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Wanted: Your best and worst for educational "extras" - Board games, computer, etc.


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I recommend the old Math Blaster games, Zoombinis, Clue Finders, and Fritz & Chesster.

 

Waste of money: Mia (no variety in problem sets)

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We love the wooden pattern blocks. My younger dd used to spend great amounts of time arranging them in patterns and pictures while I worked with my older dd or while listening to read-alouds. We also enjoyed the books that went with them, where you use different combinations of blocks to create pictures.

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Oh, I forgot... we've got lots of mileage out of standard unit blocks (2 sets of Melissa and Doug), and Polydron has been all the rage for the last year or so. We splurged for one of the big classroom sets for Christmas last year, and haven't regretted it for a second. We used the middle school lesson plans for these as well.

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BEST:

 

Math

- math manipulatives & matching booklets: pattern blocks; geoboards; multi-link cubes; fraction bars/circles; cuisenaire rods

- old computer game series: Math Blasters, Mighty Math, Cluefinders

- board games: Muggins: Knock Out; Monopoly, Life, Go For Broke, Sequence Dice, card game called 99;

 

Language Arts

- old computer game series: Cluefinders, Reader Rabbit, Schoolhouse Rock: Grammar Rock

- Mad Libs; Grammar Ad Libs

- magnetic letters for spelling words

- board games: Python Path, Boggle, Quiddler

- Calvin & Hobbes comic collections (no joke! this is what kept struggling reader trying to read, he so wanted to know what those comics said!)

 

Science

- library videos of: Magic School Bus; Bill Nye the Science Guy; Amazing Planet; Building Big; Popular Mechanics for Kids; some NOVA episodes

- computer games: New Way Things Work; Pinball Science; Gizmos and Gadgets

- portable magnifier with a light in it

- Wild Goose Science kits

- Adventures in Science Electricity kit

- Gears and Pulleys kit (Museum of Science & Industry kit)

- good magnet kit with: bar magnets, horseshoe magnets, ring magnets, iron filings; etc.

- nature print paper

 

Logic / Strategy

- games: Scan (Old Parker Brothers game still available on ebay); Sequence; Mastermind; Amazing Labrynth; Clue; 221B Baker Street

- computer games: World of Goo; Crazy Machines; The Incredible Machine: Even More Contraptions; Mission: T.H.I.N.K.; Operation Neptune; Pajama Sam and Spy Fox games

- Puzzlemania Books

- Rush Hour

- Risk

 

 

DIDN'T WORK AT ALL FOR US:

- old GeoSafari electronic board and card sets

- Math Shark

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The best:

 

Dining placemats of world maps, presidents, etc.

Decks of Cards, the ordinary playing cards

Chess

Pre-Math-It, which amounts to dominoes. All my kids have played with dominoes for countless hours and it helped them learn math patterns.

All the manipulatives that came with Saxon K, especially the bears.

 

 

The worst:

 

One dinosaur geo-puzzle. That thing totally stunk

some montessori manipulatives I bought and barely ever touched.

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My ds6 taught himself to read when he was a toddler and I'm pretty sure Leap Frog Fridge Phonics had something to do with it.

 

That is too funny! I got the Leap Frog Fridge phonics free when the CPSIA legislation went through as my homeschool consignment store had to purge anything "questionable". That little voice has been singing constantly from the depths of my kitchen and now my daughter is sounding things out on her own. Who knew?

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Our favorites:

 

Base Ten blocks (we play games with them using dice)

Quirkle

Bananagrams

Knock-Out and Muggins

Flashmaster

Old Computer games that no longer work on our newer computers (my kids are constantly sad about this) like Freddie Fish/Pajama Sam/Spy Fox and tons others I can't think of

Clue

MunchMath (board game)

Scrabble (new favorite)

10 Days in....

GeoPuzzles

Sum Swamp

Dino Math Tracks

 

Boo, Hiss:

GeoSafari cards and machine

All inane preschool games like Candyland and Hi Ho Cherry-O

 

Blessings,

Sandwich

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Hits:

Sum Swamp

Somebody

Right Start manipulatives & games

Kumon workbooks for preschool/fine motor skills

Time4Learning K and 1 LA

Reading Eggs

Jumpstart World Kindergarten and 1st Grade

interlocking base-10 blocks

cuisinaire rods

MathTacular videos

Leapfrog Letter and Word Factory videos

 

 

Misses:

Time4Learning Kindergarten math

Mia computer games (I hate them so much I hide them from my child)

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Keep em coming!

 

This thread has been so helpful in helping me create a family wish list on Amazon. We have five kids, and it feels like we have "everything" already. And yet, they keep having birthdays and the relatives want to know what new ideas we have for gifts. This thread has introduced me to so many new games - it's been great.

