Enhanced – review video
"Bookshelf & Beyond"
with Curriculum Consultants
Gina Burmeier & Amber Garcia
Handwritten quote
Handwritten quote

ord games are a fabulous pastime, but younger kids sometimes miss out on all the action. Early Reading Game by Briarpatch® offers a simple game for your youngest students to gain confidence in their skills! Children spin a spinner to see how many letters along the alphabet board they will advance. When they land on a letter, they place a word-ending card from their hand next to the letter space to form a three or four-letter word. If they land on a vowel, they find a card that matches with that vowel instead of forming a word. If the word is valid or the vowel is matched, the child gains a hat token. The player to reach the end of the alphabet with the most hats wins! With basic gameplay mechanics and completing words rather than spelling or writing them, even the youngest children can join in on the learning fun! For two to four players, 20 minutes play time.

Handwritten quote
"Bookshelf & Beyond"
with Curriculum Consultants
Gina Burmeier & Amber Garcia
Kid's playroom
Handwritten quote
Handwritten quote

ord games are a fabulous pastime, but younger kids sometimes miss out on all the action. Early Reading Game by Briarpatch® offers a simple game for your youngest students to gain confidence in their skills! Children spin a spinner to see how many letters along the alphabet board they will advance. When they land on a letter, they place a word-ending card from their hand next to the letter space to form a three or four-letter word. If they land on a vowel, they find a card that matches with that vowel instead of forming a word. If the word is valid or the vowel is matched, the child gains a hat token. The player to reach the end of the alphabet with the most hats wins! With basic gameplay mechanics and completing words rather than spelling or writing them, even the youngest children can join in on the learning fun! For two to four players, 20 minutes play time.

Handwritten quote
Hands-on learners will love this Reading Readiness Activity Set by Hand2Mind®. Kids use a smooth magnetic wand, activity cards, and magnetic letters that resemble bingo chips when learning letters and sounds. Lay the letter chips on the cards and sweep them up with the wand! Practice your upper and lowercase letters, identify sounds in words, segment and blend sounds, CVC word families, beginning sounds to decode words, and even complete games to extend learning! That is a lot of learning in a little box! Clear instructions for the parent are included, but then a child can also play on their own quietly.

Inspired by Montessori theories, Montessori Interactive Play Sets by Headu introduce little ones (ages three to six) to numbers, letters, and writing using hands-on tools. With Montessori Touch ABC Game, kids explore the alphabet with puzzle pieces by assembling the emery letter pieces with the picture/word puzzle piece. They’ll create the entire alphabet in different formats with all the puzzle pieces. Montessori 123 Touch Bingo Game teaches numbers and counting from number recognition to counting dots and objects. Numbers and dots are made from a fine sandpaper-type material, giving little learners a tactile component. Montessori Writing Lab allows children to assemble the puzzle pieces to form different words with the pictures and practice writing the word with the pen provided.

Written by a neuroscience expert, First Steps in Coding by Kane/Miller Publishing feature vibrant pictures and simple stories to demonstrate various coding-related topics. Each thirty-two-page book features only one main topic and breaks it down into easy-to-understand, relatable pieces. The purpose of these books is not to teach children how to code, but to help them understand how these coding topics affect the world of technology around them. What’s an Algorithm? features two robot friends enjoying a visit to a splash park. Children learn how to write an algorithm and what a bug is. What’s Branching? shows kids how to create a backup plan for an outdoor birthday party on a rainy day by using IF/THEN statements. What’s Decomposition? is a story about Volt’s rock band that sounds awful. How can they help Volt? Kids are taught to think about breaking down problems to find a solution.

"geography games"

isit the National Parks in this junior version of Monopoly, which also adds a few new twists. In Jr. Ranger National Parks Opoly by Masterpieces, players move around the board and visit nineteen different parks. Pay the purchase price of a park to receive the property “deed.” If another player has already bought the park you land on, pay them the property cost—just like regular Monopoly. If the other player has all the properties in a color-coded group, you will owe them twice the amount shown on the property. Besides landing on and purchasing properties, players might land on Jr. Ranger Guide spaces, which entitle them to draw a card. These cards might present a challenge that can pay off with a reward—such as making your favorite animal sound for $2 and others that cause them a penalty—like having a messy campsite. If a player gets lost or misses the bus, they do not pass go or collect $1. The game ends when any one player loses all their money. The player who has the most money at the end of the game wins.

How well do you know the states? In the Scholastics USA Card Game from University Games, match state Geography Cards with Fact Cards to collect the most matches and use special Challenge Cards to steal matches from other players! Trivia on each card helps players learn more about state history and culture. It’s the funniest card game this side of the Mississippi (no matter which side you are on)!

