Category: Games

“Screen Time”

We get the “my kids are doing nothing but play video games/watch tv/look at a screen and I can’t stand it, what should I do?” question about once every week or so on our  (now huge) Christian unschooling Facebook group. It has become the norm. We are all kind of tired of it. Really. For many reasons. Mostly because we hear the fear, we know the paradigm shift hasn’t occurred yet, and  we know it will be a fight to get there, and that part is exhausting. The following is a recent response that I wrote while super-short on sleep 😀 but which ended up covering all the basics in one place.

To pull from something my dear friend Pam often points out; how much time is “nothing other than game on their PC/ds/Wii”. Do they get up to get a drink? Go to the bathroom? Eat something? Sleep? If they are doing those things then clarify. They are doing something other than just playing games. They are probably getting up. They may even jump around, do other things. They may spend a few minutes getting something, look something up, they may even go play with something else for a while, go outside, play together beside the tv, they are very likely doing something else too. We need to see those things and recognize that no, the child is not spending “all their time”, they are spending more time than we feel comfortable with.  When we start out with a generalization, it is really hard to get from the viewpoint of seeing it in a negative light to seeing “screens” as many different types of learning and internal things going on and the screen itself as just the media they are getting those things.

Rachel watching anime.
Rachel watching anime.

My husband spends the majority of his day in front of a screen. Working, playing, socializing. He does many different things and yes, he has always preferred doing things in front of a computer screen to elsewhere- there are just so many more things to do, it is a vast world full of many, many types of media in one place- no huge mess to clean up when he wants to play a game, he can write quickly and efficiently, read quickly and move between many different things to read, watch a movie, change the movie, and so on.  It is an amazing, miraculous thing that allows us to communicate with our friends across the world (he collaborates with people all across the US weekly on huge projects), work anywhere (he works with people from all across the globe) and so on. It is amazing that this technology is available in our lifetimes and our children get to learn the language of it now, easily, without fear.  Our kids are going to live in a world where much of their time is going to be in front of the computer. Some people won’t, but the vast majority will. They will use it for work, for play, for socialization, and as unschoolers we have the freedom to let them learn it right now, first hand, and be proficient at it. This is a huge boon compared to kids who are stuck in a classroom unable to look things up as they are interested. Our kids will be well prepared for the future, right now.

 “Technology is here to stay. So why would I choose to keep my kids illiterate in the language that they may need for the future? A half an hour a day does not give kids time to explore the land scape.” ~Aza Donnelly

That said, if you are still really uncomfortable with how much time they are spending, then you get off the computer (you are here, reading this, communicating with others, online) and do really cool things out where they will see. Things that they will love. You make things available that go with what they love on their games (you will probably have to get online to research those things). You find things that associate with what they are doing so there is a connection- if they are into a game that has an associated tv show or other media then there are probably lots of  products out there related to it- pick up a book connected with it, or some figurines, or whatever. If there is a website that has info about the game they are playing (hints, a walkthrough, a wiki- my kids learned to navigate the internet and read because they loved looking up info for their games) put it on your screen and show it to them. If the fact that they would be reading it on a screen bothers you, then you can often buy  a gamers guide but they do get expensive. Offer to help them create a database of the characters and their skills, or print up ones you find online for quick reference. Pick up a gaming magazine for kids, or a book about the collectibles or whatever. Find ways you can connect with the kids where they are, ask them about the games, the shows, whatever. Bring them healthy finger foods if you are worried about what they are eating or that they aren’t eating enough. Ask them about the game, what they are playing, the plot, the people in the games. Let them know you are thinking about them  and want to encourage their interests. Find some aspect you can understand and join them where they are.

Issac playing online with a friend.
Issac playing online with a friend.

This will help you connect with them and really get a feel for what they are getting out of all the things they do on that form of media, and maybe even why. And as they feel you are really trying and aren’t going to “take it away” and that you aren’t frowning about it at them, they will loosen their hold on it a bit and gradually they will start joining you in the cool things you are doing (not all), they will start looking at the books, playing with the associated toys or crafts, and so on. (Many of us have minecraft posters on the wall, or Pokemon, or Skylanders, or Terraria, and books, and action figures, stuffies, houses full of geek references.) Meeting them where they are will help you feel connection with them again (which is usually where the parents panic when they start feeling the kids are doing “nothing but screen things”.) It takes time for both sides, but it is like learning another language and our kids get to do it first-hand and be prepared for this changing world where screens are an everyday all the time part of our lives.


