20 Great Educational Games for Kids

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Who says that kids cannot have fun while they are learning?  One of the best purchases that you make is an educational game for kids. Although there is a trend toward electronic games that kids undeniably enjoy, there is a certain joy in playing with hands-on real toys and games that cannot be replicated through electronics.   If you are shopping for a new game or toy for a child in your life, why not give them the best of both worlds?

Walk into any store, and you will find shelves filled with games for children.  It can be hard to tell though which games are the best educational games for kids.  There are many games on the market that are not only fun for children, but also educational.  Whether you are shopping in a toy store, a department store, or online, you cannot go wrong when you purchase educational games for your kids.

There are many different types of educational games for kids that are available on the market and they vary greatly.  There are games that are geared toward younger children, games for older children, and games that are designed for an all-ages audience.  When choosing a game or activity, you need to consider your child’s physical age, as well as their interests and attention span.  Very young children cannot attend for long periods of time.

These educational games are also designed with different skills in mind.  Some of the games are designed to encourage growth in mathematical concepts and skills, while others are more language-based.  Learning games for kids can target spatial awareness and fine motor skills, while others involve more mental strategy and analytical thinking.  The best games combine one or more of these skills, and can also grow along with your child.

Below are 20 Great Educational Games for Kids that are available on the market.  If you are looking for a new game or toy for that special child in your life, then perhaps one of the toys on this list would be a great fit!

Classic Games

1. Chutes and Ladders

This classic game is designed for children aged 3-5 who learn counting skills, as well as the art of taking turns and good sportsmanship.  They also learn about the idea of rewards and consequences as they move their game pieces up the ladders and down the chutes. There is a reason this game has been a best seller for so many years!  Young kids love it, and the rules are easy to understand and follow.

2. Checkers

How can you go wrong with this all-time class?  Checkers is a game that can be enjoyed by children of all ages and improves critical thinking skills, concentration and sound judgment while players weigh their most beneficial moves and look ahead at their opponent’s available moves.  The rules are easy enough for young children to understand but it is a game that they can play throughout their lives.

3. Chess

Chess is one of the best analytical and educational games for children, as well as adults.  The benefits are plentiful, proven and far-reaching. People often think of chess as an adult game, but children who show interest can learn this game at a very young age.  There is a great deal of research that shows that children who play chess have higher test scores, and many schools are using chess as a way to help their students grow intellectually because of the higher order thinking skills involved in play.

4. Uno

Playing any kind of card game with children can turn into a learning game, but Uno is an excellent example.  Children learn color and number recognition, as well as hand-eye coordination when learning this game.  The fast play also helps them learn to think on their feet. Card games in general make for great learning toys.  They are inexpensive, fun, and build a lot of math and analytical thinking.

5. Mancala

The multicultural favorite game of Mancala is used as an educational game for children all around the world.  Many schools offer Mancala tournaments.  This learning game teaches children critical thinking skills, as well as patience.  Players must learn to anticipate their rivals’ moves and learn to think ahead while trying to collect more colorful stones than their opponents.

Games for Toddlers and Preschoolers

6. Cariboo

Cranium has produced many games for young children, and Cariboo is the perfect learning game for kids. Players learn to match letters, numbers, shapes and colors while practicing sharing and taking turns while they flip cards to guide them to treasure chests.  This game is designed for children ages 3-6.  Children love the Cranium games, and this is no exception.  They are fun and very visually appealing to young childen, and are based on learning.

7. Sequence Jr.

This version of the classic game has been modified for young children and helps develop their matching, and thinking skills. The goal is for players to create a sequence of four same colored chips in a row, but strategy comes into play with the addition of game changing pieces that can change your opponent’s play. Children must plan their strategy as play develops.

8. Hi-Ho-Cherry-Oh

This oldie but goodie is a great game for young children. It teaches them counting and one to one match skills, as well as helps to develop their fine motor coordination, as children work to pick up the tiny cherries, and places them into their appropriate baskets, based upon the play that they receive from the spinner.

9. Bug Trails

This twist on dominoes is visually appealing to young children.  Instead of connecting dots, players connect matching colored legs on cute and colorful bug shaped pieces. Strategy becomes important when players learn that the more colors they can match on a pair of bugs, the better their play. Like dominoes, the winner is the person with the fewest points left in their hand after play is done.

