There are a couple of nights a week when our kids have regular activities they attend. To maintain a sense of balance, we work hard to protect our other evenings. Although something special or out of the ordinary might come up, those are the exception, not the rule. Last year, there were several weeks throughout the fall and winter months when we allowed our schedule to be maxed out beyond our comfort level, and we regretted it – big time.
Evenings together at home after full days have become a special part of our family life, and if you peeked inside our home on a Thursday evening, you would see us having Family Game Night!
Don’t let this picture fool you. We’re usually in our pajamas – We were just posing here so my photographer friend could snap this photo. Look how little my girls look here – Someone please come over here and hold me!
Anyway, yes – around here, every Thursday night is Game Night, and not only is it a chance to have fun together as a family, but it is also a fantastic opportunity to learn together.
There is much discussion centered around discovering a balance of work and play, but doesn’t it feel grand when the lines between the two are blurred? Few things excite me more than discovering fresh ways to implement this idea into our family’s homeschooling lifestyle, and for us, Family Game Night is one of the best lesson planning moves I’ve ever made!
Learning happening at night? After dinner? Absolutely!
Think about it:
Do you already have some classic games on hand that would allow you to introduce your children to something you want them to learn or reinforce a specific concept you’ve been working on in your homeschooling?
- Battleship (Graphing Coordinates)
- Candy Land (Colors, Picture Matching)
- Chutes and Ladders (Addition, Subtraction)
- Connect Four (Counting, Turn-Taking)
- Monopoly (Counting Money)
- Operation (Fine Motor Skills)
- Perfection (Geometric Shapes)
- Scrabble (Spelling)
- Twister (Gross Motor Skills
- Uno (Colors, Numbers, Following Directions)
- Whac-a-Mole (Hand-Eye Coordination)
These long-standing favorites have the power to TEACH! How fun is that for you as a homeschooling family? Well, unless Monopoly leads to fights in your house…then maybe mark that one off the list.
Now for some other games that we’ve loved to incorporate into our Thursday nights together – and I’ll group them by age to help you out a bit:
- ABC Cookies by Learning Resources
- Counting Cookies by Learning Resources
- Great States Junior
- I Sea 10! by Learning Resources
- Sequence for Kids
- Sequence Letters
- Roll & Play by Think Fun
- Roll & Read Blends by Lakeshore Learning
- Move & Groove by Think Fun
- Zingo Number Bingo
- Zingo Sight Words
- Zingo Telling Time
- Zingo Word Builder
- Brackitz Race Park
- Math War
- Mental Blox by Learning Resources
- Money Bags
- Pizza Fraction Fun
- Scrambled States of America
- Sequence Numbers
- Sequence States & Capitals
- Sum Swamp
- Rollercoaster Challenge by Think Fun
- Rush Hour by Think Fun
A quick search on Amazon will result in enough options for a lifetime of Family Game Nights! These lists could go on and on and on….truly!
For the easier games, we keep our whole family together. Our little ones enjoy feeling included, and my heart just about melts into a puddle watching my older kids take on the responsibility of teaching their younger siblings how to play their favorite games.
For higher level activities, we usually let the little ones roam around the room…or if they get start to get cranky, we might go ahead and put them to bed. This allows me to focus a little more and it also frees up my hands to get super competitive with my older kids. Not that I get all that competitive or anything…ahem.
So what do you think? Would your family enjoy learning together this way?
Maybe you’ve already thought of a game or two that you’d like to use to spice up your lesson plans, but it would be REALLY helpful if you could plug it into a time when you have an extra set of hands to assist. I get it! That’s what started this whole thing for me. I wanted to play learning games with my kids, but in different stages of life, little ones made that tricky during the day…and around here, game-playing usually gets a little too loud to do during nap time. Necessity in most definitely the mother of invention! I needed a way to make these games happen when Daddy and I could tag team, so I invented Thursday Night Family Game Night – and I feel like it’s here to stay.
Tips to Help Your Family Game Night Run Smoothly
Tip #1: Begin by lowering your expectations! As fun as this all might sound, you are going to be dealing with real live humans who will most likely, at times, create drama. Oh wait, your kids don’t flip out when they lose a game? That’s just in our house? Okay, then I’ll move on to my next tip.
Tip #2: Serve snacks – something that won’t make a huge mess and make you feel like you want to throw a grownup tantrum. Popcorn and cookies have worked well around here….or if your family prefers organic kale chips, go ahead and do your thing.
Tip #3: Relax and have fun – sure, this can be a time when your kids learn, but keep it light! If you’re chill, they’ll be all about the games – and not even realize you are checking things off your lesson plans. Shh, we can let this whole thing be our little secret.
Tip #4: If you choose a day/time that isn’t working well? Don’t be afraid to switch things up! Thursday nights work great for us right now, but a future season may call for mama to switch things up a bit, and I need to be ready and willing to do that.
Tip #5: We can’t forget that we’re not only teaching academics. We are also responsible for teaching our children how to take turns…how to win and lose graciously…how to honor others more than themselves…how to work together as a team – as a family…how to jump in and help clean up messes (yes, even ones they didn’t make) -These are just a few of the many things Family Game Night has given us a chance to work on together as a family….matters of the heart.
So pop some popcorn (or bake some kale chips), grab the Uno cards, gather the family, and let me know how it goes! Start small…and see if your crew ends up loving Game Night as much as we do!