We've established how high energy my kids are, right? I don't say it to be silly, they really are always on the move. Wearing them out is a full time job in and of itself, not to mention all the other fun stuff on a stay at home mom's plate! Adding in home school is just the cherry on the chaos sundae. Any time there is an opportunity to kill two birds, three birds, a dozen birds with one stone, I am all for it!
Games have become a way of educating the kids and keeping them busy for us. It seems like a lot of extra work at first, that's because it is, but I'm a bit extra and not everything has to be done exactly our way. If you aren't familiar with free printable resources, you should get them out. I'm a huge fan of finding educational tools I can print and laminate myself. For whatever reason I feel more accomplished if I put more work into games by making my own flashcards rather than just opening a pack of flash cards. If you don't have a need to do extra work, just purchase flashcards! Don't limit your purchase to numbers and letters, flashcards are an endless and amazing tool. Colors, shapes, numbers, letters, sight words, letter blends! Buy them all.
Our favorite flashcard game is called letter find and it couldn't be easier, honestly. Tape letters to the wall around the house, don't let your kids watch you or they'll be privy to the good stuff when the game begins. Try getting creative to your child's ability, Uriah needs the letters out in the open but Zadok can find flashcards inside closets or inside cabinets and drawers. Once we've adequately hidden the letter cards, the game is on! Shout the letter you want your child/children to find and watch the chaos unfold.
When we first started playing this particular game, Lana was newly three and Uriah was not yet two. The main target was Zadok, but both little kids would take off after him and "race" to find the letter. All kinds of variation of this same game are available, you can imagine some possibilities I'm sure. Letter and letter sound recognition, number recognition, addition and subtraction, sight words, etc... so many options!
The math version of this same game is a blast! Zadok has started with simple addition and subtraction along with some skip counting. When we tape up the numbers, Lana and Uriah just do the regular number hunt, same way we do letters, but Zadok's version is more complex. "Find me 6+2, go!" He really has to stretch for some of them, which is the goal of the game! Every version of this game not only reviews material, it also wears them out! Two birds, my friend!
For the moment, all of our games focus around flashcards in some way or another. Zadok's favorite flashcard game is really just... math, but doing it at a fast pace while we're yelling and laughing makes him feel like it's a real game. I use big number flashcards and the +, -, x cards for this game. I set up the math problem for him and count down from ten while he finds the answer, if he's struggling with the answer I'll pause the countdown for him and offer help, but once I see him getting it I start the countdown right back up. He feels like he's competing for a win when really he's just learning math!
This game was so popular that Lana and Uriah stood by cheering for him while he raced to find the answer to more and more complicated math. I never would have thought to pull out multiplication for my five year old, but there we were! He really took to it and it's been fun to watch him puzzle answers together in his big ole brain. The littler two play with the number flashcards the same way they would play go fish, just in a race version? I'll explain...
I lay all the number or letter cards out face up, and ask them to race to a number or letter. "First one to find the 6 wins this round!" Naturally the flashcards end up all over the floor, sometimes that's a pain, but they have fun picking them up. Now, I know at least a few of you are thinking we're crazy for encouraging this level of competitiveness among our children, but bear with me. Yes, we are raising ultra-competitive children. But these games do much more than that. Not all three kids can win every round and that gives them an amazing opportunity to practice good sportsmanship on both ends. Winner's don't gloat or shove their win in the losing kids face and the losing kids practice congratulating the winner on a job well done. Again, guys... the two birds thing.
I've spent two years exploring different ways to keep my kids learning and worn out! It's not always been an easy task, but we're slowly but surely finding what clicks for our kids! We've even managed to find a mom hack game for picky eating which I'll save for another post. Believe me, it's genius. For the moment, I really hope these games are either useful to you the way they are or adaptable to what you need for your littles!