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The Most Engaging Games for the Classroom

One thing games are really good at is engagement. Unfortunately, the games kids want to play and the games teachers want them to play don't always align. These are the exception, balancing just-one-more-turn play with rock-solid learning, leaving students and teachers happy.

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GoNoodle

Brief bursts of physical exercise add classroom fun, build brain power

Bottom line: In a genre of its own, GoNoodle is a ready-to-go and classroom-friendly exercise program that challenges students to get moving.

TeacherGaming

Level up learning with streamlined resources for classroom gaming

Bottom line: All-in-one platform for game-based learning gives teachers the confidence and the support they need to make learning real.

Cork the Volcano - Puzzlets

Fun elementary coding through hands-on puzzle tiles

Bottom line: Programming that combines engaging physical puzzle tiles with digital gameplay.

The Robot Factory by Tinybop

Improve designs, collect favorites in robot creation sandbox

Bottom line: A well-made and enjoyable STEM app that leverages what's great about play -- experimentation -- to spark engineering interest.

Minecraft: Education Edition

Stellar collaboration tools, controls make Minecraft classroom-ready

Bottom line: An excellent tool to engage students in learning, collaboration, and critical thinking is now more accessible than ever to teachers.

Fruity Fractions

Stellar tool builds rock-solid foundational understanding

Bottom line: A stellar way to dig deep and give kids an excellent intro to fractions.

DragonBox Big Numbers

Carrot-and-stick arithmetic app makes students fluent in regrouping

Bottom line: Hopelessly addictive addition/subtraction app keeps students learning and learning.

The Land of Venn - Geometric Defense

Brilliant, wacky adventure game seamlessly integrates geometry

Bottom line: This captivating game is a great way to introduce or reinforce early geometry concepts.

Magnus Kingdom of Chess

Gentle chess puzzle game ideal for young newbies

Bottom line: For kids who are new to chess but want to learn how to play, this fun intro to the game provides a well-done tutorial combined with a light overarching storyline.

Prodigy

Adaptive math practice wrapped in role-playing adventure

Bottom line: Sometimes kids just need some math practice to get things to stick, and Prodigy delivers in a fun format with great teacher support.

Slice Fractions School Edition

Clever twist combines math instruction with engaging gameplay

Bottom line: A fun, innovative way to help kids build a strong conceptual understanding of fractions.

Crayon Physics Deluxe

Influential physics game is still a draw

Bottom line: Instantly engaging and super accessible to learners of many ages and abilities, Crayon Physics Deluxe fuses conceptual science learning with a brand of playful problem solving that demands creativity.

Minecraft

Spiraling sandbox of adventure and creation gets kids to dig deep

Bottom line: An irresistible and seemingly limitless incubator for 21st-century skills that, with a little guidance, can chart new courses for learning.

Contraption Maker

Solve problems, puzzles, brain teasers while creating wacky machines

Bottom line: Hands-on problem-solving leads to great fun and independent learning with the right curricular wraparound to connect what kids are doing with what they need to know.

Zoombinis

Classic logic puzzler gets a beautiful new look

Bottom line: Promote powerful thinking skills, resilience, and decision making through purely fun gameplay that will keep students begging for more.

Kahoot!

Gamelike student-response tool can spark competitive fun

Bottom line: Effortlessly fun quizzing that can lead to productive formative assessment and student reflection if implemented effectively.

DragonBox Algebra 5+

Mesmerizing step-by-step puzzler sets the foundation for algebra

Bottom line: This innovative game-changer teaches algebra, changes the way kids learn it, and even changes how they feel about it.

Twelve a Dozen - all access

Engrossing math platformer puts problem-solving skills to the test

Bottom line: This absorbing game challenges kids' math and thinking skills as much as it entertains.

Elegy for a Dead World

Compelling sci-fi world imagined -- and written -- by its players

Bottom line: With some teacher guidance, Elegy offers an opportunity unlike anything else to get students to write stories and stretch their creative muscles.

Geoguessr

"Just one more turn" gameplay jazzes up geography

Bottom line: It's not a typical educational game, but students are inspired to explore the world and encouraged to think critically about what defines culture and geography.

W.E.L.D.E.R. Swap

Mashup of Boggle and Candy Crush gets kids forming new words

Bottom line: Students, especially word geeks, will dig this strategic game, but it's unclear how much it'll impact learning.

Journey

Gorgeous, moving adventure -- a jewel of social and emotional learning

Bottom line: Journey is a must-play experience and a shining beacon of the good that games can do.

Never Alone: Ki Edition

Illuminating native Alaskan folktale supports SEL skills

Bottom line: A beautiful achievement developed in cooperation with indigenous folk that offers players valuable SEL skill building and a respectful window into Inupiat culture, ways of life, traditions, and stories.

Algo Bot

Simple coding game a fun intro to algorithms

Bottom line: This coding game is a fun and helpful introduction to basic algorithm development, but other resources will be needed for more depth.

Divide by Sheep

Extremely addictive puzzle game has dark, slightly gory play

Bottom line: A great game for math problem-solving, but be careful choosing your audience.

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

Unique cooperative adventure with lasting social and emotional impact

Bottom line: With good support, an extremely powerful game to build empathy.

Niche - a genetics survival game

Immersive genetics sim puts evolution in students' hands

Bottom line: This hands-on genetics game allows students to experiment, explore traits, and come away with a sophisticated understanding of the subject.

Sid Meier’s Civilization VI

Best entry in classic strategy series might not be best for classrooms

Bottom line: As with all games in this series, Civilization VI is a great learning experience with the right support, but older, cheaper versions may be more practical for classrooms.

DEVICE 6

Inventive, interactive short story puzzles, scares, and delights

Bottom line: Utterly unique, short experience packed with exploration, mysteries, and surprises, but will take inventive teacher to wrap around.

Political Animals

Charming political campaign sim mixes data analysis and civics

Bottom line: It's a highly entertaining and surprisingly deep way to help students see the strategy -- as well as ethical choices -- involved in elections.

Walden, a game

Thoughtfully designed game illuminates Thoreau's writing, philosophy

Bottom line: It's rare to be so moved and permanently transformed by a work of art; that this game manages to (re)create these experiences is a triumph.

Attentat 1942

Emotional WWII game deftly explores the stories of survivors

Bottom line: An absorbing experience that'll motivate students to piece together a family's story of survival during Nazi occupation.

Gone Home

Compelling narrative game fosters empathy, self-reflection

Bottom line: If you're searching for a unique way to analyze storytelling from a social and emotional angle, look no further.

Kerbal Space Program

Design and launch a rocket into space in realistic astrophysics sim

Bottom line: This accurate rocket sim encourages trial-and-error learning and makes for great (and often explosive) physics and engineering experiments.

Papers, Please

Mature immigration game forces tough ethical choices

Bottom line: It's a provocative simulation about ethics and immigration that could spark debate but might be tough to implement.

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