Gone are the days when children were fascinated by comics, graphics, and books full of colourful pictures. Today’s kids are more inclined towards gaming. By gaming, we do not mean it is only about playing; it is about learning.
The experience allows children to explore and play to learn and develop creative and critical thinking, which is essential to their academic success. (Davies et al., 2013; Holmes, Li den, & Shin, 2013; International Association for Development of the Information Society, 2012; Won & Han, 2010). However, every other day there is a new invention and an increase in accessibility to technology; so is the increase in its usage in classrooms and homes. Amidst all, introducing kids to education-based games provides students with various learning opportunities, and there are a variety of content-areas, age ranges, and skill levels to choose from. Educators have plenty of opportunities to create unique learning opportunities for them. Most schools and colleges have already brought it into practice, especially, after the sudden school closures due to COVID-19.
According to the Entertainment Software Association, total video game sales in 2018 exceeded $43.4 billion. Needless to say, games are a big business. However, it does not mean that we toss out books and get our kids’ hands-on games all day—we should include games in their learning journey.
Just in case, if you are planning to do so, here we enlist top online educational games for middle schoolers that you must consider:
MetKids: Metropolitan Museum of Art, for Kids
Metkids is explicitly designed to introduce children to the colourful world of art history. This platform is full of creative media like behind-the-scenes videos, DIY projects that allow children to try them at home, and even a fully interactive map of The Met to help kids discover love and art appreciation.MetKids also have a blog that offers fascinating art facts and art history titbits written in a fun, engaging way. There is a “time-machine” that lets kids explore different periods and learn about culture, inventions, and innovations of that time in different locations. This games with a free trial as well as the premier version.
National Geographic Kids: Introducing Kids to the World
National Geographic Kids’ children browse stunning photos of nature at its most beautiful or watch videos of baby animals in their natural habitat. They can also learn in-depth stories of different people, places, and cultures through interactive media and fun games. National geographic kids are one of the best edutainment platforms for kids aged 3-14. It utilizes technology and leverages the best of interactive media to bring users a learning experience they are not likely to forget. However, it lacks a specific and structured curriculum.
Designed for kids aged 6-12, scratch is an incredibly gentle education-based game that introduces kids to coding. This platform aims to inspire children to think creatively and reason systematically by teaching them the fundamentals of coding. It implements tools, techniques, and interactive content to help familiarize children with common programming languages in a fun and enjoyable way. Scratch uses an easy-to-use visual block interface that saves beginners from the grief and frustrations of writing out the codes and helps them focus instead on the basics of game development, graphic design, and animation. Fundamentally, coding instils universal skills like problem-solving, discipline, and creativity in kids. Although, scratch is primarily used by kids, but is available to anyone interested in learning how to code.
Quiddler is a unique game that teaches English to its users. In this wordsmithing game, players begin with three-letter cards. In the first round, they draw and discard until they form a word. The next round begins with four letters and ends with ten letters. While playing this game, players learn spellings, improve vocabulary, and unintentionally also get to know new words and their meaning using a dictionary.
Poptropica is a multiplayer online role-playing game where players can travel to different islands to play games, read comics, and even complete quests. Each island has its own theme and specific challenges. This game is best suited for children ages 6 to 15. It is free, but subscriptions and memberships are also available for purchase.
It is unlikely to find a kid who does not like Minecraft. Although it is a video game, its education-focused version takes learning to the next level. It has lessons, STEM curriculum, and project-based challenges with the help of which this the immersive game promotes creativity, collaboration, and problem-solving skills.
Deep-Sea Duel is a game of math skill, speed, and strategy. This comes with two versions; the easier one is the 9-bubble version and the harder 16-bubble version. Deep-Sea Duel is made to align with standards for grades 3 to 5 and 6 to 8. In this game, two players take turns to grab a number bubble to get the desired sum before their opponent can. This game is available at zero cost.
Prodigy, an online fantasy game, is designed especially for kids up to Grade 8. They can create their own tiny wizard character, engage classmates, friends, or computer-generated foes in math battles to earn stars and new items for their character. During each math battle, there are instructions and tools tweens can use to help solve the problems. This game is free, can be used in school or at home, and has membership subscription options if desired.
With varieties of games and educational activities to choose from; the NASA Stem @ Home for Students offers numerous entertaining and informative options for grade 5-8 students! NASA Games serve as a road map to frame and guide the agency’s work to benefit students over the coming years. The game aims to engage, attract, and educate students about everything allied with the space system.
Last but not least, Geoguesser is an addictive puzzle-based game that tasks students with guessing the location of Google Street View and Mapillary images from around the world. Students investigate the image area, scour it for clues and think critically about what they see, and work to narrow down where in the world they might find it. The game comes with five rounds where they guess the right place, get award points if the answer is right, or are closer to the answer. Users are allowed to use either or free or pro account to play with maps. With free accounts kids can do the Daily Challenge and one map per day, along with the original free world map; whereas, students with Pro accounts are allowed to make and save their own maps, play as many times as they like, compete with friends, create leagues, and get no ads in between. It is a less straight instructional platform but great for cultivating 21st-century skills.
Whether a parent or tutor to a middle schooler, try bringing these amazing games into their lives to enhance their hold onto certain subjects, improve knowledge, and learn 21st-century skills.