Our kids spend very little time online. Usually I’m the one hogging the computer, and they swoop in to use Facebook and iTunes when I turn away. But we used to have a list in our sidebar of semi-educational games that didn’t make me cringe the way I do when somebody sees my kids eating Pop Tarts or drinking Monster. Since I deleted that list of games from the sidebar some time ago in a misguided fit of decluttering, more than one person has asked about it, including but not limited to my own offspring. [Hi, Ashley!]
So here, to the best of my memory, is that list. I’m sure some items will be missing and others will be new.
When I say semi-educational, I don’t mean that they will teach your children to read while you watch reality TV. I just mean that these games might actually exercise their brains in ways that watching cartoons won’t. There are no engrossing role-playing quest games with convoluted story lines in this list. Graphics are simple, the challenge is straightforward, and creative thinking is generally required. Your kids won’t be learning to factor algebraic equations, but they also won’t be getting dumber before your very eyes.
- Fantastic Contraption – Connect water, wheels and other simple tools to build a fantastic contraption that will move your ball to the goal.
- Magic Pen – Like Fanatastic Contraption, this game allows you to draw tools to help you gather flags. You won’t get far without a good dose of creativity!
- Line Rider – Deceptively simple graphics with an addictive goal: draw a course for the little guy on his motorcycle, and try not to get him killed. Physics at its finest.
- Roller Coaster – Another very simple game that lets you test the results when you tweak your roller coaster’s mass, speed, and friction, the track’s physical features, or the power of gravity itself.
- Soup Toys – A toybox packed with old-fashioned fun: balls, dolls, etc. Your kids won’t believe all the things they can do, if you’ll just quit playing and give them a chance. Check out the long list of prebuilt playsets for ideas. This one is a free download so your kids can play offline.
Logic & Strategy
- Shift – Get your little silhouetted dude to the doorway in each screen. Shift perspective as necessary so that the floor becomes the ceiling using – what else? – the shift key. Deceptively simple game will twist your brain in knots.
- Family at the Bridge - A simple logic puzzle. Can you do it?
- Missionaries & Cannibals – Another simple logic puzzle, with an added element for those with a darker sense of humor.
- Lemonade Stand – Set your price, keep the right amount of inventory, watch how outside factors affect business, and watch your profit grow day by day. A fun lesson in business management.
Reactions & Reflex
- Sheep Dart – Just a quick and amusing test of reaction times. Shoot a tranquilizer dart into straying sheep before they escape. Your results are measured in milliseconds.
- Jezzball – A game of strategy and hand-eye coordination. How many balls can you manage at once?
- Japanese Memory Game – Test and exercise your memory, and be rewarded by learning your “mental age.”
- Escapa – Move the red block around, and don’t let the blue ones touch it. Easy, right? How long can you last? I’m just going to try once more…
- Place the States – Drag puzzle pieces shaped like states onto the blank US map. 5 different levels make it appropriate for nearly any age level, from 4yo up to you.
- World Geography – Learn the world region by region. Practice countries, capitals, rivers, and more.
- Dude Falling – Why is it so fun to see people fall down? Also, why does this remind me of our current economic recovery?
What would you add to this list?