ABCya: A Great Library of Educational Games

Published with Permission

Written by Andy Harris

www.aharrisbooks.net

www.TOSMagazine.com

Computer games are here to stay. There’s no denying it. There is something extremely compelling about video games, especially for today’s kids. Some games are not appropriate for kids, and it is right to be nervous about them. However, some games can be useful reinforcement tools for your lessons. If you can find a fun way to reinforce skills in math, reading, typing, or science, maybe you should reinforce them.

ABCya (abcya.com) is a website containing dozens of games written by frustrated schoolteachers who could not find quality educational games easily and couldn’t afford the few quality games they found. The games are available for free on the website and are grouped by age level and topic. The site does feature Google ad-word advertising, but the ads are small and unobtrusive and are mainly visible on the home page. Each game page hosts an ad, but I didn’t see anything objectionable as I used the site.

Although the quality of the games varies, they are all well made, and most are quite entertaining. They were created with the public school audience in mind, so there are a few themes (there’s a Halloween game in the K–1 section) you’ll want to be alert to. All the games use Flash technology, so they’ll work fine on any reasonably modern computer. They should play on Android devices (although many games rely on the keyboard) but sadly will not work on iPhones or iPads. A few of the more popular games have been converted to apps and are available for 99 cents each.

Kindergarten–1st Grade Games

Many great games are suitable for younger learners. Often these games are best played together with a parent or older sibling.

Here are a few of the highlights in the K1 section:

• Refrigerator Magnets—This game allows you to create words by dragging letters onto a picture of a refrigerator. Yes, I love real refrigerator magnets, but we always seem to lose the M. You can’t lose letters with this version, and you can print or save your results.

• Letter Bingo—Play bingo as the computer gives you the letter name or sound.

• Keyboard Zoo—Cute, early tool for learning where keys are on a keyboard

• Word Search Junior—Simplified “make your own word search” puzzle. Use your own vocabulary words or names of people in your family.

• Connect the Dots—Numerous connect-the-dots games to reinforce counting skills

• Marble Math—Simple math problems with digital manipulatives (marbles) to help students work out the problems . . . and pirates too!

• Make a car, house, face, pizza, etc.—A number of related games begin with a background image and allow you to put your own parts together to make your own custom object. All can be printed or saved. Not super-educational, but it’s a lot of fun.

2nd–3rd Grade Games

The second- and third-grade games add more typing and math to the mix. Here are a few highlights:

• Typing Games—Three different games introduce typing in different, fun arenas: munchies, cup stacking, and keyboard challenge.

• Decimal Tiles—Nice online manipulatives for math

• Time and Money Games—A couple of games to practice time telling and money addition skills

• Math-Man Jr.—A variation of Pac-Man that reinforces addition and subtraction skills

• Geography Games—A series of games about states and capitals, as well as interactive maps

• Jet Ski Addition —Online, multi-player game. The speed at which you answer questions determines how fast your jet ski goes.

• Word Cloud—Not really a game, but one of our favorites. Enter in a number of words and they are turned into colorful graphic art that you can save or print. Really fun way to make cards, place mats, and other fun print-outs.

4th–5th Grade Games

The games for fourth- and fifth-grade students are (appropriately) a little more detailed. They cover more sophisticated topics:

• Synonyms and Antonyms—A couple of games help kids review these ideas.

• Spelling Bees—A game that reinforces spelling with vowels

• Dirt Bike Proportions—An online, multi-player game for practicing ratios (I got schooled by a fourth-grader)

• Multiplication Grand Prix—Similar to the dirt bike game but with multiplication problems

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