Learn about the world with The World Card Game by Scholastic. Players race to collect a card from each of the different continents while learning about the history and culture of cities, countries, and regions from around the world.

Collection of geography based board games
The new 100 PICS from Asmodee is a great way to improve vocabulary, spelling, and memory! Open the four doors one-by-one to unveil the colorful question card. Make a guess and then slide to reveal the answer. There are fifty double-sided cards. Each product in the 100 PICS line focuses on a different topic like animals, capital cities, countries, flags, riddles, unofficial Minecraft, states and capitals, and word puzzles. Pocket-sized and handy for road trips. Great gift or stocking stuffer. Can be played alone, but friends and family usually want to get involved!
Fun With Math

en Frame Playing Cards by Learning Advantage™ are an excellent way to teach young kids (ages five to nine) different combinations of 10. The instructions include a choice between four different games: Let’s Make Ten, I Spy a Sum, Ten Frame War, and Speed Sequence. Each card shows the number and a ten frame with dots representing the number on the card. Kids can learn number sense and basic math facts in a fun way with these cards. It comes with four sets of ten playing cards with dot numbers 0-10.

With rich colors and exquisite details, Sensory Leaves Math Activity Set by Hand2Mind® provides math manipulatives perfect for exploration and cross-curricular teaching. Manipulatives include thirty-six leaves in various colors and sizes and six distinct leaf shapes: Ironwood, Live Oak, Maple, Redbud, Quaking Aspen, and White Oak. Each individual leaf is exquisitely detailed from its unique shape and pattern on both sides, to the slightly raised bug or bugs found on the back of each leaf. Along with the beautiful manipulatives, the set also includes a Math Activity Guide and ten double-sided activity cards measuring 11” x 8.5” and are colorfully illustrated and durable. Activities focus on colors, sorting, patterns, basic math calculations as well as simple nature activities like leaf identification and leaf parts. And the manipulatives also work well for leaf rubbings with crayons—a perfect nature journal or art project for younger children!

Multiplication Match Full Set™ by Galloping Games is easy to play and fun for the whole family. Kids start with a hand of six cards and take turns drawing cards from the discard or deck pile to make a match of two factor cards and a product. End your turn by discarding a card. Be the first to get two correct equations and win! The full set includes Level 1 (multiplication facts of 1 to 6), Level 2 (facts of 7 to 12), and the Expansion Set. Add these three sets together to practice all multiplication facts from 1 to 12. Don’t worry! Each card is identified by a different cartoon animal, so you can return cards to their correct level. Instructions for alternate games are also included.

What child doesn’t like an adorable animal game? Have fun learning math concepts with Alana’s Animals Beginning Counting Game by Genius Games. This game helps children develop an understanding of quantities and number magnitude, number recognition, rational counting, and subitizing. There are also super cute animals on the cards! Play is very simple. You have twenty-four animal cards and thirty reward cards. Whoever can do the best animal impression goes first! You have directions for two games: Hide and Go Peek and Barnyard Merry-Go-Round. Instructions are clear and simple to follow while the farm animals are comical and endearing. This game is for two to four players (ages four and up). Play time is around 10 minutes.

various math based board games
Numbers and Shapes Connecting Cubes by Teacher Created Resources are unique from other interlocking cubes because they have numbers and shapes on each cube. There are many possibilities of interaction with these cubes such as counting, learning about patterns, making a color graph, working with equations, and much more! The set includes 100 – ¾” plastic cubes in ten different colors. Numbers on the cubes include 0–9 and the four shapes are a square, triangle, star, and circle.

Players use the power of math to defeat waves of villains attacking the city in the cooperative board game Outnumbered by Genius Games. Each player rolls three dice on their turn and uses any combination of arithmetic operators to manipulate the value. But that’s not all! Each player gets a superhero with a special power for more flexibility. Characters like “Mi-nus” can subtract 1 or 2 from a value; “Digitizer” can flip a die to its opposite value; “Multi-pull” can double a value. If a value can be made that matches the value of a villain, the opponent is defeated and removed from the board. Bonus powers further aid players, allowing quick dispatch of “Villains with a prime number” or “Divisible by 3.” This game offers a healthy mix of open-ended math, suitably menacing cartoon villains, cheesy heroes, and delightful comic book style illustrations. One to six players, ages eight and up will have fun working together to defeat the villains while improving their math skills. Play time is around 20 to 30 minutes.

Unleash your nerdy number skills with this fun take on word-style crossword puzzles. Cross Math™ by Mindware® uses addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division to allow kids to practice mental math and problem-solving skills. Instead of drill sheets, try this engaging game to sharpen strategic thinking and build math confidence. It also includes a guide for skill-specific games and additional activities. Geared for two to four players, ages seven and up.

