I disapprove of screen time and, perhaps foolishly, long for the ‘good old days’ when we had no screens except the bug screens in our windows. Of course, too much screen time is good for no one, but I’ve discovered that I need to be realistic and allow some of it. Getting too much out of step with what their friends do is not good for kids either. Therefore I encourage some online learning and allow a few games. Here are three of our favorite free computer games. Our kids love them and they are wonderfully relaxing educational options for ages 8 to adult:
Three Computer Games I Almost Always Allow
Wordament, a simple timed word search game that pits you against some of the world’s fastest word searchers, is simple, enhances concentration, provides positive reinforcement, and encourages kids to focus on spelling and vocabulary. Miss 14 learns a lot of new words. Miss 12 has complained that she cannot play it because she cannot spell…and, indeed, she cannot spell well. However, playing Wordament helps her spelling and gives her some confidence too. As a side benefit, we’ve tried to play in other languages and that provides all sorts of openings for rabbit trail discussions about the language, the culture, and why only 4 people are playing Norwegian Wordament when it’s afternoon in Ontario.
When we play we sometimes have several people around one screen all working together. Other times two of us play on different screens, or we have two people on each of two screens. In any case, it’s a game that kids can win, and that’s a good thing. This game is easy to start but difficult to stop. Read more about it here.
2048 is a strategy game that involves doubling numbers (2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, 1024, 2048) by sliding identical ones onto each other before the screen fills up. Addicting and absorbing, it will at the very least cement the above numbers (which in mathematical terms are the very useful powers of two) in your children’s memory and at the best will help them plan ahead spatially. It begins at an easy level and gradually becomes more and more challenging; I have never yet gone beyond 256 before my screen filled up. Read more about 2048 here.
And Seterra, which I’ve reviewed twice on the Curriculum Choice (here and here), and which other Curriculum Choice authors also recommend, is simply the best way I know of to learn basic geography facts. You can learn about countries, capitals, flags and so much more by labelling them in a race against time. Seterra is both addicting and empowering, and we love it. We tend to use the downloaded version, but online versions are also available.
So, this summer when your kids want screen time, offer them one of these games. They will learn and have fun at the same time. What’s more, these games are things you can do with your children because they are just as much fun for adults as they are for kids. You’ll be learning, relaxing, and having fun together while your kids get their much-desired screen time. Everyone wins, everyone has fun, and everyone learns.
Disclosure: I am not compensated for mentioning these free resources to you.
-originally published June 2015