11 Simple Games for Mixed Groups of Children, Ages 2 and Up

QUESTION: “We have 14 children in our small group and we try to come up with different games or activities for them when we get together at parks or at homes. You have worked with a lot of children throughout your life. Are there any fun games you can share with us? 

ANSWER: I love games that can be played anytime you need a fun and spontaneous activity for little ones. I also love games that build skills, character, and relationships.  Here are 11 of our favorite “Anywhere Games” that children Ages 2.5 and up really love. None of these games require much planning, reading, or small game pieces, so you can play them anywhere and anytime you need to entertain children of all ages.  The most you will need is a pencil, paper, and stuffed animal or toys that you already have.  A few of these games can be played with no props at all, just imagination and conversation.

1.     What do you like best?
Little Children love to ask questions, and they love to answer questions too.  So we made up a game where we take turns asking questions that help us get to know each child better, and we laugh a lot! 

To Play:  I ask the first question: “Joseph, what do you like best: Bubbles or Squirt Guns?” 

He will give his answer, and then it is his turn, and he will ask someone else in the group his question: “Anna, what do you like best planets or watermelons?”  Then Anna will ask another child “What do you like best lunch or breakfast?”  Then that child will ask another child a question: “What do you like best cookies or cake?”   “Green or Blue?”  “Trees of Flowers?”  “Snow or Sand?”  This game is endless. You may need to tell the kids the rules, we only have on: No Potty Talk.

2.     Should We?
 I made up this game for Joseph to help him to learn right and wrong, and to make good choices in a variety of unexpected situations. This game can also bring lots of laughs! Once again it is a game of questions. My kids love to come up to me and say “Let’s play Should We!”

To Play: Just ask questions to make your child think about the right thing to do in an interesting or everyday situation. Sometimes the kids will enjoy making up their own questions.

“Joseph should eat someone else’s cookie?”

“Should we play in the road?”

“Should we eat dirt?”

“Should we eat carrots?”

“Should we put the cat in the bathtub?”

“Should we hit little babies?”

“Should we help mommy sweep the floor?”

“Should we make cookies with grandma?”

“Should we put cookie dough on grandma’s windows?”

3.     Family Questions (You can play this with any group, the kids love hearing the answers that the adults give too!)

We usually play this conversational game at the dinner table.  With a family of 11 this one can take a lot of time.  It also helps everyone to get to know each other.  Once again it is a Questions Games. 

To Play: Mom or dad usually asks the first question, and everyone takes turns giving their answer.  We usually only get through 3 questions at a meal.  One Rule: No “Yes or No” questions.

We ask questions like these:

“What would you buy if you had $20?”

“What country would you go to if you could go anywhere?”

“What is the most beautiful animal?”

“What do you think we should have for dinner tomorrow?”

“Name one important thing you should think about before you marry someone?”

“If you could have any super power what would it be?”

“What is something you like about the person to your right?”

4.     Drawing on the Ceiling
My husband plays this game when he tucks in the kids at night.  He points to the ceiling with his finger and draws a picture or writes a letter.  The kids try to guess what he is drawing.  They all take turns drawing a picture.  They can give clues like “This is an animal.”

5.     What Animal is It?
My kids love learning about animals, and happen to know the sounds of many interesting and exotic creatures.  All we do is take turns making an animal’s sound and the first one to guess the animal correctly gets to go next.

6.     What Comes Next?
Like most parents, we read the same stories, sing the same songs, and repeat the same rhymes and Bible verses over and over with each child.  Once the words of the story or verse are familiar to the child I will  give the child a chance to finish each line. Children ages 2 to 5 love this. When you are teaching or entertaining a group of children use this activity when telling a story or memorizing a verse.  With older children you can increase the number of words for them to fill in until the child can recite the entire verse alone. This works well for groups, because the children can all shout out the missing words together. 

“For God so loved the _____________.”

“Mary had a little _________.”

“How much is that doggie in the ______________.”

“In the great green room there was a telephone and a red _______________.”

“Jesus Loves ____ This I ________.” (click here to continue reading)

Sarah’s Mom Tips: Literacy Questions

Question: “How do you handle a very active 7-year-old who can’t sit still and always complains about writing. Could it be that he’s just not ready? How can I encourage my 10-year-old to do independent work, even though he can’t read? Is that even possible?”

