
The aim of the game is to use your army to capture the enemy king.
There is a White army and a Black army. Both armies have the same pieces. These are:
If the description of how a piece moves isn’t clear, have a look at the diagrams at the end of these rules.
How to Play Chess
You need two players. Decide who will be White and who will be Black.
Set up the board so you have a white square on the corner of the board by your right hand. Then place the armies on the board as shown in the picture below.
Hint: the White Queen starts on a white square, and the Black Queen starts on a black square.
White and Black take it in turns to move a piece (in Chess, the White army always goes first). Remember each piece has its own way of moving as described above. A piece can capture an opposing piece by landing on that piece’s square.
The aim of the game is to capture the enemy King. If you move one of your pieces to attack the King in other words, your piece could capture him next move you say check. This means, roughly watch out for your King!.
If he or she is in check, your opponent needs to defend the King either by moving him out of the way of the attack, blocking the attack with another piece, or capturing the piece that threatened to capture the King.
If your opponent can’t defend the King in any of these ways, you say checkmate. This means the king is dead. Remember that you must never move your King into check as this would mean your opponent could capture your King straightaway.
You can play a version of chess using just the simple rules above, but two additional rules make game much more exciting.
Pawns are usually the slow-moving part of your army, but if you manage to get a pawn to the last row of the board you can promote it to be a Queen (or a Castle, Bishop or Knight if you prefer). A Pawn being promoted to a Queen can transform a game that seemed to be lost!
Castling is a quick way to get your King into a well defended position by moving towards the corner of the board. The rule sounds complicated but is simple when you get the hang of it.
If there is nothing between your King and one of your Castles; and neither the King nor that Castle have moved yet, then you can move your King two squares towards that Castle, and put the Castle the other side of the King (this is the only time a piece other than a Knight can jump over another piece).
The diagrams below show how to castle.
Before castling: After Castling:
The White King moves two squares towards the Castle, and the Castle moves to the other side of the King.
One last rule on castling you can’t castle if your King is in check, or if any of the squares the King moves through when castling are under attack.
How The Pieces Move
- Start off by using your central Pawns to try to control the middle of the board.
- Use your other Pawns to defend the central Pawns and each other.
- Move your Knights and Bishops out from the back row early on (this is called developing your pieces and means you are using the full strength of your army).
- Be cautious with your Queen at the start try not to waste time moving her away from enemy attacks.
- Try to keep your King defended by your Pawns (castling is a good way to do this).
Print this cute hamster tic tac toe game for kids to enjoy. Just cut out the board and the pieces and choose whether to play with the seeds or the cheese!
I Packed My Suitcase is a classic memory game which is useful for all sorts of occasions, from a doctor's waiting room to a long car journey! You can adapt it to all ages of kids, and adults enjoy playing as much as children.
The first player thinks of a word beginning with the letter a and then says, for example:
I packed my suitcase with an apple
The next player repeats the sentence and adds something beginning with b, for example:
I packed my suitcase with an apple and a banana.
The next player adds a word beginning with c:
I packed my suitcase with an apple, a banana and a canary.
Play continues until someone can’t remember the list or makes a mistake. Depending on their age, you can either prompt them or disqualify them! Keep going until all players but one are disqualified, or until you reach the end of the alphabet.
If playing with young children, it helps to make the words as silly and colourful as possible they are more likely to remember them!
If playing with older children, you can make the game even more difficult by choosing a noun and an adjective for each letter of the alphabet. For example,
I packed my suitcase with an active antelope, a brown bear and a chilly chicken.
This is a lovely game for a group of children or a family gathering. Play it as an ice-breaker, around the dinner table, on car journeys, as an after-tea party game... in fact, play it anywhere!
Tell Me a Story is a very simple game. One person starts off a story with 4 words. The next person adds 4 words. And the next, and so on.
Here's an example:
Child 1: Once upon a time
Child 2: there lived a great
Child 3: big hairy spider with
Child 4: only four legs. He
Child 5: loved chocolate! And he...
and so on.
You might want or need to introduce your own rules. For example:
- You can't use the same word twice in a row (eg it was a cold, cold, cold...)
- You should make it clear if you are ending a sentence
- You might decide that 4 words is too many or too few.
This is a great game of decision making and strategy.
Each player picks 7 dominoes. The one with the highest double plays first. Next play has to add a domino to make a link with the same number.
If you do not have one of the numbers needed you miss a turn.
The player who uses all the dominoes first wins and the others count how many ‘spots’ they have. When someone reaches 50 (that can be altered) the game is over. Lowest score wins.
Dominoes 5s and 3s
Very good game for maths skills.
be divided either by 5 or 3. Eg 4 and 5 at either end add up to 9 so there are 2 points scored as 9 can be divided by 3, 3 times.
= 6 which is 2 points (6\3 =2)
First player to 30 points (this can be changed) wins.
To find matching pairs of cards eg 2s 3s 4s etc
Place a pack of cards with 52 cards face down in 8 columns and 7 rows.
First play turns 2 cards over for all to see.
If they are the same number the player keeps them and has another try.
If they are not the same they are turned back face down.
Next player turns 2 cards over.
The players have to remember where they saw the different cards to make a pair.
The player with the most pairs at the end of the game is the winner.