Quick Links: Serious Games | Online Games
Mission US is an interactive adventure game from PBS designed to improve the understanding of American history. The first mission, For Crown or Colony? explores the reasons for the Revolution through the eyes of both Loyalists and Patriots in 1770 Boston. The game may be played online or downloaded. Classroom support materials including lesson plans, document-based questions, primary source documents, vocabulary activities, background on historical figures, and writing prompts are available. (Grades 5-8, social studies)
iCivics (formerly Our Courts) provides games designed to help students learn about the U.S. governmnet and judicial system. (Grades 6-9, social studies, civic literacy) Games include:
- Do I Have a Right? is designed to help students learn what rights are contained in the Bill of Rights and other constitutional amendments. Players manage a law firm that specializes in constitutional law and must decide whether each visiting client has a case.
- In Supreme Decision, students learn how the Supreme Court operates. Players listen in on judges' deliberations and try to understand each issue and identify with which side of the issue they agree. Our Courts was designed by Georgetown Law Center and Arizona State University with Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
- Find out how people become citizens of the United State as you guide newcomers along their path to citizenship in Immigration Nation.
The Virtual Congress is a 3D virtual world that replicates the U.S. Congress. Students become online members of congress as they propose, discuss and vote on legislation, interacting with other students in-world. The Center on Congress at Indiana University create this virtual world. (Grades 9-12, social studies, civic literacy)
PowerUp is an online multiplayer game from the New York Hall of Science. Players work together designing and building energy solutions to save Planet Helios. They explore the island and talk to engineers to help figure out what they need to do. A teacher’s guide provides background information for teachers and lesson plans that give students opportunities for more in-depth exploration of science and engineering concepts addressed in the game. Be sure to read the instructions on the website before beginning the game to learn the keystrokes needed to move your avatar. (Grades 9-12, science, technology, engineering and mathematics [STEM])
The goal in Lure of the Labyrinth is to find and liberate the pets (including your pet) that seem to have gone missing in the odorous and mysterious place called the Tasti Pet Factory. Players will meet a group of extremely unpleasant monsters and try to outsmart them by solving puzzles. The site includes an extensive professional development section for pre-algebra teachers, with videos showing how to use the game within the curriculum. (Grades 6-8, math)
In Wolfquest, students learn about wolf ecology by living the life of a wild wolf in Yellowstone National Park. This game from the Minnesota Zoo and the International Wolf Center can be played individually or in multiplayer mode. Players try to form a family pack, raise pups, and ensure the survival of their pack. (Grades 4-12, science)
The Operation: Resilient Planet game from the Jason Project puts middle school students into the role of practicing researchers and explorers. Are the northwestern Hawaiian Islands experiencing a shark infestation? Can you keep endangered marine turtles safe from harm? These are some of the questions students try to answer in this simulation as they use virtual tools and follow scientific procedure to simulate research in marine habitats. A free curriculum for a 5-9 week unit is also available at no cost. (Grades 5-8, science)
Energy City, another digital lab from the JASON Project, asks students to create a new energy portfolio for a city. Players choose one of six cities, and attempt to balance economic, social and environmental issues as develop energy sources for the city. Students must research new sources of energy and understand the advantages and limitations of various energy strategies in order to succeed in this game. An extensive middle-school curriculum unit on energy is available from JASON. (Grades 5-8, science)
Operation: Tectonic Fury from the JASON Project lets student virtually travel around the globe and through time to see how famous landforms might have looked and analyze the geological forces behind them. (Grades 5-8, science)
In Immune Attack, from the Federation of American Scientists, players pilot a cell sized submarine called a nanobot remotely through a virtual body, while learning about the cell biology and protein biochemistry involved in immune reactions. (Grades 1--12, science)
In the game Foodforce, students become part of a team sent to the island of Sheylan by the World Food Programme to help feed millions of hungry people. It is designed to make children aware of the global hunger problem, especially for children, and demonstrate that concrete steps can help, and that working on hunger is exciting and cool. (Grades 9-12, social studies, global literacy)
Darfur is Dying is an online game that puts students in the role of residents of a refugee camp in Darfur. Players attempt to survive by foraging for water, tending gardens, visiting the clinic and trying to escape the Janjaweed militia. The game was produced by MTV and the International Crisis Group and the Reebok Foundation for Human Rights, and is played online without downloading. (Grades 9-12, social studies, global literacy)
