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Tag: games

Satori and I have been on a big geography kick. I read The Little Man in the Map last year to her, and again last week. She has been drawing maps, such as this one featuring the little man. 🙂 She has been fascinated with maps ever since we started Story of the World last year. We played a few geography games a few weeks ago and she amazed me by knowing the names and locations of all the US States. I never taught her, we just have maps all over the house that I guess she’s memorized them. She’s been playing a few iPad games on geography and really wants to learn more, so I’ve been busy trying to whip up plans for that.

Satori already loves all her geography workbooks, so much in fact, that we’re tried out most of the popular geography workbook series up to grade 3. We have started a new series – MCP Maps, Charts and Graphs C, which is great, because she loves reading the lesson and learning about geography on her own. We’ve also enjoyed the Steck Vaughn Maps Globes Graphs series and Scholastic Success with Maps (out of print now).

We’re stepping it up a notch this spring, to study the US States. She really is motivated to learn more about the states then just their shapes and locations. So we’re going through a quick one-month study of all the states, and will learn their capital and abbreviation. That will be alphabetically, and yesterday we started with Alabama and Alaska. Then, we’ll take it a bit slower, adding State Birds/Trees, Nickname, Major cities, etc… I want to take that study at one state per week, in order by region. We’ll then take a break learning the states and for grade 2, we’ll start studying American History, going over the states all over again in order of statehood.

I’ll be sharing our resources used in this study in a future post.

We’re also going to study World Geography more. We’re going to use The Core method of “blobbing” and eventually draw the entire world by memory. We started last week and I will show examples soon. I also made a map sheet with the 5 great circles if you don’t want to hand-make your lines everytime. I’ll share that in an upcoming post.

What else is new? Satori has been so excited about typing! I’ve created a blog account for her and soon you’ll see blog posts written by the little girl herself! (Approved by me before they go live.)

I’ve also been a bit fanatical about getting an educational game collection going. I will be posting reviews on educational board (and iPad) games on geography, math, science, language arts, art, and more soon.

I chose RightStart for the lack of emphasis on boring worksheets, but we did have a few short worksheets this past week. No problem, they were short and Satori whizzed through them! I have the order mixed up on the photo below, but the first worksheet was the simple addition by 1, for which Satori did not need the abacus. (She doesn’t need it for simple addition either, as she has been figuring simple sums in her head. She probably does this by counting, which I’m not sure is the RightStart way, but she does it fast anyway.)

We covered Level 41 on Monday, which built upon partitioning 10. Instead of memorizing addition facts that add to 10, here’s how RightStart Math approaches this. The past few lessons we’ve been using a Part-Whole Circle set with 10 in the whole circle, and another number in one of the part circles. (We previously photocopied the Part-Whole circle set and then I laminated it, so we can use dry erase markers to use it over and over.) Using the AL abacus, Satori can figure out the other number easily. We practiced this with all the sums, even writing all the possibilities down when solving word problems. We then did the Handshaking Game which was a unique game and used her toys in adding to 10.

A few days of doing this, Satori was familiar with equations for partitioning of ten. She completed the above worksheet on the left, relying on her abacus for all the equations. Then, we played a game that helped her learn her equations in a much more fun way! Addition Memory is a twist on the basic memory game in that you must find two cards that add to 10. The first time we played with all cards facing up, just to get the idea of finding cards that add to 10, such as a 6 and a 4. Then we started for real.

We like to start our Memory Games with a fun design, like a flower or pyramid. This is a smiley flower.

As we found pairs adding to 10, we lay the numbers in pairs face-up so we can visually see the numbers as added reinforcement. The first game Satori used her abacus for all but a few sums.

Mom won the first game (I do not cut her any slack), so of course we played again and again! I think we played 4 times total, each time Satori was relying on her abacus less and less. She knew when she picked up an 8, that she would need a 2. When she found a 5, she’d need the other 5. 9+1 and 10+0 were easy to figure out, I think the only ones she still needs an abacus were for 7+3 and 6+4 and vice versa.

Next time, we will start out playing the Addition Memory game until she has the last two sums memorized, and then we will play yet another RightStart Game to learn our sums to 10 – Go to the Dump!

The cards we use came with the RightStart Level A Starter Kit, and are very nice cards, sturdy and glossy, which should hold up to hundreds of math games through several children!

I promised I would review some of our favorite games and I realized I haven’t done any yet, so here is out first one – Rush Hour Jr. This Junior version is designed for ages 6-8, but we are just fine at age 5, perhaps even younger kids would enjoy this. I consider these types of games to be great fun as well as excellent ways to get the brain challenged.

The object is to get the ice cream truck out of the traffic grid. Cars can only move back and forth.

The one disadvantage is that these vehicles are very light plastic and can easily pop off their tracks. But once we paid heed to this and were careful, they stayed on their tracks better.

Daddy and Satori had a great time playing the game. I think the normal version of Rush Hour (get the Standard, not Deluxe version) will find its way into our house very soon!

And in the photo below – pop! The Ice Cream Truck sails away free!

Right before Christmas I realized we need more challenging puzzles, so now Satori has some 84 and 100 piece puzzles. Last week, a local mom sold me this cool table and chairs (with bins underneath) for just $25, it makes a great puzzle table!

It’s just the perfect size for puzzles and games for  Satori.

