6 Online Educational Games That Teach Problem Solving to Kids

Good news: The great divide between educational games parents like and fun games kids want is getting smaller all the time. There’s a variety of popular games across various platforms that kids will have fun playing, full of problem-solving techniques and even cool enough to play with their friends. And Mom and Dad can enjoy them, too.

Choosing the best video games for kids

Gone are the days of playing “Oregon Trail” on an old green-screen computer. Today’s games for kids have bright graphics, snappy dialogue and fun tasks. You can get the whole family together for some role playing games on the PC, or you can fire up a console and let your kid play solo or with others.

Games give your young learner a chance to make mistakes in a low-stress yet stimulating environment. If struggling in a subject in school, a child can play a game related to it and get more comfortable. The gameplay may help overcome some of the mental blocks impeding your child’s path to academic success.

Here are some suggestions by theme to get your gameplay underway!

Strategy games

Strategy games focus on skillful planning to overcome various challenges or complete exploration tasks. Your kids may command armies around a map with the goal of taking control of or destroying their opponents’ resources. Your kids can learn about gathering and expending resources, base building and controlling large units of soldiers.  

“StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void” – The world of StarCraft takes place in a fictional universe where humans, cybernetically enhanced individuals and genetic mutants are all tasked with colonizing far-off planets in the galaxy. Problems arise when negotiations with alien races break down, and it’s up to the game’s protagonists to prevent the eventual destruction of planets. Players are tasked with resource management and base construction duties, and different tactics and quick thinking are needed for success.

Available for Windows PC and macOS

Puzzle games

“LittleBigPlanet 3” – This wildly popular option can inspire critical thinking in young minds as they try to link together clues that will help them progress in the game. Players can explore a world called the Imagisphere, meet new fictional friends and create their own levels in this puzzle platform game. Your child will learn how to solve problems creatively and also look around the world critically, as exploration is well rewarded in this game.

Available only on PlayStation consoles

Math games

“Prodigy” – This free-to-play math game for kids grades 1–8 involves Pokemon-like action and exploration. Players battle monsters and fend off opponents by answering questions about addition, subtraction, multiplication and more. You can even work with your child’s teacher to customize the questions to correspond with the lessons being taught in class.

Stream it on Windows or Mac devices

Reading games

“Wordscapes” – If you’re looking for some vocabulary-building games to help your young reader, check this one out. The game allows as many chances as needed to solve a crossword puzzle. A dictionary is built-in, so your kids can learn some new words, too.

Available on iOS and Android

Simulation games

“Animal Crossing: New Horizons” – One of the most popular simulation games on the market today, it mimics real-world tasks and relationships, so players can learn decision-making, problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. 

Players land on a deserted island and work to build a thriving community filled with talking creatures, lush gardens and bountiful orchards. Your kids will not only learn about resource management, they’ll also learn how to communicate effectively with their tenants on the island, how to buy and sell supplies and how to manage their real-world and in-game play time.

Available for Nintendo Switch

“Stardew Valley” – Don’t let the pixelated graphics fool you. This is a surprisingly deep game that can teach your child about resource management, time management and the trials and tribulations of farm work. The game also has a co-op mode, so you and your child can work on a farm together or with friends.

Available for PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PS Vita, iOS and Android

What do we need to play these games?

Fiber internet can make downloading these games easier, as fast gigabit speeds can reduce download times. You don’t need to have a gaming private network (GPN) for these kinds of games, as they’re typically not resource heavy, but a GPN can enhance your internet speed during peak network traffic times.

Overall, it can be worth it to invest in a good computer or console for your kids, so they can explore and learn on their own time. Having gigabit internet service will make it easier for your kids to access all the games you find that teach problem solving and more.

Game features and availability may have changed and are subject to change. Games may require an additional fee.

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