Games and Puzzles on the Shelf

I did a major book cleanout recently.  The books had overrun the house and I wanted them to get down to a more reasonable size.  It allowed us to claim a couple more shelves for homeschooling.  One of them got devoted to a few games to play during school time.

Last year, we played games nonstop for kindergarten.  This year, we began using a lot more formal curriculum.  Mostly, I’m happy with all our curricula and the kids are as well.  However, it seems to have taken us away from games, so I made a vow to get back to them.  We have even more games, many of which I would term educational, especially for strategy and logic, however, I didn’t put them all on the shelf.  I’m hoping to add to the pile, so I’m open to suggestions.

This is a tic-tac-toe game I picked up at a homeschooling conference.  You roll and add the number on the two ten sided dice then play that number on the board.  If you roll the number another person gets, you can flip the number to your color.  Not the greatest game ever, but a nice quick math practice game.

Knock Out
A friend who is a total goddess of board games put me onto this game where you roll the dice and break the number down into however many parts in order to lock three numbers and win the game.  The wooden version is very pricey (though it comes with a harder game, Muggins, on the other side) but you can buy a wipe off version or make your own.

They know what a noun is now!  Plus this helps them brainstorm for vocabulary.

Sudoku
The book I have is Will Shortz’s The Monster Book of Sukoku, however any children’s Sudoku book is good.  There are also free ones here.

Bananagrams
We’ve had this for awhile, but BalletBoy is really liking the Bananagrams for Kids book of puzzles that another homeschooler suggested to us.  The puzzles include a lot of things like word ladders.  I think it’s really helping his spelling too.

Sleeping Queens
This is a new game for us.  You wake up the queen cards with kings and steal them away or put them back to sleep with knights and potions.  To get new cards, you can discard an “equation” of number cards, for example a 9 a 1 and a 10 together because 9 plus 1 equals ten.  You also have to add up the points on your queen cards, which range from 5 to 20.

Rat-a-Tat-Cat
We’ve been playing this game for ages.  You must collect the lowest cards and remember what you’ve got as well as pay attention to what others might have.  At the end of the game, you have to add up your score.  It’s a fun, fast game.

24 Primary
I’m a total devotee of the quick math card game 24, where you have to use all the numbers on the card to get to the number 24.  This version relies on smaller numbers and only emphasizes addition and subtraction.  Unlike the big kid version, it’s only meant to be played solo, so the answers are actually listed on the bottom on the opposite side, which is sort of distracting.  It’s nowhere near as good as the older version, but it’s okay.

Rush Hour Jr.
We have a lot of strategy games and this one is less directly “mathy” than the other things I put on the shelf, but I thought I’d leave it there for now.  Just like the grown-up version, you have to move cars around to figure out how to get your car out of the traffic jam.  Watching BalletBoy play this is a pleasure.  He gets hyperfocused and can usually move the car out faster than I can figure out how.

Mastermind
Another game for logic and thinking skills.  You have to guess the sequence of colors your opponent has hidden.  I loved this game as a kid and I’m happy to share it with my kids.  Just a warning, which is not to get the kids’ version.  It’s very poorly made and you can simplify the adult version by removing a color or limiting the code to three instead of four pegs.

2 thoughts on “Games and Puzzles on the Shelf”

1. Nice list! Master Mind in particular brings back great memories….
One that I really like is QuickChess – it has a reversible chess game board. On one side is the normal 8 by 8 chess board and on the other is a 5 by 5 square reduced board. There are also multiple game modes that help kids get to know each of the figures and their capabilities in chess. Our kids have been spending many hours with that one and have become rather competent chess players.

2. Wow, it’s so much better just reading blogs instead of writing them! This post inspired me to move some picture books upstairs and the games downstairs where we can see them and hopefully play them more. Thanks!