Living in the age of technology has opened a world of positive—and sometimes negative—resources for kids to find and use on the Internet. While parents and teachers have to constantly keep track of which students have which smart devices and monitor where little Joey and Sarah are surfing on the Internet, there is also an abundance of helpful, educational capabilities that computers can provide.
If your kids are convinced that Angry Birds and Temple Run are the best games they can get their little fingers on, let them know their world is about to be rocked. Not only are there hundreds of different apps and online games for children, but the edifying and educational potential they possess is considerable.
We scoured through hundreds of apps and websites to bring you 15 resources that offer great potential for molding young minds. What’s more is that they’ll be having so much fun they won’t even realize they’re learning!
So the next time one of your kids reaches for your smartphone while you’re in the waiting room at the dentist’s office or one of your students tries to load a mindless game on the Internet during class, direct him or her to one of these online educational games for kids.
Educational game websites
What it’s about: If you’re looking for games or lessons for kids ages 2-6, ABCmouse is the place to head for activities that involve the fundamentals of subject areas such as math, reading and science. Using an easy-to-follow curriculum, this website organizes games to encourage kids to build on what they learn.
Why it’s good for kids: Children can learn independently by playing games on their own, or you as a parent or teacher, can create lessons for them using the pre-made assignments and attached games. This is a great site if you’re looking for an organized approach to teaching and learning.
What it’s about: Free Rice is a nonprofit website that supports the United Nations World Food Programme. Its goal is to provide free education for everyone and end world hunger by providing rice to people at no cost. Free Rice will donate ten grains of rice to United Nations World Food Programme for each question your child answers correctly. Choose from subject areas such as English vocabulary, chemistry, language learning, math and more.
Why it’s good for kids: Not only can kids quiz themselves on various subjects, but they also get to learn about world hunger, sponsorships, donations and philanthropy. Free Rice also adjusts automatically to your child’s level of learning based off of his or her answers to the quiz questions.
What it’s about: Many children struggle to learn math and have a hard time staying motivated during the learning process. With Math Game Time, kids pre-K to 7th grade can choose from a multitude of mathematics-themed games and learn the basics using visually remarkable graphics. Kids can play with kittens to practice addition, watch a lesson on multiplication or practice subtraction with ducks.
Why it’s good for kids: While some kids may simply not be interested in math, Math Game Time helps them practice math while appealing to their interests. Whether it’s jet skis or cats, busses or dolphins, Math Game Time provides a host of themed games, worksheets, videos and lessons to help kids get excited about math.
What it’s about: By submerging kids in an interactive world, Mission U.S. teaches children about U.S. history, including the expansion of the railroad, the Fugitive Slave Act and more. Walk through colonies and towns, accomplish missions and talk with real historical characters.
Why it’s good for kids: Mission U.S. brings history to life. Kids can interact with characters and experience events the way the original historical figures did instead of simply reading about dates and events in a textbook.
What it’s about: Funbrain is a great resource for online books, comics and educational games about math, reading, problem solving and literacy for kids in grades preschool to 8th grade. It also offers games and training (titled “The Playground” on the website) to help parents teach their preschoolers about the Internet, manipulating a mouse and typing on a keyboard.
Why it’s good for kids: Funbrain takes popular children’s books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Amelia Writes Again and turns them into fun games. What’s more is that kids can practice reading the books on the website, look at comics or play Mad Libs and make up their own stories.
Educational game apps
What it’s about: This app is all about teaching kids numbers through a variety of games. Kids learn to identify numbers, read number symbols and associate symbols with actual quantity. You can track your child’s progress with an easy-to-read graph that measures their progress with each number.
Why it’s good for kids: This is a great app for the kinesthetic learner. Tracing numbers with their fingers and completing an activity for each number has proven successful and satisfying for kids who learn by doing.
What it’s about: Duolingo is a free app that helps kids learn different languages including Spanish, French, Portuguese, German, Italian and English. Start with basic phrases and words in categories such as food, animals, plurals and more. Increase in difficulty when your child is ready and track progress as he or she plays.
