Among the many ways to actively engage children in the learning process, educational games are one of the most fun. With so many award winning and cleverly designed games on the market, young children to teens (and even adults!) can develop new skills and reinforce other skills, without even realizing they are learning.
Board, card, cooperative, puzzle games, and more encourage interactive hands-on learning in a humorous, light hearted environment. In a addition to math, reading, vocabulary, logic, problem-solving, and spelling skills regularly introduced by educational games, turn based and cooperative games foster with social interaction, communication skills, and self confidence.
Consider adding one of these excellent educational games to your home or classroom collection.
Educational Games For Home and Classroom
An award winning educational game for kids, Brain Freeze From MIGHTY FUN uses quick gameplay to keep players engaged. Using strategy and memory, two teams or individual players ask the opposing team questions with the purpose of determining which ‘sweet treat’ they are holding. A wrong guess results in a ‘brain freeze’. A fun game that encourages critical thinking and cooperative skills when played in teams.
Promotes: Logic, Deduction, Problem Solving
Players of the popular mobile game will probably recognize the Trivia Crack Official Board Game. Players take turns answering history, sports, science, geography, art, and entertainment trivia questions. Each category is represented by a colorful character. Correctly answer questions from all of the categories to win the game.
Promotes: Reading, Memory
A winner of several awards for educational games, Learning Resources Sum Swamp Game challenges players to use beginning math skills to cross the Sum Swamp. Special squares help or hinder a players progress. Game play is simple and easy to understand. It’s fun at home, and kindergarten and first grade teachers have found it to be a useful teaching tool in the classroom.
Promotes: Addition, Subtraction
Described as the ‘anagram game that will drive you bananas’, Bananagrams is easy enough for kids to play but engaging for adults, as well. It’s perfect for travel because it requires no board to play and all of the tiles are stored in a convenient, colorful banana bag. Players use their tile in a Scrabble like fashion to spell words. The first player to use all their tiles wins!
Promotes: Reading, Spelling
Rory’s Story Cubes is a simple, but multi-layered game where every player wins. Players just roll the picture dice and then come up with a corresponding story. Kids can play alone or in groups. Consider having each player take a story turn and then all players vote on the winning story for a more competitive game. Story cubes are also a great classroom tool. Use the dice for creative writing – the teacher rolls the dice and then the students have 15 minutes to write down a story to go along with the dice.
Promotes: Creativity, Expression, Storytelling, Listening Skills
Ages: 8 -15
Sequence for Kids is a simple game that younger children will absolutely love. Kids play a card from their hand, and then are able to place a chip on a corresponding space on the board. Get four in a row to win the game. Use unicorn cards to place a chip anywhere or a dragon card to take away an opponents chip. A single round of gameplay is relatively short to keep little ones interested.
Promotes: Strategy, Problem Solving, Colors
7. Clumsy Thief
Kids and adult reviewers alike love Clumsy Thief for it’s exciting gameplay. Players are reinforcing math skills without even realizing it. Players are dealt cards and then make money stacks from their cards. If they can add a card to a stack and make it equal $100, they can steal the stack. Additional ‘thief cards’ and ‘jail cards’ make gameplay fun and unpredictable. Great for families and classrooms!
Promotes: Addition, Money Skills
From a trusted manufacturer of educational games, Learning Resources Head Full Of Numbers requires players to roll the dice and then make as many correct equations as possible in a limited amount of time. The most correct equations wins the game. Head Full of Numbers easily corresponds to the classroom, and the entire class can play together at one time. At home or in school, it’s helpful to have an adult present to check correct equations.
Promotes: Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division
All the fun of the original Boggle game, repackaged for younger children, the Boggle Junior Game uses pictures of objects and letter dice. Players use the letter dice and match them to the corresponding words and pictures. There are two skill levels to keep more advanced players engaged. Before you know it, kids will be ready to challenge parents to a game of regular Boggle!
Promotes: Spelling, Memory, Word Recognition
Zingo Sight Words uses the classic Bingo game format to teach pre-K to second graders to recognize essential sight words. Sight words are words that are difficult to learn by sounding out, and children must learn them through visual recognition. Each player has a card with with nine colorfully illustrated tiles that have a popular sight word. Word tiles are pulled from the dispenser and the first player to match the tile to a corresponding space on their card gets the tile. First player to fill up their entire card wins the game!
Promotes: Word Recognition
Another popular game in the Zingo series of educational games, ThinkFun Zingo 1-2-3 has similar gameplay to Zingo Sight Words, but concentrates on teaching children simple addition and numbers. There is a reading and word recognition element as well, as the items on the Zingo cards have the words for the numbers and the countable items. Players match the number Zingo tiles to their card to win.
Promotes: Addition, Counting, Numbers, Word Recognition
Zobmondo Entertainment’s The Ladybug Game was developed by a child with other children in mind. Players use colors, numbers, words, and symbols to capture all of the colorful characters in the beautifully illustrated garden. Gameplay is relatively simple but engaging, and players as young as three will be able to grasp the concepts quickly. Each play of the game is different as the ladybugs go on unique journeys and try to be the first to find their way home.
