Free Educational Games for Kids
When wading through the vast sea of online games, it can be hard to figure out which ones are truly educational and appropriate for kids. Unfortunately, search results often turn up page after page of poorly designed games that do very little in the way of teaching or enriching. Check out some of these quality educational gaming sites for fun ways to help students keep their skills honed in all the major academic subjects.
Reading and Grammar Games
A fundamental skill necessary for success in just about any chosen field is the ability to use language effectively. Even small punctuation or syntax mistakes on a college application or resume could mean the difference between acceptance and rejection. The best way to polish reading and writing skills is make practicing them fun!
- EduPlace Reading Games – Grade-specific games by Houghton Mifflin to help elementary school kids learn to read and encourage them to keep it up. The site also features quizzes to be used with the publishing firm’s “Weekly Reader” series, a long-running periodical workbook for students.
- RIF Reading Planet – Reading Planet is the work of Reading Is Fundamental (RIF), the oldest nonprofit children’s literacy program in the United States. It is full of fun games and activities to bolster reading and comprehension skills.
- Grammar Practice Park – From Harcourt School Publishers comes this series of grammar games for elementary school kids. Games are grouped by grade level, and include sports games, matching games, racing games, and more.
- Literature Quizzes – While not technically “games,” Sporcle’s vast collection of fun literary quizzes cover everything from the works of Shakespeare to the most recent Harry Potter book.
History and Geography Games
Remembering names, dates, and places is a valuable component of learning both history and geography. The games on these sites take that learning a step further by providing a means for students to delve more deeply into the diverse places and historical events that make up the story of our world.
- Playing History – Play History has over 100 history games for junior high and high school students. One game lets the player debate real Supreme Court decisions to test logic and argument-building skills while learning about U.S. political history. In another, the goal is to dig up important archaeological artifacts – and properly categorize them – before developers build on the dig site.
- Scavenger Hunt Through History – Fun, interactive history quiz game by PBS. The scavenger hunt was designed to be played in conjunction with watching the PBS documentary series,
- “Freedom: A History of US” – Geared for kids age 12 and up, the documentary is based on the acclaimed book by Joy Hakim and takes young learners on an unforgettable journey through the history of the United States.
- History and Culture Games from the Smithsonian – The Smithsonian has creative games to help kids explore world history. Games are diverse, from a virtual changing room that allows kids to dress an avatar in traditional African garb to a game that lets them play director and select historically accurate vehicles to use in period films. There’s even an ancient Norse board game.
- Planet in Action – On this site, kids use Google Earth to explore the world and learn about history. They can navigate the moon lander as Neil Armstrong or commandeer a fleet of ships as they explore famous harbors and waterways.
- Geography Games from National Geographic – High quality educational games to teach kids about the world. There are virtual game shows, and adventures set in far-off places like Africa and Antarctica. Young explorers will love learning about geography when it’s this much fun.
Learning science teaches kids problem-solving and critical thinking skills, and can inspire them to want to make the world a better place through innovation and advanced understanding. Nothing can replace hands-on experiments, but for those times when you can’t build a model volcano in the living room, these highly educational games come in at a close second place.
- PBS Kids Science Games – For preschoolers, these science games feature their favorite characters from the PBS Kids cartoon lineup like Sid the Science Kid and Curious George.
- Kids Games from NASA – The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has quizzes, puzzles, and other educational science games on its website. One popular game lets kids navigate their way through the life cycle of a water droplet as they learn about the hydrological cycle.
- Discovery Kids Games – Science and engineering games to build young minds from the Discovery Channel’s kids network. Games teach about underwater exploration (through virtual scuba diving), structural design (by building roller coasters) and more.
- Brain Games – Find science-based games exploring concepts like physics, ecological conservation, astronomy, biology, and more.
- Shedd Educational Adventures (SEA) – Interactive games and fun lesson plans for teaching marine science to elementary and junior high students from Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium, which is run by a nonprofit educational group.
Math Skills Games
Math sometimes carries a bad reputation among students, probably because it can seem too rigid – and can be boring if taught dispassionately. Games can help foster enthusiasm about math, and add a bit of fun to the idea. When kids are placed in virtual – but lifelike – situations where they must apply math skills, they see more clearly how important and useful these concepts really are.
- Cool Math for Kids – A collection of fun math skill-building games for pre-algebra and beyond. Students learn basic math concepts as they run a virtual lemonade stand or burger shop – or gobble up the right answers to equations in Math Man, a Pac Man-inspired arithmetic game.
- Math Playground – Math games for elementary and junior high school students, including quiz games, arcade-style games, printable worksheets and flashcards, and additional resources to help kids learn and apply math concepts.
- XP Math Arcade – This site is loaded with math games, activities, and printable worksheets designed for grades 5-9 and based around concepts from basic arithmetic all the way up to data analysis and probability.
- Carrot Sticks Math Games for Grades 1-5 – Younger learners can play simple math games by themselves, or compete against other players around the world. Kids will love the clear, colorful graphics and easy interface.
- Add Like Mad – A simple but fun (and slightly addictive) flash game, requiring rapid-fire adding skills.
Return to the Resources Page for more free resources.