Top 10 free educational game websites for kids

free online games for kidsGaming in education is a rapidly growing trend with lots of benefits for kids: high-quality games help children develop problem-solving, critical thinking, and creative thinking skills in a platform that is naturally engaging and motivating. I’m always looking for the best free game sites for kids so I can share them with the teachers I coach. Here’s a list of my current favorite kids’ interactive game sites for grades PreK-12:

 

Sites you absolutely must check out right this second–no, seriously, go

1. Utah Education Network has curated a collection of free games from all over the web. Basically, the UEN has done the hard work for you and pre-screened the sites so every game they link to is useful and developmentally appropriate. There’s something for every subject and every grade, and the interface is attractive to kids and easy to use. Look in the sidebar on the righthand side and click K-2, 3-6, or 7-12 interactives.

2. Sheppard Software has top-quality games for every subject spanning preschool through middle school. Fun and easy to use. There are ads on the site, so be sure to teach young students not to click on anything to the left or right of the game.

3. BrainPOP’s GameUp is a collection of free games for grades 4-12 in social studies, science, health, and math with no advertisements and no login required. The team at BrainPOP looks through hundreds of online games by various publishers and selects the ones that are of the highest quality, so only the best games make it onto the site. BrainPOP also lists corresponding movie topics you can play if you have a BrainPOP subscription, and provides a lesson plan (written by yours truly!) to show how you can integrate the game into your instruction.

If you like a particular game on GameUp, click the game developer’s icon on the game page to see their full list of offerings. Most of the partners have a bunch of additional high-quality games on their sites that are available for free. I particularly recommend:

Awesome sites that your students will want to use on a daily basis

4. ABCya has K-5 games on language arts and math, as well as various other topics (both educational and just for fun.) There’s also a large collection of games available as apps if you have an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch in your classroom.

5. BBC UK features a kid-friendly landing page which makes learning look like all fun and games, or use the schools-games page which organizes activities by subject area.

6. Hooda Math is an up-and-coming site for gaming that also has a separate section for interactive whiteboard games. There are also some PDF worksheets for some of the games and some math tutorials for grades 3-7.

7. GameStar Mechanic not only offers free games for students to play, but allows kids to make and publish their own games. Very cool!

Other fantastic sites worth mentioning

8. PBS Kids is great for younger students. There are educational and just-for-fun games, which you can sort by subject area and skill. Be warned that some games are premium and require a subscription. I also like the PBS CyberChase collection of math games.

9. FunBrain makes the list because I see kids return to the site again and again even when they have the choice to play non-educational games. My own students were always obsessed with FunBrain, especially Mad Libs Jr. and Grammar Gorillas. The online books and comics addition is wonderful. It’s not the easiest site for kids to navigate independently if they’re looking for a specific game, but that’s mostly because there’s so much there.

10. IXL allows students to practice a variety of math skills online. These are not so much games as they are timed drills and practice sessions, which means it’s not particularly fun and doesn’t have a lot of higher-level thinking questions. What makes it worth mentioning here is the fact that it spans practically every math skill and concept from PreK-12 for free.

What did I miss? Any other favorite interactive websites and online games for kids that your students love?

Disclosure: I received no compensation from any of these websites. I work part-time for BrainPOP but was not asked to write this article or include their resources in it. This list reflects what I truly think are the THE best educational game websites for kids, and I regularly use them in schools with the teachers I coach.

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Angela Watson was a classroom teacher for 11 years and has turned her passion for helping other teachers into a career as an educational consultant based in Brooklyn, NY. As founder of Due Season Press and Educational Services, she has published 3 books, launched a blog and webinar series, designs curriculum resources, and conducts seminars in schools around the world. Subscribe via email for blog updates, exclusive tips & tricks, activities, printables, and more.

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Beth Bo. May 7, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Wow! Great post! I’ve gone exploring already and I love the ABCya! site. Some great typing games there. One site that my second graders love when it’s time for multiplication is http://www.multiplication.com . There are some fun games there and the site is easy for kids to navigate! It’s a winner in my classroom!

