8 Great Games That Will Make Your Kids Smarter
Most educational games you find in the iTunes and Google Play stores barely earn a passing grade. But the following eight titles are a lock for the honor roll. If you want smarter kids, get them smarter apps like these.
1. DragonBox Algebra 5+
Your 5-year-old may think he’s just matching pictures of fish, bugs, and other beasties so he can feed a hungry dragon, but he’s really learning the fundamentals of algebra. DragonBox is a truly sneaky way to introduce concepts like basic arithmetic, positive and negative numbers, and solving for X without using anything resembling a math equation. (It’s even fun for adults.) A complementary version of the game teaches 12-year-olds more advanced concepts such as factoring and fractions, while DragonBox Elements tackles geometry. They’ll never know it’s math unless you tell them. $6; available for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Amazon.
Your dragon is hungry; feed it by matching light (positive) and dark (negative) objects, and then swiping them out of the way.
2. Tinybop Plants
This mesmerizing app is more an interactive experience than a game. Choose your biome (desert or woodlands), and then sit back and watch as day becomes night, animals enter and leave, weeks quickly pass, and the seasons change. You can drag your finger across the screen to change the path of a foraging animal, tap a cloud to make it rain, drop an acorn to plant a tree … and that’s about it. Along the way, kids learn to identify native plants and animals and how the natural world adapts to different conditions, without the use of rote memorization. $2; iOS only.
Tinybop Plants takes you for a walk in a deciduous forest filled with trees, birds, deer, and the sounds of nature.
Coding doesn’t get more kid-friendly than this. This iPad app lets your proto-geek adopt a kooky cartoon character and animate it by dragging routines (“draw a circle,” “do a backflip,” “rotate 180 degrees”) onto a pasteboard and then running them. He can dig deeper to tweak the individual commands that form each routine and share his projects with other Hopscotchers, who can then download and modify them. Ever see a monkey act like a balloon? With Hopscotch, you can. At press time, the app was totally free, though in-app purchases are coming. For iOS.