School in a Book: Educational Games

Ideas for enjoyable, educational activities aren’t hard to find. The trick is to remember them when the time comes. Here is a list to draw from on those quiet days when you want to spend time with friends or family while also furthering your knowledge base.

Essential Games

  • Scrabble
  • Chess
  • Checkers
  • Go
  • Mah jong
  • Monopoly
  • Trivial Pursuit
  • Dominos
  • Card games
  • Charades
  • Crossword puzzles
  • Sudoku
  • Logic grid puzzles
  • Mazes
  • Map puzzles
  • Complex strategy board games like Dungeons and Dragons, Magic or Settlers of Cattan
  • Billiards/pool

Other Essential Educational Recreational Activities

  • Show and tell
  • Talent shows
  • Art museums and galleries
  • Zoos
  • Aquariums
  • Science museums
  • History museums
  • Planetariums
  • Concerts
  • Theater plays
  • Sporting events
  • Educational and recreational clubs (scouting clubs, book clubs, science clubs, gaming clubs and more)
  • Travel, especially to historical locations

Additional Recommendations: Homemade Educational Games

If you want to make learning the material in this book more enjoyable–and a bit easier–consider trying one or two of the following self-made learning games. Homeschooling families might find them especially useful, as multiple players can reinforce concepts simultaneously.


Number of Players: Any

What You Need: One printed copy of one of the sections of this book per player, paper and writing instruments

How to Play: First, players review their fact lists for several minutes. Then they set the lists aside and start a timer for five to ten minutes. During the timed session, players list as many terms as they can remember, along with their definitions. The winner is the one who writes the most correct terms and accompanying definitions.


Number of Players: Three or more

What You Need: One printed copy of one of the sections of this book per player, paper and writing instruments

How to Play: First, players each create a 5×5 grid on their paper. Then, they fill in each box with one of the terms from their chosen fact list. One player volunteers to serve as the first caller and reads the definitions of the terms from the list in random order. The other players must guess the right term, then block it off their BINGO card if they have it. The first person to have five correctly named terms in a row is the winner. Players can take turns serving as the caller.


Number of Players: Two or more

What You Need: One printed copy of one of the sections of this book per player, paper and writing instruments

How to Play: First, one player (or team) chooses five terms from the chosen fact list. Then, they start a timer and the other player (or team) attempts to guess the terms one by one by using yes or no questions only. Only five terms may be named while questioning. For example, a player can ask, “Is it an object?” any number of times, but “Is it [term from the fact list]?” only five times total. After the team uses all five of their guesses, the timer is stopped. That team’s correct number of guesses and the time spent finding them are noted, and the teams switch roles and play again. The winning player or team is the one that identified the most of the five terms, with the time taken to do so as the tie breaker.


What You Need: One printed copy of one of the sections of this book, grid paper with large boxes and a pencil

How to Play: First, determine which of the terms on the chosen fact list are hardest for you to remember. Starting with those terms, create a simple crossword puzzle on the grid paper. This can work with just five or six terms, or you can make a more complicated version. Number each term as is standard for crossword puzzles and list the corresponding numbered clues next to the puzzle. The clues, in this case, will be the definition of the term. Create multiple puzzles and print out multiple copies of each and fill out the puzzles later on. (Note that crosswords using foreign-language vocabulary words can be easiest to create, since the native-language word can be used as the clue.)


What You Need: Paper, markers and a list of important dates

How to Play: First, determine which key historical dates you most want to remember. The historical timeline provided in this book might be a good place to find these. Draw a straight line down the middle of each piece of paper and divide the line into equal segments. Write the date increments on each segment, then write the corresponding events. Hang it on a wall for easy reference. Later, create a second version that only lists the dates and try to fill in the corresponding events by memory.


What You Need: A high-quality map of the world, or of a country or continent; scissors; cardboard

How to Play: Cut a map into puzzle-like pieces (for best results, use simple angular shapes). Reinforce the back of each piece with cardboard, then put the puzzle together repeatedly until you are able to do so quickly.


What You Need: A high-quality picture of an important world landmark, body system, or other visual aide to learning; paper; a marker

How to Play: Place a piece of paper over the chosen picture. Outline the picture with dots in the proper places. Number the dots as you go. Then try to redraw the picture by connecting the dots.


What You Need: Coloring sheets that depict educational visual aides like planets, the parts of a plant, the parts of a cell, human body systems, maps and much more; crayons, markers or colored pencils

How to Play: Color and label the educational coloring sheet, taking time to appreciate its details. Hang them on a wall to jog your memory.


  • Camping
  • Store (toy store, grocery store, pet store, etc.)
  • Restaurant
  • Post Office
  • Theater/play/music performance
  • Art gallery
  • Zoo
  • Animal hunt
  • Fort building
  • Pet hotel
  • Tea party
  • Hospital
  • Cops and robbers
  • Superheroes
  • Pilots
  • Vet clinic
  • Lions and deer
  • Monsters and townspeople
  • Alligators and swimmers
  • Hot lava
  • Obstacle course
  • Firefighters
  • Race cars
  • Submarine
  • Astronauts
  • Royal family
  • Library
  • Aliens
  • Movie and TV show characters
  • Much more


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      1. I have always liked Risk. I know it’s a war game, global domination played with dice, but it’s also a good lead to managing resources and figuring things out.
        And, personally, though it may not fit here, there are lots of video games for all ages and for all styles and likes.