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2 Angela Watson May 7, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Oh, yes, that is a great one–thanks for mentioning it! Kids absolutely love multiplication.com. The window washer one seems to be a favorite game. I hope the site eventually expands to other operations. :-)

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3 Sally DeCost May 7, 2012 at 8:13 pm

What a great list! Thanks for sharing!

Sally from Elementary Matters

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4 Math Games May 7, 2012 at 10:05 pm

Thanks for the Mention.
-Michael
HoodaMath.com

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5 Karyn18 May 8, 2012 at 3:34 am

This is great! Children can play games at the same time they will learn. Unlike with other games like war games which are not really advisable for kids. Thanks for the links!

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6 Logan May 8, 2012 at 3:45 am

This is really one useful list for teachers. I will share this post to my colleagues.

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7 Share May 9, 2012 at 7:13 am

Another great site with Educational games for the Pre-K set is ZiggityZoom. Excellent games and educational printables also.
Games page http://ziggityzoom.com/games
Educational printables http://ziggityzoom.com/category/categories/educational-fun

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8 Angela Watson May 31, 2012 at 9:43 am

I don’t normally allow self-promotional links in the comments, but ZiggityZoom looks pretty cool for the PreK/Kindergarten set. Thanks for sharing!

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9 Sandra Nelson May 9, 2012 at 9:54 am

My kids have really enjoyed and benefited from the free games on LearningGamesforKids.com . The areas that we use the most are the typing practice games, the math games, the word games, and social studies games.

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10 Angela Watson May 25, 2012 at 5:18 pm

Wow, never saw that one before! Great resource!

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11 Lisa May 9, 2012 at 10:23 am

Angela,

Thanks for the information!!! You continue to enrich my teaching, as well as educational pursuits of my students.

Lisa Thompson

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12 Angela Watson May 25, 2012 at 5:18 pm

Thank YOU, Lisa! :-)

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13 Monica Schroeder May 9, 2012 at 1:06 pm

This list is just what I needed to send my 2nd graders off with a bang for the summer! Thanks so much for posting it. We use IXL Math all the time in class and also Brain POP! Another favorite is http://www.spellingcity.com! I am heading over to check out ABCYa next!
☮Monica
The Schroeder Page

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14 Angela Watson May 25, 2012 at 5:19 pm

Cool, Monica! Yeah, Spelling City is great…I think of that site as more interactive practice exercises but there are actually tons of really cool games. I’m glad you mentioned it!

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15 Porsche May 9, 2012 at 7:46 pm

my girls adore starfall.com. great for the pre-school and kindegarten set.

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16 Angela Watson May 25, 2012 at 5:19 pm

Oh, yes, Starfall! I used that years ago and forgot all about it! Great recommendation!

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17 Julia May 10, 2012 at 12:09 am

Thanks for the great resource Angela! Have you looked at Khan Academy? It’s a great resource for kids and parents with good instructional videos. If kids register with a gmail account then their teacher can track their progress.

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18 Angela Watson May 25, 2012 at 5:20 pm

Hi, Julia! Khan academy’s interactive practice is pretty good. Not exciting, but useful. Almost all the secondary teachers I know use it for one thing or another. Thank you for mentioning it!

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19 Tammy May 15, 2012 at 9:55 pm

My first graders love coolmath.com.. tons of “puzzle” type games. Tht are fun and teach valuable math concepts

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20 Angela Watson May 25, 2012 at 5:21 pm

Thanks, Tammy, wasn’t familiar with Cool Math! How does that compare to Fun Brain? Do you use that one? They seem similar.

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21 April Walker August 21, 2012 at 6:20 pm

Thanks for this great list of sites!

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22 Angela Watson August 21, 2012 at 8:14 pm

You’re very welcome, April!

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23 Michelle March 25, 2013 at 3:37 pm

Free rice is good site for math, vocab and other subjects. Can just play, or login to track/compete. When you play, you donate to help feed world hunger. Thanks for the site listings!

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24 Teddy June 21, 2013 at 7:41 pm

Hey there just wanted to give you a quick heads up and let you know a few of the images aren’t loading correctly. I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue.
I’ve tried it in two different browsers and both show the same outcome.

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25 Angela Watson June 22, 2013 at 4:45 pm

Hi, Teddy! There is only one image in the post–the one with the title of the post on it. Do you see other images that aren’t loading properly?

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