10 best educational video games for kids

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The rise of the gaming industry over the past few decades still shows no signs of slowing down, and in 2020 the form of media was more important than sports and movies combined. In addition, the constant rise of free-to-play games like Fortnite has made play a must-have form of entertainment for children.

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While the main purpose of the game is simply to entertain, there have been many versions over the years that aim to educate children in an effective and engaging way. The ten games on this list all strike a good balance between being fun to play while educating in a way that most kids will enjoy.

ten The Magic School Bus series


Children at school

the Magic school bus was a television series that aired in the 90s before returning in 2017 under the name The magic school bus rides again.

However, the franchise is not only known for its TV appearances, as the series made its way to the gaming industry numerous times in the late 90s and early 2000s with games like The Magic School Bus explores the solar system and The Magic School Bus explores the rainforest. As the name suggests, each game takes an educational look at various topics, with an excellent balance between fun and learning that makes the series a classic in the educational genre.

9 Prodigy


Free roaming in the field

Of all the games on this list, Prodigy arguably does the best job of encouraging children to keep playing and learning. This is accomplished through the game’s use of common gameplay mechanics, especially leveling.

Prodigy places players in a fantasy world and asks them to embark on adventures that will require them to solve math questions. Mathematics can often be one of the most difficult subjects to make interesting for children, which Prodigy a great option for teaching the subject.

8 Wordscapes


Crossword

Wordscapes is a great choice when kids just want a little light entertainment. The game offers players a crossword puzzle to solve, although the clues are not given via questions or abstract clues like most crosswords.

Instead, players are given a selection of letters that they must combine to find words that fit into the spaces. Consequently, Wordscapes is a great way to teach words and spelling, while the in-game dictionary will help expand the player’s vocabulary.

7 Democracy 3


Diplomatic overview in diplomacy 3

Democracy 3 is ideal for older children who are starting to take an interest in politics. The game doesn’t take its long to start, plunging players straight into the role of president or prime minister of the country of their choice. The player will then be tasked with solving real-world issues, such as balancing budgets, reducing crime levels, and changing the law.

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Although the game covers heavy and complex topics, it is presented in an accessible and easy-to-understand manner, making it a great way to get older kids to gain an understanding of politics.

6 Unlimited scribblenauts


Charcters and animal standing together

Unlimited scribblenauts originally released in 2012 for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U before arriving on PC, iOS, Android, Nintendo Switch, PS4, and Xbox One in the years that followed.

The game is the fourth entry to the Scribblenauts franchise, which started in 2009 and stood out in the sandbox genre with an emphasis on puzzle solving. The puzzles will improve the cognitive skills of the child, as the player can summon a ton of different items and apply adjectives to them in the hope of completing the different tasks.

5 The Oregon Trail series


Oregon Trail Wii 3DS 40th Anniversary Edition 2011

The Oregon Trail The series started all back in 1971 and has had a plethora of entries since. The games have been specially designed for teaching 8th grade children, making them a great educational choice.

As the name suggests, the games take players back to the early 1800s, when the Oregon Trail was in use. The player takes on the role of a cart leader, who must safely guide his party from Independence, Missouri, to Willamette Valley while avoiding many dangers and protecting his party from hunger and disease.

4 Endless ocean


Person swimming underwater surrounded by marine life

Endless ocean is a great choice for anyone interested in learning more about marine biology. The game offers minimal limitations to the player, allowing them to explore the ocean around them at their own pace. As they descend into the sea, players will encounter a wide variety of marine life which will be named and categorized with precision once players discover them. A suite, titled Endless Ocean 2: Adventures of the Deep, was released in 2010 and is also worth a visit.

3 National Geographic Challenge


Multiple choice quiz question

National Geographic Challenge teaches geography to players in a classic game show format. Players are mainly given general questions, pictures or video clips that will test their geographic knowledge.

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National Geographic Challenge has a handful of different game modes, including a campaign-style explorer mode that will take the player around the world, asking them questions on a variety of topics involving many different countries.

2 Civilization VI


The beginnings of a society in civilization VI

It is worth pointing out right away that Civilization VI leans much more towards entertainment than education. However, this does have its advantages, as it teaches players in a way that never feels like education heavy, making it a great game for getting kids to learn.

Civilization VI takes players to the ancient era of 4000 BC and tasks them with building an entire civilization through the ages until 2050 at the latest. During this time, players will be building towns, researching subjects, building wonders, and more. Research topics, wonders, world leaders, and city names are historically accurate and will therefore teach players a ton of history with every game.

1 Big Brain Academy


Title screen for Big Brain Academy

Big Brain Academy was originally released in Japan in 2005, before releasing to the rest of the world the following year. The Nintendo DS game centers around the concept of measuring the brain mass of the player.

Big Brain Academy gives players a set of questions to ask and problems to solve, such as color coordination, shape matching, image identification, etc., before rating their performance. A sequel was released for the Nintendo Wii in 2007 titled Big Brain Academy: Wii Diploma, which is also worth considering.

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