We love hearing and reading about our games being used for a purpose that goes beyond playing and having fun! Over the years we have observed teachers and therapists using many of our games as educational tools and we thrive in knowing that with good mechanics and quality components our games are very versatile. We invited Juliet Smith, a mother and gamescooling supporter, on our blog to talk about how she uses our games for gameschooling. She selected our classic Tell Tale and our original Once Upon a Castle to illustrate her passion. We invite you to visit her blog through the links below for more game reviews!
Hello! My name is Juliet Smith, Julie for short. I am 27 years old and married, and we have two beautiful children. I am here today to talk to you about Gameschooling. Let’s start with what that is. Gameschooling is simply using board and card games in a way that utilizes the various academic and social/emotional benefits that they have to offer. Research shows that children learn and retain information best through play. Let me give you an example of Gameschooling in action.
Tell Tale is a great story-telling game. It is fun and the children really enjoy playing it. I typically pass a number of cards to each child and myself, and we take turns adding one of our picture cards to the center of the table, continuing the story that we are creating together. It is usually silly and there is much laughter and excitement involved. We also enjoy switching it up by taking turns telling our own individual stories using all of our cards.
Now, take a step back and look at this with me for a moment. Tell Tale, in and of itself, is wonderful for language arts! It gets you noticing details, listening, connecting ideas together, and sharing them with others. What you will see is a group of people practicing public speaking skills, working together, using their imaginations, opening up the avenue for great conversations, lowering walls, and breaking past mental blocks.
Want to take it a step further? Have the child retell the story you have all just finished creating together. Have them write it down in a special notebook. End the story with a cliffhanger and have them finish the story in that notebook and then share it with you. Turn it into an art project and create your own cards to add to the deck. Act out the story. The possibilities are endless.
Let’s look at another game: Once Upon A Castle. Is this an “educational game”? No. Does it have great educational value? Absolutely! Once Upon A Castle covers the subjects of math and art. It is a strategic game where you are trying to gain the most points. You roll the dice to gain materials, which are then used to construct bits of your castle. How you spend these materials is where the strategy really comes into play. The bits you construct earn you points. You keep track of all this on your player board and your score sheet.
The game end scoring in Once Upon A Castle (and many others) is a wonderful opportunity to practice mental math skills. To utilize this opportunity, do not use a calculator. Let me say that again, Do NOT use a calculator to add up your score. As an adult playing games with kids and following this simple rule for their sakes, my own mental math has improved significantly. It feels good to not have to pull out my phone and open my calculator app all the time. It feels good to get faster at performing the calculations in my head. It’s a skill that requires practice and frequent use.
The greatest value, from a Gameschooling standpoint, in Once Upon A Castle is this: the opportunity to experiment with and gain confidence in your artistic abilities. This is not a requirement to play the game. Your score has nothing to do with your artistic ability. The beauty lies in the open, unspoken, invitation to be artistic.
A child may start by just tracing or coloring pieces of their castle. This may then lead to adding a little bit of creative design to their walls or towers. As they grow in confidence, they will begin applying more and more artistic touches and may eventually want to use the backside of the score sheet for complete artistic freedom in designing their own castles. To allow for this growth, it is best not to rush the game. Don’t pass the dice until you are done (or almost done) adding a piece to your castle.
There are so many great games out there now, each with its own hidden (or not so hidden) benefits. I have created a website to tell you about them, reveal their benefits, and share any rule changes I have found helpful. The games are organized by grade and subject. It is https://www.juliesgameschool.com.
Disclaimer: I do not make any money off this website. Instead, I put time and money into it. Why? Because I believe in the power of Gameschooling, and it doesn’t stop at the academic subjects. Please enjoy it, share it with others, and reach out to me any time.
Do you want to talk more about Gameschooling? Want to try some of these great games for yourself? Julie’s Game School with have a booth in the exhibit hall at the Rocky Mountain Homeschool Conference this summer (June 2021). I would love to see you there and share more with you. Until then, please check out the posts I have written about these Blue Orange Games:
Keekee the Rocking Monkey: https://www.juliesgameschool.com/post/keekee-the-rocking-monkey
Piece of Pie: https://www.juliesgameschool.com/post/piece-of-pie
Once Upon A Castle: https://www.juliesgameschool.com/post/once-upon-a-castle
Dr. Eureka: https://www.juliesgameschool.com/post/dr-eureka