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Just Add Snow-Day “Specials” Pt. 2

By Heather A. Eades | January 27, 2017 | Elementary, Preschool

When the temperatures are too cold to be outside for long afternoon breaks, games are a perfect way to bring families together, while also reinforcing skills needed for learning. Here are this homeschooling mama’s top picks for beating winter blues through fun and games! 


  • Cranium Hulabaloo teaches shape and color recognition while letting children get their wiggles out at the same time! Mats of different shapes and colors are scattered across the floor, and an electronic device shouts out different ways for children to get to the nearest designated mat. Lots of fun for all, and helps young children learn to follow directions as well.
  • Chutes and Ladders, while a childhood staple and classic, still is brand new fun for your preschoolers and provides counting practice and number recognition. Fun ways to put a new twist on this game—let your children use their favorite small toy figurines in place of game pieces. In our house we have also played an Opposite Day version, where a player gets to walk up the slides and climbs down the ladders, or we start at the finish and subtract our way to the start!
  • Memory builds visual memory skills critical for recognizing letters and numbers, as well as sight words in reading. A fun way to help little ones feel connected to out-of-state extended family is to make up your own Memory game with family photos! Simply print off doubles of favorite pictures of grandmas, grandpas, cousins and more; glue to colored cardstock squares, and then play! (You may want to laminate.)


  • Qwirkle is a great strategy game to bust out that the youngest in your family will be able to enjoy alongside older siblings and parents. Children build on math skills by looking for ways to build patterns, matching colors or shapes, and adding up points as they do so. Planning, patterns and problem-solving skills make this the perfect game to pull out when a math lesson ends in tears.
  • Scrabble Alphabet Soup incorporates all the senses into spelling fun. Children love taking turns shaking up all the letter tiles in the pot, scooping them out in a hurry to see who can match all the letters to their word first. This game is great for letter recognition, phonemic awareness and strengthens early literacy skills through hands-on fun!

Want more spelling challenge for older elementary? Try the Campbell’s Alphabet Dice Game, where players simply throw the dice and spell words.

  • Guesstures (a modern take on Charades) is another family favorite that bridges all age-gaps. Perfect for snowy days or family game nights, this game builds on children’s creative thinking skills, gets them up and moving, and emphasizes drama/theater skills!

Middle School and Beyond

  • Dixit provides a fun-tastic break from everyday language arts, building storytelling skills and creativity with friends and family. While one player is chosen as the storyteller creating a sentence from an image on one of his six cards, the rest of the players have fun choosing a card from theirs which best matches the sentence.
  • Picwits is a similar game, building on creative connections and associations. All players have to choose one of their picture cards to best represent the judge’s caption card. *Warning some of the photos on a few of the cards could be a little frightening for younger players. Still, loads of laughs to brighten a dreary day!
  • Ticket to Ride is a grand adventure for a gloomy day, where players expand their geography knowledge and strategy skills as they plot to claim railway routes, build the longest continuous railroad, and try to complete the mission of their Destination Tickets.


Just for Fun

I just had to mention my family’s two favorite games for middles and beyond when we just want to laugh and have fun. Quelf, is simply a hilarious game of ridiculous rules being played out to avoid penalties. Perfect for an afternoon with friends, or a multi-family game night.

And the top favorite new game in this family of artists is Telestrations. In this cross between Pictionary and Telephone, the less artistic the players are, the more fun and funnier the game becomes!



Stay tuned for Part 3 of this series where we look at favorite winter reads!

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