 

Other things we've really enjoyed for fun have been:

Elenco electric kit

Capsela science kit

These have lasted 4 rough and tumble boys who all love to build and are still in great condition!

 

Keep posting your ideas - I love them!

 

Glad to hear we aren't the only ones GeoSafari hasn't worked for either. We wanted that for a long time, and once we have it, it mostly takes up space on the shelf. I feel really bad about it. I would have had fun with it as a kid, but I guess my kids just don't enjoy it. We'll still hold onto it for another few years to see how the youngest 2 use it.

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Elenco electric kit
Oh, oh, oh... and Elenco's Snap Circuits!
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What worked:

 

Sum Swamp (a favorite even with my now-teens)

 

Musical Notebooks - an absolute must-have!! One for the home and one for the van.

 

all math manipulatives but especially pattern blocks and the animal book it came with

 

educational posters - We put 3 posters on our dining room table: one science, one history, one geography. Over this we put a clear plastic tablecloth and watch as our dc learn more about U.S. geography than they did the year I actually taught it! I plan to change the posters every 3mo so next they will learn about Africa, the circulatory system, and Native American tribes. I wish I'd done this years ago!

 

educational shower curtains - We have one in each bathroom (metamorphosis and the water cycle) and one on our dining room wall (we hung a curtain rod on the wall behind the table). That one is the Periodic Table as we will be studying Chemistry in the fall. I cannot say enough about these wonderful resources! My dc no longer stand and stare at themselves in the mirror while brushing their teeth, they stand and learn science!

 

educational yet fun books - I collect sets of books (Sir Cumference, Christian Liberty Nature Readers, etc.) and every Sunday night I lay out a new set on a side table in my living room. It is a joy to watch my dc walk by, notice the new set out (well, new in that it is no longer on a shelf in our garage/schoolroom) and sit down for a quick read. Much better than having the books gather dust until I am teaching that particular topic.

 

educational extras: Just as I do with the books I bring out a hands-on resource (Mr. Bones, take-apart human body, Creation Ball set, circuit set, etc.) and put it on a table in the living room. After a week it is put away and a new resource is put out. Our back door (sliding glass) is home to a life-size x-ray of a child's body complete with labels for the bones. A 16" diameter blow-up earth hangs from a bathroom ceiling (not a cartoonish colored globe, a realistic model of what Earth looks like from space).

 

History Channel DVDs - We invested a huge amount of $ on these a few years ago and have never regretted it.

 

Future investment will be good quality models of human body parts (eye, brain, etc.).

 

Miss:

The only one I can think of right now is Quarter Mile math. Big bomb in our family.

Edited by LuvnMySvn
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For phonics - Reading Mansion. Neat game, games were based on skill of the educational focus - not mouse skills.

 

Crystal Rain Forest for Logo programming introduction.

 

Also the Zoombinis games for logical thinking.

 

Creativity Express for a gentle introduction to art and art appreciation.

 

Music Ace Deluxe for an introduction to music.

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Best:

Shut the Box dice game for elementary age. Easy one on one game that you can pick up anytime.

Scrabble

Allowance Game

Sum Swamp

 

 

Worst

Games from Lakeshore Learning. Good, well-built games, but received "worst" because of the small window of opportunity to use them.

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Computer games:

 

Puzzlemania

Schoolhouse Rock

Backyard Sports (baseball, hockey, etc) - not sure of the educational factor in these...

SpongeBob typing (most encouraging typing game I've found)

Impossible Creatures

 

 

Board games: ones not mentioned yet

 

Carcasonne

 

SPIVS - stands for something like Space Intergalactic Vehicles ??? You fly around in spaceships between planets trying to avoid meteors and solar flares while picking up aliens who can cause different things to happen to your spaceship (lose power, eat the other aliens on your spaceship, moves you into a black hole, magnetizes nearby spaceships who have to follow you around....)

 

Curses (kids pick cards (curses) and have to do that activity for the rest of the game - clap your hands every time you talk, talk like Scooby Doo, crow like a rooster...) Can't think of the educational value here either at the moment, but I've never experienced more giggling and laughing with any other board game.

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Wrap Ups

 

http://www.amazon.com/WRAP-UP-BASIC-MATH-INTRO-KIT/dp/B00006667A

 

Mad Libs

 

http://www.amazon.com/Best-Mad-Libs-Roger-Price/dp/0843126981/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1245712117&sr=8-1

 

Sponge Bob typing was very good, but Mavis Beacon's Platinum edition was remarkably good as well. Yes, it has games. It's also got a winning strategy for giving the student exactly what s/he needs at the moment. I sit the kid down with the software and say, "Take the placement test and follow the program. Play a game when Ms. Beacon tells you to, do the exercises she suggests in between games." When they do it "Ms. Beacon's way", they improve faster. It's true "smartware".

