There are many educational games for the Nintendo DS. From subject-specific games to all-in-one generalized teachers, from IQ-testing to barely-educational, Nintendo’s catalog of educational DS games is a sprawling list. How does a parent make heads or tails of such a wide variety? How can a parent choose a learning game to fit a child’s needs?
Well, we’re here to help.
First thing’s first with educational DS games:
Who’s it for?
Some educational DS games are made for the younger crowd, 2nd grade and under. Some are aimed at the middle-school set. Yet more, usually created for the high schoolers or even university-level crowd, can hardly be called games in the traditional sense.
Decide which of your talented, happy children will be the beneficiary of your educational DS game purchase. If he’s a young buck, you’ll need to move towards the more colorful, easy learning games. These games often have famous characters like Spongebob or Mickey Mouse plastered all over the boxes – a sure-fire way to help the younger crowd engage with the educational game.
The middle crowd is often the most difficult for which to buy a learning game. They’re smart – there’s no tricking them with cartoon characters. Assuredly, they’ve played video games before, so the bare fact of being handed a Nintendo DS won’t be enough for them to be satisfied with playing some dorky educational DS game. Unless you’re blessed with a child who “takes” to learning like every parent dreams, the trick with the upper-grade school level and middle-school kids is to find a game that’s entertaining enough for the child to look past the fact that he’s learning.
Finally, with the older crowd – there’s no trick. They’ll likely get their own educational DS games, or know to ask you for a specific game, making the whole search much easier for you. With them, it’s often unnecessary to mask the learning in the form of “edutainment,” so “game”-makers focus on packing in as much learning material as possible. There are, of course, exceptions.
Educational DS games Part Deux – what do you want to teach?
There are ESL-teachers, basic arithmetic learners, vocab-busters, and IQ-testers, amongst many, many others.
What are you trying to do? Reinforce a skill? Teach the basics of a subject in which they’re falling behind? Instill a life-long love of learning and educational gaming?
Much of what you end up buying will be dependent on what your intent is. Some games are fairly limited in scope – they promise to teach the rudiments of spelling, perhaps. Some will “stick to what they know,” and do it well; for instance, there are a number of game makers who sell an entire line of educational DS games that teach one subject, and one subject only. Some games go even further, teaching a specific subject to a specific grade or age-level. And finally, there are the more generalized games, which usually offer a greater and wider variety of games, and are geared to last longer than a typical DS game’s entertainment life.