School has started again, so it seems like a good time to sing the praises of two "educational" games that my kids and I love. They're both great family activities, or for the kids to play on their own. Good Christmas gifts too...
The first game is Take Off. It's a simple concept where 2-4 players get four colorful little airplanes each to use as playing pieces. Multicolored dice are rolled to determine which direction your plane gets to fly. The goal is to be the first to have all four of your planes travel from Hawaii across the map, and back to Hawaii on the other side. Players follow color coded paths and learn geography and world statistics as they go. If you roll a "take off" you get to choose a card from the stack, locate the city it describes on the map, and jet to that location. We love reading all the information included on each card, right down to how to pronounce the name of the city that we're flying to. It's been a fun and colorful introduction to the countries of the world.
I'm sorry to report that it seems the company who manufactures this game recently stopped production for some reason, so it's hard to find at online stores right now. There are lots still on ebay and at smaller toy stores, so I would snap one up if you can find one. Hopefully they will be back in production soon!
The next game is Quiddler. It's like a cross between Scrabble and Gin Rummy, for kids. Players build words using cards drawn from the stack and add up the points over several rounds to see who wins. I recommend watching this video that describes how it's played because the written directions are a little confusing. The words don't have to be long and complicated, which makes it ideal for early language learners (or adults with very small vocabularies..hee hee). It's also very compact since it's just a stack of cards, so it's great for travel.
I just love the beautifully illustrated letters too. They seem to be inspired by the Book of Kells, which I have always thought was an incredible contribution to our graphic lexicon. So the game is not only educational, but inspirational!