Happy Halloween

We finished Rachel’s Chell costume (from Portal) tonight.  Issac had to test out the Portal gun: made from a small soda bottle, a 2 liter, foam, paper, tape, glue gun, some pieces of plastic and wire found around the house, and a glow stick.  Designed by Rachel with help from Mom. The boots  are real boots with stockings over (drawn on with sharpie) and lots of electrical and packing tape.

PAX East

The show floor from the sky bridge that you walk across everytime you want to get to a panel room across the building on the same floor as the last panel you saw.

We just got back from PAX East last night.  God provided that we had the money to get there, sold all the books while there and therefore had the money to get home.  Go God!!!  And thank you to the random gift givers who helped us get there.  You all are awesome!!!

Escapist Movie Night
The Escapist movie night panel, L-R: One of the dudes from the new show "Space Janitors", Shamus, Movie Bob, and the crew of Loading, Ready, Run: Matt Wiggins, Kathleen De Vere, Graham Stark

We got to find out how quickly Shamus’ book would sell out and wish we had brought more.

Blankety Blank Panel which was hosted by Susan Arendt (NOT in the photo), in photo : Russ Pitts, an ex-reviewer who wrote a book that I can't remember the name of, Kathleen De Vere, and Movie Bob

We saw some amazingly funny panels (like the LLR panel and those that the Escapist creatives including Susan Arendt and Movie Bob were involved in). We got to meet some more cool people to add to the list of cool people we already know (like Russ Pitts and James Portnow along with a slew of Shamus’ readers and some really awesome indie game developers) and see friends we hadn’t seen for a year (like Susan Arendt and the LLR crew) .

James Portnow of Extra Credits among many other things.

We got to see some incredibly thought provoking panels which I am still pondering and percolating posts thanks to (namely two that included James Portnow and were on topics close to my heart– one on Gaming and Education and one called the Genre Divide about rethinking why people play certain games and how games are divided into genres.)

Girls Like Robots (a pretty fun indie game.)
A very cool concept for a rpg that my kids are really looking forward to:

We got to see a ton of amazing indie games and some cool AAA games.

Shamus crashed while waiting.

We got tired and hungry and sick of granola bars (thanks to the convention centers ridiculously huge symmetric layout where you have to go down a level and cross a sky bridge to get between two panels on the same floor and expensive food–$7 for a HOT DOG.)

In front of the convention center-- parking was in rear and you had to walk a quarter mile of wind tunnel just to get in a door.

We got stuck in 2 hours of 5 mph traffic and only got lost in Boston once (last year we managed to add a half hour of wrong turns onto every single trip and this year we were saved mostly thanks to paying close attention, avoiding the roads we knew we had trouble with, and Josh’ excellent sense of direction.)

The audience at the Escapist movie night panel.

The Games are In!

Remember a while back I was illustrating a game?  Well the game has been printed, shipped, and is now FOR SALE!!!!  Yeah, I am a tad bit excited!  you can go buy a copy for yourself (and one for your friends and family and birthdays and holidays and….) over at Whimsy Games.

And in case you are wondering, yes, we have played it and yes, it is not only fun but takes a bit of brain work, decision making and some math.

September in Review

September has been crazy busy with a trip to Alexandria and Ocean City, Penn’s Colony, the Art’s Festival, and lots of trips to the pond. At the beginning of the month we headed down to visit our friends in Alexandria, VA and got to go with them for a day trip to the ocean.This was our first big trip in our new minivan and was a happy and sad time. It was fun spending time with friends but due to the loss of both my friend’s father and my mom within a few weeks of each other it was bittersweet.

The trip also meshed several ideas the kids have shown interest in–my friend has both a guitar and a violin and gave the kids an opportunity to test both out. So now we know that Essie definitely wants to play guitar and that RAchel would prefer piano lessons to violin as she once thought.
Issac at the pond
We also spent tons of time at the pond with my brother (who’s school is on strike).

The kids spent the first half of the month swimming and learning to row and fish and the second half learning to build fires and lean-to’s while James and I worked on his forge.rowJames and forge
And did I mention the invention building kick?
And day time trips to Chuck E. Cheese?

The apparently interesting thing that is opening a new bank account?

And the awesomeness that was Penn’s Colony.

Where we got to see real blacksmiths at work.

And got to enjoy lots of Celtic music.

