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Most parents understandably don’t want their kids getting too much screen time. With the summer months in full heat and many activities closed due to the pandemic, it might be tough to pull your kids from the video games.

If you’re looking for a good way to spend the hours with your kids and do something fun, but productive look no further. Below are some great games that fathers can play with their kids.

Super Mario 3D World

The Super Mario games might be some of the best, most kid-friendly games ever developed. They have been around since the 80s and Mario has appeared in over 200 games in one way or another.

Super Mario 3D World introduces levels that are open and friendly. The game is friendly for novice players and can be completed with simple controls. For more advanced players, a decent amount of depth can be found.

Most important for us is that Super Mario 3D World has been designed for cooperative play. While many games have a co-op feature, this game, as many Mario classics, was built for more than one player.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

For those of us who were first introduced to Zelda on the Nintendo 64, this game will bring back great memories. I can recall hours, likely more than my parents wanted, playing Ocarine of Time and Majora’s Mask.

While many action-RPGs can be difficult for young kids, Breath of the Wild is unique in that it caters to all skill levels. Due to its core mechanics of combat and exploration children and adults of all ages and skill levels will enjoy the adventure.

Minecraft

It would be tough to be a gamer these days without have at least heard of Minecraft. If you’ve never played, then you have no more time to waste!

Fun, educational, and more than a bit addicting. If reduced screen time is your goal then be careful with Minecraft. Hours can fly by and feel like minutes. You have been warned.

If you still decide to get into Minecraft, and you should, then you are in for a treat. It’s basically a new, digital version of Legos. The game has been used in some schools to foster creativity and develop problem solving skills.

Minecraft has also been touted as a means to develop collaboration skills. Certainly something kids will need in the future. Learning how to share scarce resources, work with a team (some of which includes players around the world), building structures can teach kids valuable lessons all while having fun!

Rocket League

Rocket League has a number of things going for it that make it a great game for kids.

First, it is just about everything cool a kid would want. Rocket-powered cars playing soccer. Really, what adult, let alone kid, could resist such a cool game!

Rocket League is also another good game to develop team skills. With multiplayer options the entire family can get in on the fun. However, if it’s just the kiddo wanting to play they can play against bots.

The only minor issue you may encounter is if your child isn’t at a strong reader just yet. The game set-up does take some skill so you may need to help out. Of all the issues in the world, this really isn’t a huge thing but something to consider.

The Oregon Trail

That’s right. The Oregon Trail makes the list. I cannot think of a game that sucked so much time when I was a kid, that had such bad graphics, but was an absolute joy to play!

This game packs a one-two punch of being entertaining and being educational. Kids will learn about historical events and build problem solving and critical thinking skills.

Your child will learn how to overcome adversity as their digital pioneers encounter natural disasters, disease, bandits, and are forced to trade or hunt for food and supplies. After a few rounds of the game your child will start to think about making decisions with a mind for the future. Each action in the game will impact the future, so planning will be an important skill they develop as well.

The fifth edition is available on Amazon for a reasonable $14.99.

Wordscapes

If you’re looking for a fun way to build your child’s vocabulary then Wordscapes is a game worth checking out.

If your kids are fans of Words with Friends or Scrabble they they will love Wordscapes. With unlimited attempts to solve a crossword-style puzzle your child will build their vocabulary. The game comes with some free hints so children (and parents!) won’t be discouraged if they need some assistance.

One of the coolest features is the built-in dictionary to track new words you’ve learned. Available on Android, iOS, and PC the game is perfect for home or on the go.

National Geographic Challenge

To round out our list we are ending with a fun and educational game: National Geographic Challenge (Amazon; prices vary by device).

Learn about historical figures, geography and more in this game for up to four players. Questions come as either easy or difficult and focus on the world’s regions: North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. Players try to answer 40, 60, or 80 of the game’s questions in a timed competition.

One of the best parts about this game is that the National Geographic archive provided some amazing videos and photography to complement the games. Nothing like playing and seeing some amazing sights to capture a child’s attention.


Gaming can sometimes get a bad rap. I know as a kid I was encouraged to get outside and not spend so much time behind a console. While getting outside is important, dads should also take some time to play fun games with their kids. If the games are educational, all the better. Ultimately what matters is spending quality time as a family.

Author

Sports spectator, cicerone in my dreams, and dad of two amazing kids. I've been known to mess around with some PHP, SQL, R, and other alphabet soup-esque languages.

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