A lot of times the younger children who can’t sit still and write should just play. Just let them play. They’re never going to get those carefree days of childhood back. If you have a child who is obviously not ready for writing, just give them time. In a year or two they’ll be ready. I’d definitely say for the active 7-year-old you are going to want to just give them tools to learn about their interests. Give them Fun-Schooling Level A books that don’t have a lot of writing in them, but they have a lot of activities that can be done by kids who are not strong readers yet. Same thing for the 10-year-old who isn’t reading much yet. It’s okay for these kids to use the Level A books because they are for kids who are still struggling with reading. There is a really wide age range that can use those. Don’t be too stressed. If you are worried about their ability, definitely do Dyslexia Games because it really helps them to develop the skills they need for literacy without the stress and too much effort on your part.

Question: How did you teach your kids with Dyslexia how to read?

I did not teach them to read. I tried and tried and just could not teach them to read. I tried all the books, all the methods, all the videos and all the tutoring. It had to get to the point where they wanted to read, and they taught themselves.

What we did was create the Dyslexia Games, and they are awesome for prepping their brains for reading. By the time my kids got through Dyslexia Games Series A and Series B, they were reading. The same thing has happened for thousands of other kids as well. They understand phonics, they have gotten down a lot of sight words and they move on to the Fun-Schooling spelling journals.

For my kids who don’t have Dyslexia, I used Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, and Reading Eggs and Time4Learning, and after four or five months with those things, they’d started reading. With the Dyslexic kids, you can try all those methods for four years, and as long as you’re pushing phonics, these kids are going to struggle. You have to deal with what’s going on in the brain, and that’s why Dyslexia Games works well.

“Failing” at 8 Years Old

You have no idea how many people talk to me about how worried they are about their 8-year-old.

Eight-year-olds are the most harshly-judged kids in the entire world because there is such a vast diversity of ability among them. For some, their brains turned on early and their academic skills are great. These kids can read, and write, and win a spelling bee. And then you have the 8-year-old who still can’t read the word “dad”. That was my daughter Anna. We all think we want the super smart kind of 8-year-old who is good at spelling, and most of them are not. Especially the boys. And a lot of the girls are not even ready yet to begin reading two-syllable words. So if you have an 8-year-old who is reading two-syllable words, that’s amazing. It’s actually kind of rare to have a child that age who is naturally really good at that. They have to learn to spell and understand 45,000 different words on their way to adulthood, so don’t expect that child to be able to spell much more than words like farm, dog, cat, pig, and house.

Give grace to your 8-year-olds and let them play games, color, draw, watch educational videos and listen to audio books, and don’t limit them by their abilities, disabilities, or challenges. Just let them be 8 years old. If you let them be that, they are never going to lose their curiosity and wonder and personality and humor and energy and joy. We ruin our 8-year-olds by making them feel like failures. No child that age needs to be considered a failure that young in life, so quit. I was a “failure”…I failed third grade. Do you know how embarrassing, humiliating and heartbreaking it is to fail third grade? Little kids don’t fail. We fail them by having expectations that are completely unreasonable for the individual child.

We worry that our kids’ struggles and mistakes and lack of abilities are going to destroy them for their whole lives. I just want to tell you that failing third grade was part of my story. It was a really important part of my story that I needed to struggle through. I needed that pain and difficulty in my life, because it was a very important part of what made me who I am today. If my education in public school had been easy, and people had respected me as being an intelligent and creative child, and if I had been able to understand the materials and everything and hadn’t failed, I would have no motivation to be helping all of you and creating curriculum for struggling learners.

It’s from my experience as a struggling learner, as a child who was hurt by the system, that I give you Fun-Schooling. I give you Fun-Schooling because as a little child I had a dream of what it would be like if it was always summer vacation. My mom and dad did summer vacation like nobody else. We had the best summers. We would travel all over the country. We had a giant map in our RV on the table. We were always doing geography, following the map, and figuring out where we were going. We did business. We went to art shows. We made art. They let me make art and sell it. I used money. We had a cabinet full of board games—Monopoly and Clue and Mad Libs. It was like the grandest unschooling adventure ever. My mom would read the Chronicles of Narnia books to us and all kinds of other amazing books. We were Fun-Schooling. That was my dream—that education could always be like that.

