6 Sneakily Educational Games to Play This Summer
But, I’m also not crazy, so I do have some pre-planned activities to offer every now and then too. I’m coming up with art projects to work on, science experiments to try out, books to read, and places to explore. I’ve ALSO been gathering a shelf of games to choose from when the afternoon heat is too much, or when we’re stuck indoors due to rainy weather or a sleeping baby sister. I chose these games because they all feature a couple specific skills I want the kids to keep fresh over the summer. As you all know, our family loves games, so these specific ones come highly recommended.
1. Chef Pop dePop
Targeted at kids ages 6+, this “corny kind of counting game” is a fun one for the whole family. To play, you shake the shaker to see what kind of popcorn pops up- plain, butter, or caramel. Each player has cards that can be turned in for points if the number of kernels on your card matches the amount of kernels shaken. Sometimes the combination of your cards will match the number of popcorn pieces that pop up. Kids don’t even realize they are doing some mental math!
Of course, there are some wild parts thrown in (watch out for the burnt kernel, and be ready to jump out of our seat if you see “Pop!”) All three kids played and it was accessible to each of them in their own way. While this game is not cooperative (which you all know is our favorite), I do like that on every time the shaker is shaken, each person gets to play… no sitting around waiting for your turn!
- Mental Math/Counting
2. Scrambled States of America
Based on the popular book by the same name, Scrambled States of America is a fun game that combines speed with geographical and observation-based questions. By the time kids have played this game a few times, they may be surprised to find that they’re beginning to remember state capitals, mottos, and locations. Most of the questions are not based on a player’s ability to recall facts, but on finding patterns, letters, etc. and being the first person to respond. The game play takes about 15 minutes, so it’s a great one to play before or after breakfast before heading outside for the morning.
- Quick Visual Recognition
Arrazzles is from the game maker, Funnybone. It’s half-game, half-building tool, and half-awesome! When we stacked these pieces in the middle of the table, the kids were a little intimidated… what should we do with them? Jake and I jumped in and started to build, along with Aly, who is quick to try something new and creative.
When I broke out the pipe cleaners to add to the building mix, Ada was excited to try that out, and Asante eventually gave in when he saw all of us having a ton of fun. We build rocket ships, flowers, bikes, trikes, and even a pair of sunglasses.
These hexagons are HUGE (I thought they were going to be tiny), and very durable. You can see from the pictures that each disc has a different pattern of slots, which adds to the fun! There are a ton of other things you can do with them- play memory, cooperative building (hand out discs to each person and you take turns adding one disc at a time), or build-the-coolest-creation in 60 seconds. So many possibilities!
- Fine Motor Skills
4. Forbidden Island
We are totally into this one right now. Asante and I play it several times a week before he heads off to school. It’s a cooperative game where everyone tries to collectively capture the 4 treasures and fly off the island before it sinks into the water.
We prefer cooperative games over anything else, but were looking for the “next step” because Asante was outgrowing the basic ones that we had. This is perfect! It combines a good level of complexity with both strategy and chance. Together the players have to think together to figure out the best course of action to make sure the island doesn’t sink before the tasks are complete. Players also each have their own special skill (explorer, pilot, etc.) which throws a different twist into each game and ensures that each player is dependent on one another. Top notch game. Love love love it. We’re looking to get Forbidden Desert too.
- Critical Thinking
- Problem Solving
This tiny game is easy to put into the backpack for a trip out of town. With several variations to play, this game never gets old. It’s definitely for kids (and adults) who like numbers, and it is a great game for keeping up those quick mental math reflexes. In the basic version of the game, players each have 8 tiles that they need to arrange in rows and columns that add up to a multiple of the “key number” (which is rolled on a separate die). The tiles each have different numbers and colors, and each row and column cannot repeat numbers or colors. Ages 9+
- Mental Math
- Finding Multiples
Another one by funny bone, this one is as creative as Arrazzles, if not more so. A little bit about the idea of disruptive thinking, from the instruction book:
Disruptus draws inspiration from the very important practice of ‘disruptive thinking’. Disruptive thinking is one of the most powerful ways to innovate. It has been used to create ideas and objects like digital music, camera phones, and car sharing programs. Disruptive thinking is looking at an object or idea and coming up with an entirely different way to achieve the same end.
In this game, players work alone or with teams to innovate — they look at objects on the cards do one of four things:
- Create something totally new out of 2 objects.
- Make an object or idea better.
- Transform an object or idea- meaning that you use the object on the card for a totally different purpose.
- Disrupt- Looking at the object on the card, figure out its purpose or use, and then come up with a totally different way to achieve the same purpose.
|Asante decided that to “improve” this, he would add on a couple rooms around it, and
people could wait inside while they are waiting for the toilet.
The kicker- you only have 60 seconds to do it and you’re judged on which idea is the most innovative. This would be a really perfect party game for thinkers and tinkerers, but it’s also a great one for kids. We adapted the game for our use– we decided not to judge and not to keep points- just to have fun with it.
These are the games that we’ll be majoring in this summer- around the table, on picnics, at the grandparents house, and maybe even on some playdates!
Disclosure: I received some of these games free from the game makers (Funnybone and Gamewright) in order to facilitate this review. I received no monetary compensation and this post contains no affiliate links. All opinions expressed here are my own.