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I love making learning fun! It’s one of my favorite benefits of homeschooling.
One easy way to add some enjoyment to your homeschooling routines is to throw in some games. Games are a low-key way to learn. Kids eagerly play a game, while maybe they wouldn’t eagerly tackle a worksheet or another activity.
Playing games also allow kids a chance to practice soft skills like these:
- Creative thinking
- Waiting for a turn
- Being a good winner/loser
- Communication skills
These skills are crucial for life.
And in today’s hectic world of screen overload, connecting over a board game is a welcome respite.
Soft skills aren’t the only way board games enhance learning. There are so many excellent games out there that focus on a specific area of academic instruction.
I’ve been integrating more games into our schooling, and wanted to share how I’m purposefully supplementing our curriculum with games.
Since my ten-year-old son shares my love of games, I’ll start with these. These games all work to enhance the learning he’s doing in fourth grade.
What I love about this age is that fourth graders are really starting to think. They typically enjoy some strategy. They’re usually able to independently read the cards they’re dealt, and follow directions well.
This opens up a whole new level of board game fun! I love watching my kids think critically about a move, or try to deduce something from the information they have.
I hope these games inspire you to add some play into your fourth grader’s school days!
Reading, writing, and language skills are crucial. These games make them fun to learn and practice.
Make spelling practice more fun with this classic game. You can play the traditional way, or just use the tiles to practice spelling lists.
It’s neat to see how the current week’s words can connect to each other.
Fourth graders are able to understand how and why pictures relate to the stories. They’re able to examine the picture for clues, and make predictions based on them. They can read captions and draw illustrations related to those.
They’re the perfect age for playing Scribblish!
Scribblish reminds me of the telephone game. Everyone starts by secretly reading a word or phrase from a card and writing it on their scroll. Then, each person draws a picture to illustrate what they wrote down.
Everyone rolls up their scroll so just the picture is showing. Then an exchange happens. You pass your scroll to someone else.
This person looks at the picture, and tries to figure out what it is. They then write down a caption for the picture.
Again, the scrolls get rolled up. This time, only the caption shows.
Everyone passes the scrolls again. Now they look at the caption, and draw a picture.
Play continues until the final box on the scroll is finished. Then, everyone has to look at the final one and guess which was their original scroll.
It’s a fun way to practice learning about parts of texts, and how ideas can get a bit scrambled in communication.
Once Upon a Time
Storytelling is such an important skill. Being able to tell stories is an important part of being able to WRITE stories.
Once Upon a Time is a great way to practice storytelling skills for fourth graders. It’s a bit more complex than the early learning storytelling game we enjoy (Tell Me a Story), but isn’t too difficult for this age.
In this game, there are cards representing different things that can appear in fairy tales. You’ll find cards for:
- Aspects – Describing words
The goal is to tell a story using the cards. The first person starts a story. Whenever he weaves one of his cards from his hand into the story, he sets it down on the table.
If the storyteller says something that matches a card in another person’s hand, that person sets their card down. Then they take over the story.
There are interrupting cards too, that allow you to take over without waiting for a playable card.
Once one person has played all of his cards, he can play the “Happily Ever After” card. This ends the story and declares him the winner.
Fourth graders are old enough to legitimately use all of their cards. It’s against the rules of the game to just randomly mention something to play a card. This means you have to weave each one into the story naturally.
I occasionally will pass out several cards and have my fourth grader write a short story with them. This is a fun way to use the game in a non-traditional way.
Fourth grade is the year I work on states and capitals with my kids. So, the games in this section are all based on US geography.
Ticket to Ride
In this game, you try to punch “tickets” getting you from one US city to another. The board is a giant map of the US, with many large cities marked.
My family really enjoys this game, and we’ve purchased several expansions. (Our latest is Rails and Sails, which is a world wide map!)
But, for fourth grade, the US map is a great way to practice geography and become familiar with the layout of the US states.
We also have the 1910 Expansion Pack, which has some fun variations and new tickets.
We prefer the larger cards in this expansion pack, and often use them instead of the originals.
The Scrambled States of America
This is a fun trivia style game based on the book of the same name. The concept is that the states got tired of being where they were, and wanted to move to a new location.
Of course they eventually realize that they really did prefer their original location. 😀
For this card game, you get to practice capitals, nicknames, and locations as you try to collect state cards. It’s a fairly quick playing game, which is nice!
Sequence States and Capitals
Learning capitals doesn’t require tons of drill. Just lots of practice! This game makes it fun.
You match states to capitals and put little tokens on the board. When you get a sequence (a certain number of tokens based on the number of players), you win.
Since the cards and board both have the shapes of the state, it’s also a good way to become familiar with what each state looks like.
Fourth grade is a year for money sense/adding and subtracting money, fractions, basic geometry, and memorizing multiplication facts. These games help with those skills.
A great way to introduce the coordinate plane system, Battleship allows you to try to sink your opponent’s ships.
This game really incorporates logic. There’s definite strategy involved in trying to deduce where the other person’s ships are.
And I like that it’s a two-player game. I can grab my fourth grader and play, which makes it a fun way to spend time together.
The Brilliant: Math Board Game for Learning Multiplication Through Play
My son really needs to continue practicing multiplication facts. But, he was getting bored with speed drills. So I started searching for a better way.
Since he loves games, I knew this would be a great fit. I just ordered my copy, but I’m so excited to play it with him!
The games is set in a bakery, and players are ants trying to collect crumbs. Then you have to multiply by the number on the food to get some ant money.
It looks really fun! If it ends up being a bust, I’ll update this post and remove it from the list.
This is one of my son’s favorite games. It’s all about adding and subtracting money. There’s bills to pay, investments to make, and savings to grow.
I don’t like how it focuses on going into debt to score big deals. So, I modified it. You can see the details of how I modify money based games to teach better financial literacy in that post.
These games really work on critical thinking skills. Players have to use logic, economic basics, and strategy to win.
Settlers of Catan
My son has recently declared this series of games to be his current favorites. We own many of the expansions, and I just got Traders and Barbarians for my birthday! 😀
This game really makes you think about your moves. There are different scenarios in the expansions, which add new challenges.
You have to have resources to build, which really reinforces some basic economics. Without resources, we wouldn’t be able to do much of anything.
They’re challenging, but not too challenging for a fourth grader.
And, they’re a lot of fun for adults too!
My kids frequently play this one together. As they play, they’re practicing the process of elimination. While trying to figure out who, where, and with what weapon, they’re actually using lots of reasoning skills and logic.
What Other Games for 4th Graders Does Your Family Enjoy?
I’d love to hear your recommendations, so please share in the comments.