15 Free Online Games for Kids That Will Keep Them Learning at Home
Now that we're all practicing some sort of social distancing, parents everywhere are being faced with a slew of challenges. But a global pandemic isn't the time to worry about setting up a Pinterest-inspired home classroom. With 13 years of experience as an educator, I can confidently tell you that your child's teachers have resources and expertise that are very difficult, if not impossible, to replicate right now! Not only that, but parents area also juggling other demands like working from home and generally coming to terms with life under lockdown.
There's no need to beat yourself up trying to offer a balanced curriculum to rival the programs usually offered at your child's school. What children do need right now, however, is a sense of predictable routine and fun activities and games to inspire learning through play. Instead of trying to become a teacher overnight, make a plan a flexible schedule which includes lots of opportunities for kids to practice their core skills, including number sense and phonics, through play, music, and make-believe. Also, mark down periods for children to play quietly or independently if appropriate so that you get some headspace or have a chance to get your own work completed.
One of the best resources you already have is a ton of free games for kids available online. We rounded up a few of our favorites that check off both the educational and fun boxes when it comes to activities to keeps kids occupied at home.
Free Online Games For Toddlers
- Counting Pizza Party Parents may worry that very young children have too much screen time without playing online games but it's more about the quality of the program than the format. Games like Counting Pizza Party reinforce the number skills they have been developing, plus they're fun to play!
- Boris The Magician To help develop basic computer skills like using the mouse and directing the cursor, have children play Boris The Magician. This very simple game encourages kids to click on the boxes to see Boris's next trick.
- Learning the Shapes The best online games for kids encourage them to practice the skills they gain back in the real world. In the game Learning the Shapes, children match and recognize shapes before moving on to a coloring exercise. Extend the learning by asking your child to find objects of a particular shape around the house.
Free Online Games For Preschool Kids
- Scholastic Learn at Home One of the most thoroughly researched at home school programs is offered on the Scholastic website and is a big favorite among teachers. Not only do they use high-quality reading materials and games developed with clear learning objectives in mind but they also provide complete lesson plans from a stimulus or inspiration text right through to games and activities to support the concept being taught. The resources are organized from preschool all the way to Grade 9.
- CBeebies This kids programming site from the British Broadcasting Corporation is designed for kids aged 0-6 but with characters like Sarah and Duck, and The Numtums, it's especially favored by the preschool crowd. You'll find educational shows and a range of games featuring their favorite CBeebies personalities.
- ABCMouse Technically, this site is one you have to pay for, but they offer a 30-day free trial which may be all you need. The activities are suitable for children aged 2-8 and include Reading, Math, Science, and Art.
Free Online Games For Elementary School-Aged Kids
- Shifu Plugo To use the huge range of games on the Shifu Plugo website you'll need to purchase a gamepad and accessories. However, they are available at a pretty modest price point, you then simply slip your tablet into the holder and can download and access hundreds of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) activities to support learning at no further cost across a range of topics. Kids find it pretty exciting on the Count program to add the digits onto the counter spike and have them represented in real-time on their screen!
- CBC Kids Older kids will find the adventures of Napkin Man on CBC Kids, Canada's national station to be particularly entertaining. Games include opportunities to listen and repeat musical sounds, test mathematical skills as well as word searches, puzzles, and stories to enjoy.
- Boomerang TV Check out this site's collection of games featuring characters from top kids movies like Boss Baby and Puss In Boots. Matching games, a fun dinosaur trivia game, and even cooking activities will keep kids learning while they have fun.
Free Online Games For Tweens
- Common Sense Media Older kids learning at home can create somewhat of a problem for parents. They are usually more self-directed than younger children and will be able to self manage their assignments but once they head off to play online games you might be worried about the content and whether or not they are accessing safe and appropriate games. Click on Common Sense Media's collection of prescreened games organized for age ranges from preschool to age 12 and you can be sure they have been reviewed appropriately.
- Funbrain This site definitely lives up to its name with lots of educational yet fun games on offer up to grade 8. Sometimes however kids need a little mindless fun and that's when a simple yet addictive game like Helipopper fits the bill. Kids simply move the little creature to pop the right color balloon and are rewarded with his cute little smile!
- National Geographic Kids This world leader in educational content has created tons of games that will keep curious kids up to grade 4 busy. Sign up for a free account if your child wants to save their progress on over 100 games, puzzles, and activities centered around conservation, geography and animal topics.
Free Online Games For Teens
- 3D World Farmer It can be quite the challenge to get teens to take a minute away from their device so it might seem counterproductive to encourage them to have more screen time. However, if they are going to be online then as much as that time as possible should be concentrated on learning in a way that feels fun for them. 3D World Farmer allows teens to plot out and manage a farm in sub-Saharan Africa. Kids will learn how to budget and plan to make their farm a success!
- Airport Manager In Airport Manager, teens become a tycoon and learn how to manage their own fleet of aircraft while also considering staffing and logistical issues.
- ICivics This clever game teaches young people about the different branches of power in government and how bills become law. They'll also learn about voting rights and practice debate skills.