 

Geometric pattern blocks are addictive for children of all ages.

 

http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.shopourchildren.com/ProductImages/math/shapescolors/PatternBlocks.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.shopourchildren.com/browseproducts/Geometric-Pattern-Blocks.HTML&h=249&w=400&sz=24&tbnid=2zDElcXF_LIn0M:&tbnh=77&tbnw=124&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dpattern%2Bblocks&usg=__unz9S7O9_nkhzIz6MzPlTr-eHnY=&ei=0RBASp3SHZCNtgfY86WqBA&sa=X&oi=image_result&resnum=5&ct=image

 

Goldfish are cooler pets than I thought they'd be. They're trainable, and some of them are real "personalities".

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What worked:

 

Sum Swamp (a favorite even with my now-teens)

 

Musical Notebooks - an absolute must-have!! One for the home and one for the van.

 

all math manipulatives but especially pattern blocks and the animal book it came with

 

educational posters - We put 3 posters on our dining room table: one science, one history, one geography. Over this we put a clear plastic tablecloth and watch as our dc learn more about U.S. geography than they did the year I actually taught it! I plan to change the posters every 3mo so next they will learn about Africa, the circulatory system, and Native American tribes. I wish I'd done this years ago!

 

educational shower curtains - We have one in each bathroom (metamorphosis and the water cycle) and one on our dining room wall (we hung a curtain rod on the wall behind the table). That one is the Periodic Table as we will be studying Chemistry in the fall. I cannot say enough about these wonderful resources! My dc no longer stand and stare at themselves in the mirror while brushing their teeth, they stand and learn science!

 

educational yet fun books - I collect sets of books (Sir Cumference, Christian Liberty Nature Readers, etc.) and every Sunday night I lay out a new set on a side table in my living room. It is a joy to watch my dc walk by, notice the new set out (well, new in that it is no longer on a shelf in our garage/schoolroom) and sit down for a quick read. Much better than having the books gather dust until I am teaching that particular topic.

 

educational extras: Just as I do with the books I bring out a hands-on resource (Mr. Bones, take-apart human body, Creation Ball set, circuit set, etc.) and put it on a table in the living room. After a week it is put away and a new resource is put out. Our back door (sliding glass) is home to a life-size x-ray of a child's body complete with labels for the bones. A 16" diameter blow-up earth hangs from a bathroom ceiling (not a cartoonish colored globe, a realistic model of what Earth looks like from space).

 

History Channel DVDs - We invested a huge amount of $ on these a few years ago and have never regretted it.

 

Future investment will be good quality models of human body parts (eye, brain, etc.).

 

Miss:

The only one I can think of right now is Quarter Mile math. Big bomb in our family.

 

 

I love the educational shower curtain idea!

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Bananagrams and Apples to Apples. Bananagrams is great because it is so portable. We recently got together with several other homeschoolers, and there were six kids at a time playing. My son also likes playing solo. Every time he uses up all the letters, we take a picture of him posing with his anagram!

 

Our whole family can play Apples to Apples--with dc from ages 13 to 7. We often make up our own rules, and we are almost always laughing like crazy at some point during this game.

 

Jacklyn

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When ds was two, we bought a computer just for the children, and it's paid off to the point that we've bought them laptops now that they're older. We had an "educational only" rule, which we've stretched recently to allow some business simulation software, and I think that helped us make the most of the computer. And, btw, my dc are very imaginative, creative, etc. -- the computer didn't turn them into passive zombies!

 

When they were little, some of the best software was:

 

DK's Explorer series (World, British Isles, USA, Human Body, etc.)

Jumpstart

Mighty Math series

Carmen SanDiego series

 

Now (jr.high / high school) we use:

 

Rosetta Stone

Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing

Microsoft Office

Chocolatier (fun!)

Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 (fun!)

The Print Shop

Starry Night Backyard or Voyager II (astronomy - but they've just told me that you can get a good program at stellarium.org for free.)

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Alphasmart Dana - outfitted with Inspiration and Ultrakey(typing program). Kids learned to type early with this sturdy portable mini computer.

 

Kurzweil 3000 Scan/Read software- able to teach French since I can scan SYRWTL French and reads it back to us in French; scan a book, save as an audio mp3 file that kids download into their mp3

 

mp3 - converted IEW dvds into mp3 format and kids watch SWI lessons

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Board games?

10 days in the USA

10 days in Africa (also Europe)

We have lots of historical war games (such as Axis and Allies) in which the boys have learned tons of geography and history

Knockout/Muggins

 

Computer games?

Rainbow Rock (Singapore math)

 

Manipulatives?

In general I love math manipulatives and many of the ones from Learning Resources for math

 

Educational puzzles?

