Top Pick

Best Summer Learning Games

Anything remotely school-related is a total summer-break bummer. But that doesn't mean the learning has to stop. Kids will get engrossed in these great at-home games that also are teacher-approved.

Busy Water Publisher: EDOKI ACADEMY
Solve, create, and share puzzles that gush with STEM learning
Grades 1-5
Type App
Price $3.99
Platforms iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
Common Sense says
Teachers say Not Yet Rated
Contraption Maker Publisher: Spotkin
Solve problems, puzzles, brain teasers while creating wacky machines
Grades 3-8
Type Game
Price Free, Paid
Platforms Mac, Windows
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Minecraft Publisher: Mojang
Spiraling sandbox of adventure and creation gets kids to dig deep
Grades 3-12
Type Game
Price $26.95 for desktop, $19.99 for consoles (except Wii U at $29.99)
Platforms Linux, Mac, Wii U, PS3, PS4, PS Vita, Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Elegy for a Dead World Publisher: Popcannibal
Compelling sci-fi world imagined -- and written -- by its players
Grades 4-12
Type Game
Price $14.99
Platforms Mac, Windows
Common Sense says
Teachers say
LittleBigPlanet 2 Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Accessible yet deep game creator will dazzle and challenge
Grades 4-12
Type Game
Price 19.99
Platforms PS3
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Sound Shapes Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Jazzy music game lets kids design levels and create music
Grades 4-12
Type Game
Price 14.99
Platforms PS3, PS Vita
Common Sense says
Teachers say Not Yet Rated
Journey Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Gorgeous, moving adventure -- a jewel of social and emotional learning
Grades 5-12
Type Game
Price $14.99
Platforms PS3, PS4
Common Sense says
Teachers say Not Yet Rated
Never Alone (Kisima Innitchuna) Publisher: E-Line Media
Illuminating native Alaskan folktale supports SEL skills
Grades 5-12
Type Game
Price 14.99
Platforms PS4, Windows, Xbox One
Common Sense says
Teachers say Not Yet Rated
GameMaker: Studio Publisher: YoYo Games Ltd.
One of the best creation tools available for aspiring game developers
Grades 5-12
Type Game
Price Free, Paid
Platforms Mac, Windows
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Scribblenauts Unlimited Publisher: Warner Bros. Games
Stimulating and creative adventure helps kids grow their vocabularies
Grades 5-12
Type Game
Price 59.99
Platforms 3DS, Wii U
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Epistory - Typing Chronicles Publisher: Fishing Cactus
Practice typing by exploring and defending a world made of paper
Grades 6-12
Type Game
Price Paid
Platforms Mac, Windows
Common Sense says
Teachers say Not Yet Rated
FTL: Faster Than Light Publisher: Subset Games
Failure is frequent and fun in this strategic starship sim
Grades 6-12
Type Game
Price $9.99
Platforms Mac, Windows
Common Sense says
Teachers say Not Yet Rated
Papo & Yo Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Powerful tale of alcoholism uses puzzles and metaphor to build empathy
Grades 6-12
Type Game
Price 14.99
Platforms Linux, Mac, PS3, Windows
Common Sense says
Teachers say Not Yet Rated
Hack 'n' Slash Publisher: Double Fine Productions
Zelda-inspired puzzler lets players peek behind the code curtain
Grades 6-12
Type Game
Price $13.37
Platforms Linux, Mac, Windows
Common Sense says
Teachers say Not Yet Rated
Human Resource Machine Publisher: Tomorrow Corporation
Addictive, unique way to supplement coding instruction
Grades 6-12
Type Game
Price $4.99 (app), $9.99 (Steam)
Platforms iPhone, Linux, Mac, Wii U, Windows
Common Sense says
Teachers say Not Yet Rated
Professor Layton and the Curious Village Publisher: Nintendo
Brilliant, charming puzzler challenges kids' ELA and math skills
Grades 6-12
Type Game
Price 30
Platforms 3DS, Nintendo DS
Common Sense says
Teachers say Not Yet Rated
Sid Meier's Civilization V Publisher: 2K Games
Legendary strategy game is a hit with history buffs in school and out
Grades 6-12
Type Game
Price $29.99
Platforms Windows
Common Sense says
Teachers say
SimCity Publisher: Electronic Arts
Exciting city simulator great for online play
Grades 6-12
Type Game
Price $59.99
Platforms Windows
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Valiant Hearts: The Great War Publisher: UbiSoft
Heartfelt story-as-history-lesson humanizes World War I
Grades 6-12
Type Game
Price 14.99
Platforms PS3, PS4, Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Common Sense says
Teachers say Not Yet Rated
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons Publisher: 505 Games
Unique cooperative adventure with lasting social and emotional impact
Grades 7-12
Type Game
Price
Platforms PS3, Xbox 360
Common Sense says
Teachers say Not Yet Rated
Construct 2 Publisher: Scirra
Standout, pro-caliber game-dev tool still great for novices
Grades 7-12
Type Game
Price Free, Paid
Platforms Windows
Common Sense says
Teachers say Not Yet Rated
Geocaching Visit Website: http://www.geocaching.com
Leave and locate hidden packages in a real-world treasure hunt
Grades 7-12
Type Website
Price Free, Paid
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Portal 2 Puzzle Maker Publisher: Valve
Mind-bending level editor for beloved physics game
Grades 7-12
Type Game
Price $19.99
Platforms Mac, Windows
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Garry's Mod Publisher: Valve
Complex physics sandbox is daunting but rich
Grades 8-12
Type Game
Price $9.99
Platforms Linux, Mac, Windows
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Political Animals Publisher: Positech Games
Charming political campaign sim mixes data analysis and civics
Grades 8-12
Type Game
Price $14.99
Platforms Linux, Mac, Windows
Common Sense says
Teachers say Not Yet Rated
Kerbal Space Program Publisher: Squad
Design and launch a rocket into space in realistic astrophysics sim
Grades 9-12
Type Game
Price Free to Try, Paid
Platforms Linux, Mac, Windows
Common Sense says
Teachers say
This War of Mine Publisher: 11-Bit Studios
Strategy game offers superb, mature take on war and civilian survival
Grades 9-12
Type Game
Price $19.99
Platforms Mac, PS4, Windows, Xbox One
Common Sense says
Teachers say Not Yet Rated
Everything Publisher: David OReilly
Philosophical game invites students to ponder everything's existence
Grades 10-12
Type Game
Price $14.99
Platforms PS4, Windows
Common Sense says
Teachers say Not Yet Rated