Friday, September 11, 2009

~Clearing the Cobwebs~ Motivating Learners with Games


Some families home school year round and never have this trouble of cobwebs in their little brains~ . I had every intention of continuing our studies this summer but I soon found, there were a few other plans for me this summer, with my other children. :)


Life tends to throw us a few curves now and then and things we may have planned sometimes just do not materialize the way we would like them to. We ended up taking the summer off except for reading and some math fact practice on-line just to keep those skills sharp.

Now, it is back to our studies and we are doing wonderful with my plan of starting with two full subjects of Mathematics and Language Arts for the first week and adding one subject every week as we move along.

I wanted to talk a bit about what happens to our kiddos over the long summer of having not has much structure and poor eating and sleeping habits. Perhaps too many videos and too much tv time? It happens and lounging in bathing suits and flip flops while reading a book on the blanket at a lake certainly "counts" for something... right? (How I wish we had that kind of summer, but it wasnt to be, here in New England it was cold and rainy for over two months straight) So, it was a very different kind of summer for us~

One thing I found to get the juices flowing without hearing all the moans and groans is to re-introduce concepts they learned last year with games. Games can be a fun, gentle way of trying to get things moving once again with our studies.

There are so many out there- I have a few I found and wanted to share the resources with you.

First I will start with Language Arts and Math since that is where "we" started this week~

(these do not have to be just for re-introduction in your teaching. I use these for testing and assessing their abilities in a certain area. I also use these for rote practice instead of drilling with flash cards and oral quiz's. )

Johnnies Math Page is completely filled with interactive math games for students and teachers. At times I look at the games just to give me ideas to create my own "table versions" also.

Adrian Bruce's Website is full of posters and printable games for practicing math and reading/phonics concepts.

Fun Brain is another wonderful site that is a real favorite in our home. The boys enjoy many of their games and links.
Primary Games is one my youngest enjoys very much to use. This one actually covers science and social studies as well.

The Kids Page provides printable learning games and puzzles.

Mr. Nussbaum's site is a MEGA site for interactive games for learning and covers much more also than just Language Arts and Math. We definitely have a few favorites on here. My oldest likes the lunch lady.. :)

SenTeachers is a site I found way back when I first started homeschooling. It helped me a great deal when I was just starting out and I refer to it often. A real find!
I suppose you could say in my own way I use "Game Based Learning". I found this link that explains a bit more about how you can incorporate games into your own teaching~ it is called How to Teach Using Games.

This idea of using Games for Teaching really isn't anything new. I think it just gets lost and forgotten because our textbook publishers have taken the place of teachingconcepts like money with a workbook, instead of playing Monopoly or for math facts we use drills and math facts workbooks instead of Yahtzee and others. I think we forget the importance of games and the role they play not only for education but for the family and the quality time we have. when playing games and interacting as a family.

I found a really fun game the other day at our local Used Homeschool Books Outlet, it is called Choclate Chip Math~ you can see a picture of it here. It is a way to practice math facts for Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication and Dvision. It is just such fun and the boys love the choclate chips because it is so different~ sure beats the old flashcards. :)

Here are a few more sites I have saved and used in the past:

http://www.bunchofboys.netfirms.com/teaching_with_games.htm -Teaching with Games

http://edweb.sdsu.edu/courses/edtec670/cardboard/BoardTOC.html - Cardboard Cognition

http://www.googolpower.com/content/free-learning-resources - lots of free games and resources to check out.

http://jc-schools.net/tutorials/gameboard.htm - ready made games and board games to print


http://www.netrover.com/~kingskid/Math/math.htm - a long list of games for practicing math.


One other game we use a great deal for multiplication practice is Times Attack, it is without a doubt. one of the best math practice games out there. Taking a tour that Ben Harrison (the creator) to understand how the program works fully is so helpful and a real must. It is a real video game so if you have video game lovers they will love it. We use the free version and the boys love it.

There are also some really good book resources out there that provide games for learning. One that comes to mind immediately is Scholastic. There are some free games but there are also books here is a list I have. These books are filled with games and activities.

I also use the Scholastic Grammar Games and Activities book for grades 2-4 to reinforce parts of speech, punctuation and a bit more.

Living Math has a list of books of games for learning as well: http://www.livingmath.net/Games/tabid/391/Default.aspx

Getting kids motivated for learning can be hard at the beginning of the new school year, games can really help "clear out the cobwebs" and opening their minds once again ~ making things much easier to tackle and fun for our learners at home~

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