Looking for games to boost family togetherness and knowledge at the same time? Here are several my family enjoys. You can purchase all these games at homeschool retailer Rainbow Resource.
Settlers of Canaan
A take-off on the popular strategy game Settlers of Cataan, Settlers of Canaan is a favorite with my whole family. As one of the 12 tribes of Israel, you seek to settle Palestine, build up Jerusalem, and avoid plagues with the help of the priests. My boys enjoy this version more than the original (we own both). While it does not teach as much about the old Testament as I expected, it does utilize higher thinking skills. Don’t be afraid to let your primary-school children give it a try. They can learn the basics of the game by partnering with a parent first.
Kids of Cataan is an excellent alternative to Candyland-type games for your preschoolers. High-quality wooden pieces could make this an heirloom. Your little ones will enjoy playing a simplified version of the game their older siblings love.
Journeys of Paul
Created by the makers of Settlers of Canaan, this game does not rate quite as high with reviewers, but it is still one of my boys’ favorites. (I have never played this one myself.) Your goal is to establish churches throughout the Roman Empire. You will gain more concrete knowledge from this than from the Cataan series, including the locations of important cities in Roman times, sites visited by St. Paul, the importance of deacons in the early Church, and the hazards of journeys in the ancient world. The first to build churches in four cities, ending with Rome, is the winner.
Scrabble is still the unbeatable standard of games for word-lovers. We relax the rules a bit so that kids eight and up can play against Mom and Dad. Letting them use dictionaries or work as a team, you might be surprised when they beat you. Build crosswords with letter tiles, winning points for each letter, plus bonuses for placing the tiles on specific squares on the game board.
If you’re looking for a word game for younger children, skip Scrabble Junior and try Word Pirates. Here players roll dice with letters on all six sides, then link words together with the results. The object of the game is to make a path for your pirate to buried treasure. Players can block each others’ efforts and build wooden, as well as word, bridges. Suggested for ages 6-10.
If you have introverts who prefer to play alone, this game will occupy them for hours. A version of the Japanese sudoku puzzle, Picdoku uses picture tiles. You can choose to work with animals or different-colored shapes. There are four levels of cards, from beginner to expert, with six puzzles for each level. My husband Dan and I have both “wasted” entire evenings with Picdoku once the kids brought it out. Those who thrive on competition can race to see who finishes his puzzle first. There are enough puzzles here that you can do them over and over without fear of remembering the solution from last time.
I hope you will include some board games under the tree this Christmas. Our family wouldn’t be the same without them.
Note 1: Sorry for the late posts this week! With my unexpected radio interview last Monday, then hosting Thanksgiving for the first time in years, I have been swamped (in a good way). I will try to get back on schedule this coming week.
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