When it comes to education, computer games often get a bad rap. Parents and teachers spend time trying to pull kids away from their computers and tablets in favor of “more educational” and “healthier” activities. What if instead of pulling kids away from computer games, parents and teachers embraced them? While it is good to set limits on how long kids interact with technology, parents and teachers should also recognize and welcome the benefits that come from playing online games! What are they, you ask? Read on!
They provide unique examples.
When teaching students, it is key to provide multiple examples of concepts. Not only do students have different learning styles, but they are also likely to use their skills in a variety of contexts as they go through life. Online games often provide unique examples and contexts in which students can practice their skills. For example, students can use math and logic skills while running a virtual pizza parlor, discover creative ways to solve problems when using a broken calculator, or learn about space while designing a space rover. These different scenarios can go a long way in helping students develop a deeper understanding of important concepts.
They allow for differentiation.
Students come into the classroom at many different levels and with different styles of learning. Online games make it easier for teachers to differentiate their instruction to cater to students’ needs. Some online games will appeal more to visual and kinesthetic learners who need to see and touch or move objects to embrace a concept. For example, kinesthetic learners can manipulate virtual tangrams to understand geometry and visual and kinesthetic learners can use how to count money through online money games. Teachers can have students play different games based on their individual needs.
They adapt to individual learners.
In addition to catering to different learning styles, online games often adapt to individual learners. Many games offer multiple levels of play, so teachers can have all students play the same game, but each student can experience that game at a different level. For example, students in kindergarten may all play the same addition game, but the game could be set to display different levels of addition problems. Some students may work on single-digit addition, while others may work on two-digit addition. A few online games start with a pre-test to determine a student’s level, and then automatically adjust the questions based on the answers thestudent provides.
They help with review.
Online games serve as a tool to help with review in the classroom. Teachers can use online games to help students keep their skills sharp during the school year or provide a more focused review at the beginning or end of the school year or before an important test. A wide array of math games have students solve basic problems to advance within a given activity. For example, in Capital Penguin, students simply match states with their capitals to move through the game, but the simplicity of the game does not limit the game’s ability to serve as a good tool for review. For more specific review, teachers can create their own bingo games to play with students.
They provide entertainment.
At the end of the day, the biggest benefit of online games is that they are entertaining. Getting students interested in the learning process can be difficult. Free math games have the ability to make that process much easier. One way is that students can choose games related to their interests. For example, some students may prefer to learn while playing sports-related games. Many games also offer multi-player features, allowing students to compete against one another while building key skills.
It’s true that not all games kids play online are educational, but there are many examples of valuable online games that have been used effectively inside and outside of the classroom. Teachers who choose to incorporate online games in the classroom will find that the games are entertaining and help them cater to students’ individual needs.
This post is a guest post from Math Game Time, a website that provides free math games and videos for kids in pre-k through seventh grade.
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