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Who says you have to play board games by the rules? Try these seven different ways to play Battleship.

7 Ways to Play the Game Battleship

My eight year old son has fallen in love with the game Battleship. We played it for math the other day, and have played it several times since. He’s been experimenting with strategy, and it’s so fun to watch!

A couple of the other kids want to play too, but they aren’t quite ready to understand the coordinate plane system. They struggled with getting the pegs in the right spot and figuring out where to put the red and white pegs.

So we started playing different ways. I’m discovering there’s way more to Battleship than first meets the eye.

You can use this game to work on fine motor skills, creativity, math, and more. Here’s eight different ways to play Battleship.

1. Making Letters

The pegs and grid in Battleship are awesome for practicing making letters. You can have your child:

  • Write his name
  • Make each letter individually, A-Z
  • Practice spelling words (if they’re short…)

Just hand your child one of the Battleship grids with several pegs. Then let them get busy making letters.

Here’s a name that one of my kids wrote–they decided to alternate red and white pegs to make each letter more distinct.

You can have your child make letters out of the Battleship pegs.

2. Pattern Play

There’s plenty of space on the Battleship grid to build a pattern. You can have young kids practice making a basic AB pattern (red, white, red, white) in rows. Older kids can create more complex patterns. Here are some ideas:

  • Alternate rows of red and white
  • Red, red, red, white, red, red, red, white
  • Diagonal patterns
  • Vertical patterns
  • White, white, red, red, white, white, red, red
  • Small letters repeating (hi hi hi hi hi)

You can have one child start a pattern and another continue it. Playing with patterns is great math practice!

3. Fine Motor Practice

For kids who need a little more practice with fine motor skills (but are old enough to not eat the pegs!), Battleship is the perfect peg board. You can either let your child put in pegs, or put them in and have your child take them out.

Since the pegs are small, it’ll really work those muscles!

Perhaps let your child try to beat the clock–put on a favorite song and see if she can pull all the pegs out before the end.

4. Ship Stories

My kids love playing with the ships and moving them around in the “water” of the board. Two of them will get together and sit for a long time arranging and telling stories about what each ship is doing.

They’ll use the pegs as people, and let them “steer” the ships around.

This is a great way to build creative writing skills!

5. Learning About the Different Ships

Perhaps it’s because my husband was in the Navy, but the kids are really interested in learning more about each ship. My husband explains what each ship is used for in the United States Navy, and then shares his own stories about his days on an aircraft carrier.

Even if you don’t have a sailor in your life, you can use the internet to discover more about each ships purpose. Let your child look up images of real life battleships, submarines, carriers, and all the other boats.

Talk about what’s on top of each ship. For instance, you can see the tower on the aircraft carrier, and the hatch on the submarine. You can discover what these are used for.

6. Coordinate Plane Practice

You can use Battleship to practice using the coordinate plane without actually playing a game. I’m doing this with my six-year-old to try and get her ready to play.

You’ll just need one board for this version. One person calls out a coordinate, and the other places a peg there.

Then switch.

You can add more directions as understanding increases:

“Place a red peg at B2, and a white one at J8.”

It’s a fun way to practice saying the letter first and then the number, and finding where the two intersect.

7. Counting Practice

Have your child put a peg in each hole on the bottom of the board. Then have them count how many pegs there are.

For beginning counters, they’ll just count each peg individually. Older ones can start to see strategies like:

  • Counting by tens
  • Multiplying

Do you have Battleship?

If you do, I encourage you to drag out your game and play one of these variations soon. They’re a lot of fun.

After all, getting more out of board games is a great way to ensure your collection doesn’t just sit and gather dust!

Do you play any other variations of this game? I’d love to hear them in the comments.

Media gets a bad rap, but it doesn't have to be bad. Here are some tips for using media to supplment education

How to Use Media to Supplement Education

Media gets a bad rap.

I don’t think it is all bad. But, I do think that too much of anything is never good. So when you’re thinking about your children’s relationship with media, do make sure it’s not the only activity they’re participating in.

So head outside, read some books, do a puzzle.

And as long as you’re doing all those real-world things, a little media can be a great supplement to your child’s education. And you don’t even have to feel guilty about it!

Here are some tips for using media.

Make It Active

Passively sitting in front of the television won’t offer many educational benefits. To use movies or episodes as a learning tool, you must engage the brain with some activity.

Here are some ideas for making that happen:

  • Encourage your child to draw while watching–they can draw:
    • The setting of the movie
    • A main character
    • Their favorite part
    • What they think will happen at the end
  • Talk about what you’re watching. Don’t be afraid to hit pause.
  • Work on a hobby while watching; crocheting, knitting, drawing
  • Do jumping jacks during one commercial break and sit ups on another

Tie it Into Your Schooling

Is your child studying pioneer life? Are they learning about ocean life?

