Kids love video games, but as parents, we often shy away from allowing them to have too much “screen time” in favor of offering books and academic materials. More and more, companies are developing educational video games that provide parents peace of mind and kids an interactive window into the exciting world of learning through visual play.
Best for the preschool and early elementary crowd, PBS Kids games are accessible from a computer or tablet and offer various games that target a wide range of skills. Based on the PBS kids’ television shows, each game relates to the activities happening in that fictional world. Younger kids will love learning patterns and practicing memory skills, while older kids can solidify their math, reading, and problem-solving skills.
One of the most popular video games for kids today, Minecraft offers a world for kids to explore, solve puzzles, and build—and all with little to no instruction! In most Minecraft worlds, there aren’t specific objectives or paths to take, so kids must decide how to proceed (and how to make anything happen!) themselves. The platform offers Creative Mode, where kids can explore the universe with unlimited resources or Survival Mode where enemy creatures can attack, and resources are scarce. Playing with their friends lets kids build their collaboration skills, too!
From the American Museum of Natural History, this online game repository has dozens of interactive materials for kids to explore and includes all the “-ologies” you could think of! The games range from traditional trivia-style quizzes to more interactive puzzles and include informational videos alongside the action. These games are a great way to introduce the broad world of science to your kids through fun online environments.
The free version of this game allows kids to journey through magical realms solving puzzles. They battle creatures by answering math questions and pick up friendly pets along the way. Upgrading to a premium account gives more rewards and quest options, while a connected parent account allows you to monitor your child’s progress. Kids can also play online with their friends by choosing the same server, making it a favorite for those who like to socialize while learning!
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For those families who prefer video games on consoles, try this National Geographic Challenge game for Xbox 360, Wii, and Playstation 3. Geared towards kids ages 10+, this Challenge has several playing styles that feature puzzles and trivia questions related to history and geography. If your child finds other educational video games too “easy,” this one might be a great fit.
One of the best-known video games for preschool and early elementary kids, ABC Mouse is a lively interactive game that helps young children learn the basics of reading, math, science, and more. ABC Mouse also offers extensive tracking and reports so that you can follow your child’s progress through various skills. Kids as young as age 3 are able to navigate these games independently, building not only academic skills, but also tech-savvy skills.
Perhaps one of the most extensive collections of online educational games out there, Funbrain hosts interactive materials for kids ages 3-13. You can easily sort by grade level or activity, and it’s easy for kids to navigate through the options. One of the best features is the extensive online library, where kids can read digital versions of books at their level. Other favorite games include Math Baseball, Chess, and Penguin Drop.
Available for Windows computers, all tablets, and Xbox One, this game offers kids a chance to create and play video games in a shared online world. Children new to the universe can play others’ games for a while to get a feel for what components are available, then turn them loose to create their own! When kids feel a sense of ownership over their creations, they’re more likely to stick with hard problems and use critical thinking skills to overcome obstacles, so Roblox is a great way to give them this opportunity.
An interactive journey through our bodies available on Nintendo Switch and mobile platforms, BodyQuest offers multiple levels for players ages 6+. Kids will go on an epic quest to save their friend from a mysterious virus, solving science puzzles along the way. This video game is a wonderful way to introduce children to the often-invisible world of our bodies and all of its systems. Learning these processes through visual representations is one of the best ways to commit new knowledge to memory.
Let your kids explore some of these educational video game options today!