Fun Games for Teaching Life Skills

Youth can learn by playing games.

Practical Money Skills for Life explains that games are important educational tools that teach lessons in ways that fun and motivational. Young people learn by doing, and play is an important part of learning. Life skills games may be played as video or online games, card games or by using standard board games with an added life skills twist. The games combine fun activities, like sports or driving a virtual car, with chances to make the right decision and choices to advance in the game. The Internet has many free resources and ideas for purchasing or creating life skills games.

1 Design-it-Yourself Games

Youth learn by participating in real life simulations.

Design a classroom game in which students advance through stations around the classroom by making appropriate choices. Each station provides a ticket to show that the student has fulfilled some requirement–getting a job, opening a bank account or presenting honesty. Include stations in which students draw tickets which provide unexpected news or consequences that might them to move backward through the course. The game can focus on one life skill area or many.

2 Board and Card Games

Competitive board games can motivate students to learn.

Board and card games for home or classroom use are available from many sources. Distributors that specialize in educational board games for the classroom sell life skills packages that include several modules, games and other resources. There are classic board games that allow players to simulate employment and bill-paying, choose a career or make decisions about character issues like bullying and empathy. One popular card game asks character questions which players must answer.

3 Practical Money Skills for Life

Managing money is a life skill.

This online resource provides three online games for young people to have fun practicing decision-making while experiencing virtual financial situations: Financial Football Training Camp is a team competition game. Road Trip to Savings requires students to make smart money decisions or lose their wheels. And Ed’s Bank teaches about saving money. Financial Soccer is a free, downloadable video game which uses famous soccer athletes playing the game to teach financial life skills.

4 It’s My Life

Being in charge is a life skill.

Public Broadcasting System (PBS) has a selection of life skills games on its website, PBS Kids Go, It’s My Life offers online games that allow youth to experience certain real-life situations: Mad Money, Sidewalk to the Future, You’re in Charge, Be Your Own Boss and School Daze Crazy Maze. Players have fun as they learn by achieving higher levels based on their decisions. These activities are appropriate for middle, junior and high school students

5 Arthur, Life Skills

Safety is a life skill.

The PBS Kids Go website hosts pages for the cartoon character Arthur. The Life Skills section of the Arthur pages provides a long list of life skills activities. The links lead to comprehensive lesson plans for everything from character development and money management to social issues, safety and nutrition. These activities are appropriate for elementary school students.

6 Tip

If computer use is not an option in the classroom or at home, adapt the concept of an online game to a card or board game. Assist youth in designing the game and developing the rules as a way to reinforce lessons.

Gail Sessoms, a grant writer and nonprofit consultant, writes about nonprofit, small business and personal finance issues. She volunteers as a court-appointed child advocate, has a background in social services and writes about issues important to families. Sessoms holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in liberal studies.