Table top games — including board games and card games — can teach kids all kinds of skills, even if they don’t claim to be “educational.” Simple games like Chutes and Ladders or Hi Ho! Cherry-O help little ones practice counting. Many games, such as Risk or Settlers of Catan, are based on real or imaginary geography. Both can get kids thinking about what is needed to survive and prosper in a society.

Word games like Scrabble help develop spelling and vocabulary. Trivial Pursuit and similar games like reward players who possess arcane knowledge (which homeschoolers often tend to do) — but also expose kids to factoids that may inspire them to dig deeper.

Just as importantly, games (of all kinds) provide a chance to work on turn-taking, delayed gratification, and other social skills. Not to mention, they show kids different ways to have fun with other people!

 

 

Virtually any book can be used as a homeschooling tool, and that includes picture books and graphic novels. Simple picture books like those by Doctor Seuss and graphic novels can motivate young children and beginning readers with interesting stories that don’t rely solely on decoding the text. There are even high-quality nonfiction picture books like the architecture books of David Macaulay (Cathedral, Mill, Building Big) that are substantial enough for older readers.

Graphic novels for teens may look like book-sized comics, but they’re much, much more. They encompass powerful stories like Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons and the real-life memoir Persepolis, about an Iranian girl’s escape to Europe. Some nonfiction graphic novels, like Larry Gonick’s “Cartoon Guides” to chemistry, statistics and the “history of the universe,” could almost be considered text books in disguise.