When I was a teacher, I always hated assigning homework because I felt like kids should just get to be kids after working hard and being stuck at school for hours.
Early on in my career, I was inspired by my sweet friend, Malissia, who always made math fun for our elementary students. The only homework she assigned was playing math games, which the kids practiced in class, too!
What is gameschooling?
Although she didn’t call it this, my friend Malissia was gameschooling!
Gameschooling is a homeschool style that involves teaching through games. Typically, this homeschool method is associated with board games, but it is up to you to decide if you want to include active games, video games, and more.
This video from Schoolhouse Rocked on YouTube totally changed my mindset about gameschooling. I used to think gameschooling was designed to be the method you used to homeschool 24/7, which I couldn’t wrap my brain around. Playing games every day for every subject? That seemed like a lot.
Gameschooling when you choose to
You can gameschool as a supplement, a special day, or even a dedicated hour of your homeschooling style.
Gameschooling does not have to be something you adopt as your entire homeschool style all the time.
Related: ALL Homeschool Styles Mega List
What are the benefits of gameschooling?
Gameschooling has numerous benefits for homeschoolers, especially because children can learn while playing without even realizing they are learning!
Teaching new skills through gameschooling is particularly helpful for gifted learners, as well as learners needing special accommodations, such as children with autism or ADHD.
Gameschooling doesn’t have to mean sitting down at a table and drawing a card. Give these active games a try for your next gameschooling day!
Related: Homeschool PE Ideas
Brain training games
Cindy West from Our Journey Westward coined the term brain training to describe “targeted exercises that change the brain’s capacity to think and learn.”
I’m borrowing the term “brain training” from her, because it is such a perfect way to describe these games that teach!
- Blink– focus, memory, automaticity, patterns, colors, and shapes
- Dutch Blitz– math, speed, following fairly complex rules, and colors
- Qwirkle– strategizing, matching, shapes, colors, counting, problem-solving, and spatial recognition
- Battleship– turn taking, strategizing, and early exposure to math connections like a grid
- Spot It!– visual perception, focus, speech-language skills, and fine motor skills
- There are so many great versions of this game, including this Spot It! Animals Jr. game that’s a great fit for even your littlest learners.
- Simon Says– handheld game that teaches focus, attention skills, closely watching patterns, and memory
- Connect 4– two player game that teaches strategy, turn taking, and problem-solving
- Bop It– interactive game to practice quick turn taking and cooperation, plus how to revise your strategy to improve your gameplay
- Twister Ultimate– this larger version of Twister with more spots and a bigger mat is a cooperative game that requires flexibility, strategizing, and some creative teamwork
- Word Ladders– Can you use the clues to go from work to team? Make this paper and pencil activity into a game by challenging a friend or putting a timer to it!
- Scrabble– spelling, creativity, and (although it’s technically cheating) dictionary skills
- Codenames– teaches word recognition and the ability to make creative connections between words. The codemaster even gets the bonus of identifying which words are theirs within a grid.
- Yahtzee– math skills like counting numbers in a sequence, subitizing (instant number recognition), and mental math practice
- Farkle– sort of like a simplified version of Yahtzee, which teaches fine motor skills, subitizing (instant number recognition), and many math skills
- Ticket to Ride– strategy, map skills, planning ahead and adjusting your plan as needed, turn taking, and development of critical thinking skills
- Ticket to Ride: First Journey is a great variation of this game for ages 6+.
- Rummikub– such an addictive game that teaches STEM skills such as sequencing, patterns, and making (and remaking) a plan
- Sequence– integrates math skills and STEM skills like strategizing, keeping score, and playing the right cards to help your team make the correct number together
- What Do You Meme: Family Edition– requires players to make creative connections between pictures and the statements on their cards; comprehension, accepting that there is only one winner each turn, and practice reading short phrases
- Uno– numbers, colors, counting, and strategizing
- Skip Bo and Phase 10– both games in this two pack teach turn taking, strategy, number and color recognition, and more
- This kid’s card holder is a great tool that can help little hands hold lots of cards.
I include video games in my definition of gameschooling because I am a huge lover of video games.
I have personally learned a lot from the following video games, and I hope you will, too!
- Minecraft– teamwork, coding, history, biomes, problem-solving, reading, memory, math, survival skills, perseverance, social skills, and more. Minecraft free trial
- The Oregon Trail– trading and bargaining, survival skills, planning ahead, making a long term plan, and many historical connections to learn from.
- Also available: The Oregon Trail board game!
- Wordscapes (app): similar to Words with Friends or Scrabble, but with the added challenge of connecting words that share a letter within a crossword-style puzzle. Teaches logic, problem-solving, and spelling. App Store/ Google Play
For a HUGE list of video games that teach, check out my article linked below called The best unschooling supplies for all ages!
Related: Unschooling Supplies for All Ages
Escape rooms that be a fun and cooperative way to solve problems and learn new things! Can you beat the clock and break out of these escape room-style games?
- BreakoutEDU– Escape room-style activities and kits you can purchase with locked boxes, keys, etc. that are educational and fun.
- Escape rooms from Teachers Pay Teachers– Many affordable escape room options that can be downloaded and viewed digitally or printed out.
- Escape Room The Game: Family Edition– Recommended for ages 10+. Can you use the clues to escape in 60 minutes or less? Includes a timer and teaches quick thinking, problem-solving, cooperation, leadership, teamwork, and speech-language skills.
Bottom line: The 7 things you need to know about gameschooling
- Gameschooling can be a fun (and sneaky) way to learn something new. You can extend learning from gameschooling into a variety of other lessons.
- Regularly participating in game nights or gameschooling time can promote family bonding and togetherness.
- Gameschooling can happen at any time, so if the whole family wants to play a game together after dinner, this counts!
- You can choose to gameschool as often as you want, but you don’t have to only gameschool.
- Even Pre-K and kindergarten homeschoolers can gameschool.
- Not letting the kids win, while being a good sport, is a part of gameschooling you might choose to adopt to practice the concept of not always winning.
- Gameschooling is a simple, affordable way to learn SO many skills while having fun!
Whether you want to do gameschooling all the time, or only when you need to spice things up a bit, now you’ve got everything you need to choose the best gameschooling games!
What excites you the most about giving gameschooling a try? Comment below! We look forward to hearing from you, and it would mean the world if you would consider signing up for the blog newsletter below. For everything homeschool, we can PlanIt! ❤