Promotes: Basic Math
The HiHo! Cherry-O Game is one of the fun educational games that you may remember playing as a child. This is newly designed version, and players take turns picking cherries, blueberries, and apples, and putting them in their basket. The first player to pick all of the fruit off their tree is the winner! A fun way for pre-schoolers to begin learning basic math skills.
Promotes: Counting, Numbers
Peaceable Kingdom Snug as a Bug in a Rug is a game for younger children that requires no reading skills and has three levels of gameplay to grow with your child. Players learn learn colors, numbers, shapes, and counting as they hide matching bugs under the rug. Snug as a Bug is a winner of four awards including Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award and Dr. Toy 10 Best Educational Toys Award.
Promotes: Basic Math, Color Recognition, Shapes
Another of Peaceable Kingdom’s award winning and engaging educational games for pre-schoolers, Peaceable Kingdom Stack Up! challenges little ones stack the blocks before the Stack Smasher topples it. Creative challenges only add to the fun and excitement. Children take turns and work cooperatively, encouraging shared decision making and creative problem solving.
Promotes: Colors, Cooperation, Hand-Eye Coordination
The Robot Turtles Game teaches basic coding fundamentals using a fun and entertaining game. Robot Turtles allows kids to write simple Logo programming language programs using the cards and game board. Players use ‘code cards’ to move their turtles around the game board and try to reach a jewel. ‘Bug cards’ fix mistakes and several levels allow for increasing difficult and engaging gameplay. The entire family can learn to code, together!
Promotes: Basic Programming Schools
The Circuit Maze Board Game teaches the basics of current and electricity through hands-on gameplay. In this fun game designed for a single player, kids pick a challenge card and use the required pieces to build a circuit that actually lights up. In case a player gets stuck, solutions are provided on the back of the cards – no peeking! Reviewers describe this unique science game as ‘easy to learn and challenging to master’. Great for hands-on, visual learners.
Promotes: STEM, Logic, Problem Solving
A fun and unique puzzler, the Laser Maze Logic Game challenges the player to direct a laser through one of 60 mazes. Puzzles range from beginner to expert, and chances are, adults will love solving these puzzles just as much as their kids. Though it’s designed for a single player, you can develop a turn based system where multiple players take turns moving one piece at a time in cooperative gameplay.
Promotes: Logic, Problem Solving, Sequential Reasoning
With the Learning Resources Wild Word Adventure Early Language Game, children make three, four, and five letter words by matching on the colorfully illustrated game board. There are three levels of play and kids learn letter identification and sounds as they answer questions and collect letters to form a word. Gameplay is simple and easy to set up.
Promotes: Rhyming, Spelling
Some of the best educational games offer hands-on fun, and the ROCK ON! Geology Game does just that. The actual game includes more than 60 polished rocks and minerals as well as player cards for up to six players and 18 rock call cards. Five levels of play are designed for pre-readers and up. Perfect for the science classroom or your young science enthusiast, the game and specimens fit in a convenient carrying case.
Promotes: Geology, STEM
The What Happens Next? Picture Sequencing Educational Board Game teaches sequencing – an important pre-reading skill. Players use 14 sets of colorful cards and determine the proper way the scene puzzles are correctly sequenced. Expand the game by having kids tell the story out loud to encourage speech skills, and later, reinforce writing skills by having children write down the story to practice writing skills.
Promotes: Problem Solving, Sequencing, Logic
Except for the word ‘click’, Ravensburger Funny Bunny requires no reading skills, so it’s very appropriate for younger players and can be played without adult assistance. Using a 3D game board, players try to get their bunny to the top of the hill, while avoiding the increasing number of holes that send the bunnies backwards.
Promotes: Counting, Colors
23. Prime Climb
In Prime Climb, a beautifully designed educational game, two to four players try to be the first one to the center of the board. Employing important math skills that are made simple with the help of colors, players move forward as they try to bump other players backwards. The first player to land both ‘pawns’ on 101 wins the game.
Promotes: Strategy, Multiplication, Division, Addition, Subtraction
Exciting fun for the entire family, Turtle Flip – Educational Family Card Game is a fast-paced and hilarious card game. Players ‘flip’ tokens by playing high-numbered cards, and the player with the highest card left after all the flips wins the game. All ages can enjoy playing this game together.
Promotes: Numbers, Memory, Strategy
Based on the popular television show of the same name, Brain Games – The Game involves tests in four categories: Logic, Vision, Language, and Mind & Body. Using the 192 game cards, players must be the first to complete a puzzle or task in all of the categories. Interesting, engaging fun for older children, teens, and adults.
Promotes: Logic, Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, Language
Share your favorite educational games in the comments below!
Feature image courtesy of Flickr, yuan2003.