Kids love video games. No matter how much you might try to keep them away, your young ‘ems will inevitably find a way to play. But what if you actually encouraged video game play? Game developers have gotten wise to the idea that they can make learning fun, and have started releasing titles that can do a little education while also entertaining your children.
Super Why (iPad, $4) is an app based on the popular PBS series of the same name. The game allows kids to play along with their favorite characters while learning the alphabet, practicing tracing letters, and even learning to rhyme. The game has won multiple awards and has even been featured by Apple to help launch the second generation of its iPad tablet.
MathBoard (iPad, $5) is an ingenious math education app that simulates a chalkboard and allows you to create addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division problems for your child. Should they get stuck, the app walks them through the solution, step-by-step, to show them how the equation works.
Gaming consoles can also get in on the education with titles such as Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader: Make the Grade (Wii, $20). Based on the short-lived TV show, this game features over 6,000 questions in animal science, cultural studies, grammar, music, reading, U.S. Geography, vocabulary, health, and astronomy. Kids can either play solo, compete against friends to get a high score, or even use flash cards. They’ll get to spend some time with the gaming console they love so much, and learn something at the same time.
What if you were able to integrate exercise into the education as well? Thanks to the Kinect controller for the Xbox 360, that is indeed possible. Body and Brain Connection (Xbox 360, $20) was developed with the help of Japanese neuroscientist Dr. Ryuta Kawashima. Not only will this game challenge your mind, but it also requires your body to move around to give the solutions. Not only will your child be challenged to figure out puzzles and solutions, but you can get them off the couch and get a little extra exercise into their day.
For the slightly older child, you may want to look into the deceptively educational Minecraft (PC, Mac, and Linux, $27). This game has now sold over 7 million copies – and while it may appear to be a mindless game of digging and building, educators are starting to realize that it can be used to teach math, cooperation, spatial relationships, and more.
The best part? Your kids will never even realize they are learning anything.