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Finding Education And Fun In Video Games

Parents, students, teachers, and researchers continue to discover ways that video games increase interest and participation in learning.

By
Cheryl Butler,
August 30, 2008
Episode #079

Page 2 of 3

Sometimes, parents who have never played a video game fear they will look foolish. This is the moment to allow your son or daughter to shine. Ask them to teach you. It is rare that kids have the opportunity to show off skills and train an adult. They will love it. Even the surliest teen will crack a smile when Mom or Dad spins off the track and crashes into the rail in a Grand Turismo match, or fails to beat the clock during one of Tomb Raider’s many puzzle-solving activities required to enter a new level. Whether your child is a third grader or a high school senior, there are some great opportunities to learn while having fun with video games.

Several game development companies are devoted to designing video games that help kids learn. One of them is Big Fish Games; a company started by a group from Lucas Arts (the developers of the Star Wars games). From games that teach about animal habitats and the solar system, like Wild Thornberry’s Australian Wildlife Rescue and Chicken Invaders 2, to mind bending puzzle games and challenging word group associations such as BeTrapped and WordSearch Deluxe, Big Fish Games offers entertaining and economical educational games.

Broderbund may have a funny name, but they make some exciting educational games. Elementary students can explore spooky museums and learn about bugs with Scooby-Doo in The Glowing Bug-Man. Middle and high school students can explore the features of shapes and solids and the relationship between length, perimeter, area, and volume with Mighty Math’s Cosmic Geometry.

If you want your child to become a math wizard, MathShark by Educational Insights, a handheld math video game console, will act as a tutor in the basic skills, from addition and subtraction to decimals and percentages; it's perfect for your first through fifth grader.

Learning doesn’t just come from the video games that are designed specifically for education; there are some great learning experiences among the popular entertainment video games too. The most common types are action adventures, management, racing, real-time strategy, role-playing, simulation, and world-building games. What fun and challenging learning experiences can parents share with their gaming kids? Each of these types of games offers opportunities to develop new learning strategies and problem solving skills.

Action adventure games require players to use problem solving skills and information retention while exploring both imaginary and real world locations.

Based on creating a business in a simulated environment, management games, like the Zoo Tycoon series, involve players in activities to raise funds for daily repairs and to pay workers. This requires the use of critical thinking and math skills.

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