Stanley Kubrick once said, “the big mistake in schools is using fear as the basic motivation. Interest can produce learning on a scale compared to fear as a nuclear explosion to a firecracker”. He was right! Childhood is a time for play but also a time for learning, and teachers have been trying for centuries to fine the right learning games for students.
The Need for Online Learning Games
In a world where secondary school dropouts are an increasing problem, teachers must integrate technology into the learning process in order to meaningfully engage them in the content.
Do you want your students to truly understand the material they learn, or do you simply want them to parrot it back on a test? This is the dilemma many teachers face when threatened with looming standardized tests. Meaningful learning, a deep understanding that can be transferred from the learning situation to other circumstances in life, is usually considered an important part of the learning experience. Unfortunately, it often takes longer to achieve. The good news is that Rick and Weber’s experiments on learning transfer during game play show that meaningful learning can occur while playing games.
However, different kinds of games facilitate different kinds of learning. Online learning platforms could offer a happy medium that enables both factual recall and deep understanding.
Online Game Resources
Paid Subscription Game Websites
Most of the resources listed in this article are free, but if you’re a teacher with a school budget to spend, you might want to consider one of these subscription resources, some of which provide a full complement of activities and resources (not just games) to supplement the school curriculum.
- Busy Things provides online learning games, activities, and resources for both families and classrooms. There’s also a free 7-day trial available.
- Education City is another subscription service with activities, games, and other resources. It provides a free 10-day trial, after which it charges a per-child subscription rate.
- Sunshine Online is an Australian-based website that offers games by level so that your child can play developmentally appropriate games. A thousand games and activities are available on subjects like spelling, writing, and phonetics. This is a subscription website (but it does offer a two-week free trial) that includes options for schools and for parents.
Free Multiple Resource Game Websites
These websites have such a large variety of resources in several subjects. Websites based in Australia, the UK, and the USA are included.
- CrickWeb provides free learning resources in a wide range of subjects including math, language arts, history, and more. The resources include free online games, among other materials.
- The BBC provides free resources for learning as well. These include activities, interactive child-friendly websites, and a variety of games (mostly for very young children).
- Kidspot provides a lot of activities such as math games, counting games, and ABC learning games for kids. Most of these games are geared towards young children, toddler- or preschool- aged, but can also be used at the early elementary/primary school level.
- StudyLadder is a resource that can be used by both teachers and parents. The website encourages you to log in or join, but also allows you to play free computer learning games for kids without being logged in.
- Sheppard Software provides a variety of games in subjects including science, math, and language arts.
- Funbrain offers reading games, math games, and just-for-fun games!
- The Fisher Price website includes preschool-level games with fun, brightly colored graphics. Topics include shapes, colors, ABCs, counting, and more.
- Quizhub provides not only quizzes but also free learning games for kids, such as spelling games, biology games, and more. A subscription can be purchased for full access, but is not strictly necessary because some of the games are available for free.
- The Gamequarium website, though old-fashioned looking, does contain dozens of useful learning games for preschool through early elementary/primary school. Subjects include Math, Music, Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, Spanish, and much more.
- Kids.usa.gov provides a huge selection of educational material and games, in a range of topics including Math, Science, Music, Art, Money, History, Language Arts, Social Studies, and many others. These are available for free and fall into two categories: Grades K-5 and Grades 6-8.
English and Language Arts Games
- Teach Your Monster to Read is an online set of reading games that’s free for computers (a small fee is charged for the iPad version). It helps students who are just learning to read and uses fun whimsical “monsters” to hold children’s attention.
- Learning Today offers, in addition to its paid projects, a good selection of learning reading games for kids. These develop skills involving sight words, syllables, homophones, and more. They’re intended for use at the K-5th grade level.
- Knowledge Adventure has free reading games and other free resources.
Math and Science Games
- Topmarks provides free games for four different age groups (3-5 years, 5-7 years, 7-11 years, 11-14 years) on a variety of math topics.
- Kids Math Games is a website devoted to free interactive math learning resources. These include quizzes, games, videos, and worksheets.
- Woodlands Resources provides dozens of free online learning games for kids on topics like words and spellings, grammar, punctuation, and writing text. The games are on the primary/elementary school level. The website setup looks like it hasn’t been updated since the 1990s, but it does provide a lot of free games.
- Smarty Games includes both math and reading games, as well as other resources. It also offers versions that can be played on mobile devices. These games are intended for young children (Preschool and early Elementary/Primary).
Fine Arts Games:
- Color With Leo is a great resource that has not only art games, but also coloring pages, a virtual art studio, and resources for parents and teachers. Children can explore art with a cute cartoon artist named Leo. This resource will interest children of Preschool and early Elementary/Primary school age.
- Incredible Art provides a long list of art activities and resources for kids of varying ages.
- Artsology’s art games are mainly related to the visual arts such as painting and have more of an emphasis on appreciation than on creation.
- Classics for Kids has a page of free music games for students who want to write their own piece, learn more about a famous composer, name notes, or practice rhythms.
- At Music Teacher, a large page of quizzes includes several games such as word searches, trivia games, and memory games.
- On the Sphinx Kids website, kids can play games to learn about orchestration, instruments, and minority composers and performers.
- Freetypinggame.net provides a variety of fun learning games for kids, as well as free typing lessons and free typing tests.
- Canadian Geographic offers a Canada map learning game for kids as well as a wordsearch and a number of other free games.
- Practical Money Skills includes games like “Peter Pig’s Money Counter” and “Money Metropolis” to teach children how to handle money and manage it wisely.
Cannily making use of this in the classroom may help your students lodge information more firmly in their minds and even achieve better transfer of learning. Since the advent of learning games for kids online, teachers and parents have had such a deluge of resources that it’s often hard to find what you need. This list of useful learning games for kids can help you find the games best suited to your child or classroom so you can employ the motivation, enjoyment, and meaningful learning available through online learning games.