We’ve been talking a lot recently about how playing games with kids can be great for family bonding and for identifying and exploiting learning opportunities. Even entertainment games can be excellent starting points for exploration of particular topics, and the educational potential can go well beyond the game itself.
In this article we will explore a number of recent games that are great to play with kids, and suggest some ways to connect those play experiences to topics they may be learning in school or exploring through their own interests.
Games for Older Kids
Rebuild the European Union puts players in the role of strategic advisor to reclaim Europe’s artifacts and monuments. Excellent game for the budding architect or museum curator and excellent context for European and world history.
Secret Bunker USSR is excellent for kids who are learning about or interested in world or military history. The puzzles and problem solving will also help flex other cognitive muscles, and it’s just spooky enough to keep them wanting more. It’s a great opportunity for parents to educate about important world events like the Cold War, the dismantling of the Soviet Union and the introduction of concepts like glasnost (open-ness) and perestroika (transparency). This is history many of us parents have lived, but some of it is probably a bit hard to imagine otherwise.
- Hidden Expedition: Smithsonian Hope Diamond
- Heroes of Hellas 3: Athens
- Gourmania 3: Zoo Zoom
- The Path of Hercules
Games for Younger Kids
The Promised Land allows kids to build their own colonies and harness the resources and trade patterns that help it thrive. This type of game is a great motivator for kids struggling to understand exploration, trade, colonization and conflict in world history and it’s also relevant to careers in urban and city planning down the road.
Myths of the World includes multiple versions of adventures that highlight mythology and spiritual practices from around the world.
- The Spirit Wolf edition puts the player in the shoes of an expert in Native American symbolism.
- Chinese Healer drops them in ancient China where the emperor needs their help as a healer. Not only is this a great introduction to ancient Chinese cultures, but it also opens the door to learning about healing, herbalism and even medicine.
- Stolen Spring focuses on Slavic mythology and introduces players to seasonal change.
Design This Home is a simulator for the aspiring interior designer or home stylist. In this game they can build rooms and decorate them from the ground up, including walls, floors, cabinetry, appliances and furniture. They even learn a bit about the importance of cleaning and maintenance, which can be useful if you’re having trouble getting them to clean their rooms.
Burger Shop 2 lets young kids try what it’s like to run a business in the food industry and understand logistics, customer service and marketing from the ground up. The game even allows them to get creative by customizing their menus and seeing how customers react. Great practice for future careers in business or marketing!
FarmUp is another great resource management game and especially great for kids learning about farming history, the Great Depression and other lessons related to our agrarian lifestyle as they tend to a variety of plants and animals.
Games for Toddlers and Babies
Salawander features adorable characters and allows small children to work on their hand-eye coordination and problem solving skills.
Aquascapes lets the little ones play at the bottom of the sea, encountering a variety of creatures and treasures along the way. They can even decorate their tanks to appeal to each of the fish personalities that inhabit the game.
What are your favorite games to play with kids, and what do they learn along the way? We’d love to hear your stories about how games have helped spark new interests!