Tag Archives: Games

Alphabet Monster

Alphabet Monster GraphicYou may not know this, but my home is over run by monsters.

I don’t know why so many games I make up seems to have monsters in them, but the kids love them, so why quit? (See Garbage Monster for an example.)

Alphabet Monster is one of our favorite monster games. It’s been around since Pepper (11) was just two years old, and I started playing around with teaching her to read. That means that Alphabet Monster is older than my decision to homeschool–wow! Now I’m playing it with my youngest, Bok Choy (5), and it’s still as fun as ever . . . although it has gone through a few variations through the years.

It’s a great game when you’re just teaching the sounds that go with each letter. I’ve played it with just one kid or with all four kids at the same time. And it’s fabulous for the kid who just can’t seem to sit still.

Here’s how you play: Continue reading



Filed under Games, Learning Activities

Going Fishing

We’ve been catching a lot of fish at my house over the last few days . . . and they taste a lot like chocolate!

Bok Choy (5) has been asking to play our fishing math game every day for the last week. It’s easy to pull together, quick to play, and easy to clean up–so it’s also one of MY favorite games to play.

Here’s how you can fish in your house: Continue reading

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Filed under Games, Learning Activities

Tickets, Please!

So many times, what you CALL an activity determines how FUN the activity is. (Remember Garbage Monster?)

So it is with “ticket math,” another little gem of a game that we pull out from time to time to review facts (mostly math).

Here’s how you play: Continue reading

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Filed under Games, Learning Activities

The Power of a Chocolate Chip

Pepper (10) and Lima Bean (8) take music lessons. Music is a huge part of our family culture, so I want them to reap the benefits that come from being capable musicians.

But they’re young so they aren’t intrinsically motivated to practice most of the time. . . okay, hardly ever . . . well . . . never might be stretching it . . . but not much.

So I’ve created a small reward system to help motivate them. Each day they practice without giving me a hard time they get a piece of gum. When they try something new, they get a chocolate chip. That’s right a SINGLE chocolate chip. That means that on a good day, they might get one piece of gum and five or six chocolate chips total.

I know, it seems like a ridiculously small amount. They can even go to the store and buy their own bags of chocolate chips and their own packs of gum. But it works so I’m not complaining.

Any reward is a form of external motivation, so you have to be careful how you use it. But sometimes you need a reward to kick-start a kid’s intrinsic desire to do something. And you have to remember that sometimes their intrinsic desire will kick in right away, and sometimes it will take years. (Eeek, parenting really is about taking the long view, isn’t it?)

So, when I decide to use a reward, I try to keep in mind the four S’s. Continue reading


Filed under Theory Behind It All