Monday, October 1, 2012

Teaching Preschool and Kindergarten with Games

I know I have said this before, but I believe in a fun learning environment, especially in the younger years.
Do not, then, my friend, keep children to their studies by compulsion but by play.  Plato
One of my favorite ways to "teach" in a fun way is through games. Games encourage following the rules, attention to detail, taking turns, patience, winning/losing gracefully, cooperative behavior, critical thinking, and many other lifelong skills. They are also a great way to introduce or reinforce concepts in just about every subject.

I get the joy of starting from the beginning with homeschooling my kids (currently 3 and 5), and I am quickly learning that we don't need a curriculum to teach this age. Aside from quality literature, my favorite homeschooling resources are games! You could create an entire preschool or Kindergarten curriculum with games. Don't believe me? Consider the topics you want to cover in a typical Preschool or Kindergarten curriculum, and I guarantee you can explore it with a game!

There are a TON of games on the market geared towards young learners.  You are probably familiar with most of these, but some favorites of mine, my preschooler, and/or my Kindergartner:

Candy Land
Topsy Turtle
High Ho Cherry-O
Chutes and Ladders
Guess Who
Connect 4
Hungry, Hungry, Hippo (see our version)
Dominoes or Tri-ominoes
What's Gnu?
Monopoly Jr
Scrabble Jr.
Boggle Jr.
Charades for Kids
Sequence for Kids
Peg Games
Uno and other traditional card games
Acing Math:  One Deck at a Time (free e-book of math games using a deck of cards)

Such a short list, and we've already covered a variety of educational skills!

Games on a Budget
To keep it budget friendly, consider adding games as birthday and Christmas presents, or shop thrift. I love going to Goodwill a few days after a major community yard sale. Then I only have one stop to make, and I have found some real treasures from people cleaning out their basements, including "older" games that my kids would probably never see otherwise.
Leverage:  Great for experimenting with size, weight and balancing

I also like to browse the Dollar Tree or the dollar spots at other retail stores, and I come out with games, puzzles or other random items that I think will be fun for creating activities or homemade games.  We do like to create our own games and activities.  Here are a few I have blogged about.
Christmas Tree Symmetry
Christmas Scavenger Hunt
New Years Number Sensory Tub
Shapes and Colors
Icy Sensory Tub (a science extension)

I also believe strongly in just letting a child be.  Plain old "playing" is great for the imagination, building independence (if playing alone) or cooperation and compromise (if playing with siblings or friends).  Let them play alone, but also play with them!  Enjoy dressing up or just finding shapes in the clouds.

You can do anything with children if only you play with them.  German Proverb

It's impossible to cover everything that crossed my mind during the writing of this post, but if you have questions about any of these games, or what I use to teach a particular topic or skill, please feel free to leave a comment!


  1. Great post! Love all your ideas.

    Stopping by from the TOS Crew and following your blog now. =0)

  2. Good point and lots of great game ideas!

    Love your new names for your kiddos. I think my little guy would want to go by spiderman. Funny how much they love those superheroes even at such a young age!

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