And in between it all was lots of game playing, reading, audio books, movies, playing, building, dreaming, creating, thinking, considering, discussing, programming…

Where we are and what we have been doing

  • As you already know if you have been reading at all, my mother passed away on July 31 so that has colored our days a lot recently (especially as conflict arose with certain family members due to some emotional issues.)  The amazing thing is watching how the kids have dealt with all of this.  We were blessed to find that they were not at all about the stuff, are mourning naturally, and are, in general dealing with things in a wonderfully healthy manner.
  • Essie playing DS at the funeral home with cousins.
    Essie playing DS at the funeral home with cousins looking on.
  • We have been spending lots of time with family and friends and now that we have a minivan are doing a lot more going and doing.  The kids are thrilled that this includes the library, some small trips to local national parks, and trips to IKEA.  It is exciting to see how their interests have developed since we last were at the library and their excitement about going to the parks and IKEA.
  • The kids have been on a fossil kick (lots of limestone around here), set up a stage in the basement and are planning a talent show of sorts for this Saturday at noon for whoever shows up, have been reading a ton, still programming on Scratch, playing the new Bookworm adventures and Boom Blox, hanging out at the pond with Pappap and Uncle James, and Essie is tweeting regularly.

    James and Issac
    James and Issac down at the pond.
  • Because I picked up a pile of “educational” workbooks, games, and books at the Target $1 bin today they have been working on those and quizzing each other on Wonders of the World.
  • I now have my mother’s sewing machine so the girls are clamouring to be allowed to sew again.  I will have to teach them how to use this machine first but I suspect much sewing will occur in the next few months.
  • Yesterday we discovered a cicada that had just left its nymph form.  It was awesome and the kids immediately had to research so they could remember which type of cicada and what each stage was called.
  • cicadacicada
  • I updated to the new version of Ubuntu yesterday.  It was the simplest upgrade I have ever done–took me less than an hour start to finish and most of that was copying my Home folder over from the backup drive.  The new version is AWESOME.  Just saying.
  • I finished a random painting that has been floating around in my head for a while.  This may be the beginning of a flower series since I am in the middle of one of a butterfly bush now.

    Queen Anne's Lace
    Queen Anne's Lace
  • Issac finally lost the tooth that has spent the last month hanging by a strand.  That same tooth got broken when Essie kicked him while swimming, bled everywhere and STILL didn’t come out.  The next day Rach bumped him in the mouth with a swivel chair and out it came–no blood, nothing.
James and Issac
Issac and James and the missing tooth.

It’s Very Edumacational

Every once in a while we have a day that can be described as nothing short of educational, which we usually call “edumactaional” to make it more fun.  These are the sorts of days that I dreamed of when my children were still babies and I thought about homeschooling them as they were older; fun and spontaneous learning–reading books together , doing experiments, talking about science, reading, math in the course of the day, and lots of other very traditional types of learning going on without fuss and with joy.

The sad thing is that, back then, my young mommy brain was kind of confused about how those sort of days would happen.  In fact , you may even say that I was brainwashed by all the teacher training I had (most of which had the goal of good classroom management rather than good learning–regardless of what we are told, but that is another story).  I thought that the fun , spontaneous, pain free learning would come with lots and lots spontaneous (on my part) “school” things.  For instance I would wake up in the morning and say, “Hey, lets work on this and this and this and this today!” which would then lead to lots of tears of frustration on all of our parts because the kids were so overwhelmed by the stuff I had planned.

And so I listened to the homeschooling gurus who told me that learning would only take place if it was planned.  So I set about using all that teacher training and planned our school days.  Which, may I add, led to even more tears of frustration, refusal to work, and anger.   Where was this beautiful, peaceful, happily learning together family life I longed for?  When I asked others the answer was the same–the peaceful, happy learning is a myth, all kids have days where they refuse to work, complain, HATE math, science, history, language arts.

That didn’t make sense to me either. As a kid I LOVED science and art–except in the classroom where they never answered the questions I wanted answered.  The science books were too dumbed down about anything I was really interested in using only “suitable” language for each year, covering the same information every year but adding a little more vocabulary, a little more depth, but never what I was really interested in WHEN I was interested and the teacher was in too much of a hurry to “get through the book” to stop and answer questions for one child when most of the class didn’t care. The same went for art.  Our art classes were designed to expose us to a wide array of media and art history but most of it was busy work.  Glue this leg here, glue that arm there.  Later it was “lets paint a happy little snow scene” or make a pointillism bird.  There was never the opportunity to really explore the medium or one’s own interests, because most of the kids would just mess around and didn’t really care.  It was all done in the name of classroom management and “getting through” the curriculum.