No matter what your child is studying, there’s probably some form of entertainment you can use. Look for documentaries, child friendly films, or apps that reinforce the concepts.

Have your child read the words on the video games, look for patterns in the levels they play, and describe the characters with adjectives.

There are so many ways to tie media into learning!

Extend the Learning

Don’t just shut the television or tablet off and walk away. Spend a few minutes extending the learning, to help your child make connections. Try to find activities that activate different parts of the brain, and rely on your child’s learning strengths. You could:

  • Act out a favorite scene
  • Write a review
  • Do a craft project inspired by the media
  • Create a matching game with index cards inspired by the media
  • Share three facts you learned while watching
  • Draw a movie poster

How Do You Use Media to Enhance Learning?

I’d love to hear your best tips for enhancing learning with media. Do your kids have a favorite series, app, or game that reinforces what they’re learning about? Please share in the comments!

Looking for more ways to integrate media?”Check out this graphic from the Christian movie streaming service Pure Flix.

 

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How to Practice the Alphabet with a Computer Keyboard

We have a USB keyboard that we occasionally use. When it’s not hooked up to the computer, my kids love playing with it! I’ve learned it’s a fabulous way for them to practice the alphabet.

Here are a few activities we use it for:

Type the ABCs in Order

I ask my kids to hunt and peck the alphabet, in order. This forces them to look at all the letters, and use their ability to recognize a letter by shape.

As they search for each letter, I ask them to sing the ABC song, slowly. So they sing “A” as they hit the A key, and “B” as they hit the B key, and so on.

Once they hit Z, I ask them to do it again, a bit faster.

They keep practicing the alphabet until they can find each letter in the amount of time it takes to sing the ABC song normally.

Name the Letters in QWERTY Order

Using the non-alphabetical order on the keyboard is a great activity for ensuring your child knows each letter. I just have my child start at Q, and name all the letters in the top row.

Then we move to the A and do all those letters.

We finish with the last row, starting with Z.

Letter Sounds

When we work on letter sounds, I can point to a letter and ask my child to say the sound. She’ll say the sound, and then type the letter.

We’ll typically do 10-15 letter in a single setting.

Any that my child can’t automatically name, I know I need to continue working on that letter with her. It’s an easy way for me to assess progress in a way my child thinks is a game! 😀

Spell Your Name

My kids love trying to spell their name on the keyboard. So, I’ll ask them to find all the letters in their name. And in my name. And spell Dad. With 10 people in our family, there’s always a name to practice!

Play Store

We love to bring the keyboard out when we’re playing store. The cashier sits and pretends to type out several things:

  • The names of customers
  • Items in the store for sale
  • The name of the store
  • Prices on items

Even if they’re using invented spelling, it’s a fun way to practice the alphabet and letter sounds.

Do Your Kids Enjoy Using a Keyboard?

If you have an extra (or broken) keyboard lying around, try letting your kids practice the alphabet with it. It’s a favorite activity here (along with the old-fashioned typewriter!)

Of course you’ll want to make sure there aren’t any keys popping off, as that could be a choking hazard.

If you give it a try, come back and let me know what your kids thought!

 

Help your little learners practice the alphabet with a computer keyboard.

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Flying a kite isn't only fun, it's very beneficial!

5 Interesting Ways Your Child Benefits from Flying a Kite

Have you flown a kite with your child yet this spring? My kids got kites for Easter from my mom, and we’ve spent a couple of lazy afternoons trying to keep them in the air.

Flying a kite isn’t only fun, it’s also beneficial. In addition to the obvious gross motor skills, your child is working on several key areas. But before we dive into those benefits, let’s talk about what you’ll need for a successful kite flying adventure.

Before Setting Out to Fly a Kite

Of course you’ll need a kite! The cheap ones from Walmart work just fine. But, if you have younger kids, be sure to get the diamond shaped kites.

Those are way more aerodynamic than the round ones, so your child will have an easier time flying.

You’ll also need a safe place. We head up to our upper field, because there aren’t any power lines or kite eating trees :D.

Make sure it’s a windy day. We wait until our flag is flying fairly horizontally before heading out.

Water is also essential, especially if it’s a warm day. Bring a couple of bottles along so you all stay hydrated.

Once you’re at your ideal location, help your kids get their kites up. My littles enjoy just running while holding onto the string, while my middles and big actually do quite well at getting the kites in the air. While they’re flying, your kids will be learning the following skills:

1. Understanding of Aerodynamics

Different shaped kites react differently to the wind. If you have a couple of different shapes, let your kids experiment with them and describe the experience with each.

Regardless of kite shape, your child will be feeling the wind interact with the kite and the string. As they move, the kite moves. The more they fly, the better handle they’ll get on how to play the kite in the wind to keep it up.

If your child likes to run to launch the kite, she’ll also be learning about wind direction and speed–both important to aerodynamics.

