Let the Games Begin!

April 12, 2010


Asalaam ‘Alaikum:

I’ve been looking into educational games lately for the kids. Not games that you purchase necessarily – but even games you make yourself. I’m actually looking into this topic for all of their curricular needs – not just Arabic.

We have started looking more at games at local resale shops and have had many great finds. From available research, I have been finding that games are an excellent way for kids to learn and many schools even utilize games as a way of learning (and I don’t mean just cut and dry boring learning games – but fun games where kids don’t even realize that they are learning).

My kids recently played a game called Cranium Cadoo – not sure if everyone here is aware of the game. They really liked it a lot (they couldn’t stop asking to play the game). I have even found a way of making the game with an Arabic spin (the game is not exactly the same but is just as fun). The girls now bother their Dad every time to play the game with them. The nice thing is that you can actually also play the game without having the game. It would be easy to replicate the game using game cards (index cards or something similar) and a tic-tac-toe type board. When I get a chance, I will upload a sample game board I made. I am sure this will make more sense to those of you who have seen the game – and I will try to make up a better description once I am done working out all the details. Instead of the x shaped pieces each player has – just use different colored counters for each player.

Anyway, what I am essentially saying is that it is possible for us – all of us to be more creative with our learning materials – and, we don’t have to start from scratch either. We just need to think “outside of the box”. I recently read a book entitled “A Board Game Education” by Jeffrey P. Hinebaugh. In the book it details how popular games are played – and what skills they develop (played as-is). It also details ways in which (as a teacher or parent) you can have the child play the game to achieve the learning or reinforcement of other skills. Anyway – it was not necessarily the most wonderful book I have ever read (not terrible – just not amazing – “YOU NEED TO BUY THIS BOOK!!!” kind of thing – but it has helped me try to look differently at the use of games in my children’s education.

I had a friend who made her own Uno game for Arabic learning. It has been a while since I spoke to her about it – and I’m going to have to see how exactly she made the game. However, there is so much potential out there for us to really make the learning of the Arabic language fun as well as beneficial for our children. As a person who is not fluent in the language – who is mainly an English speaking person – whose children live in the US – surrounded by all-English speakers most of their time – I find this to be important and lacking) I personally have not seen much out there like it yet (and much of what is out there is overrated and overpriced – but that’s just my personal opinion (forgive me if I stepped on any toes).

So, with all that – I just wondered – has anyone else used games to help in teaching Arabic or any other topics (math, language arts, etc.?) What games have you used? Have you made your own games? Have any ideas for games? I’d love to have more discussion on this topic – if anyone is game:-)

Asalaam ‘Alaikum,
Sumayyah Umm SAA

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