And then it occurred to me.  Why was I using classroom management techniques designed to deal with large classes to train my kids at home. Growing up  I spent all summer exploring my interest in science and art and later in reading.  I spent all summer running around, playing, experimenting, discovering.  One summer I spent everyday out on the pond on the paddle boat.  My cousin and I sent our Barbies diving into the depths of the pond, created a lagoon for them, a beach, a resort.  Another summer I spent everyday out in the woods with my green backpack full of lunch, homemade lemonade which I figured out how to make on my own),drawing materials, notebooks, reading books, field guides, and my Cabbage Patch Kid, Sharon Renae, as my fellow adventurer.  Yet another summer I helped my dad build us a tree house, and another I helped dig a trench for a pipe and pump to draw water from the pond up to our house so we could water our garden with pond water.  During those summers I read tons, learned all about rocks and plants, learned to draw, got tons of exercise, and learned to enjoy my own company.  For my birthday (at the end of summer) my mom always planned a birthday party which I looked forward but barely remember (loved the idea of it but HATE parties as a rule) and my dad always planned a trip to whatever museum/zoo/state park I wanted (usually within an hour drive).  I almost always chose the art museum but sometimes the children’s museum or the zoo or better yet the science center or a bike trip at the state park.  And those trips I remember.  It wasn’t an educational trip, it was fun, it was a gift.

We also, when I was young, often went camping, and usually did so someplace with educational value (most homeschoolers would call them field trips–we called them vacation.)  We went to Washington DC, Niagara Falls, Gettysburg, Hershey,  Lancaster.  Only occasionally did such trips include an amusement park and if so then it was most likely Idlewild–a park not far from us which has a wonderful history and isn’t all show, in fact it has one of the oldest merry-go-rounds in the US as well as one of the oldest wooden roller coasters.  These activities were mostly spontaneous (unless my mom and grandma took us-then it was well planned and included lots of bus tours, because my grandma likes bus tours).   We, my brother and I, preferred the spontaneous day trips or the sudden camping, canoeing, biking trips.  They were fun, satisfied our curiosity, and we didn’t have too much fuss about them.

And that is what I wanted our home to be like.  I didn’t want our home  to be divided between school and life.  I wanted life to be educational, spontaneous, fun.  I was tired of the fighting (especially with our high strung and very determined oldest).  If homeschooling was God’s plan for us then it should, as part of our life, help us develop the fruits of the spirit , not hinder them.  It should help our children learn contentment and a longing for growth, not promote whining and complaining.  As God changed my heart about what school should look like our lifestyle became our learning style.  No longer did we daily get out a pile of books (though occasionally we do–a pile of books to read or books ful of potential activities to do).  No longer did we sit at the kitchen table with pencils at the ready or in the basement school room.  The basement school room became a playroom where the kids “played” school and later where laundry got stored as it was ready to sort.  The kitchen table became the place where we ate and where the kids did various crafts and activities they found in the piles of books strewn around the house.  Shamus and I became facilitators and question answerers, mentors if you like.  Our focus changed from making sure the kids “knew what they needed to know by a certain age” to dealing with heart issues, character development, and encouraging the kids in the areas they showed interest and making sure they had on hand what they needed to grow that interest.

And sure, some days the kids spend the day playing a video game (though may I mention that video games are an excellent place to learn economics–especially RPG or Sim style games like Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing) and some days they spend all day watching old movies.  Other days they spend all day playing pirates, dolls, practicing a play they have created themselves, baking, building, reading, playing board games, whatever captures their interest on that particular day.