Why it’s good for kids: Duolingo is one of the more graphically pleasing apps and was named Apple’s App of the Year in 2013. It’s easy to use for kids and even works wonders for adults if you’re hoping to learn a language yourself.
8. Ansel and Clair American Bowl Lite (iOS)
What it’s about: This app has more than a thousand questions in American-themed categories such as important events, branches of government and laws, African-American history, the American Revolution and more. Ansel and Clair apps have won 24 awards in total for their superb educational games. Its teaching style is open-ended and non-linear and the company is committed to doing exhaustive research to make sure all answers are correct.
Why it’s good for kids: Kids can track their progress as they go and see what subject areas they need more work in. The app also ensures kids don’t just get answers—they get an explanation.
What it’s about: This app provides a handful of different games that parents can play with their kids. The activities take place in familiar places for kids: home, the kitchen, the grocery store and more. The games come with notes for parents about how math or literacy is incorporated into the activity.
Why it’s good for kids: These games use familiar PBS characters from popular television shows and encourage hands-on activities. The app is also bilingual, offering both English and Spanish.
What it’s about: This app is ideal for older kids and hosts an assortment of quiz topics kids can use to test themselves and compete with their friends. Pick a subject and go head-to-head with someone else using the app to quiz yourself.
Why it’s good for kids: While Quiz Up topics include relevant cultural topics such as celebrities and music, it also covers important educational themes such as history, literature, geography, art and science. Read questions aloud in the car as a family or watch as your child competes in line at the grocery store.
What it’s about: Children can watch an interactive, animated movie each day about subject areas including health, engineering & technology, English, math and art. Kids can test their new-found knowledge by taking a quiz after watching the short video clip.
Why it’s good for kids: The app features fun graphics and a friendly robot character who explains a lot of the facts. Your child will be able to access all 750+ videos on all subjects if you are willing to purchase the subscription.
12. Lumosity Mobile (iOS)
What it’s about: This app is all about challenging your brain in areas such as memory, attention, flexibility and reaction time. Work out your brain or your child’s brain with cognitive games like Speed Match, Memory Matrix and more than 35 others.
Why it’s good for kids: Lumosity has a reminder app that you or your child can set to remind you to exercise your brain several days a week. There have also been several studies suggesting Lumosity users experience improvements in working memory and attention span.
What it’s about: Learn all 50 U.S. states with this fun game. Animated states with happy faces can be dragged and dropped with your child’s finger to create a stack of states for each quiz question answered correctly. Once the pile reaches the checkered line, you win!
Why it’s good for kids: The reward system in this game includes earning a state on a personalized map of the U.S. for every level completed. Kids will learn state info such as capitals, flags and nicknames.
14. Maily (iOS)
What it’s about: This app acts as your child’s very first email account. In a world of ever-changing technology, Maily is very helpful in educating kids on email etiquette. It’s a safe platform for kids ages 3+ to interact with family and friends.
Why it’s good for kids: Kids learn the fundamentals of email which is undoubtedly a skill they will use throughout their entire educational and social lives. Parents can easily supervise their child’s emailing activity by creating connected accounts.
15. Learn with Homer (iOS)
What it’s about: Learn with Homer covers the foundational aspects of reading. By using a phonetic-based approach, kids learn the different sounds involved with reading and will be able to follow along with more than 150 reading activities and stories.
Why it’s good for kids: This is a finalized, step-by-step reading program that puts kids on the path to becoming great readers. The games are fun but they’re not just for the sake of entertainment. Learn with Homer assumes kids begin using the app without knowing how to read, so the app starts teaching at square one.
Let the games begin ...
With a little guidance, you can make sure that your children are playing games that are not only entertaining but are increasing their brain capacity and knowledge. If you are invested in your child’s education and find yourself caring about the education of other kids as well, consider looking into an early childhood education degree.
As a teacher, you’ll gain tons of knowledge about apps, websites and games that will help further a child’s education and, in the end, produce a better world. These online education games for kids are a great place to start!