In Against All Odds, students follow a young person’s flight from oppression in his or her home country to exile in an asylum country. The game is intended to increase students’ awareness and knowledge about refugees – where they come from, what situations they have faced and how they adapt to their new lives. This game comes from the United Nations High Commision for Refugees. (Grades 9-12, social studies, global literacy)
Vanished was an 8-week mystery game for middle-school children, meant to inspire engagement and problem solving through science. Students act as investigators racing to solve puzzles and other online challenges, visit museums and collect samples from their neighborhoods to help unlock the secrets of the game. This game from MIT and the Smithsonian Institution ran from April 4 - May 31, 2011. Visit the website to find out about future games. (Grades 5-8, science)
Fatworld, from Public Television?s Independent Lens, is a video game about the politics of nutrition. It explores the relationships between obesity, nutrition, and socioeconomics in the contemporary U.S. The game?s goal is to demonstrate the complex, interwoven relationships between nutrition and factors like budgets, the physical world, subsidies, and regulations. Players choose starting weights and health conditions, including predispositions towards ailments like diabetes, heart disease, or food allergies. They construct menus and recipes, decide what to eat and what to avoid, exercise (or not), and run a restaurant business. (Grades 9-12, health literacy, family and consumer education)
In Hot Shot Business from Disney; players choose a business to start in the fictional Opp City. Students must decide how fund their business, pay attention to customer needs, and make other business decisions while competing for the high score. (Grades 7-12, financial literacy, entrepreneurship)
Baalty (My Shop) is an entrepreneurial game for children and young teens. The game was developed in Egypt by PPIC-Work (Promoting and Protecting the Interests of Children who Work), and the object is to start and grow a business selling things to people. Players learn business skills and the dynamics of establishing and building a sustainable retail enterprise. Using this site could be a nice way to integrate financial literacy with global studies.
In Cool School, children encounter 52 different conflict resolution scenarios in an animated school. After watching a conflict unfold, players are given four options to resolve the problem and then see how their choice would play out. When students make correct choices, they are rewarded with trophies for the school trophy case and they earn a missing alphabet letter. This game was created by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. (Grades K-2, conflict resolution)
Quest Atlantis is an online virtual environment that lets students explore virtual villages and worlds to complete quests. These quests include socially and academically meaningful activities, such as conducting environmental studies, researching other cultures, calculating frequency distributions, analyzing newspaper articles, interviewing community members, and developing action plans. (Grades 4-8, global literacy, health literacy, science)
Betwixt Folly and Fate is an immersive 3-D role-playing game that places students in 1774 Williamsburg as one of four characters. In each role, players face the challenges of daily life in early America while learning about the social classes and customs of the time. They explore eighteenth-century Williamsburg, Virginia, which is populated with dozens of characters, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Patrick Henry. Players also may bargain for goods with shopkeepers and try their hand at several colonial games. This game is not free; it may be purchased for $111.95 from Colonial Williamsburg as part of the “Day in the Life” video series. (Grades 4-8, social studies)
Try to save Great Britain from the effects of Climate Change in this game from the British Government's climate change program. Logicity challenges students to explore this virtual city in 2066 when the effects of climate change have been felt. Players then go back in time and choose actions that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve Logicity's future. (Grades 6-12, science, global awareness)
Nanoquest is designed to get students interested in nanotechnology and in science generally. Players are shrunk to nano size and have to face several challenges in order to escape. The teacher area of the game provides video clips that explain each level of the game and list curricular connections. The game from Ireland’s Discover Science and Engineering can be played online or downloaded. (Grades 7-10, science)
Electrocity was designed to teach students about energy, sustainability and environmental management. Players manage a virtual town in New Zealand and control its development through 150 turns, dealing with such issues as energy, the environment, tourism and growth. (Grades 9-12, science, social studies)
At Calculation Nation, players can compete in games that involve math conccepts such as area and perimeter, factors, fractions, multiplication, and angles and symmetry. Play against yourself or against anyone who is online from anywhere in the world. This site was designed fo upper elementary and middle school students by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics' (NCTM) Illuminations project.