2. Problem Solving

Kite flying doesn’t always go as planned! Sometimes the kites take a nosedive, the string tangles, or a little sibling comes over and pulls on the string.

When these problems occur, children must stop and assess the situation. Sometimes they need to ask for help. Other times, they can solve the problem themselves.

Problem solving is one of those soft skills that’s so important in life!

3. Concentration

With all the digital stimuli in the world today, kite flying offers a chance for children to concentrate on something real. There are no screens. Its just you, the kites, and the big blue sky.

Concentrating on keeping it flying will help your child extend his attention span. You can slowly increase the amount of time you’re out.

4. Self-Confidence

When my three-year-old got his in the air for the first time, he was thrilled! He quickly learned that he could do it, and didn’t want any help after that.

As your children fly a kite, they’re gaining confidence in their own abilities. It’s an amazing feeling to be in control of something way up in the air. And you feel like soaring right along with it!

5. Attention to Detail

When the kites get high in the air, tracking them takes more attention. As the wind switches direction, your child will have to make adjustments to keep it up.

While winding in the string, your child will have to watch to make sure no weeds snag the kite and make a hole in it.

All of these tasks require attention to detail and observation skills.

Let’s Go Fly Some Kites

Pick a day this spring, and go fly kites with your kids. You’ll all benefit from the exercise and fresh air, and you’ll also benefit in the five ways described above.

Next on our to-do list?

Making our own kites. I’m looking forward to it!

Do you and your family enjoy flying kites? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments.

 

Are you shopping with kids? Try playing one of these games to help make the experience enjoyable.

Shopping with Kids? Here are 8 Interesting Games

Shopping with kids can be stressful. But, it doesn’t have to be.

I’m learning that my attitude is crucial. If I’m having fun, the kids usually do too. I’ve tried out some amazing grocery store games, and love the results.

These games get everyone’s brain working. When kids are focusing on a task, they don’t have as much energy to get in trouble.

Not that my kids would ever cause mischief at the grocery store! (:D)

So if you’re shopping with kids and looking for tricks to survive (and enjoy) the experience, try one of these:

1. Grocery Store Letter Find

Do you kids know their letters? Then they can play this game! It’s super simple.

They each try to spy every letter from A-Z in order.

With words all over the grocery store, everyone should be able to find them all. You just might need to head down the aisle with jam or quinoa as needed.

2. The Rainbow Produce Game

Do you toddlers know the colors? While you’re busy selecting ripe fruits and veggies, get your kids to work finding a fruit or vegetable for each color of the rainbow.

Can they find a fruit AND a vegetable for each color? Which color do they see the most of?

It’ll buy you some time to find what you’re looking for, and help expose your child to all sorts of produce.

3. Word in a Word

My older kiddos sometimes need engaged at the store, especially if our shopping trip lasts longer than normal. So this game is for them!

Pick a word from a sign that has several letters. Let’s pick produce for our example.

Now, have your kids take turns making new words from the letters in the word. They might come up with:

  • Prod
  • Crop
  • Do
  • Rue
  • Drop

The last person who can think of a word gets to pick the new word.

4. What’s This Ingredient For?

Help your child’s critical thinking skills develop with this simple grocery store game.

Pick an ingredient from your cart that you use often at home. Ask your child to name as many dishes as possible that the ingredient is in.

So if you pick a tomato, they could name:

  • Spaghetti
  • Salad
  • BLT sandwiches
  • Tomato soup
  • Tacos
  • Hamburgers

When they’ve run out of ideas, simply pick another ingredient for them.

5. Price Rounding

If your child knows how to round, keep the mind engaged with this easy game. Tell him a price, and let him round it up to the nearest dollar.

Or round up to the nearest tenths place. It’s great math practice while shopping!

6. Food Group Sort

As you put an item into the cart, have your child name the food group it belongs in.

Fruits

Vegetables

Protein/Meat

Dairy

Grain

If the item covers more than one food group, that’s okay!

7. Meal of the Day

As you add an item to your cart, tell your child what you’ll be making with that ingredient. Then, have your child name the time of the day that you typically eat that dish in.

If you’re using carrots in a stew, that’d probably be for dinner.

Oatmeal is almost always for breakfast. Unless you’re turning it into granola bars or some other delicious snack.

Some meals can be eaten any time of day!

It’s another critical thinking game.

8. Biggest & Smallest

Ask your child to search all the numbers in the store for the smallest number she can find. Then have her look for the biggest.

As you shop, give her the opportunity to change her numbers as she finds bigger or smaller ones.

When you leave, ask her what the biggest number and smallest number she found were.

Do You Play Games when Shopping with Kids?

I’d love to hear your favorites. We’re always up for trying new things when shopping!

If you’re looking for car games to play while heading to the grocery store, I’ve got you covered! The post I linked to back there has some fun ones!