With more than 154 million Americans playing video games, or about half of the country, it’s no surprise that children commonly turn to this method of entertainment.
While this time playing video games may appear to be wasted, it actually provides an opportunity to connect kids with their education in fun and engaging ways. Interactive playing environments contribute to a level of education that differs from homework and in-class instruction, and the games may be so fun to play that children don’t even realize they’re developing valuable skills through the game.
Here are eight educational computer games suitable for children in elementary school, which harness their minds and foster a positive learning environment.
Designed to help children develop their creativity, reading, and vocabulary skills, “ItzaBitza” features written prompts for children to draw what the character on the computer screen is asking for. For example, a farmer might be looking for his barn and asks the child to draw one. After the drawing is complete, it comes to life onscreen to add a little fun.
2. Crazy Machines: The Wacky Contraptions Game
“Crazy Machines” puts the power of inventing in the child’s hands. Players can build and test innovative machines to flex their creativity and knowledge of the basics in physics, electricity, gravity, and particle effects.
3. Oregon Trail
An oldie but a goodie, “Oregon Trail” still attracts the attention of elementary school-aged children. They absorb lessons on geography and history skills while being challenged to overcome difficulties people experienced back in the 1800s. It takes critical thinking and real-life problem-solving techniques to play this game, and it’s a fun and unique environment for educational stimulation.
4. Math Missions (K-2) / (3-5)
Available in a few different versions for various age groups, “Math Missions” is set in a funny, cartoon city that engages children and provides them with innovative activities to develop their math skills, with everything from counting change and pattern blocks, to fractions and working with weights and measurements.
5. Fizzy’s Lunch Lab
Kids may not always want to make the healthiest food choices, but if they learn more about what they eat (rather than just hearing mom and dad tell them what not to eat), they can take these decisions into their own hands. In the web games for “Fizzy’s Lunch Lab,” kids are exposed to a mix of nutritional information, healthy eating tips, and basic recipes — all with fun from their host Fizzy, of the PBS Kids Web-only series.
6. Lifeboat to Mars
This free PBS Kids online game creates a vast ecosystem with games and missions to teach kids about biology and the environment. With two different simulation options, kids can either control microbes or an animal and plant ecosystem. The game also requires players to read instructions, which encourages reading comprehension as well.