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Just for Fun:
Online Games
Students Will Love!

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For those times when another indoor recess threatens to fray your nerves and test your students' good intentions! This week, take your minds off all your troubles. Join Education World -- just for fun! Included: On-line fun for students of all ages!

I meant to write an important article brimming with educational information and creative classroom solutions. I meant to write Super Sites for Student Scientists or On-Line Remedies for Reluctant Readers or Successful Strategies for Struggling Scholars. Really, I did!

The sun is shining, however, and focusing on something that concrete on a day like today is tough. When I sat down at the computer and fired up my search engine, my fingers flexed of their own (painful) accord and typed on-line games.

"Just for a little while," I rationalized as I hit Find It! "Just a few minutes of mindless fun; then I'll return to work, refreshed and inspired..."

In my searching, I uncovered all kinds of fun Web sites. You'll find many of them detailed in the virtual fun-site tour that follows. For quick and easy access to game sites geared to the age you teach, you might click on one of the links below:

Lots of great games follow -- but if you're looking for a place to start, a place that has a little something for everyone, the perfect place to go might be Kids Domain Online Games. This site provides links to many of the best on-line games, categorized by age/grade at eight different levels and on a variety of topics. The games require the Shockwave plug-in, but kids can download it from the site.

ONLINE FUN FOR PRIMARY-GRADE KIDS

As any preschooler can tell you, there are few better places to begin a search for fun and games than Sesame Street. My first stop of the day was at l PPBS Kids, where Bert, Ernie, Rosita, Sherlock, and all the other Children's Television Workshop friends gather to play. There, the weather is always fine and the friends are always busy having fun.

Next, happily, joyously, I find myself in Seussville. There, I play Hooray for Diffendoofer Day! in which

"Miss Bobble teaches listening,
Miss Wobble teaches smelling,
Miss Fribble teaches laughing,
and Miss Quibble teaches yelling."

After that, it's almost impossible to stop giggling long enough to play Sylvester McBean's Sneetch Belly Game, The Cat's Concentration Game, or any of the other highly imaginative and interactive games at this colorful site. I managed, though. Your students will too. All they need is a silly sense of fun -- and Shockwave!

As long as kids are out and about, encourage them to fire up those Java browsers and stop, as I did, to play the on-line games at Billy Bear 4 Kids.com. The hardest work at the site was deciding where to begin! My head was starting to clear, however, and I was only momentarily stymied by all the choices. The site has word-search puzzles, on-line jigsaw puzzles, slider puzzles, and tons of other familiar games with slightly unfamiliar touches. I finally tossed a coin to choose between Billy Bear Checkers and Catch the Frog -- that was definitely a win-win toss! Everything is fun and funny and well within the reach of even the youngest students.

Activities at Education.com are adapted from the Jump Start reading program. The activities, which include puzzles, sticker pictures, and arcade games are great fun and highly interactive are worth the trip!

THE LUNCH BUNCH: ELEMENTARY-GRADE ON-LINE FUN

By now, though not quite ready to return to work, I was getting hungry and so was easily enticed by the graphics at Nabisco Kids. I wasn't disappointed by the fare I found there! Students in grades 3 and above will eat up the arcade-style games at this yummy site. In the Kids' Coliseum, kids can use (or add to) their knowledge of simple machines as they build a Chipulator to count the 1,000 chips in a bag of Chips Ahoy. I managed to unscramble a word to discover the order in which I had to net the animals missing from the box of Animal Crackers in Wild Side, but I couldn't avoid the bombs dropped by the evil Dr. Snackmasher long enough to save the animals. I did much better shooting chips into Chips Ahoy cookies before they reached the end of the conveyor belt. In fact, I had trouble tearing myself away from that smashing game. It was more fun than a barrel full of (Animal Cracker) monkeys!

By the way, for quick games of strategy without fancy graphics (or lengthy load times) you might also encourage students of this age to try the games at All Mixed Up. After a day of dazzling graphics and faster-than-the-human-eye computer opponents, I found this site easy, restful, and fun.

THE REAL DEAL: GAMES FOR MIDDLE SCHOOLERS AND OLDER

Hungry for more? Lots more? Looking for games for students in middle school and above? For more arcade games than you can shake a stick of Bubble Yum at, the sweetest site on the Web is Candystand from Lifesaver. Here, students can choose from such games as Ultimate Bobsled, Breath Savers' Billiards, Fruit Stripe Jungle Puzzle, SnackWell Candy Chocolate Factory Pinball and more -- way more. The games are fun and challenging with great graphics. Some take a while to load -- but the content makes the wait worthwhile. Visitors can even register their high scores (minors need parental permission) to qualify for T-shirts and other prizes. This is a commercial site with lots of visual commercial stimulation, but it's a terrific site for older kids in need of seasonal diversion.

Many sites provide classic arcade and strategy games for older students. Several include sophisticated concepts and state-of-the-art graphics sure to capture students' interest and imagination. These include

  • Maze Works.com, with such Java games as Peg Solitaire, Hares and Hounds, Tower of Hanoi, and Fiver.
  • Fun Internet Games, with games that include 3D Tic Tac Toe, Battleship, Concentration, Connect Four.
  • Play Free Online Games, with Tetris, Scrabble, Chess, Backgammon, Pacman, more.

FYI

Does all this on-line wizardry make you feel inadequate, boring, and unable to compete for your students' attention? Do you wish you could create interactive puzzles and games that include the content you want to teach? Don't despair. There is help for you. Though not, strictly speaking, a game site, Puzzlemaker allows you to create mazes, word searches, crossword puzzles, cryptograms, and more that will amaze and impress even your most game-savvy students.

There's more. Trust me, there's more! The ones I've listed, however, are some of the best. Now, I really, really do have to get back to work!

Note: Most of the games in this article require Shockwave to run. Most sites provide the ability to download Shockwave free of charge.

Article by Linda Starr
Education World®
Copyright © 2009 Education World

07/19/1999
Updated 05/13/09