Skip to main content

Non-Electronic Motivational and Educational Games for Kids

Denise homeschooled her 4 children and has stories. She provided art lessons for many children in the homeschool community for many years.

Sometimes you just have to get away from technology to have fun.

My nieces, Jessie and Kayla.

My nieces, Jessie and Kayla.


“Our children are living messages we send to a time and place we will never see.”

-- Unknown Author

Things to do without GameBoys and Xbox.

Motivation, as defined in the dictionary, is the condition of using something (a need or desire) to cause a person to act. The question is what will cause your child to act, to learn, to study? What motivates your child more than anything else? When you know that, the greater part of the teaching/learning process is solved.

I don’t know what will make all children learn, but I can share what motivated my children. Games. Just as you get tired of the same food for dinner night after night, most children will tire of the same motivational source day after day. Variation and diversity is the key. Try several things and keep just those that work best for your children. Here are eight keepers that we rotated often.

Sidewalk Chalk


My Favorite 8 Games: First 4

  • Twenty Questions: There are several games that cost nothing to play and create great enthusiasm. One such game is “20 Questions”. One child thinks of a person and the others must guess who it is by asking no more that 20 “yes” or “no” questions. This game is great for long car rides or long walks because you need no game pieces, only your memory and imagination. This was a favorite with my children and we played at least once a month. It also reinforced learned facts.
  • A.B.C. Game: The “A.B.C.” game was also a favorite while traveling. Each child has to find and call out a word from signs or billboards on the highway that contain a letter of the alphabet in order from A to Z. We would often get stuck on X until they discovered all they had to look for was an “Exit” sign. This game was a great builder of the alphabet and word recognition, but even the older children enjoyed it as it worked with observation and speed of calling out words.
  • “I Packed My Bags For China”: I especially liked “I Packed My Bags For China” where each child thinks of a noun to pack for a trip to China in alphabetical order. For the older children, we changed it to include an adjective and a noun to pack for China. For instance, the first child might say, “I packed my bags for China and I took an Alaskan bathing suit.” The second would say, “I packed my bags for China and I took a blue cape.”
  • “I Cooked Last Night For Dinner”: A similar game to the one above, and the idea was the same but the nouns had to be food of some sort. It got rather difficult when we had to think up food for “x”, “y”, and “z” unless we cooked last night for dinner an X-rayed yak or a yellow zebra.

Four More Games

  • This Thing: A great vocabulary game was “This Thing”. Clues were given one at a time using a sentence like “This thing means…” or “This thing has…” Each of the children is given one chance to guess before another clue is given. The thing was usually on our vocabulary list for the week so there was a good chance of guessing if they had bothered to look over their list.
  • The Pig Game: There are some great math games using only two dice. We liked to play the “Pig” game. The object of the game was to reach a score of 100 first. On your turn, you could roll as many times as you liked or just roll once and pass the dice on. The problem is that if you roll two “1’s” your score goes back to “0” and you lose your turn even if you had “98” when you rolled the two “1’s”. This exercise in adding numbers quickly has the element of chance so that even the child slower in math could win over the rest. And that sometimes did happen.
  • I Spy: I Spy has been around for many years and helps to reinforce observation as well as color recognition. We would use a variation of the game by adding tertiary colors from the color wheel. After studying these colors, such as lime green or red-orange, we used them in the I Spy game. A sample statement would be something like this: “I spy with my little eye something that is blue-green, red and black.” Everyone must then observe the room to spy the same thing.
  • Detective: In the game of Detective, an ordinary object would be removed from a room while no one was looking and then the children had to discover what was missing in a given amount of time. This one reinforced powers of observation as well as memory. It was amazing to see how many times you could daily walk by an object and not really see it.



These are just a few of the many games you can play often. Games are excellent motivators. Don’t we all love games and who knew we were learning from them as well. In a day when video games and X-boxes are claiming our children for attention, isn’t it good to know there are a few worthwhile and educational games that still cost next to nothing?

Scroll to Continue

More Games

More non-electronic games would include Hopscotch, Kick the Can, Hoola Hoops, Roller skating, Rollerblading, Skateboarding, Bike riding, Tree climbing, Swimming, Hiking, Building a fort, Kite flying, and Bird watching.

Building Model Houses


These are by no means inclusive but sometimes you just need some ideas to throw out there so something will trigger an “ahhh” response. I think we are allowing just too babysitting done by electronic devices andkids are forgetting how to use their own imagination. I have thought this for decades but even more so today. We have to find a way to steer this generation back towards imagining their own fun games.



Motivational, Imaginative Comments Wanted

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on April 23, 2015:

My pleasure as always, Denise.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on April 23, 2015:


Thank you so much for checking this out. I appreciate your vote and agree we need to get the kids more active.



Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on April 22, 2015:

Denise, great ideas for kids to be more active and away from the game playing indoors. They would lead a much healthier life. Voted up for useful!

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on January 11, 2015:

Sometimes I'm a little worried about today's youth not getting enough sun and fresh air.

Related Articles