How do you spell “d-i-n-n-e-r”?

I feel a need to help supplement my daughters’ education, and not just rely on the public school system.  Perhaps it’s because the schools here have some of the worst ratings in the nation, or perhaps because many of the teenagers I meet here struggle with reading, spelling, vocabulary, and math.  But whatever the reason, I do believe that parents are the childrens’ main teacher, and it’s a responsibility I take seriously.

I may take it seriously, but the learning isn’t serious.

As a family with very limited time (probably a lot like yours), I found a magic time to squeeze in an educational game — dinner time.  Here are 2 games we like to play:

How Do You Spell D-i-n-n-e-r?

I pass out 7 Scrabble Slam! cards  to each player.  These cards have letters on both sides, and really you can use any cards with letters on them.

Then someone chooses something to spell, usually something that is being served for dinner.  (You may want to consider your child’s school spelling list as well.)

The goal of the game is to get rid of your cards first.  There are no turns, but you cannot put down two letters in a row, unless no one else has the second letter.  So, say the word is pasta, someone puts a P card in the middle of the table.  Someone else puts an A card next to it, and so forth til the word is spelled.  The girls love it and are learning, and even our 3 year old who knows the sounds of the letters can play.

Odds and Evens

Another dinner game works on math skills.  I have 2 number die as well as one dice that has + and – signs on the sides.

Each side of the table is a team and can decide which team is Evens and which is Odds.  Each team takes turns rolling the die and solving the number problem.  If the answer is an Even number, the Evens get a point.  If the number is Odd, the Odds team gets a point.

Variations of this game can include division and multiplication, or doubles, meaning only 1 dice is rolled and the team solves for the double of that number.  Don’t have number die?  Number cards can be used as well.

What’s that Word?

This one takes more preparation, but can help expand your child’s (and perhaps your own) vocabulary.  Make a stack of cards with one word written on each, and 3 definitions for the word written underneath, in A,B, and C order.  Only one definition is correct.  The words can come from your child’s school list or lists found on the internet of words your child should know according to age, such as this website,  Each person guesses the correct definition.  Whoever gets it right wins.

Of course, the playing material may get sticky and spotted from eating mishaps, but I’d rather have sharper minds than clean playing cards.

Have any other educational game ideas?  Especially ones that can be played during dinner?  Please post your ideas in a comment below.  I’d love to add more.

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About Heidi

My name is Heidi and I live on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii. I have three young girls and a baby son, and a husband who makes me laugh. We love to turn up the music and dance in the livingroom, bend down and smell fresh grass, and play at the beach in the sunshine. I run a stand up paddle school, sharing good times with tourists on the island. I love teaching stand up paddling, and it proves a challenge to do a good job raising a family while running a business. Like my post? Please leave a comment.
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