There are tons of online educational games out there, and many, many collections of them, too. However, I’ve found that most of these collections also include quite a few non-learning games — arcade type or shoot-em-ups that have no redeeming value (at least, that I can see).
That’s not a problem for me most of the time — usually, when I have students play online games I’m pretty specific about which ones I want them to play.
However, there are infrequent times (very , very infrequently) — students are done early with a state standardized test; it’s late on a Friday after a hard week and both they and I are pretty burned-out; or when our school’s schedule is all crazy because everybody in one grade is taking the H.S. Exit exam and everybody else is in different classes — when I just want to give students the opportunity to play some learning games and not be concerned they’ll go to useless ones.
I thought that readers of this blog might sometimes be in similar situations, and thought I’d share a short “The Best…” list of sites that work well in those cases.
Except in a couple of cases, I”m just going to list the site and not give any explanation — they’re all pretty similar — they have a variety of learning games in a variety of subjects and offer very, very few, if any, useless ones.
Here are my choices for The Best Collections of Online Educational Games:
National Geographic Channel Games (Note that this is the channel, not the main National Geographic site. The main site has a lot of good games, but also many that have no educational value.)
Primary Games Arena has an impressive group of learning games.
Play Kids Games (one of the added advantages of this site is that it lets teachers add their own content to some of the games. Because of that, I’ve also added it to The Best Sites For Making Crossword Puzzles & Hangman Games. (A teacher reports that an inappropriate ad popped-up on the PLay Kids Games site. Please let me know if others have a similar experience)
Games for Change has a collection of “serious games.”
Zondle is a pretty darn impressive for online learning games. It has tons of content in different subjects, and, if you can’t find what you need, it’s easy to just add your own. The ingenious part is that once you pick the topic you study, you have the option of studying the info in forty different games! Plus, teachers can create their own virtual classroom and track student progress. And, it’s free.
I’m very impressed with the British Council’s Learn English For Kids site. It has lots of great games for English Language Learners.
EFL Classroom 2.0 has a great game collection.
Spree Games has a collection of nearly 300 learning games. I learned about it through Richard Byrne’s blog, and you can read more at his post. It looks like an impressive collection. Note, though, that the games are not actually hosted at the site. The games are described and then linked to through Spree. So it’s possible that a number of the individual games might be blocked by the often bizarre algorithms used by our schools’ Internet content filters. I’m adding Spree to this list. However, most, though not all, of the other collections here have all their games hosted on one site. As I mentioned earlier, I primarily view these sites as useful for students to use when there are a few minutes left in the computer lab and teachers can just send students to one site (that is unlikely to be blocked) to play games of their choice. It can be a little frustrating to them when some are blocked and some are not.
Canadian secondary Social Studies teacher Mike Farley has gone far beyond my sharing of games. He writes a blog where he lists the links to fifteen excellent Social Studies-related games. That’s nice, but you can find those links in my “The Best…” lists. But what Mike also shares in his blog are student hand-outs for all those games. I don’t think you’ll find these kinds of resources anywhere else on the Web, and they’re a gold mine! Even if you don’t want to use some of them, they are excellent models that can be easily modified.
I also need to include collections of games that can be found in several previous “The Best…” lists:
The Best online Learning Games– 2007
The Best Online Video Games For Learning Language & Content Knowledge
The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too
The Best Websites For Creating Online Learning Games
The Best Online Learning Games — 2008
The Best Sites For Making Crossword Puzzles & Hangman Games
The Best Fun Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2008
The Best Online Games Students Can Play In Private Virtual “Rooms”
The Best “Cause-Related” Online Learning Games
The Best “I Spy” (Hidden Object) Games For Vocabulary Development
The Best Places To Read & Write “Choose Your Own Adventure” Stories
Finally, I should mention my website, that has 9,000 categorized links accessible to English Language Learners, including many games (particularly, though not exclusively, in the Word and Video Games section). However, even though I’m mentioning it here, I don’t think I can say that my website deserves a “full” endorsement. There are just so many links that it’s fairly easy for students to find their way to mindless activities if left to their own devices.
You might want to read The Best Sections On My Website for more information.
Suggestions and feedback, as always, are welcome.