eLECTIONS is an online game in which students role-play as candidates running for President. Players manage their campaign during the primaries and the general campaign, raising money and choosing campaign events that fit their message. Based on “The Game of Life,” eLECTIONS was created by Cable in the Classroom with CNN Student News, C-SPAN and History. (Grades 8-12, social studies, civic literacy)
For a fun way to learn about George Washington, try Washington's World for Kids from the Mount Vernon Ladies Association. Three online games allow students to explore a 3D Mount Vernon and meet people who lived and worked on the estate, play typical songs of the day on the harpsichord, and serve as Washington's gun captain at the siege of Yorktown.
Cyberchase from PBS provides online puzzles and challenges based on the NCTM math standards. In “Quest,” players can choose from different adventures and customize their own characters, in an ongoing quest to stop a villain named Hacker. Numerous other games cover math concepts such as measurement, angles, positive and negative numbers, probability, and more. (Grades 3-6, math)
Games from Dragonfly TV let kids create funky machines, launch rockets, conduct breeding experiments and more. (Grades 4-6, science)
Games from Design Squad include Fidgit, in which players manipulate blocks, springs, funnels, and other objects as they solve physics puzzles and create their own puzzles.
Games from National Geographic include Tomb of the Unknown Mummy, in which students analyze artifacts and decipher hieroglyphics to determine who was buried in a tomb, and On the Trail of
Villainy Inc., from Maryland Public Television, asks students to solve mathematical problems involving statistics and probability, algebra, geometry, decimals, percents, negative numbers, and more in the context of an animated story about a mad scientist who is trying to take over the world. (Grades 4-7, math)
Minyanland is designed to teach students about earning, saving, investing, spending and giving in a virtual community. Students start with $50,000 and a condo, and are able to earn money, invest in companies or spend money as they explore the different places in Minyanland. This game was created by Minyanville Publishing and the National Council on Economic Education. (Grades 1-5, financial literacy)
Room of Wonders (Chambres de Merveilles) encourages students to learn about world geography and appreciate diverse cultures through games that explore art through shapes, designs and sounds. The game reconstructs a curiosity cabinet begun during the 18th century with objects from different parts of the world. Students learn about the objects and also search using old maps for additional objects. Room of Wonders is available in both French and English. (Grades 4-8, art, social studies, world languages, cultural literacy)
Try these Map Games from National Geographic and the Indianapolis Children's Museum's Maps: Tools for Adventure site to practice map skills such as map reading, symbols and keys, or using GIS layers to visualize information. (Grades 1-5, social studies, global awareness)
Polar Bear Tracker from the Canon Kids’ Site aims to educate students about the environmental impact of climate change. Users meet two baby polar bears and play games with math and science content. The site is available in 10 languages and includes downloadable Teachers’ Packs and resources for parents. (Grades 2-5, science, math)
A. Pintura: Art Detective is an online game about art history and art composition. Players take the role of a detective with a degree in art history trying to identify a painting. They examine paintings by famous artists from Gauguin to Van Gogh, and use art concepts such as composition, style and subject. (Grades 5-8, art)
Survive Dickens’ London from the BBC lets students learn a little bit about Dickens and his times through an animated interactive tour. Players dodge through Victorian London, avoiding the gangs and villains and trials and tribulations of Dickensian London in order to seek out Charles Dickens in his chalet hideaway in Rochester. (Grades 9-12, language arts)
Preschoolers can play reading games on PBS Kids Island. Games are hosted by PBS characters like Grover or the Leona the Lion, and game levels range from rhyming and letter games to reading complete sentences. Parents or teachers register and create accounts for children; children then play games, earn tickets, and "buy" prizes like printable coloring sheets or online toys. (Grades Pre-K)
Panwapa Island from PBS is not a game, but a virtual world designed to inspire and children to be responsible global citizens. (Grades: K-2, global literacy)
Last updated 03/30/2011