Fun-Schooling is the dream of a child that was failed. I saw my kids really struggling with trying to do Classical education because I was feeling pressured to do a really structured kind of thing. I’ve seen that the more freedom and tools I give my kids, the more skills I encourage, the more hobbies that they have–the more they become real learners.

Sarah’s Mom Tips – Prioritizing ALL the Things!

As you plan to Fun-School a child under 10, don’t feel like you need to do everything on your list every day.

Listen to your child and watch for what brings them joy. You will learn what subjects and topics your child is passionate about, and those are the ones you should do every day and spend more time on (if the child wants to spend extra time researching their favorite topics).

Many teachers focus the most on the child’s weakness and problem areas. I do not focus more than 20 minutes a week on the problem areas – if the lesson or activity burns them out. If reading is a struggle, I use Dyslexia Games, but only 15 minutes a day – unless they want to do more. Usually they like Dyslexia Games, so it isn’t a struggle.

If math is a struggle, use games, calculators, and our new book 100 Numbers.

If they seem confused when trying to learn math, stop using a memory approach and teach then the WHY and HOW of numbers. They may need time to mature to be able to grasp new concepts. Children need to understand, not just memorize.

Make a lot of time for play, curiosity and discovery.

Children who are entertained constantly, over scheduled, or are addicted to gaming have a lot of issues. You can avoid MANY problems by making sure your child has time to use their imagination and PLAY without constant electronic stimulation. Kids often opt to be entertained. Boredom is okay and leads to innovation.

Healthy children often can’t sit still for more than 20 minutes at a time. They are wiggly by design, children need to move their bodies while learning.

If there is a topic or book that you want to use that they don’t enjoy, you can let it go OR do the work together OR you do it while the child watches you do it.

Make sure your child watches you write – in print and cursive, that’s what the Mom School books are for.

Feel free to use audio books in place of reading, so the child can learn on a higher level.

Throw out anything that makes your child miserable when trying to learn.  Try the fun and joyful methods.  If there is no fun and joyful way to learn, you may be dealing with a maturity issue.

Kids on sugar may seem crazy and out of control.

Kids who do not sleep enough may seem moody and out of control.

Kids who see adults fighting or are exposed to violence on games and movies may seem depressed and unmotivated to learn.

Kids who text all night are often lazy all day. Is your child sleeping with a phone?

Find your child’s passion, and feed it.

It is good for kids to learn to research. Research is an awesome skill that is learned best when a child studies their passion.

Some of most important things to teach your children involve:

1. Reading

2. Research

3. Relationships

4. Responsibility

5. Resourcefulness

6. Rest & Reflection

Put first things first. Outline your goals for each child and help them grow in the things that really matter.

Ignore anything on this list that you don’t agree with, this is my method, and may not be right for your family.

Discover Your Child’s Secret Learning Language with Legos!

Your child doesn’t learn like other kids. He has to be on the go. She is always creating something new. He just wants to play… ALL THE TIME. She’s not interested in textbooks, but she likes computers. He is in his own world. She loves field trips and hates sitting still. She can’t stop talking. He daydreams. She doodles. She is perfect. He is perfect. They just have a different way of learning.

You may feel like your child is failing in school, when in reality he or she can’t learn well in the traditional educational environment! Some kids have to learn through creating, exploring, asking questions and by investigating. They can’t just sit still and learn quietly in a desk, in a classroom, or with a teacher! You may not know how to discover your child’s optimal learning environment. You may not understand your child’s learning style, but figuring out how your child learns is easier than you think! Just watch him or her PLAY! By watching your child plays with Legos you can discover a lot about your child’s learning style and learning language!

I’ve found that most kids have a dominant learning language. There are five types of learners. You can understand what your child’s learning language is by the way he or she plays with, cares for, and uses his or her Legos.

The FIVE Learning Languages (or Personalities) include: Followers, Friends, Explorers, Detectives and Creators

You can’t really learn about your child’s learning language by the way they approach school work, because most schoolwork is geared toward one type of learner, the Follower. I have found that Legos give kids freedom to be who they were meant to be, so you should be able to really see their true colors shine when they play with them, sort them, collect them and build with them.

Typical education methods usually push kids into a mold that wants to make them into a Follower. Many kids fight with these learning methods because they can’t understand or enjoy such a style of learning. Once you understand how your child naturally relates to learning, you can give them the right tools, the right education, and the most efficient help.