And on Monday Issac and I spent much of the day together, cleaning up, doing laundry, reading a very boring and not nearly informational to suit his tastes science text book and then jumping up and doing all sorts of experiments that weren’t in the book to answer the questions he asked like: What is erosion and how does it work?  What is sedimentary rock and how does it form?  How did our area form? (the book didn’t use those words, deeming them too hard to read for a 2nd grader–Issac asked the questions because he likes studying volcanoes and knows that volcanoes form islands and wanted to know how our area was formed and shaped and what sort of rock we have–the answer is glaciers and sedimentary rock so I him showed him using  flour and water) .  A section in the book on plants got us talking abut how plants soak up water and nutrients from the soil so we got out the celery and dye and made bright blue and green celery.  In one day we went through an entire science text book only reading the bits he was interested in–he knew most of the stuff anyway and wasn’t interested in the other stuff–in fact he had already done most of the experiments they had on his own.  Issac later explained all about both experiments to his sisters who enjoyed seeing them (though Rachel was upset that we had used much of the celery as she was planning on using it in some soup for dinner.:)) For dinner the kids and I made curry and Chapatti from  an Indian cuisine cookbook we had picked up at the library sale.   Later, after our Bible reading  during which all three read aloud Psalms of David)  we read a beautiful picture book  about Washinton crossing the Delaware river.   It was a rather dry factual account with gorgeous oil paintings for images so the kids enjoyed it and Rachel added to the information by enthusiastically sharing all she knows about George Washington (one of her favorite people about which to read .)

And when I looked back over the day  I realized that this was the sort of day I had dreamed of, and the sort of day that homeschool gurus had insisted would never happen without careful planning, and yet, there had been no tears, the children really loved learning these things for their own sake, their natural curiosity and love of being together made all of it possible.  There was no need for any classroom management because there was no classroom.  We were living life together and loving each other and spending time together and it was very good.

Winter Unschooling

I am finally at a pause in all the busy-ness and wanted to share some unschooling type photos with you. We finally got some warm weather which meant, of course, the end of ice skating this year. So on the day it was still cold enough but warming quickly my dad picked us up for some more ice skating (because our car has issues with cold weather).

We were met with this:
About 20 turkeys were roosting in the trees and came down as we pulled in.
A cool thing we learned this year. It is better to put ice skates on in the warm garage but the garage is at the top of the hill and the ice at the bottom which means that there is only one way to get down that makes any sense.

We had had some snow but since we knew it was going to melt didn’t bother to clear the ice–which made ice skating kind of different than usual.

It was gorgeous and rather warm.
Once the ice got too soft to skate on it was time for tobogganing.
With Pappap.
And Mom, onto the ice.
ice toboggan
And some bird watching.
wood pecker
Then warming up in the garage and playing with a 1 ton pulley and pretending to drive the tractor (which lead to a discussion of all the simple machines in use and how a snow blower works.)
Oh, and some squirrel watching.

And today most of the snow and ice are gone.  It was 50 yesterday and today it was 40.  And of course last night I found MY ice skates (I have been borrowing my mom’s which are slightly too big.)

Randomly random because my head is still busy

  • I gave up and cut my hair.  I have been getting a lot of headaches lately and it hurts to have my heavy, thick hair up and it bugs me to have it down so chop-chop.  I did ask the kids if it would be all right (I kept it long because they loved it) but too much is enough.  And so, my new head:  It is frizzy here because my hair is naturally VERY wavy and I hadn’t used a straight iron (which surprisingly does not straighten it though it does smooth it.)  Yes I cut it myself using lots of time and mirrors and hair clips.   I hate having someone else do it because my hair is tricksie and they always mess it up.   This is my favorite cut, is flattering on most people and looks good with my favorite accessories–hats and hoop  earrings.  No straight on shot because I was having a hard time getting the camera set up.:)
  • Hubby says that now I have to dye it blue or purple so I can look like one of our favorite anime characters, and it is AWFULLY tempting:

  • The girls have been working hard at learning to draw and paint better and have been using my poor sad bunny as a model (no, I do not own an actual model, he is out of my head and the kids are using him as a spring board for their own paintings.  We have bunnies EVERYWHERE.  It is my humble opinion that these bunnies are BREEDING.

    Rachels bunny

  • Issac has been enjoying what snow we have been having (off and on, snow then rain then back again, driving us all insane–“Make up your MIND!”  The girls built giant snowmen down in the field and Issac worked on a speed bump.