10. Hoot Owl Hoot

This excellent game stresses the importance of cooperation. Although players do take turns, they work together to get the owls back to their nest before the sun comes up.  This game has won many game and toy awards.  Kids love it for its fun appeal and parents love it for its message of cooperation instead of competition.  The players work as a team and everyone either wins together or loses together.

Games for Older Children

11. Blokus

This game of strategy is an excellent critical thinking game that will be enjoyed by children from ages 5 and up.  Older children and even adults will love this game where thinking ahead and planning are the key to staying in the game.  Players lay their colored tiles to match the tiles already on the board, but must plan their moves so that they do not run out of pieces or moves before their opponent wins the game.  As the game progresses, it becomes increasingly hard to find spots to play tiles, so  planning ahead is key.

12. Thingamabots

This fun and ridiculous game is designed for children ages 6 and up. It is a game of memory and matching, but also one of creativity.  Players turn over cards with crazy looking characters and get to make up names for them.   When the card shows up again, players must try and remember the name it was given to win the stack of cards.  This game is silly, fun, and great for the memory to boot!

13. Smart Mouth

In this tricky but oh-so-fun game, players have 60 seconds to make the best word they can in a certain category, and with certain starting and ending letters. This learning game teaches players to think on their feet, challenges their spelling, and strengthens their vocabulary.

14. Rush Hour Deluxe

This is the game with all those little sliding cars. This simple to use, but tricky to master game, offers excellent critical thinking and spatial awareness opportunities for players.  Players slide their plastic cars along a grid to recreate “traffic jam” pictures which sounds a lot easier than it is!  The cards get more and more challenging and this excellent educational game is an excellent one for strategic thinking.

15. River Crossing

This game from Think Fun is designed for ages 8 and up, although many adult players have found themselves challenged by this game’s critical thinking tasks! The goal of this game is to move your hiker from one side of the river to the other.  Players use challenge cards to plant obstacles and lay planks to help with this task, but the challenges get more and more difficult as play proceeds.  This award winning game has received many accolades for its sequential reasoning and creative thinking exercises.  It is designed for children ages 8-up.

Games and Activities for Children of All Ages

16. Spielgaben

The Spielgaben is a set of wooden building toys that are based on geometric principals, and the ideas of the German educator, Friedrich Frobel who stressed the importance of play-based learning.  Versions of this toy have been used for decades by some of the most famous builders and architects in history.  These lovely toys consist of wooden blocks, circles, points and rods that children can use to create innumerable patterns and structures.  They are durable and interesting to children of all ages.  This toy also makes storage and organization easy which is a big bonus for parents, as it comes in a beautiful wooden chest with separate compartments that also helps to teach children organization.

17. Legos

These plastic construction toys are a staple in many households and classrooms. Legos are an excellent educational toy for children of all ages, and even some adults enjoy them.  There are larger blocks available for younger children with developing fine motor skills.  They can be purchased in sets, and specialty kits are available so that children can build specialized structures and vehicles.  Children never tire of Legos because of the ability they present for constant recreation.

18. Marble Run

Develop your child’s engineering skills with this toy that is a series of plastic tubes that twist and turn. Children put the pieces together to create a track and then drop marbles into the track to watch them progress through their creation.  In addition to the tubes, there are extra pieces like spinners and clickers that add to the fun.  Children can watch principles of physics while their marbles travel through the turns.

19. Leaps and Ledges

This newer game is the perfect activity to practice problem solving skills, analytical thinking and math skills while having a great time! This game is adaptable to all ages and skill levels, which makes it a perfect family game.  Players participate in a race to the top of a 3D tower, but face obstacles along the way, and can be sent back to the start.

20. Make ‘n’ Break Challenge

This is another great building toy and educational game for kids.  In this game, two players compete to see who can most quickly create the structure they are assigned from a card, but they may only use tongs while they are building.  This creates great opportunities for fine motor development, while also stressing building principles and spatial awareness.

These Top 20 educational games and learning toys for kids just scratch the surface of what is out there.  Instead of always looking for a new video game for your child or a child to whom you are giving a gift, why not look for something instead that will enhance their learning and challenge their minds?

Kids can enjoy learning games and educational toys without even knowing that they are learning!  Most of these activities are also things that can be played and enjoyed together as a family, and everyone knows about the benefits of that!  So take a look at this list, and perhaps you will discover a new activity for that special child in your life, or rediscover an old one that you had forgotten about.  Enjoy!

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