Making Games with Kids – Time-Out Thursday

Time-Out Thursday is all about having fun by featuring posts about entertainment, hobbies and other fun things; on a budget of course!

Games with Kids

Years ago, back when we only had 2 kids, we had a weekly tradition called “Kids Night”. Every Thursday the kids took turns picking dinner and our evening entertainment, either a movie or game. My oldest child has always loved television and even back then picked a movie every week. My second child always picked a game, but because she was quite young we were restricted in what games we could play. After playing Candyland and Chutes & Ladder several months in a row I decided to change things up by making games.

It’s really easy (and really cheap!) to make games that will entertain and teach (shhhh!) the kids. You can search the internet and find all kinds of complicated plans but I’m going to share with you my favorite games, which also happen to be the easiest to make with stuff I usually have around the house.

1. BACK ON TRACK – My Back on Track Game was featured in Linda Dobson’s book The Ultimate Book of Homeschooling Ideas. In this game you answer questions to keep the train on the track to its destination.

Here’s a similar version I recently made with my 5 year old son featuring a car instead of a train.
A simple board game template I made with my 5 year old son

This is a very simple game template that I made short because his attention span isn’t the best. This game is very versatile, you can ask almost any kind of question. I made a list of 40 questions that range from “How to do you spell your last name?” to “How awesome is your mom?” (the correct answer is “very”) and wrote them out on index cards. I made a second set of questions that were more difficult for my older children. You can customize the cards to whatever your child is learning, any subject matter will work. You can use little toys or coins as your game pieces.

You don’t have to stick to the transportation theme either! My 9 year old daughter made a simple board game where you had to make your way through a rainbow to reach the pot of gold at the end. This is also a great game to let your kids play by themselves, they just take turn asking each other the questions.

2. BINGO games are always a hit around here, and a good way to squeeze a game into a short amount of time. To make a simple BINGO game for up to four players just list out 20 “call outs” (ours are on index cards that we randomly select), divide four pieces of paper into 16 boxes and list a match in each box. Use coins or small toys as your space markers. Yesterday I made a contraction game and a scrambled words game. For the contractions game the “call out cards” had the long form (ie: I will) and the bingo cards had the contraction (I’ll). The call out cards for the scrambled word game were the scrambled version (ie: energ) and the bingo card had the correct spelling (green).

Bingo games are a great way to reinforce math and reading skills but can be made to cover just about any topic at any level. Another great idea would be to match up presidents with major historical events, or inventors with inventions. You get the idea!
Playing Contraction Bingo

3. A FAMILY FUN BOX is a way everyone can get in on the fun. To make a family fun box you simply need index cards, a box or bag to store them in, and a lot of creativity. A timer is optional but not needed. On each card write some kind of instruction, as straight-forward or silly as you like. The person who selects that card has to do what it says, to make the game a little harder try adding a timer into the mix and finished within 15 or 30 seconds. A card may have something like “name 4 words that start with F”, “find 3 objects that are purple”, “say the alphabet backwards” or “act like a monkey”. Let your creativity lead the way.

Remember that you don’t have to do all of the work when you make games. Let the kids give you their ideas and make their own games, it’ll keep them busy for quite a while and encourage critical thinking.

There are so many ways to make games that you can enjoy with your children. Have you ever made games with your children?


One thought on “Making Games with Kids – Time-Out Thursday

  1. Pingback: How to Engage Reluctant Learners |

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