Screen time is often a big battle in many households. Kids want to spend their time playing video games that they love and that are popular with their friends. Parents want kids to use their screen time wisely by playing educational games. Finding some common ground in this argument can be a challenge.
Let’s face it, many educational games are just not that exciting for kids and my kids can smell an educational game a mile away and work to avoid it. The key for parents is finding popular games that have hidden educational features so that your children are learning without realizing it. Here are five video games you didn’t know were educational and tips about how to use them.
Minecraft is filled with many lessons for kids. So much so, the creators of Minecraft have released an Education Edition for use in classrooms. The nature of Minecraft encourages problem solving and critical thinking, as well as building spatial and mathematics skills. To capitalize on the educational benefits of Minecraft, use lesson plans or homeschool resources to offer challenges to your children that will help them gain important skills.
Super Mario Maker
Kids might think they’re just creating their own “dream level” when they’re playing Super Mario Maker, but really they are learning valuable lessons that are building STEM skills. First, they’ll gain a better understanding of how coding and game design work, even without learning a specific coding language. Plus, as they test the gameplay of their creations, they’ll learn more about physics concepts and how to apply them to various scenarios. Nintendo has even partnered with Scholastic to provide a very useful teacher guide that can help teach students how to use the scientific process to create and troubleshoot their own video games.
Little Big Planet
Though it may not teach kids how to read or real math skills, the problem solving and creativity provided by the Little Big Planet series is educational in its own unique way. The creative mode on these games allows players to create their own worlds with challenges and obstacles, teaching basic physics lessons. Using the level editor will help them to learn the basics of coding, even without knowing any specific coding languages. Allow them to build freely and then talk about their levels, why challenges are simple or difficult, and how the physics of their obstacles affects the success of their final product.
Kids who enjoy puzzle games already know just how much fun they have playing Portal 2. What they might not realize is how much they are learning, as well. Another great game for spatial skills and problem solving, there are also Portal lesson plans for Physics, Math, and even a Reading lesson that you can use with your kids to help them get even more learning from the game.
This wildly popular game has several different variations, from apps to console versions in several different themes. Figuring out the right trajectory to use when launching the birds at the giggling piggies is really building important physics and math skills. You can even take them offline and build your own catapults to expand the learning provided by the game.
With the right spin, you can find ways to make many popular games an educational experience for your kids. Take a look at the gameplay and think about how you can incorporate math, science, technology, or even interpersonal skills lessons to make the most of their gaming time.