The ABCs of Homeschool Games

A young girl jumps in the air

Keep them Active, give their social skills a Boost and encourage Creativity.

Playing a variety of games can be an important part of a daily routine for every child, but especially for kids who are homeschooled. The power of playing games can have an amazing effect on kids. Not only does it provide kids with the obvious chance to have fun, but games can give children the opportunity to develop valuable skills such as strategic and creative thinking, as well as social and teamwork skills. Games that get kids up and moving have the added perk of providing ever-important physical fitness benefits, and it’s easier than you may think to have all these benefits with homeschool games.

Kids that are homeschooled have the unique flexibility to be able to play games as a part of their daily curriculum. Active games can serve as physical education development for these kids, as well as offering so many teachable moments and hands-on, experiential learning. A good arsenal of games includes those that offer a combination of these benefits.

A girl runs through a field

A is for Active

CHOOSE GAMES THAT ENCOURAGE PHYSICAL ACTIVITY. Homeschool curriculum should include games that keep kids active for a number of reasons. The obvious reason is that all kids need activity and exercise to keep their bodies healthy. In addition, studies show that exercise can boost thinking skills and that being outside can improve mood, creativity and even IQ. Make time each day to get your kids active and outside if the weather is permitting. Choose games that involve running, jumping, stretching and tagging. Our favorites are:  

RED LIGHT – GREEN LIGHT
One player is “it” and stands with their back to the others. When the player yells “green light” the others move towards them until they yell “red light” and spin around. Players must freeze before being seen by the “it” player or go back to the starting line. The first person to reach the “it” player wins! 

MOTHER MAY I
The chosen “mother” faces away from the other players some distance from them and answers yes or no to their question of “Mother May I _____.” The blank should be some movement to get the player across the room. For instance, “Mother may I take four kangaroo hops?” or “Mother may I duck walk for three seconds?” The Mother answers no if players are reaching them too quickly, but they must also give an alternative movement by saying, “No you may not do that, but you may _____.” The first person to reach Mother wins! 

FREEZE TAG
Okay, we all know this one. One person is “it,” and if you’re tagged you have to freeze. Here are a few new versions to try:

  • TOILET TAG: When players are frozen they must get down on one knee and put their arm out to the side. To unfreeze them, another player sits on their knee and “flushes” the toilet.
  • SHADOW TAG: The “it” player has to stay in the shadow of something (a tree, building or fence all work). The other players have to run in and out of the shadow but can only be tagged when they’re in it.
  • CATEGORIES TAG: To unfreeze someone, a player has to tag them and call out something that belongs to whatever category you choose. Try movies, books, animals, countries — anything you’d like!

GLOW BATTLE
It’s an exciting game of fast-paced running and dueling. Teams are designated by different colored LED bracelets, and you can play with 2 to 20 players anywhere that you have open space. Players use strategy, teamwork, and their own warrior instincts to team up and take down their opponent using harmless, glowing batons.

B is for Boost

CHOOSE GAMES THAT BOOST SOCIAL SKILLS & TEACH TEAMWORK. Studies show that social interaction is important for children’s physical health as well as their mental well-being. Because homeschool kids often have less exposure to social situations during the school day, it’s important for them to learn social skills from other activities like homeschool games. This can include gathering with friends and family to play games that teach teamwork and require cooperation, leadership and decision-making skills. Here’s just a few of our favorites: 

FRISBEE H-O-R-S-E
It’s like the basketball game but with a frisbee! Players choose a target for their frisbee and try to hit it. If players don’t hit the target, they get a letter. Last person to spell HORSE wins! Plays as individuals or on teams.

CAPTURE THE FLAG REDUX
It’s the classic Capture the Flag game revolutionized with futuristic glow-in-the-dark lights and the perfect choice to play with friends as the sun goes down after a day of home-schooling. It will foster teamwork and interaction, as players break teammates out of jail, sneak into enemy territory, protect base and steal the glowing flag to win.

RELAY RACES
Try out these variations!

  • PENGUIN RELAY: Players hold an object between their ankles or knees as they waddle to the next team member. If it falls, you have to start over!
  • SLIP N’ SLIDE RELAY: Set up two slip n’ slides. Players can start at the bottom or top of the slide, but they must run up the hill and slide all the way down before tagging the next player in.
  • SAKHLI RELAY: Players stand in a line and put their left hand under the legs of the person in front of them and grab the hand of the other player with their right hand to form a chain. Run to the end and back without breaking the chain to win! This can also be played as a game of tag where the chain keeps growing with every tagged player.


C IS FOR CREATIVITY

CHOOSE GAMES THAT INSPIRE CREATIVE & STRATEGIC THINKING. Sometimes thinking outside of the box is the best know-how of all. Although critical and strategic thinking skills don’t fully develop until adolescence, the foundations for them can begin in childhood. Initiating homeschool games that require kids to think critically, discuss strategy and encourage creativity are a great way for homeschool parents to help strengthen these skills. Look for games that spark the imagination and foster creativity to keep young minds active and challenged. Giant outside yard games like Jenga and Connect Four encourage strategic thinking while home-made games like scavenger hunts or treasure maps develop creativity.


HOMEMADE SCAVENGER HUNT
Try dividing into two to have one team devise a treasure map for the other. Then, both teams start at the same time to see who finds all the treasure first. 

WIZARDS & WEREWOLVES
Bring fantasy to life in this outdoor game of hunting, hiding and howling! Play as a Wizard to search for glowing crystals or bare your teeth and hunt as a Werewolf. This unique game blends imagination with physical activity and is best played after the sun goes down. 

DIY BRAND NEW GAME
You can even let your homeschooler make up their very own active games. Provide them with a variety of sports equipment such as bean bags, jump ropes, hula hoops and different sized balls. Let them develop the rules and name the game. Change the equipment up each week to provide inspiration. You can even provide a variety of recycled goods such as plastic bottles or cardboard boxes. One week, they may create a bowling alley with 2 liter bottles and duct tape. The next week, they may want to create and master their own miniature golf course with foam pool noodles and empty metal cans. With your supervision, bring out the spray paint and let them paint a hopscotch or twister game on the grass.

With these basic ABCs for homeschool games, there is no limit to their active imaginations. Whatever you choose to play, keep them Active, give them a Boost and encourage Creativity. Make it a part of your daily or weekly routine and watch as the benefits take hold.

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