Tablet-based edutainment apps are great for busy families on the go, but for kids who have access to a laptop or desktop computer, browser-based online games can provide a much-needed reprieve from tablet fatigue. There are plenty of kid-friendly, educational online game sites to choose from, and many offer a selection of content free of charge. Read on to see our picks of the best online educational games for kids of all ages.
ABCMouse.com Early Learning Academy
Featuring more than 850 lessons across 10 levels of learning, ABC Mouse is a one-stop shop for pre-school and early elementary online education. The website’s online curriculum includes more than 9,000 individuals learning activities in reading, math, science and art. Young learners will be delighted by the website’s interactive games and activities, which are brought to life with colorful animations and fun music, but older kids may find some of the lessons a bit too easy. ABCmouse.com members also can download the mobile app to access many of the same lessons, compatible with most smartphones and tablets.
Preschool to third grade, subscription plans start at $9.95/monthly, abcmouse.com
ABCYa! offers more than 300 online games for students ranging from preschool to fifth grade. While many of the website’s large collection of gamified math and reading lessons are available free of charge, an online subscription removes ads and give access to additional content. Nifty video tutorials on the website show kids how to make a variety of crafty projects, like origami tulips and slime. Like an increasing number of formerly online-only gaming sites, ABCYa! is also available as a mobile app for Android, Kindle and iOS, which provides access to most of the website’s catalog of games and activities.
Preschool to fifth grade, subscription plans start at $6.99/monthly, abcya.com
While BrainPOP Jr.’s website offers some free content, including select games and videos, the good stuff can be found behind a subscription paywall. Designed for students in kindergarten through third grade, BrainPOP Jr.’s curriculum is standards-aligned and features movies, quizzes, games, and activities that cover subjects ranging from science, reading and writing, math, health, social studies, and arts and technology. As learners graduate to more advanced learning, there’s BrainPop, for fourth graders and older, and GameUp, a companion educational gaming site.
Kindergarten to third grade, subscription plans start at $9.45/monthly, jr.brainpop.com
Not so much an online educational gaming website, Fact Monster is a neatly organized, kid-friendly online resource for elementary school students to discover fun facts and get homework help on a wide variety of subjects. Curated by educational professionals, the detailed content is rich with information that’s easily accessible and comprehensible to young learners. Students can easily navigate through the website and select specific skills and concepts that they want to explore. Think of it as an interactive, virtual encyclopedia.
Kindergarten to fourth grade, free, ad-supported, factmonster.com
Started more than 20 years ago, Fun Brain is a leader in free educational online games for kids, offering hundreds of games, books, comics, and videos that help students develop skills in math, reading, problem-solving, and literacy. Although there are plenty of banner ads on the website, the collection of fun, interactive games will engross students who may not even realize that they are learning while they play. As a bonus, site visitors also can read a variety of popular kids’ books and comics, including Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Amelia Writes Again, and Brewster Rocket.
Pre-k to eighth grade, free, ad-supported, funbrain.com
Boasting more than 3,500 pages of content, including plenty of learning games on a variety of subjects, Mr. Nussbaum is free educational gaming website created by a school teacher named Greg Nussbaum. The look and feel of many of the games are decidedly old school, but unexpectedly addictive. Students can learn math skills, language arts and geography, among other subjects, through engaging interactive games and activities.
Pre-k to sixth grade, free, ad-supported, with paid ad-free memberships coming soon, mrnussbaum.com
Imagine playing Super Mario Bros. and in the middle of collecting coins, you have to answer a multiplication question in order to move on. That’s a little bit like the experience of playing the interactive multiplication games on Multiplication.com. Which is to say, the gameplay is super-fun—at least for students who like math and gaming. Although the website has a generic look and feel, the games are engaging and effective. Most games are free, and a paid subscription removes ads.
Second grade to sixth grade, subscription plans start at $9.45/monthly, multiplication.com
National Geographic Kids Games
National Geographic’s free gaming hub for kids is chock-full of more than 100 fun, interactive games and activities themed around science and geography. Gameplay range from quizzes to puzzles, as well as videos and beautifully photographed stories and essays. Parents and kids can register for a free subscription to monitor and save progress on the website, and a link to Nat Geo’s online store sells neat educational products like STEM toys and science- and geography-related books.
Kindergarten to fourth grade, free, kids.nationalgeographic.com/games
PBS Kids Games
The appeal of PBS Kids online game hub is the free access to a huge number of browser-based gaming experiences based on popular character franchises like The Cat in the Hat, Curious George, Sesame Street, and more. Online games are organized by subjects that include math, healthy habits, science, reading, and teamwork.
Kindergarten to fifth grade, free, pbskids.org/games
Prongo.com is an educational website that offers fun, interactive, and educational games for kids. In addition to engaging interactive games and activities, the website also features free downloadable clip art, wallpaper, kids jokes, screensavers, and more. Online games are sorted by age groups, ranging from matching and memory games, mazes, puzzles, tic-tac-toe, and more. Brain Teasers are timed quizzes that cover topics such as dinosaurs, the human body, outer space, and inventors.
Preschool to fifth grade, free, ad-supported, prongo.com
Education publishing house Scholastic’s online hub offers a fun place for kids to spend time and learn while they play. With content organized by age and interest, the site features web-based games and quizzes as well as links to Scholastic’s growing catalog of mobile apps. Much of the content is geared toward parents and teachers, but there’s plenty of fun stuff for kids that’s interesting and engaging, including Scholastic book-themed games, like Captain Underpants, Goosebump, and The 39 Clues.
Kindergarten to fifth grade, free web games, with additional purchase options, scholastic.com/kids/games
This barebones educational gaming website features a collection of hundreds of interactive games aimed at young learners. From science to math to language arts and more, the Flash-based gameplay lets players click-and-drag through different activities that will engage young students with sounds and visual effects to make learning fun and more memorable.
Preschool to second grade, free, ad-supported, sheppardsoftware.com
Funded by the Starfall Education Foundation, a publicly supported nonprofit organization, the Starfall website was created in 2002 as a free, public service to help teach children to read wtih phonics. Using audiovisual interactivity, games on the website are suited for kids in preschool through second grade. An optional membership expands the free content to include additional music, math, and reading activities.
Preschool to second grade, free with additional membership options, starfall.com
Feature photo: Colleen Proppe via Flickr