It’s no secret that I love to use games in our homeschool. I think games are a wonderful way to have fun as a family while sneaking in some learning. And, while we are on the topic of sneaking in learning, I’m going to tell you about one of my favorite ways to accomplish this. I call it lunchtime learning!
Lunchtime Learning: Games to Play While You Eat!
I used to keep a small bin of travel-sized games that could wipe clean (because lunchtime involves sticky fingers!) on top of my refrigerator. Nowadays, these games are stored in a kitchen cabinet. The idea is to keep small, easy to clean up, and educational games in an accessible location. Once your kids are seated and eating, you have a captive audience! Many of these games are portable so you can toss them in your purse and take them to restaurants too. Games make waiting for your food much more enjoyable!
This was our very first lunchtime learning game. Beginner Dinner Games is a simple card game for all ages. There are several categories: just for fun, the five senses, creative and critical thinking, memory, expressive language and listening, and social skills. Each card has an idea for an activity or a game that you can play at the dinner table. This game never fails to make us giggle!
Table Topics is a fantastic game and is available in several different editions. I think of it as Beginner Dinner Game’s big brother. Whereas Beginner Dinner Games can be goofy, Table Topics is a bit more serious. Featuring over 100 conversation starters, Table Topics will lead your family down rabbit holes as you build memories together and work on conversational skills!
I love to grab this game and our family’s globe and see where it takes us. World Box is a global memory game. Players are asked to study a given card. The cards cover various topics, such as countries of the world, cultures, oceans, etc. Each card contains fun facts and various details. Then, the card is taken away and the players are asked questions about the card. Obviously, the cards are small so you aren’t getting in-depth information, but it is a fun way to sneak in some geography.
My kiddos love trivia. Professor Noggin card decks have been a favorite in our home for years. We love to learn random facts over lunch!
My children love to play Boggle over lunch. Sometimes, we write down the words we find but other times we just call them out. This is an easy game to plunk on the table and play as you eat!
Rory’s Story Cubes are so versatile! They can be used as an ice breaker in a group activity, as a one player game, or in a group. There are several versions available. There are also countless ways to play this game, but the way we normally play is to roll all nine dice and then tell a story based on the images rolled. Rory’s Story Cubes never fails to elicit laughter, all the while building creativity and imagination.
This game is new to us, thanks to my homeschoolin’ sister Kara! It is such a simple concept but packed with fun. The game comes in a variety of different themes, but the goal of each is to place your cards in the correct chronological order. You create your very own timeline of historical events, or movies, or inventions. Tons of fun!
Cardline Animals is from the makers of Timeline and Kara told me about this one, too. Similar to Timeline, the goal of Cardline Animals is to arrange cards in the proper order. You can choose to play the game based on one of three categories: lifespan, size, or weight. These options keep the game fresh. I cannot tell you how many times we’ve played this game since Kara first told me about it!
Once again I have to thank Kara for this idea. Our family loves the goofy game of Headbanz (I mean, really, who doesn’t??), but I had never thought to play it while making risotto… until Kara told me, during a recent podcast episode, that is what she does. We have taken to playing Headbandz all over the house: while folding laundry, cleaning up, and during meals. Headbanz is not quite as educational as some of the other games in this post but it’s heavy on laughter and fun!
ThinkFun has a variety of dice games on the market and you can’t go wrong with any of them! In fact, our family has yet to meet a ThinkFun game we don’t absolutely love! Math Dice can be used for all ages and in a variety of different ways. Younger players can identify numbers or count dots, while older players can work on addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. To add a challenge, grab a stopwatch!
I’ve already mentioned that my kids love trivia and so it will come as no surprise that they adore these challenge decks from Brain Quest. These have also saved the day in many a waiting room and on long car rides. If your kids love these, too, be sure to check out the Brain Quest workbooks. We aren’t a huge workbook family, but we make an exception for Brain Quest!
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Cait co-hosts The Homeschool Sisters Podcast and is co-founder of Raising Poppies, a community for parents of gifted and twice-exceptional children. Cait is also founder of the Family Book Club at My Little Poppies, a fantastic community of book-loving parents and the Gameschool Community at My Little Poppies, a vibrant community of gameschoolers.
Cait is a contributing writer for Simple Homeschool and GeekMom. Her work has also appeared on The Huffington Post, The Mighty, and Scary Mommy. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram