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Educational games for kids

Let’s face it – kids love video games. Whether its Pokemon on the DS, Super Mario on the Wii or Webkinz on the PC, most pre-teens like to make video gaming part of their weekly diet of fun. And most of the time there’s nothing wrong that. As long as parents set appropriate limits and mix it up with more traditional non-screen entertainment, video gaming can be a perfectly acceptable pastime.

But many parents still stress over the trivial nature of much of the content in today’s popular video games. Where’s the mental stimulation in repeatedly blowing up monsters or decorating igloos? Wouldn’t it be great if our kids could learn something and have fun at the same time?

Well, believe it or not, there are lots of educational video games out there. And we’re not just talking about thinly disguised math classes or spelling tests. Over the past few years, a number of web sites have developed video games that help kids’ develop strategic skills, increase their knowledge – and still provide them with all the entertainment value of the mass-market alternatives.

If your kids are into video games, here are a few suggestions for steering them in a slightly more educational direction:


If your kids enjoy Club Penguin and Webkinz, then they might want to try Whyville. The site is set up to mirror a real-life community, complete with a government, commerce and virtual money. Kids can create avatars, build homes and improve their lifestyle by earning “clams” that can be redeemed for virtual goods. Whyville regularly mixes educational content into its games and community activities. The site allows some limited social networking activity, but language filters and live monitors place an emphasis on safety and online etiquette.

NASA Kids Club

If you have a child that’s into space travel or aircraft flight, then this is a perfect destination! Packed with facts, pictures and games, the NASA Kids Club is an off-shoot of the main NASA site. Games are graded by skill level and provide a good mix of fact-finding, memory tests, and quizzes.

Puzzle Choice

Don’t be put off by the simplistic nature of the Puzzle Choice site; it has a great selection of quizzes and puzzles – everything from Word Search and Sudoku to Space Invaders. There are a wealth of educational puzzles mixed in with the more familiar Asteroids and Breakout games and kids have a choice of printing out games to complete offline or selecting from the large online menu.

SimCity Classic

It’s the game that started the whole Sims phenomenon back in 1989, well before the more recent editions of the Sims earned their “Teen” ratings. The objective is to design and build a city, with all the successes and failures that can be encountered along the way. SimCity Classic is a great introduction to strategic thinking and allows children to experiences scenarios well beyond the usual bland video game entertainment. SimCity Classic can now be downloaded and played for free and the site includes tutorials and hints on how to get started.

Do you have recommendations for educational video games? Share your thoughts with The Online Mom!

Comment by Online game Risk, posted 5/31/2012, 4:02 AM:

It is just a best part when kids set out to request that educational games indulge in family time or perhaps a game night. Families can spend hours of time together laughing because they learn. <a href="http://www.conquerclub.com/">Online game Risk</a>
Comment by Math Cool Games, posted 5/31/2011, 3:05 AM:

my kids are also into gaming and I don't mind because I know that they are safe from inappropriate content and cyber bullying. They are enjoying games that are educational and fun. They also has this reward system that allows kids to win cool stuffs for playing games on their website like Flip, Wii, X-Box and the likes, that may be the reason why my kids love playing games at http://www.clubtuki.com ... I think this should be included in your list =)just sharing.
Comment by Yean, posted 9/16/2010, 8:32 PM:

This is great information for me. Will check out all these recommended websites. I am very selective on the educational games websites I do allow my kids to access.
As usual, set strict limits on the amount of screen time is important too. Maybe, these games websites or is there any software in the market which allows one to set the access time and can turn off the screen once the time is up?.....just thinking out loud here.
Comment by Janis Brett Elspas, Mommy Blog Expert, posted 9/13/2010, 11:42 AM:

Great post. I'm always on the look out for things techie that are also educational & fun -- these definitely fit that bill. I would caution others, though, that as a parent of kids who like these kinds of brainy games, that as moms and dads we need to preview games that our kids "say" are intellectual ourselves to make sure they are age-appropriate and not take their word for it. Also, if you're like my kids, I have to set strict limits on how much screen time they get for brain games, too.
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