As a kid if I played games for too long I’d inevitably hear something along the lines of “games are a waste of time. How will that help you in life!”. The idea of using games to teach children about technology, or any subject, wasn’t popular back in the day.
Today games are enjoyed by adults and children alike. It’s true many games are time wasters with little educational value. Increasingly games are being developed that are fun, engaging, and most of all educational.
If you’ve been searching for a way to start gaming with your children, but want to make it educational then read on.
The Benefit of Using Games
I’m guessing most dads are excited to hear that they can incorporate games into time with the family. What’s not to like about bringing together two things you love? This is especially true for new dads who have put in much less screen time than they did pre-child.
Besides the obvious, games are fun, using games to teach children has many upsides. For instance:
- Games are engaging which encourages kids to learn outside the classroom
- Learning from mistakes is important and games are virtually risk free
- Games promote competition and build a competitive spirit
I feel like laying on the hard sell here isn’t necessary. Dads hear “games can be used to teach my kids” and that is all they need. So, let’s get into the fun part and discuss some games!
Using Games to Teach Children About Technology
Planeta 42 Games
Planeta has been around since 2014 offering free educational games. Their games are usually quick and don’t require much time. This is excellent for short bursts of education and fun. Game categories cover computers, math, cooking, physics, geography, and much more. The IT/computer category along has 70+ games, so you aren’t at risk of running out of entertainment any time soon.
Each game comes with a “how-to” guide and a written description covering the lesson. For instance, the computer parts puzzle game provides snippets on the parts of a computer found in the game. At 2-3 sentences at best these introductions are short, sweet, and easy for children to digest.
One of the best things about Planeta is that you can play without any registration. No account, credit card, or any personal info is required.
Next up is ABCya, a site providing games and mobile apps that appeal to elementary students.
Just like Planeta, ABCya provides games spanning a variety of subjects. From grammar to typing and math to language arts, parents can find games in most subjects. What really stands out at ABCya is their filter ability. Parents can filter by common core standards or by the game theme or genre. The friendly layout and awesome searching make this an easy site to quickly navigate if you’re in a rush.
ABCya does offer a free version, but limits users to 6 mobile games per week. If your kid will mostly be at a desktop they can play an unlimited number of regular games. Paid plans do provide more features and can be used across up to 5 devices. Plans start at $5.83 (billed annually) and go up to $9.99 (billed monthly). While this isn’t the most expensive subscription it is still a consideration for families on a budget.
With a name like Funbrain you know this is going to be…fun!
Geared towards K-8 students Funbrain allows you to filter games by grade level, popularity, or subject. For any parent who has a child fascinated by animals this is the site for you. Funbrain incorporates all sorts of animals into their games. This makes it especially fun for young learners.
The site provides a simple UI and user-friendly experience. What is also appealing is the variety of learning styles that can use the site. Some kids (and parents) love games. Others might be more inclined to read. Much like Burger King, Funbrain let’s parents and kids “have it your way”.
Lure of the Labyrinth
First up, this game doesn’t have the amazing graphics you’ve come to expect from Xbox or PlayStation. Many adults may even feel a hint of nostalgia when first arriving on the site. However, don’t judge a book or a game by its cover/landing page.
Lure of the Labyrinth offers math-based puzzles for pre-algebra students. Math-based puzzles doesn’t sound fun until you hear that they are incorporated into an adventure with monsters and a “bean-loving girl with wings”.
The game is centered around rescuing a pet. As of this writing the site shows 39+ million pets have been rescued. That’s a lot of players so they must be doing something right.
Does your son or daughter henpeck the keyboard? Want to get them to stop? Head on over to TypeTastic!
Designed to help K-12 students develop typing skills, TypeTastic! boasts over 600 games. That is enough to keep even the most persistent keyboard warrior busy for a while. The games are conveniently broken out into K-2, upper elementary, and middle/high school categories.
The curriculum has been designed to cover everything from training motor skills to mastering touch typing, and testing your typing fluency. This might actually be a game where you and your kids can go head-to-head in an all out typing competition. I realize that may have sounded geeky, but remember what this site is all about.
A free version can be used by parents and kids at home. If you really love the platform they offer a paid version for schools and school districts. Classroom plans start at $99/year and go up.
At first take using games to teach children sounds like a crazy idea. I’d agree if the recommendation was to play mindless games. Using games that reinforce lessons learned in the classroom and that introduce new subject matter are a great resource. Games keep kids engaged and are fun for all ages. Plus, a little friendly family competition can’t hurt…until the kids start cleaning up on dad.