If you’ve read my blog for very long, you know how much I love board games. I love to use them for homeschooling, to teach so many topics: language arts, math, art, music, science, geography, history, logic and reasoning, strategy, and so much more.
Years ago, I found the term “gameschooling” was around and fully embraced the concept. “You mean playing board games can count as school?! Heck, yeah!!!!” was basically my reaction. “I’m all in!” Ever since then, gameschooling has helped make homeschooling so much fun for me. I will say it’s gotten easier as my baby of 7 children left the preschool years. I don’t have to worry about locking up games to keep tiny fingers away from pieces and strewing them everywhere. So if you are in that stage, know that it does end, and getting board games out will get easier :-). In the meantime, keep them locked up, and when you do get one out, follow these tips here to play games and keep the toddlers happy.
For a few years now, my sustainable goal, which I do most of the time, is to read one picture book and play one board game a day with my son who is transitioning from a “love of learning” to “scholar phase.” (Go here to learn more about these phases). I’ts called the #abookandagameaday challenge. My other children are either scholar phase or pursuing their mission as adults, so they aren’t available for day to day homeschooling. Most are out of the nest anyway. We do play games when they are home, we just don’t homeschool together or gameschool together because they aren’t home. Although we do sometimes play games remotely through Zoom for family game nights. Anyway, yeah lately it’s been just the 12 year old and me.
Soooo, I’ve blogged a lot about playing games for school. It’s just so much fun! You can go here to get some free resources on that.
I’ve never, however, dived into this specific topic. Let’s talk about gospel-based board games, specifically for playing on Sunday. When I say “gospel” I am referring to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, as promoted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
It didn’t take me long to realize that I could extend my love of board games and continue the challenge of a game a day to Sunday! The bonus thing about playing games on Sunday is that more people are home and available to play, especially if my married son is over with his wife. Often my mother-in-law is here for Sunday dinner. Like I say, we don’t play a game every Sunday, as I like to see what organically unfolds sometimes as conversations get going. But if there’s a lull after everyone helps with Sunday dinner dishes, I will often pull out a game.
On Sundays, I like to play gospel-themed games to help us focus on the Savior and His gospel. For a few years now, I’ve been on the lookout for Bible and Book of Mormon based games at thrift stores. I’ve been pleased to find a bunch. Bible Scattergories is probably my favorite out of those. I found it at he Layton UT Deseret Industries for $1.50! One of my best bargains ever!
We don’t do a game every Sunday, and sometimes we play games that aren’t specifically gospel-themed. Like one day back in February, we celebrated Child #3’s birthday on a Sunday and he requested Ticket to Ride after dinner, so we played that. His wife creamed us all, getting over 200 points. I found out she’s really competitive, which I love!
Anyway, here are my Sunday games to encourage “Sunday School Gameschooling.” The idea is to learn more about the gospel or more about each other. Bonus when you do a little or a lot of both!
- Druthers: this is my absolute favorite Sabbath Day game. It’s such a terrific getting-to-know you activity. It involves terms that members of the Church are generally familiar with, like “calling,” “bishop,” “Young Women,” etc. You take turns picking a card with questions on it. You get points if you can correctly guess what the person holding the card answers. The questions on the card always have four answers printed on the card plus the fifth answer is a totally “fill in the blank” answer where the answerer can provide his/her customized answer. We pulled this out when my daughter and son-in-law were here for Christmas. One of the questions my son-in-law got was “What power would you exercise if you became the bishop?” I laughed when I read the choices given, such as “Give people I don’t like hard callings,” and “End church early.” My son-in-law did created his own customized answer by saying he would “Work to create better relations with other denominations of religion in the community.” Yeah, what a great guy he is! That just totally warmed my heart. If you ever see this at thrift store, snatch it up. It will be the best $2-3 you ever spend! You can see some card questions below.
- Bible Scattergories This is so fun! My second favorite Sabbath game. It’s really fun when I can play with my adult children as they generally come up with super creative answers. I felt so blessed to find this at the Layton UT Deseret Industries for $1.50 last summer. So awesome!
- Bible Pictionary. It’s so fun to see what people draw and how easily or not-so-easily people guess the words. To make the game more fun and move faster, I like to have it be “All Play” on every turn.
- Bible Tribond. Often I’ll just grab the cards and toss out the word prompts and skip the mechanics of using the board. This game definitely challenges your brain to make connections and increase your knowledge of the Bible. Maybe someday some creative person will come up with some Book of Mormon Tribond cards.
- SWAT– a Book of Mormon trivia game with a twist, where you get to “buzz in” by swatting a flyswatter on the table. It’s great fun, as long as people feel somewhat confident in their Book of Mormon knowledge.
- Other scripture trivia games. I’ve seen different variations. So many are out there at thrift stores, at least in Utah. When I was a kid, it was Celestial Pursuit, a take-off of Trivial Pursuit. Nowadays, you can find Seek, Super Key, Bible Trivia from Ideal, Book of Mormon Challenge, and Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites, for starters. Not everybody likes trivia or quizzes so play accordingly.
- Bible Outburst. This gives your brain a workout and it’s fun to use the cardholder thing-y to be able to read the answers and then move the switches.
- My DIY Gospel Timeline Game that I give instructions over here.
- General Conference Jeopardy! Courtesy of Monterrat over at a gospelcenteredhome.com. She comes out with a new one within days of every General Conference.
- Stupor. This is a restored gospel version of Anomia. For some reason, my 17-year-old always wins at Anomia and I think this one too.
- Wits and Wagers gospel themed This isn’t available commercially, just buy the regular game and then come up with gospel questions. I see this game all the time at thrift stores. You can read how to play a General Conference variation here and a Book of Mormon themed version here, to get ideas. Play those then come up with your own gospel-related questions, using this resource here.)
- Mormon Mouthful (like Gab but with gospel phrases). This isn’t my favorite. You’re not really learning anything, it’s just fun to see if you can guess the phrase. This is one of those games I want to pull out at during a meal if the conversation lags. It’s not really worth it to me to go through all the mechanics of playing it as a “real game” after clearing the dishes.
Then some games are out there aren’t specifically gospel themed, but you can play them with a gospel twist.
If you can find the Generations game at a thrift store, grab it! I’ve seen a bunch lately. It’s such a great game to encourage family discussions and sharing of family memories.
- Generations. No gospel twist needed. This is a great game to increase knowledge of family members. It’s kind of like Druthers in that you try to match the answer to a question, but when it’s your turn you get to pick who you ask the question, and what family unit or generation you are referring to. A sample of the questions are above.
- Spontuneous. Just specify that all the songs you come up have to be in the Church hymnbook or Primary songbook.
- Encore. Like Spontuneous, this game involves knowledge of songs. Use the same two song resources above. For younger children and new-to-the-gospel people you could have it be an “open book quiz.”
- Bananagrams. I heard a speaker in a church meeting mention that she likes to play this with her grandson and they work together to make the words they recently read in the Come, Follow Me lesson.
- Gospel Taboo. This plays like the Taboo card game but you can use gospel-themed cards here.
So many more games can be adapted to have a gospel theme: Linq, Password, Name that Tune, and so forth. I’m not listing Settlers of Zarahemla here because it doesn’t increase your knowledge of the gospel or each other. It’s just Settlers of Catan renamed with a Book of Mormon name. 🙂 Still fun though, but doesn’t increase your knowledge of the gospel.
Happy Sunday gameschooling! I hope it makes your Sabbath just as delightful as it does mine!