I will explain each of the learning languages that I have observed in homeschooled children, because I have ten children of my own, and have worked with thousands of homeschoolers who are gifted or have learning challenges over the past 10 years. If your child is in school, or your homeschooling methods have been used to make the child into a Follower, you may need to remember what they were like when they were 3 to 5 years old. It’s not a bad thing to be a Follower, if you are a Follower in your heart. Followers actually enjoy school, but if your child resists normal schoolwork, he might speak one of the other 4 learning languages.

I call it a learning language, because we often only understand our own language, or the one we grew up with. We are all parenting unique children with unique needs, and we need to seek to understand how each child learns best. Once we learn their language we can change the way we teach them and we will be able to see and appreciate their amazing abilities. (Click Page 2 below to continue reading)

Sarah’s Mom Tips – How to Inspire Your Child to Learn to Read

My girls 7, 9 and 10 are all using the same Reading and Research book. It works great for all of them because the ten year old recently learned English, the nine year old has symptoms of Dyslexia and the seven year old just wants to do what the bigger sisters are doing. So she tries to keep up.

I don’t worry much about reading before age 9. The longer they play the better! When my children start asking me “Mom, how do you spell…?” That’s when I know they are ready for reading. When a child is ready to learn to read it’s so easy to help them.

When it comes to learning to read there shouldn’t be a struggle. Dyslexic children and creative kids struggle because we are trying to teach them too soon. Dyslexia Games helps prepare the mind for reading and writing without stress, and helps to teach reading in a self directed way that works for creative kids.

Still, sometimes the brain just isn’t ready for the job of reading before age 9 (for some it may be age 11, kids who learn to read late tend to be very artistic and creative.)

How and Why to Choose a Major for Your Child at a Young Age

When helping your child choose a major, remember, each topic is important and if your child is passionate about a topic set them free to go deep and research all aspects of the topic. The goal is for the child to begin learning in a deep and joyful way, where they will indulge their curiosity through passionate research that leads to creativity and excellence. 

Parents and Educators often allow children to only scratch the surface of the things that interest them, because we want them to be “well rounded and normal”. Perhaps we pull them away from art to force them to focus on memorizing math facts or learn about the Civil War. I challenge you to just choose two themes for your child to “Major” in and go very deep, opening all the doors and windows that lead to deeper discovery and expertise. Don’t raise a well rounded child. Raise a child that is very skilled and an expert in their chosen fields, that is the foundation of a life of learning.  

Twelve Ways to Help Your Child Master their Major:

1. Help your child choose books on the topic they love.  
2. Take your child to the bookstore or Library, and don’t limit them by only visiting the children’s section.  
3. Build a fun-Schooling Basket with items that represent your child’s interest.  
4. Learn about jobs that involve your child’s favorite topic.  
5. Use these topics as a theme when choosing books for the Main Curriculum Journal.  
6. Encourage the student to meet people who are experts in the field your child loves, go on a field trip to a relevant location.
7. Choose films and documentaries about the topic. 
8. Allow your child to take lessons or watch tutorials about the skills involved in the topic. 
9. Find ways to use the skills and knowledge your child is developing in practical ways at home.
10. Allow your child to volunteer in a related field. 
11. Help your child to study the history related to the subject of interest. 
12. Allow your child to study the life and biographies of people who are also passionate about the topic. 

Once the child becomes an expert in one area they will be able to build a future in that area, or use the skills they developed in researching that topic, and apply those skills to ANY topic they want to unlock and master for the rest of their lives. 
When we homeschool we are FREE to spend five years majoring in film-making, fashion, the arts or horsemanship.
Can you think of a topic your child might choose that does not involve history, science, mathematics, politics, social aspects, literature, geography, economics, and art?  You don’t have to study each subject independent of the child’s passion.

To fully engage the child and make the most of their time – let all things spring from the passion of their heart and mind. 

Embrace the Natural Process of Learning:

When a child explores their passion first they will be curious, next they will play, next they will explore, next they will research, Next they will question, next they will copy, next they will communicate, next they will seek mastery, and in mastering they will apply the learning and create. Allow your child the joy of EVERY phase of true learning. when we try to control the learning process we do it out of order, and seek results. Allow the child to spend as much time as they need in each area, and bounce back and forth between the stages. Play (not practice) is actually the most powerful form of learning, creativity is the expression of learning and looks a lot like play. 

