Our Favorite Preschool Games

With winter officially in full swing here in Ohio, we spend a lot of time indoors. Board games are my go-to activity when my kids even show hints of cabin fever. The good thing is my kids love a good board/activity game. I love them too, especially when they combine fun and learning! We have a lot of games; so many, that when I cleaned out my linen closet I filled the bottom two shelves with games and puzzles.  I thought I would share with you the preschool games that my kids play with the most.

Favorite Games

Alphabet Bingo and Number Bingo, great for letter and number recognition, Ren (my almost 8 yr old) likes to be the “caller” and Alexandria (almost 3) is learning her letters and numbers with help from her brothers. These games come with plenty of cards and bingo chips. I did laminate the cards as I want them to last a while….plus we can use erasable  crayons instead of the chips.

The Mini Muffin Match Up is a great color recognition, sorting, counting and early math skills game. Alexandria loves to “cook” while she sorts colors and Sam (4 1/2 yr old) sorts by counting using the number discs. Pattern Play is a fabulous problem solving activity that teaches patience, sorting, matching, following directions. It is also great for open-ended play. It has brightly colored wooden blocks that correspond to 40 different pattern cards. Ren and Sam follow the pattern cards and then create their own patterns; while Alexandria creates her own patterns.

Ren and Mama…July 2013

We started playing Headbanz when Ren was three and we still play quite often. Headbanz is an easy game to play for me because I can get stuff done around the house while we are playing. Alexandria gives away the cards in play, so Ren, Sam and I play while she is napping. Not only do my kids have a lot of laughs playing the game they also are practicing  deductive reasoning and creative critical thinking skills.

The classic game of Chutes and Ladders is played at least 4 times a week in my house. Sam can now play properly and he LOVES the game. Great for counting, number recognition, taking turns and following directions. Alexandria tries to get in on the game and we let her..although she just climbs ladders and goes down chutes, at will.

Richard Scarry is one of my favorite children’s author and illustrators. I remember reading his books when I was in kindergarten.  When Ren was gifted the Wonder Forge Richard Scarry’s Busytown I Found It game, a couple of years ago for his birthday, I’m pretty sure I was more excited than he was. All three of my kids play this game. The little red “magnifying glass” is a coveted game piece around here and they love searching for the goldbug clues. Because the board is so long (6 ft) they each have a section to themselves for searching. Building confidence, reinforcing teamwork and paying attention to details is just some of the skills kids work on while playing Busytown.

Hullabaloo is the perfect—we are stuck inside the house because of bad weather— kids game.  It’s a high energy game with lots of movement but (and this is a huge plus for me), they have to be quiet enough to listen for the directions (the best win-win in my book).  This is another game that all three of my kids play together.  Alexandria likes to play this one alone as well. Listening and following directions, problem solving and a little healthy competition makes Hullabaloo a great game.

I recently bought Little Treasures Matching Letter Game for Sam’s school time and he loves it. The game comes with thirty picture cards and sixty word cards that use 3 and 4 letter words along with 8 letter cubes. Letter and word recognition, memory and spelling are just some of the skills that are used while playing. Sam is learning how to read and this game provides him with a fun way to recognize words.

As you can see…no shortage of boredom busters or activities in my house! Sometimes, I feel like we have too much, but when I start sorting and keep things based on when it was last taken out of the closet…I end up keeping all.the.games. Do you have favorite games that your kids play or used to play? Id love to hear about them!


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Our Homeschool Day

One of the curiosities with homeschooling is how it is done and what curriculum is used.  When do we homeschool? What does our day look like? What curriculum do we use? I thought I would give you a little peek into our homeschool day today. Just know this….one day does not always look like the next, but we do follow the same general outline to our day.

We generally start school around 9 am. This gives me time to have a cup of coffee and wake up a bit (I am not a morning person). The kids have all had breakfast, teeth are brushed, clothes for the day are on and they might have had some playtime and/or chores, depending on their morning. We sit at the dining room table for school. Our house has one great room that contains the living room, dining room and kitchen. The dining room table is right in front of three nice big windows and the natural light lends well for schooling. I have two tall bookcases in the great room and they hold our school books and materials, as well as lots of picture books, board books and puzzles. I try to keep the amount of “school stuff” to a minimum and contain it on the bookshelves in baskets and jars.  I know that as Sam begins kindergarten, with Alexandria not too far behind him, the homeschool shelves will grow and change.

So we start about 9am. Ren and I sit at the table with his books stacked beside me. I write all of his assignments for the day in a calendar/planner from BlueSky, that has a month at a glance and then two pages for each week with the days broken into sections. We cross off each assignment as it is completed. Also listed are appointments, play dates and other classes he might take.

We start with what ever subject Ren wants to. Lately he has been wanting to do Geography  and then all the Language Arts first. Once these are completed he takes a little break. We then work on Math and Reading (30 minutes of independent reading a day). It is usually 11-11:30 when Ren finishes up reading. we then have lunch and while they eat, I read aloud to them. We read Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little so far this year and have just started The Trumpet of the Swan.

While Ren is working through his language arts books, Sam and I go over the Daily Calendar, ABC and Number recognition, counting and letter matching. Alexandria is either running around playing independently, sitting at the table “writing”, coloring or playing play-doh.

Sam also works through Pre-School books, ABC Bingo, Number Bingo and other Letter/Word Recognition and Counting games. He sits on my lap or we snuggle on the couch after lunch and work through Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. When Sam is finished it is then Ren’s turn to join me on the couch,  we read and talk through his Science lesson for the day. We usually finish school work by 1pm and then it’s out to play, off for errands, out to a playdate or friends come over. We listen to history in the car and pull resources from the library to expand on persons or events that Ren is interested in.

That’s our day….the bones of it at least. It will be interesting to watch our day evolve with 3 kids fully active in homeschool learning activities in the next couple of years. I wrote this post a while ago listing resources that I use locally for activities and classes out of the house.  Homeschooling is a lot of fun, it is challenging as well…but anything worth doing well is always a little challenging.