I am going to start a new feature on Story of a Homeschooling Family. Every week, I will feature a fun game that your family can play. It will be games that are free, or almost free. No need to go on Amazon. No need to go to a specialty game store, or the Target game aisle. Just good, old fashioned games that you can play with your words and actions. If you grew up going to a public school, you might have learned these types of games while waiting for school to start and everyone was waiting on the playground before the morning bell rang. Or maybe it was with your teacher during class time when she had a few spare minutes. Or maybe you had a big group of neighborhood friends that would gather in the summertime and play games across 4 yards because everyone was friendly!
My goal is to share games that you can play with your family. I also would like to share games you could play with other homeschooling families. These games might not be new to you, but they might be ones your children have never played!
This week’s game: Simon Says
How to play: (I will describe it in ways that you can explain it to your children.) Let’s play Simon Says. I am Simon. When I say, “Simon says…..” you do what Simon says. When I don’t say, “Simon says,” then don’t do it! It can be tricky! You have to listen to the whole sentence. If you do something when I don’t say, “Simon Says…,” then you’re out. If you’re out, you will sit on the couch. We’ll play lots of times. If you get out, don’t be sad; it’s just a fun game. You’ll try again after a few turns. Are you ready to really play?”
The youngest kids will quickly “get it” once you get started. If you have mostly young children, try to not trick them too much; this helps them learn the rules. If one of my youngest gets “out,” I have them sit out about 3 turns, and then I say, “Simon says, _____ comes off the couch and jumps up and down!”
Learning Goals: This helps build auditory comprehension skills. Children have to learn to pay attention to the whole sentence. They have to comprehend what is being said and do it. They have to be quick to not do what is said, even if it would be fun. This also builds the virtue of self-control. The game provides fun and exercise. The game practices balance. It teaches the children that it’s ok to make mistakes and be out; it’s just a game. I try to end the game on a positive note with everyone “in” the game, successfully having followed the “Simon says” instructions correctly.
What to say during the game:
For any of these, take away the “Simon says” part and then see if the kids are listening!
- Simon says hop on one foot!
- Simon says jump up and down.
- Simon says run in place.
- Simon says bark like a dog.
- Simon says act like a cat.
- Simon says pretend you’re a table.
- Simon says pretend you’re a butterfly
- Simon says pretend you’re a chair.
- Simon says jump up and down 10 times.
- Simon says hop on one foot 20 times.
- Simon says pretend you’re a pig.
- Simon says pretend you’re a chicken.
- Simon says stop.
- Simon says pat your head.
- Simon says rub your belly.
- Simon says fly like a bird.
- Simon says raise a hand.
- Simon says touch your ears.
- Simon says touch your toes.
- Simon says do jumping jacks.
- Simon says stand on one foot!
I like to use Simon Says when we are doing schoolwork, but I can tell the children need a break. They might have a hard time sitting still, or look like they are falling asleep! If it’s not the right time for a snack, lunch break, or recess, then a quick, 5-minute game of Simon Says–involving lots of movement–does wonders to reset their ability to focus. I also love that it is a quick way for fun family time!