Let go of false expectations… and hold on tight to what you know is true. Children are born to learn, just look at how they learned to speak! They are able, we only hold them back with our limiting forms of teaching that seek to mold them into the shape of society, and give them a watered down education that is irrelevant and brings no joy. 

Learning is playful, creative and joyful, and if you have a hard time believing it, you need to listen to a bunch of TED Talks on this topic. If people close to you are being critical, send them the TED Talks. 

Teach your child from a place of rest, through your example, not through guilt. When you fun-school there are no gaps, your child will be equipped to learn everything they need to know when they need it. You don’t need to strive for standardization, there are millions of standardize students, the world needs more creative people. Do not education through fear, have faith in the natural learning process and trust in the way your child is designed. There is need to restrict or limit your child with educational fluff and educational walls.

You are free to equip and empower your child though the careful facilitation, and nurture, that comes only through the love of a mother who truly knows her child.

5 Tips-How to Help a Dyslexic Child Improve Reading Skills at Home

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1. If you have a child that has been struggling with reading, writing and spelling it’s important to take a break from any schoolwork that is causing stress for 3 to 6 weeks to focus on therapy.

2. During this break from conventional schooling provide your child with creative learning tools like art supplies, cooking opportunities, audio books and games they enjoy. Don’t push them to do school at home.

3. Once the child is relaxed and enjoying games and creative activities introduce a gentle Dyslexia Therapy. The therapy is most effective when the child is not stressed out by his or her learning challenges. Turn on some classical music and provide the child with a peaceful place to focus.

4. Print out dyslexia therapy pages and provide the child with gel pens. Dyslexia Games is a therapy can be used at home, without professional help. The child will use 3 or 4 worksheets per day, no help is needed because the games focus on the child’s abilities, curiosity, creativity and logic. Find it at DyslexiaGames.com

5. Parents can relax while kids spend about 45 minutes playing games to overcome reading confusion. Dyslexia Games are easy for kids to use without help from a teacher, tutor or parent. Kids will be able to get ahead and improve reading skills without the stress!

What’s In My Mom’s Chill Basket?

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Just wondering… do you ever feel like you don’t fit in with other homeschooling families? Why?

For years I felt like I had to put my girls in long skirts to be accepted at our homeschool food co-op. I felt bad that we were just faking the Amish look, but I wanted to show respect to the other families… turns out a bunch of them were dressing their kids in long dresses cause I was…

No more! Let’s just be who were are. It took a while to embrace the idea that Homeschooling doesn’t have a dress code… unless PJs count.

I also thought that to be in the Homeschool cool-club I had to grind my own grain, milk my own goat, grow my own watermelon and sew my kids clothing. I also noticed that most of my homeschooling friends had four kids… I only had three… then I had seven, now ten! It doesn’t matter what your family size is! It’s all good!

As a family we did some of these things just for the joy of it, and for health reasons, but we don’t all have to grind wheat to be friends. Here is the truth… a lot of homeschoolers eat Lucky Charms and go to Wendy’s.

I thought that “good homeschool moms” teach their kids to read at age 4. That worked with Isaac. But most of my kids are reading around age 9. Isaac never learned multiplication facts! Here is the truth, a lot of homeschoolers have kids that struggle with math or reading.

It was a hard lesson to learn that we don’t have to dress, eat, sew, skin rabbits, and have a zoo pass to be good homeschooling moms. Here’s the truth, a lot of homeschoolers shop at Walmart, and don’t always eat organic. Some do. Cool.

Oh, and here’s another confession… my kids play with Pokemon Cards and watch Disney movies. That’s how they learn math and music. I felt like I could lose friends over this at one point.

Here’s another one: Good homeschool moms have clean houses and wake up before the sun. I make my appearance at 9:30am on most days, and my house looks like a work in progress.

Another tough one to swallow was the idea that unschoolers can’t be Christians. What the heck? I was a closet unschooler!

Do you need to “hang up” any of your hang ups? Hang-um in the comments, and support each other!
You can read more of my journey to joy and freedom in my book – Windows to Our World… 

Check out my son’s Homeschooling Vlog here. Click the image below, to watch “All a 7-Year-Old Needs to Homeschool”: