I have a confession to make. I organized my homeschool around StarCraft during our last unit. I wanted to

  1. Play a lot of StarCraft
  2. Experiment with my theory that you can make anything academic.

I was afraid of neglecting my children and getting addicted, so I fenced in StarCraft by saying I couldn’t start a game until lunch was cleaned up, the girls were settled, dishes and laundry were done, and scriptures had been studied. I also couldn’t start a game after 2:30 pm (or after 11 pm). I required myself to finish five big projects that had been hanging over my head for a long time.

Heidi didn’t want to watch the games, so I set her up with a video call with friends to do art together and talk.

I was also concerned that the children weren’t getting enough exercise, so I planned to hike every morning before it got too hot. It’s been fun! Mostly. I thought I could get the children to walk as far as I needed to exercise, and my extra two inches around the middle is proof that it was insufficient. children sitting on a bouncy fallen log children hiking through a fen, toddler on the girl's back children sitting on rocks in a stream

But here are some things I taught:

  1. Experiment Design. We wanted to figure out how the points at the end of the game were calculated. So we designed ways to experiment in the game to find out. Things like, don’t build anything and wait to die; only build one building, wait to die, see how your points change. We timed how long it takes to build units and destroy a building with them.
  2. Statistics. I read Naked Statistics and then taught sampling, quartiles, deciles, percentiles, mean, median, the normal curve, standard deviation, and standard error to answer the age old question: “Which is the strongest civilization in StarCraft?” I don’t expect them to be able to calculate those things (although I learned!), but when they hear them again it will be familiar. whiteboard with a lesson about median and mean whiteboard lesson about standard deviation whiteboard with lesson about sample sizes whiteboard about standard error
  3. Vocabulary. StarCraft uses a bunch of interesting words, like zealot, archon, maelstrom, citadel, valkyrie, ocular implant, Yamato, wraith, larva, and mutalisk. I did a whiteboard teaching the meanings or history behind these words. Vocabulary lessons that my boys hung on every word!
  4. How to not get addicted to video games. StarCraft has a unit called a Dark Archon that can change over units to the other side. Video games are like that dark archon because they can take control of areas of your life like sleep, which can then attack you, and then use that one to take over something like relationships, which takes over school, which takes over church, etc. Protect the areas of your life with rules, which are like bunkers to keep them safe. StarCraft unit dark archon about to take over areas of you life like relationships and school. We drew bunkers around the areas so they were protected. The bunkers were rules you can live by.

With sadness I report that I have not discovered a genius way to redesign schools around video games. While these lessons will help my children in their lives, it’s not fractions and spelling.