Free Offline Educational Games

Playing educational games can strengthen reading and math skills and family bonds.

Parents are responsible for their children’s education both at home and at school. Offline educational games offer a way for families to combine play with learning. Teachers and books help, of course, but playing games provides quality time with loved ones. Time and imagination are the only limitations to offline games. Most of us enjoy learning when it’s combined with fun, and offline educational games provide opportunities for both.

1 Preschool: 18 months to 5 years

Preschoolers thrive playing sorting, matching and movement games.

Find shapes (triangles, rectangles, hexagons) during an evening walk, match pictures cut from magazines by color, shape or object, or play a kitchen symphony by banging on pots and pans. Turn on a classical symphony and have your toddler conduct the music with a stick as a baton. Preschoolers love to learn through movement and music.

2 Elementary: 6 to 10 years

Combine learning the eight parts of speech with the alphabet by naming adjectives starting with A, then B and so forth. Use the other seven parts of speech to keep the game going. Unplug from technology and let your daughter’s friends write a play, design the sets, find costumes and perform the drama for family and friends. In “Thinking Games for Kids,” authors Tuttle and Paquette recommend Sentence Silliness for elementary kids. The game teaches alliteration and sentence sense, both of which sharpen writing skills. To reinforce literacy and math skills, consider playing Marbles and Tiddlywinks.

3 Middle School: 11 to 14 years

Dominoes is an offline educational game that reinforces number sense and strengthens math skills.

Use vocabulary lists in a family spelling bee, or name historic facts from specific decades in an at-home history contest. Offline games can reinforce a middle school player’s knowledge base. Improvisation games, such as Doors and Hitch Hiker, hone imagination and creative thinking. In the game, Geography, players locate state or world capitals, mountain ranges on continents or the locations of oceans and seas. Other offline options are Hangman or 20 Questions.

4 High School: 15 to 18 years

Games related to the stock market build math skills and financial awareness in older students.

Help high school students prepare for college entrance examinations through offline games. Chess is good for strategic thinking. Logic games using puzzles, riddles or analogies expand critical thinking. Dictionary-based games build vocabulary and number games to strengthen arithmetic skills. A game called Stock Market encourages older kids to work on multiplication, subtraction and addition, according to Tuttle and Paquette. It also encourages literacy skills since players need to become familiar with financial pages of newspapers to play the game.

Based in Florida, Nancy Lee Bethea has ghostwritten nonfiction since 1997. She now contributes stories and columns for the "Nassau Sun" and Jax4Kids. Bethea has also taught English and creative writing in public schools for more than a decade. She holds a Master of Arts in teaching English from Jacksonville University.