Global puzzle

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What are some of your favorite extra educational items you use in your house? (Or items you wished you hadn't spent the money on?)

 

Board games?

Computer games?

Manipulatives?

Educational puzzles?

Etc.

 

 

A 'best buy' when ds was around 5-7 was a Leapster and some cartridges for it. Ds enjoyed playing with it, and it actually helped with reinforcing some basic spelling, math and reading skills.

 

Now that he's a little older, Lego robotics stuff has been awesome.

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We love the clear plastic tablecloth cover idea as well.

 

This is a list of what we've put under it over the last year:

 

US maps

Maps of states we plan to visit

Complicated puzzles we've done

Map of shipwrecks of the Great Lakes

Daily calendar pages - from Cranium - had puzzles, or quiz to do on each day

Christmas cards

Pictures people sent us - especially family pictures of relatives we rarely see

Posters of other things - copy of the Constitution, etc.

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Board Game - "Create A Story"

 

iPods for the kids - I'm addicted to librivox.org and download a ton of books for them through it

 

Each kid has a computer and they are both working on saving up for laptops - which we will probably allow with the same restrictions as their computers

 

My comb binding machine - I make up fun workbooks for them from schoolexpress.com and whatever else I find for them.

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Flashmaster was a wonderful help for us. Prior to that studying the our math tables with cards and math minutes was not productive and often stress inducing. This improved the scores on math work painlessly!

 

Quiddler is a favorite too. We love to play this and it always creates learning opportunities.

 

Board Games--Apples to Apples, Taboo and a fun family game is Rummy Kub. If you have a larger group you buy 2 games and have more tiles.

 

Blessings,

 

Barbara in NH

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We liked Lego Creator board game. Someone got it for birthday gift years ago and we wanted to replace it. It is $60 on Amazon now!! I'm sure it was a clearance item when we got it.

computer - Zoo Tycoon

This is a great thread!

Karen

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Puzzles and Games:

The Continent Puzzles from A Broader View

Human Anatomy floor puzzle from Melissa and Doug

Wordigo

The Amazing Labyrinth

10 Days in Europe

American Trivia Board Game (we have the junior edition)

SomeBody

Brain Quest (the board game and the cards)

 

Software

Critical Thinking's Word Roots

Critical Thinking's Academic Challenge Cup

Critical Thinking's Revenge of the Logic Spiders

 

Other fun stuff

Fischertechnik engineering kits (these are pricey, but wonderful!)

Thames and Kosmos' science kits---we've had and used one for chemistry, and one called Perfume Science

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My kids are young, but we did a semi-formal twice a week preschool this year, and my DD has totally blossomed (DS is interested bc DD is interested, so that's a plus! LOL)

 

We loved:

Brain Quest decks

Leapfrog's Letter Factory DVD

PBS games online

Noggin games online

Starfall.com

Sheppherd Software games online

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We are huge game playing family.

 

We LOVE:

 

Word Exchange

Settlers of Catan (absolute favorite.....we own the original, Seafarers, and Cities and Knights)

Scrabble

Mancala

Blockus

Stratego

Risk

Carcassone

 

and lots of card games:

Canasta (absolute favorite)

500

Spades

Rummy

Euchre

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We think Wedgits are fantastic. They can be enjoyed on many different levels by kids (age 1+) and adults. Stacking them is just the beginning, as they can also be wedged together to make more interesting structures. My kids enjoy both free form building and attempting to copy structures shown on the cards in Wedgit building decks.

 

The Ed Emberley's thumbprint and fingerprint books are often requested by my 3 and 5 year olds.

 

My 5 year old loves River Crossing Jr, which is a problem solving game. There's also a version for older kids (8+): River Crossing. I'm tempted to buy that one for myself :D, but I'm trying to hold out until my kids are ready for it.

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Great games for fun:

Family Pastimes cooperative games

Chess

Up the River

Cadoo

 

Great games for education:

The Garden Game

The Lakeshore Science games were great for 5th grade.

Artifact

Scrabble

Egyptians

Perspective

12 sided dice to use for devised multiplication games

Equate--the best 'math scrabble' I have ever seen

 

Good science stuff:

5 inch magnifying glass on a stand

Camera

Snap Circuits

Astronomy map--the circular kind that you orient with the compass and set with the time and date and location to see what the sky should look like, and red cellophane cover for a flashlight

Flower press

Hiking guides

 

Great enrichment items:

Learn to knit kit from Magic Cabin

Waldorf-style seasonal craft books

Lots of good quality art supplies

Sewing box from Magic Cabin, and basic sewing supplies and lots of colors of felt

Multi-colored Sharpie sets from Costco. When they get dry, buy another set.

Oil pastels, because they work on dark paper as well as light

Klutz press craft books/kits

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