  • Rachel has been spending every possible moment either playing chess with her new board or trying to convince someone to play with her.  Here she is with a friend (sporting a new haircut which I had just done a few moments before and which reminded me how much I LOVE this haircut.) They had a great game while their brothers who are the same age were upstairs cleaning up a bit of a mess.
  • The mess?  Oh my.  Do you KNOW how many teeny, tiny Styrofoam balls are in one of those squishy nylon pillows? Especially the squishy purple marshmallow bunny pillow?  I am STILL cleaning up those stupid little balls.  The boys found the balls that had come out of the peep which the girls KEPT instead of throwing away and dumped them in every, single corner of the mess (which the girls were supposed to have cleaned) of a room which is the girls.  You see the mound of laundry?  That was AFTER I took several loads downstairs.  The girls had left PILES of clothes and blankets on the floor which were then covered in very static-y little balls. The 2 7 year old boys had to clean as much as they could but the girls then had to deep clean their room (like they were supposed to).
  • I got a new camera which is wonderful and capable of taking lowlight photos without a flash which is why these photos exist –usually I wouldn’t have enough light to take these.  And it takes MUCH better photos of my art without a lot of lightboxes and fuss–this shot below is right off my drawing table no extra light or anything.
  • Oh, and then there are the elephants.  I am still working on the new website for my art so I posted it over at but I got a new palatte and watercolor journal and jumped in and did this weeks Inspire me Thursday which you can see here:

Games We Play: Board Games

This is part 2 of a series (you can find the first here).  In this post I share our favorite board games and how we have adapted these games to be more educational or more suited to different ages, not to mention some games we would love to get a hold of.

First, the games.  I linked to them on so you can see what I am talking about.  There are lots more that we have and even more great games available that we don’t happen to have.

Now I will get into how we have adapted each one for different ages.  KEep in mind our kids are 2 years apart each so they have spent most of their lives at slightly different stages but close enough in age that they all wanted to play.  We have had other junior games  like Hi-ho Cherrio but these are ones that we have had for ages and have played since they were small.

  • Scrabble: When they were learning their letters we would get this out and play letter recognition–you can use it for go fish style games as well as making words and copying words.  Later we played so that the younger kids got points for making small words or even just attempting to sound it out, even if it was wrong.  Now we play for real though we seldom keep score.
  • Boggle: The same goes for this one.  Those letter dice are awesome for new readers.  Usually when I play with the kids I switch all the letters so they are facing the youngest and play upside down.  The new reader is allowed to make 2 and 3 letter words and gets extra points for spelling correctly.  I only make 4 letter words and up or take half the points for each.
  • Number Rings: This game is AWESOME for the math challenged.  My 7 year old figured out how to do multiplication because of it.  With younger kids I allow them to figure out whichever number instead of having to attach the numbers to the previous ones.  We also fudge a bit on being allowed to put rings on other players numbers and removing them.  The rules on this are very adaptable, and even come with multiple ways to play.
  • Uno: This one is easy for even young players to get and is great for learning numbers and colors as well as right and left.
  • Monopoly:Okay, I HATE monopoly, always have, but my kids love it.  They did have monopoly junior but moved quickly to the regular version.  We usually cut this one short, and give the younger ones help with money.
  • Blokus: LOVE this one.  This one has tons of adaptions in the rules and can be played in groups as well.  My son was able to play this game easily from the start and occasionally even beat his older sisters.  It can also be played individually, which makes it a nice whenever game that works on visual perception.  It can also be used for learning colors.
  • Scategories: This one is good to play with those who can already write and read but we have often played it in pairs so that the non readers can play as well.
  • Perpetual Notion: Another that requires reading.  This one gets the imagination moving.
  • Stare: A fun game our neighbor got the kids.  I believe she bought them the junior edition so I have not tried the grown up version.  Great for visual memory and can easily be adapted (the grownup can adapt the question to the child’s age level.)
  • Blink: Haven’t tried it yet but the kids have been playing and love it–another memory type game.
  • Whiz Kids:  I couldn’t find a link to this but we LOVE this game.  You can also play it without cards.  Someone names a type of thing and then the others try to come up with as many of that type as possible–simila rto scttergories but no writing so good for the car.
  • Trivia games: any will do.  We love playing well worded trivia games, especially in the car.  (I HATE poorly worded ones–ones wher ethe answer isn’t necessarily the only answer to the question.)  We have several that someone will read while we are in the car and someone else will try to answer.
  • Dice: Dice are awesome!  You can use them for all sorts of games.  Sometimes we take a pile , role them, and see who can come up with the highest number by adding subtracting, multiplying, dividing.  Other times we just do one sort of math with them.  Still other times we do a story telling kind of game, like D&D and use the dice to figure out the results of various situations.  When my son was younger he would play with them and tell me the numbers.  You can also use dice to figure out which passage to read or which workbook page to do.  Very fun way of making things random.  We have also used blank dice and used them to make other games.