If you know me, I get obsessed about certain things and go all out researching and gathering… Well one of my latest obsessions is games! Before Christmas the only games we had were like Candyland and Chutes and Ladders. Ho-hum… Needless to say, we never played the boring games. A thread on the WTM got me excited about building our game library!

I scoured homeschooling forums and of course Amazon, and came up with some that I think Satori will enjoy. I looked for challenging games for ages 5-7 that were creative and fun. Probably equally important, ones that her mom and dad would enjoy playing with her! For more game options visit

Cleaning out our hall closet was a project that took me almost two weeks, but finally it is cleared out and our new games and puzzles moved in. Even Daddy and Mama got a few – our favorite is now Pandemic, a cooperative game that is sooo much fun! We look forward to playing Ticket to Ride Europe this weekend. David chose that game, there is also Ticket to Ride based in North America. There’s a whole world of games like this that we can’t wait to play. These are over Satori’s level, but in a few years she’ll be able to join us.

I hope to review some of the games that Satori and our family enjoy. Right now we’re digging Chicken Cha Cha Cha and Kids of Carcassonne. I’ll talk more about them in-depth in another post.

As mama previewed our RightStart math lesson today, it called for two abacuses (or abaci) if you have them. Luckily, I had a make-your-own abacus kit so we put that together! I see this is no longer available unfortunately, but I got it for just $2.50 from RightStart. Here’s the cached page of their AL Abacus “Mini-Abby”. It is easy to make your own if you can find those little dowels and then some pony beads, popsicle sticks, and binder clips. It came in a little bag with everything (but the glue and pen) shown here.

The orange and yellow weren’t too inspiring for us, so I had Satori choose her own light and dark colors. We have tons of pony beads from our craft room, so that worked out well.

She couldn’t wait to play with it. 🙂

We just think it’s super cute.

This particular lesson today covered a multitude of things. We are finally getting back into place value (where we left off from Math-U-See last summer). So we had a bunch of tens and ones laying on the floor, and I would call out 4-ten and she would pick the number up and enter it on her abacus.

That was just a review, we had done that yesterday, and I’m finding we don’t need to review so much. We proceeded to learn how to enter 8-ten plus 1 on the abacus and call it 8-ten one. (We will call numbers these weird names for a bit longer, it makes math make so much more sense if you think of things in terms of tens and ones.)

To conclude the lesson, we learned a new game – Swim to Ten! Satori loved this and after the lesson, she played it by herself for 20 more minutes. “Swim to Ten” allowed her to practice her decision making skills as she chose which of her swimmers to move when she rolled the dice. If one lands on an “X”, she has to go back to the beginning! In beginner-mode, you can give the child a second chance. In harder mode, she has to move the first swimmer she touches. To win, you must land your swimmer exactly on the 10th spot.

Satori loves to write letters. With her beginner/intermediate knowledge of phonics, she can sound out complex words and sentences that we are able to decipher most of the time. Of course, when she writes us letters, they are full of “luv” and little hearts. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to be able to spell “love” correctly, even though we haven’t covered that word yet in our reading or spelling. So I gave her the gift of Love.


I decorated it with glitter and heart-shaped gems… <3

I even gift-wrapped it so it was extra special!


Coincidentally, the same day I gave her this tiny gift, Daddy wrote on our whiteboard “Love you!” So the next time she started to write a letter, she actually ran to the whiteboard to learn how to write “love”. With both the love card and Daddy’s message, Satori has it totally memorized now on how to spell “love” correctly!

I made a few other cards to give to her on other weeks, these are all high-frequency-Satori-use words.


I got this idea from the book Games for Reading by Peggy Kaye. It was actually the first or second game in the book. We’ve also got her games for Writing and Math books. However, some homeschooling families will take offense in Peggy’s intro where she says that in general, she agrees that teaching should be left to teachers. I always catch those little snippets now. But her books still filled me up with great ideas, so I will let her comment slide, after all, she first wrote it 25 years ago.

Phonics will always have the  highest priority for us, but little games like this will help make reading fun. I imagine I’ll be sharing our final versions of some of her ideas in the 3 books, but if you wanted to check some of her games out, head to’s Game page!

I would’ve never heard Satori say the below phrase back when we used Math-U-See last summer! Satori said this to me after our RightStart lesson.

Mom, is Math all Games?

Mama replied that she indeed thought math was a lot of fun. There are certainly many games we can play using math.

In particular, RightStart sure does make math interesting and fun! And we were doing fun stuff that they didn’t even label as their “games”. I finally ordered their Math Card Games book and DVD, should arrive later next week. All the game cards already came with our RightStart Level A Starter Kit. I really wish we had focused on RightStart all fall, but since Satori has been looking forward to doing math lately, we should get caught up soon.

Here she is making her first fractal. I admit I didn’t even know what a fractal was until this afternoon! Now we have a nice little 10 triangle design to admire.


Finally we’ve reached the lessons where we go over multiple 10s. For the next few months we’ll be referring to these as ten, 2-ten, 3-ten, and so on up through 10-ten which we call hundred. Here she is showing me 6-ten and the AL Abacus. We covered this in Math-U-See, but gave these 10s nicknames like two-ty, three-ty, four-ty… MUS did an excellent job getting Satori to understand her 10s, now to see where RightStart takes us…


We’ve also learned our evens and odds this week (up to 10), something we left off on back in late September before we took our long hiatus.

Hopefully her interest in math will continue. Right now she is even asking to do Math before Spelling! She told her Uncle Ken over the phone yesterday that she loves math. Yay!