Free Games for Learning & Polar Bear painting

I always try to keep our learning days fun.  We like to play games and try new ones out all the time.  Many of the games we play don't require us to spend any money.  Most of our games just use some paper, a pencil, and perhaps some dice.

Looking for something fun to do with our day today I pulled out my trusty "Games for Learning" book and started flipping through the pages.  I love this book because it's filled with quick 10 minute games designed to help children increase a wide range of skills from grades k through 3 (the exact range of my kids).   I was very excited with all the reading, spelling and math games I found.

Alec and I played two games.  The first one was called Boxed Numbers.  Alec and I took turns flipping over number cards (1-9) and filling in boxes on our sheet.  The idea is that the one with the largest sum wins.  We added three digit numbers, a column of 3 numbers, and a column of three 2- digit numbers.

For spelling we played a game called Runaway Letters.  I wrote two ordinary sentences on a blank sheet of paper skipping some letters and leaving a _ in it's place.  He then had to read the sentence and fill in the missing letters.  I then offered to let him write a few sentences for me to fill in (I told him he could copy some sentences from a book if he'd prefer) and we turned it into a contest so that the one with the fewest mistakes would win.   

I also played two games with Ian.  We played a math game called 500 shakedown.  We each started with the number 500 and then had to roll a pair of dice.  Using the numbers we roll we try to make the largest two digit number we can to subtract (if we rolled a 2 and a 4 we'd subtract 42).  The first one to reach 0 (or go past 0) wins.  But there's a catch; if you roll a 1 you have to make the smallest number you can and add it to your score.  Ian hates to subtract with borrowing and I was hoping this would be a fun way to practice that.

 Once we were done our math game we played the 3 ring word game.  I drew three circles on a piece of paper and assigned letters to each circle (the middle circle is always vowels).  The object is to write as many three letters words as you can but the words have to start with letters from circle one and end with letters from circle three.  We set the timer for three minutes.  We each get one point for each of the words we make unless Ian makes a word I didn't think of; then he gets two.  He ended up beating me, he had fewer words but he came up with a bunch of words I didn't. 

Evan wanted to do a few dot- to- dot pages today for math so we didn't play a math game but I did have him play a reading game with me called roadblock.  

I drew a thick windy road on a sheet of paper and divided the road into blocks.  I then wrote a simple sight word on each block.  I tried to use many words from his Bob's books with just one or two new words thrown in.  He takes a truck (or car) and drives along the road reading each of the words.  If he gets stuck I lower my finger in front of him and say "roadblock."  I tell him what the word is and have him repeat it and then he has to back up and start over at the beginning of the road.  He had three tries to make it to the end of the road before I win.  If he makes it in three tries or less he wins.  

I thought it sounded simple enough but he really struggled.  

We started over more than three times before we even made it to the third word.  I didn't want to discourage or frustrate him but I was amazed at how many of the words he "reads" to me everyday he couldn't actually read when taken out of context.  I had thought he was memorizing the stories and not really reading them so this confirms that and honestly he didn't mind practicing all morning.  

He brought over a snowplow when we first started to play and he was telling me he was plowing the road -- that's when inspiration struck! (And don't you just love when that happens?) I ran over the cabinet and brought out a cookie sheet and some sugar and covered up all the words.  As he "plowed" the road he read the words.  He kept covering them back up and reading them out and honestly ended up getting more practice than he otherwise would have I'm sure.  His brothers thought it looked like great fun too and wanted to join in and play with him.  So I let them. 

I had the older two boys work on another page in their cursive books and then we started reading.  We started a new Magic Treehouse chapter book-- Polar Bears Past Bedtime and then we read Welcome to the Ice House, and Who Grows up in the Snow

I found these great Polar Bear paintings and decided we'd make these today.  For today we just made the background using water colors, salt and Saran wrap.  Tomorrow, once the paint is dry we'll use a stencil and paint the polar bears over the background using white tempera paint and some fine line sharpie markers.


Updated with our finished paintings:

        Linking Up With:

Oh My Heartsie Girl
JENerally Informed


  1. These are such good learning games - I know have the struggle with my little boy is making sure everything is fun and he would definitely love your ideas! I love the little snow plough! x #marmondays

  2. I'm going to borrow your snow plough idea, since I've begun venturing into teaching my son the Hindi alphabet, thank you so much!

    Plus I got a packet of 1 cm blocks to be made into games, gonna sit and figure that out soon :)



    1. Borrow away! So glad you found something that will interest your son. Good luck.


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