Various STEM toys and games
Science Exploring

ater Power: Rocket-Propelled Cars, Boats, and More by Thames and Kosmos is a neat experiment kit involving the use of compressed air and water. Before each experiment is conducted, the user must first construct one of the six model designs using the forty-seven interlocking plastic construction pieces. Each model includes step-by-step, illustrated building instructions in the user’s manual. Some experiments involve only air while others involve both air and water. To build up pressure in the tank, the user must pump the manual compression pump as directed for each experiment. The models feature land or water pressure-powered vehicles. This is a great way for children and young teens to experiment with the laws of physics, using some trial-and-error strategies. After each model has been tested at least once, the manual encourages the user to adjust the outcome of the experiment by changing the water level, moving the nozzle, etc.

Learn the power of the wind, explore gear ratios, and more with this WindBots 6-in-1 Wind-Powered Machine Kit from Thames and Kosmos. From the hand-powered hand generator to the big-wheel tricycle, walking robot, and yacht—this kit will engage future scientists as they assemble six models (one at a time) from the 200+ pieces. Full-color manual with step-by-step instructions included. You provide diagonal cutters or scissors, nail file, Phillips-head screwdriver, and a few household items.

Geomag Mechanics STEM toys by Geomag™ teaches about momentum and builds spatial reasoning skills and interest in the field of physics. After building the kits, start off down the track by launching the marble off in the entry point of the track. The rails, connectors, and pieces are simple to attach, and the booklet has detailed instructions, making the sets easy to build. Crafted from recycled, durable plastic, Geomag sets can be combined to double the fun!

GraviTrax the Game by Ravensburger combines GraviTrax with a logic puzzle. These sets feature thirty challenges with varying levels of difficulty and GraviTrax components. The cards provide starting pieces and a list of additional pieces to complete a challenge. This game includes a variety of GraviTrax pieces that are compatible with other sets. Solutions are included.

Logic Games

se your strategy skills in Penguins Huddle Up™ game by Smart Games®. Gather your penguins together into a huddle while blocking your opponents from doing the same. The first player to bring their entire penguin family together wins the game. Game comes with four penguin families (each with three large and three small penguins); six ice blocks (four straight ice blocks and two curved ice blocks); and game rules with two different difficulty levels. Up to four players can participate. About 20 minutes to play a round.

Plug and PlayPuzzler by Smart Games® is more than a cube! This puzzle forms a cube but includes eight removable colored 3D shapes that fit into a white frame. Using the booklet that comes with this puzzle, choose forty-eight brain-burning challenges from starter all the way up to wizard. See if you can reassemble the sturdy soft-plastic cube so that one side matches the drawing in your challenge and that all pieces fit into the frame to form a perfect square. All solutions are in the back of the challenge booklet. This is a fun learning tool, tactilely pleasing and helpful to build concentration, problem-solving, and spatial insight skills. In addition, this nice “fidget” toy is hard to put down!

Downtown Farmers Market™ by Blue Orange™ is another creative strategy game for fresh produce fans. This colorful and fun two to four player game comes with illustrated instructions; a first player tractor token; sixty-five food tiles with varying produce items; and forty-four challenge tiles with different challenges and points—double-sided for harder and easier levels. To play the 20-minute game, players take turns strategically choosing and placing food tiles in their 4”x 4” grid where they fit with the challenge for that row and column. Get points at the end of the game by completing challenges. The person with the most points wins the game. Instructions are written in English and French and include an easier version of game play for younger players. The top of the game box closes magnetically on one side and folds out for simple and easy opening and closing. Kids will learn critical thinking and strategy skills with this awesome farm game!

Logic games and puzzles
Designed for one to four players, Meadow by Rebel leads players through a beautiful landscape with all of its sights and mysteries. Competing to become the most skilled of all nature observers, players draft elegantly designed cards depicting 180 different animals and habitats while building a collection in their own meadow. It is important to pay attention to the point values of these cards as they will be required to help win the game. There is also strategic planning and strategy involved when building a tableau of these cards, as they each require specific symbols that are already in a player’s meadow in order to place them. In addition to drafting cards, players may visit the campfire area, which affords opportunities to take other actions that might fit well with a player’s strategy and earn additional points. The game ends when eight rounds (consisting of five turns per player) have elapsed. The player with the most points wins the game. Play time is 60 to 90 minutes.

