No matter how you slice it, there's always going to be a certain amount of memorization when it comes to the school curriculum. Whether your child attends public school, or is homeschooled, you can't really get around it.
While I certainly don't believe that parents should drill their children and put pressure on them, which can be a real turnoff, anything they can do to tie in to the curriculum in a fun way would be a wonderful thing. It could be that perfectly timed museum trip, or a real life math question, or....a board game.
Out of the Box Publishing created a series of geography games which brings this important subject to life. The company was generous enough to send me a copy of the 10 Days in Africa Game, for review purposes. Since Africa has so many countries, it's not easy for children to remember all of their names, let alone where they are located! But after playing a few rounds of this game, they'll probably know them all by heart. When learning comes in disguise, it's so much more fun, don't you think?
I love that the directions which come with the game are clear, concise, and beautifully displayed. They are not long and drawn out, and the font size, bullet format, and the use of bold letters makes them easy to read.
The point of this game is to plan a ten day journey through Africa, traveling among countries via foot, automobile, or by airplane. It may sound intimidating at first, but if you let the cards guide you, you'll end up on the right track. The key is to put the cards in order, using country and transportation cards to make appropriate connections.
This game offers a great lesson in sequencing, and could even be extended into a storytelling activity. There are so many tie-ins which could be made by using art, music, and children's books relating to African culture. I do wish the cards had a little write-up about the climate or culture of each country, but that might take away from the true focus of the game.
Please note that there are a few different versions of this game for different geographic areas, one being the USA. If your child is learning about the 50 states, you can find some complementary ideas and resources in the prior post, A Trip to Philadelphia, Part 3.
Out of the Box Publishing was also kind enough to send me a math-related card game called Out of the Box Publishing, Inc. 7 ATE 9 - Fast and Fun Number Crunch'n. It's one of those "think quick" games, but it can certainly be taken at a much slower pace for those who are just trying to learn addition and subtraction facts.
Each card has two large yellow numbers and two smaller numbers. The idea is to add or subtract the smaller number to or from the large, yellow number. So, if you have a 5 with a +/- 2, you can put down a 7 or a 3. You don't have to match the colors, just the numbers. The game can move very quickly that way.
There are also some cards which will bring you to a negative number, which you then have to turn into a positive number by adding ten. It's just an extra challenge for older children. Even so, this game was a little "young" for my 12 and 15 year old. It's most appropriate for children between the ages of 6 and 10, although anyone who likes fast paced card games will get a kick out of it.
Games like these make learning fun. I want to thank the company for sending them to me, and I will donate them to a local elementary school. Please feel free to look for other award-winning games at the Out of the Box Publishing web site.
Whether you play games with children to enhance educational, social, or emotional skills, or just for the fun of them, there's so much out-of-the-box thinking that can spring out of those boxes! What are some of your favorites?
Here are some I've mentioned in the past: