When my husband and I began our homeschooling journey back in 2002, we did plenty of research and set out to define our chief goals for the children. These goals have remained our primary goals from that day forward: 1) Our children would love Jesus. 2) Our children would love to read. and 3) Our children would have excellent thinking skills.
Because our children love playing games, finding games to encourage thinking skills is an excellent way to move our family towards that goal we have set.
Whether we are enjoying a family game night or Grandma is visiting and playing games with the kids for hours each day, having a large collection of games to encourage thinking skills makes it more likely to happen. So we try to make sure we find and introduce new games on a regular basis.
Here are some of our family favorites, forgotten favorites, and a few that are on our wish list.
The Settlers of Catan and Catan Junior are fun strategy games that are a sort of cross between Monopoly, Set, and the computer game called Civilization. Players colonize, collect, build, and take sections of the board to win.
Mille Bornes – the French racing card game is so much fun but with enough different aspects to the game to keep you on your toes.
Majong is another fun game my family enjoys – my husband picked up his set on a trip to China and fortunately it came with English directions. It’s a lot like Rummy, but with tiles shaped more like dominoes so it is very tactile.
Connect 4 – I remember playing this with my oldest daughter, but I think our game has gotten lost. We need to pull this out for my younger children now so I will be looking for a chance to pick it up at Target or on Amazon. The idea is that you have to get 4 checkers in a row before your opponent does. It requires concentration, planning, and strategy.
UNO – This is a really simple, fun game for the whole family and our game of choice on rainy nights in hotel lobbies. We start little ones playing UNO as soon as they can match colors and numbers. They don’t even have to know the number names starting out! As we play, they learn their number names and the strategies involved in laying out a Wild card, a Draw 2, a Reverse, or a Skip.
Quirkle – This one is on my wish list for the holiday season. Here is what Amazon has to say: “An addictive strategy game in the tradition of Sequence, Scrabble, and Othello, the Qwirkle Board Game from MindWare has a simple, straightforward premise: match tiles and win points. But the real joy of the game lies in plotting and scheming your way to victory.”
Risk is a fairly classic thinking game and children can begin learning to play and strategize much younger than you might think. My oldest son started playing Risk at age 8 or maybe even younger. My current 8-year-old plays. It helps to make sure your players are evenly matched. Nobody likes to play against Dad!
Line Up is a newer game which will stretch your ability to memorize and strategize as you attempt to choose the villain from a lineup of similar faces. Pay attention! Hair styles get me every time.
Sequence for Kids was one of those games we didn’t think our 3-year-old was ready for, but we were wrong. Excellent for building thinking skills!
Dominoes is the game Grandma teaches to every child in our home as soon as they can match the dots. I’m pretty sure Joshua has been playing dominoes successfully since he was two, and it’s one of those games where all ages can play and win.
Chess is an obvious choice among games to encourage thinking skills, and I would encourage you to learn the game if for no other reason than to teach your children. We have purchased several books on the topic and encourage our children to play because this game can be a huge boost for thinking skills!
View Black Friday Chess Deals at ChessHouse this week