Horse lovers will enjoy this strategy game as they build problem-solving and visual perception skills. Horse Academy™ by Smart Games® is for one player, ages seven and up. Create a winning jumping path for your horse and rider using one of the eighty different challenges from four different skill set levels. The included booklet illustrates a correct letter and color-coded sequence to place the jumping gates for each puzzle. Next, canter your horse over the jumps and out of the exit gate to win the race! The whole family can take turns with the different challenges in this unique logic game.

More logic games
Arts & Crafts

ake knitting fun with Learn to Knit Pocket Scarf from Creativity for Kids®. This kit provides all necessary instructions and materials for crafting your very own pocket scarf. Once completed, the pockets on the end of the scarf can be used for keeping hands warm or holding personal items. Although geared toward children, this can be enjoyed by beginner knitters of any age! Included with this kit are two color-coded knitting needles, a darning needle, a needle threader, 135 yards of multi-colored chunky yarn, an embroidered patch, a cardstock gift tag, and illustrated instructions. An online tutorial is also included.

You can knit your own stylish creations with these simple Quick Knit Kits by Creativity for Kids®. Choose the charm bracelet, headband, button scarf, or unicorn. Each kit includes a knitting loom with the necessary yarn, tools, and other supplies necessary to create the featured projects. In addition to an instruction booklet, there are also online video tutorials on how to complete these kits.

Super Cute Embroidery by Klutz® offers a great way to learn simple embroidery stitching. This kit includes the instructions and supplies to stitch eight adorable designs. The designs are pre-printed, allowing the user to have plenty of creativity as they add colorful stitching. The thirty-two-page instruction book also includes some display ideas for completed projects.

Bloom Basket Weaving Kit by Djeco will help your child make lovely floral baskets with this introductory weaving kit that includes everything necessary to complete three matching baskets including illustrated bases, waxed cotton thread and detailed, step-by-step instructions. Makes a perfect size basket to hold treasured nature finds or unique gifts for grandparents!

Start sewing your own adorable, fuzzy animals with My First Sewing Dolls kits from Avenir. These kits contain the already punched out holes in fabric, stuffing, a secure plastic needle, and colored cords of string. This product is perfect for gifts and for a parent-child activity! Sew and create cute stuffed animals! Choose from Mom & Baby Panda, Sloth, or Unicorn.

Children can dive into the art of cooking with the Intro to Baking Set by Handstand Kitchen. This set contains nearly everything necessary to teach valuable baking skills! Includes seventeen pieces: one silicone loaf pan, six silicone baking cups, one silicone whisk, one silicone rolling pin, one silicone spatula, one silicone pastry brush, and one silicone mixing spoon. The set also includes five recipe cards for muffins, egg bites, and more. Made from food grade, BPA-free materials, the pieces are also hand washable.

With Crystal Art Cards and Notebooks Kits by Crystal Art® you can create beautiful sparkling works of art. Cover cards, notebook covers, or even ready-to-hang canvases on wooden frames with rich crystal jewels. All kits include a pickup pen stylet, jewel tray, color-coded jewels, storage bags, instructions, and more.

With Get Stacked Paint & Puzzle Kits by BeginAgain, create an intriguing 3D relief painting with stackable wooden puzzle pieces. Each puzzle piece (layer) is painted a color and then the next piece is painted another color, until all the pieces are painted and dry. Start with the base layer, then stack and glue all the pieces in sequence until your masterpiece is complete. Each kit comes with a wooden frame to paint, along with ten to sixteen puzzle pieces, five paint colors, three paintbrushes, paint palette for mixing colors, and glue. Finished animals measure 8” x 10” and landscapes measure 17” x 8”.

Adding a game or hands-on activity to your school day can be an enjoyable way for kids to creatively learn and gives them a break from workbooks or drill sheets. Enjoy!
Gina & Amber
Gina Burmeier headshot

ina Burmeier and her husband homeschooled their three kids using many Charlotte Mason and classical programs. Realizing all three kids were very different, taking an eclectic approach gave them a great opportunity to meet all their children’s needs. For years, they traveled together as a family to homeschool conventions representing Rainbow Resource Center. She has thoroughly enjoyed meeting and talking with many homeschoolers over the years. With all three kids now college graduates, she is a consultant in the office at Rainbow and continues to enjoy helping homeschoolers with curriculum questions. She is very passionate about researching curriculum and learning styles as she helps other homeschoolers find the best fit for their children.

Amber Garcia headshot

mber Garcia studied Elementary Education and music at Bible college. There she met her husband and began the journey of ministry and family. Giving their four children a Christian education became the focus and they purposed making that happen by putting them in a Christian school where they were teaching some years and homeschooling other years. Now Amber is a homeschool consultant at Rainbow Resource Center helping other homeschoolers with curriculum questions. Amber loves finding the key to help each student learn in their own way.