As the COVID-19 pandemic has made abundantly clear, trying to do a full-time job from home while simultaneously caring for young children who can’t safely go to school is no easy task. If you’re like many working parents, you’ve probably found yourself using your smartphone as a substitute babysitter or teacher more than a few times during the past few months.
The good news is that this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. There are plenty of kid-oriented smartphone games out there that can not only entertain your children, but also educate them, spark their creativity, and help keep them connected during periods of lockdown.
Some of the best games for fun and learning are:
Minecraft is at the top of this list because, in this era of social distancing and self-isolation, the idea of creating and exploring a new world has never been more appealing or relevant. Launched more than a decade ago, Minecraft is still going strong, and its widespread popularity among young players is showing no signs of slowing down.
Beloved for its distinctive blocky visuals, Minecraft lets you build just about anything you can think of, from grand castles to ocean reefs. A truly absorbing game that will give free rein to your kids’ creativity and imagination.
A rebus is a puzzle that uses combinations of pictures and individual letters to represent words or phrases. For example, the word “apex” could be depicted using a picture of an ape followed by the letter X.
To solve a rebus puzzle, therefore, you need to use logic, creativity, and visual thinking, all of which are skills that developing young minds can practice with this entertaining and very stylishly-designed game. Available for Android and iOS, REBUS bills itself as an “absurd logic game” that promises to energize the brain, whether you play for an hour or just a few minutes.
CHUCHEL is a comedy adventure game from the respected Czech studio Amanita Design. It received numerous awards including Best Game for Children (Anifilm 2018) and Excellence in Visual Art (Independent Games Festival 2018).
The game takes the form of a classic adventure quest, in which the main character must overcome challenges and solve puzzles on the way to the final goal. However, its playful twists and turns encourage out-of-the-box thinking and help push you beyond your familiar problem-solving habits. Amanita Design also has several other similar games if your kids (or you) want something a bit more difficult.
Finally, a reason to get outside even if your local shops and services are closed! More entertaining and interactive (and therefore possibly more appealing to kids) than simply going for a walk, Pokemon Go is a great way for the whole family to get some fresh air and exercise, discover new places or sights in the neighborhood, and have fun pursuing a goal. If you’re serious about using Pokemon Go to help boost your kids’ physical activity levels, you can also pair it with the Apple Health app to track your walking distance.
Among Us was one of the biggest hits of 2020, particularly for families trying to stave off lockdown-related boredom. It is a multiplayer game that can help kids stay connected to their friends, even if they’re not able to see them in person.
Designed for four to 10 players, Among Us is set aboard a damaged spaceship. Players are either crewmates working to repair the ship, or imposters bent on sabotage. Use your local Wi-Fi to play with your family and friends, or choose the online option to play against other users. A text chat component, which is a key part of the game’s storyline, helps keep things social.
Teach Your Monster to Read
If you have younger kids who are working on their reading skills, you’ll want to check out Teach Your Monster to Read. An award-winning series of phonics games, Teach Your Monster to Read covers the building blocks of the first two years of learning to read.
Games teach kids everything from recognizing letters and matching them with sounds to following and enjoying little stories. Developed in collaboration with leading academics from British universities, Teach Your Monster to Read is a fun and captivating way to boost your child’s literacy.
Artie’s Magic Pencil
For your budding young artists between the ages of three and six, Artie’s Magic Pencil offers an entertaining and engaging way to learn the fundamentals of drawing. Drawing and doodling get imaginations fired up and help develop and hone fine motor skills.
Additionally, Artie’s Magic Pencil offers the extra delight of seeing doodles come to life. If your kids need a little extra coaching to explore their visually creative side, this game offers just the right amount of encouragement.