Educational games aren’t just to teach a particular subject, they should also aid in teaching children of various age groups about the world around them. An educational game that can teach both a particular subject and essential life skills is an important tool for teachers and educators.
Games that are designed specifically for particular age groups maximizes the fun and the learning, not to mention keeps them engaged because it’s a game that is relevant to their interests. By teaching life skills in this way, you’re able to reinforce basic soft skills while teaching them a new academic subject and providing them with practical skills they’ll use later in adulthood.
Regardless of age, it’s important for educators to impart life skills on their students to help them prepare for the rigors of the “real world”. By teaching these practical life skills and adult mindsets, you can help them grow up to become well-adjusted and well-rounded members of society.
From learning how to prepare meals on their own and using both hands to type (rather than hen-pecking at the keyboard), to basic empathy and compassion, these life skills ensure that the students you teach can contribute to the world positively.
Educational Games for Children
Young children, specifically those aged 8 to 11, are at an important stage in their life: they’re still trying to figure out the world around them, but they’re already forming the basis of their critical thinking and are starting to ask complex questions. This is the perfect time to teach them some mindsets that will guide them throughout their adolescence.
Children at this age are understandably eager to eat sweets and other foods of questionable nutritional value: it’s easy to access, and it tastes good for their developing palettes. However, it’s important to teach them the basics of healthy eating early. To do this, play a game where you task your students to create a full healthy plate of food by sending them on “health quests”. These quests are designed to help them find healthy alternatives to their favorite snacks, i.e. trade cheetos for wheat crackers, or a candy bar for a healthy serving of fruit. Have them do research on basic nutrition facts like sugar and fat so that they can see the differences themselves.
Empathy Role Play
Empathy is one of the hardest things to teach. Luckily, most children are naturally empathetic and show a genuine care for the well being of others. Reinforce this by creating a role playing game where your students must react to a particular situation. For example, give one student the role of someone whose dog just died, while the others are given the role of mourners. Ask them to prepare a few statements of genuine condolence while the grieving student must give their thanks for the well wishes. You can use various scenarios which require empathizing with one another. This helps students make sense of a particular emotion while encouraging them to feel what others are feeling too.
Educational Games for Early Teenagers
From a physical, emotional, and mental standpoint, the 12 to 15 age group is where children feel the most change: their hormones are starting to kick in, making them feel their emotions at full force, and they’ll need all the help they can get to make sense of it all. These games are designed to help them process their emotions and provide them with a mental roadmap to navigate their way through the rigors of high school.
The Anger List
Anger is a perfectly human emotion, but at this age, it can either be expressed in extreme ways, or not at all. Reinforcing the idea that anger is a natural response to certain situations is the first step of making them understand this particular emotion. Once they learn this fact, it’s time to teach them how to resolve and express their anger in healthy ways.
Ask your students to create an Anger List. This list should contain at least 10 things, objects, words, or scenarios that illicit an angry response from your students. These are called “triggers” and by identifying them, you help the kids take charge of these irritants. Next, ask them to write down two columns next to the list and label it as REACTION and SOLUTION. Under the REACTION column, ask them to describe how they react to their triggers. Then, brainstorm with the class about possible solutions to these reactions. Remember, always make your students feel that they aren’t being judged and that you are only there to help them make sense of their anger and help them with crafting practical solutions to it.
Charade To Know You
Another exercise in empathy, task your students to learn 5 things about their peers. But the twist is: their peers are not allowed to speak. This means that students are forced to restructure their questions to get clearer responses while learning how to read subtle body language. Meanwhile, the students being asked must be creative with how they act-out what they want to portray, exercising their creativity and critical thinking.
Educational Games for Older Teenagers
At this point, teenagers aged 16-18 are now almost fully-formed adults; although their hormones flare up from time to time, they’re now mostly (and ideally) equipped to deal with even life’s harshest conditions. This is the time to play games that teach them more practical skills to help them thrive in the workplace, and ultimately, find success in their chosen field.
Mock Job Interview
Children at this age are starting to prepare a life of employment, so it’s the best time to create games that will help them get their foot through the door. Hold mock job interviews and let them practice their spiels and responses to tough questions. Ask your students to create mock CV’s and resumes, and enlist the help of your fellow teachers to create a mock job interview panel.
Each panel member can be given a secret attitude or character just to keep your students on their toes and always thinking of creative ways to respond to different scenarios.
People are faced with moral dilemmas every day, whether it’s deciding on a purchase that you really want to make at the risk of harming the planet, or caving in to peer pressure to fit in despite your personal desire not to. Group your students into groups and provide them with difficult moral questions like, is the death penalty necessary, or, should immigration laws be stricter. Each dilemma is meant to practice their empathy, decision-making skills, and critical thinking.
Skills for Life
These games are all meant to teach your students valuable lessons about navigating life and, ideally, how to manage themselves, their emotions, and how they can react to situations in a positive, healthy, and productive manner. While it is a lesson-teaching activity, try to make it as fun as possible.