Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Weeds, Anyone?

Today's topic for the 5 Days of Teaching Creatively is Toys, Games, and Puzzles. There are so many great ways to use toys, games and puzzles in homeschooling, it's hard to know where to start a post about it. So I decided to just tell you about one of our current, favorite learning games.
Interestingly, it's a game that I bought several years ago, and we played it a couple times, but it wasn't a favorite (plus, we found board games and similar to be challenging when Little Bit was a toddler), and  it soon became one of the many games on our game shelf, mostly overlooked.

Then we moved. And that meant all the games were packed in boxes and then, stacked on new shelves at the new house in a new order. And somehow that brought new and different games to the girls' attention.

The first thing they noticed about Wildcraft was that it was made by LearningHerbs. Last spring, Learning Herbs offered an awesome series of stories about herbs, Herb Fairies, and we have THOROUGHLY loved these stories all year. So the girls noticed the logo. If they love Herb Fairies and this game is by the same company, it must be good too right? So they wanted to play it RIGHT NOW!!

So we did.

What I loved most is that it's a game that ALL the girls can enjoy. In fact, Little Bit goes in spurts of wanting to play it EVERY DAY! I also love that it's a cooperative game! Sassy and MiniMe seem to naturally be so, incredibly, competitive (we're working on that, but it's a constant issue . . . ), so while we certainly play and enjoy games like Monopoly and Stratego (the girls are so proud that they can beat DADDY at that one) etc, I am always thrilled when we can find a fun game that focuses on working TOGETHER to beat the GAME! This game does that, and, in fact, Little Bit's favorite part is being able to share her "herbs" with the rest of us :)

In addition to teaching cooperation and working together, it also teaches about which wild herbs can help with various maladies. The one thing the older girls (and I) find frustrating is that the game doesn't tell us HOW to use the herbs. So now we know that stinging nettles is a good remedy for stinging nettles (yup, seriously!) BUT the game doesn't tell us if we should make a compress or drink a tea or what . . . so, to go along with playing the game, I hung a poster, that I also got from Learning Herbs, that gives  at least brief information about USING each herb. That, combined with what we've learned from the Herb Fairies series, is helping us to know how to USE the herbs.

The game is simple enough that Little Bit can truly play it, by matching the pictures on the herb cards with the pictures on the "ouch cards" (as she calls them), she can tell which remedies to use. And because of all the herb knowledge it helps with, the big girls (and I) still enjoy it too.

So, that's one way that we are using games for learning. The possibilities are endless, games are great for learning logic skills, trivia, nature, history, science, math . . .

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