My son has been asking for a Nintendo Switch for years. We hesitated. We already own an XBox. Why would any family need more than one gaming system? Well this year the stars aligned and the ONLY thing my son put on his Christmas wish list was a Nintendo Switch. So we made our boy insanely happy. Now it’s time to find him some games. And as his mom and teacher, my main goal is to find games that are fun but also educational. I love the idea of gamified learning, especially for this child and the way he learns. So here is the results of my research into Educational Nintendo Switch games!
Educational Kids Games For Nintendo Switch
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Before we dive in, I want to make it clear that we don’t own all of these… yet! We literally just bought the Nintendo Switch with all the controllers and it came with Mario Kart. However, I know my elementary aged son is going to want more games and I want to be ready when he asks by doing my research.
The big thing I am loving so far about the Nintendo Switch is how it can be easily hooked up to the TV or used as a portable game. Perfect for learning and playing on the go!
For our purposes I am mainly looking for educational games for the Switch that will appeal to 8 to 12 year olds.
What is Gamified Learning?
So the big question is, what is gamified learning? It is the use of video games and gaming concepts in a learning environment.
Kids love video games. It is rare to find anyone under 40 years old that hasn’t played video games, and the younger generation seem to love video games as much and sometimes more than television.
Is all this screen time good for our brains? Well that’s a complicated question, but with the right games, rules and environment, there is a lot of valuable learning that can happen with gamified learning. The good news is that gamified learning doesn’t have to involve screens. There are lots of screen-free options too. For us though, we are embracing our son’s love the Nintendo Switch and bringing a little learning to his game playing fun.
The biggest benefit of gamified learning is that it is a form of education that kids want to do, they enjoy it, and for some out of the box learners, it presents in the information in a way that is much more effective than traditional educational methods.
And sneaking in a little learning into our everyday fun is always a big win!
Digital vs Physical Nintendo Switch Games
One of the things I have recently learned about the Switch is that Nintendo has a lot of the games available for digital purchase only. So you will need to visit the Nintendo website to purchase some of the games and then save them directly to your console. This is a relatively simple process like any other gaming system. However, we have noted that their Canadian site is missing a search engine for their store making it a bit of a nightmare to navigate.
Educational Nintendo Switch Games For Kids
Nintendo Labo Kits
This right here is one of the most innovative and exciting things I have seen for any gaming system. It makes this STEM lover super excited and is secretly one of the reasons I wasn’t completely opposed to the idea of adding another gaming system to our household. Labo kits bring play and engineering into a fantastic hands on STEM experience. There are a variety of build kits that integrate the console of the Switch to bring your creations to life. This is the absolute top of my list when it comes to educational Switch games we are going to check out.
This is a fun puzzle solving game that my son played extensively on his Nintendo DS. This mega pack includes some new features and play that I am sure will once again keep him busy for hours.
A funny and smart action puzzle solving game for kids that they can play alone or with up to 4 players. From what I hear the fun with this one increases significantly if you play it together. Good thing we have 4 controllers.
We played Pokemon Go for a while on my phone and it was a fun and interesting past time to do as a family. I am not 100% sold on the Switch version yet, but I’ve been told it is different from Go and involves skills in strategy, reading, and math.
This is such a cool science adventure game! Players learn about human biology as they fight to save their friend from an infection. Kids will learn about the Musculoskeletal, Circulatory, Digestive, Respiratory and Nervous systems. I can see this quickly becoming a favourite game. You can find this game on the Nintendo site.
Game Builder Garage
Introduce your kids to building their own game with Game Builder Garage. This is fantastic for middle school aged kids who want to learn about Game Design and Programming.
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
My kid was obsessed with the Mario Wii games and this one embraces all the puzzle solving fun of those old Wii games. I love that it encourages critical thinking, logic and thinking outside of the box. All great skills for kids to develop. All in a fun environment suitable for all ages.
This game was developed with the help of neuroscientists to help develop math skills. It is a newer game, but looks fascinating and soon after release won a number of awards. This is a digital game straight from Nintendo, which also means it is very budget friendly. Definitely one to check out. You can find it directly from Nintendo Switch here.
This strategy game involves developing skills in mapping, critical thinking and problem solving. The cool part of this game is that it also requires that players understand economics, government relations and apply different forms of government to find the most effective means of building their empire. There is even a bit of history thrown in. This game may not be appropriate for the younger end of the scale but your tweens and teens will really enjoy this game.
Letter Quest Remastered for Switch
This spelling game looks like a lot of fun. There is something about it that reminds me of games I used to play on my old Commodore 64. I loved the idea of using words to win battles! The idea is that the Grim Reaper needs your help to defeat monsters, ghosts and even evil bunnies, all by spelling words. This will be a great way to gamify some word practice for my reluctant reader and writer. You can find it directly from Nintendo Switch here.
Dragon Quest Builders
Well anything with “dragon” in the name is going to get my attention! This game looks like a lot of fun. It has a few modes of play. You can do free play and build amazing creations (great for incorporating with a lesson, like building a butterfly statue to go with a butterfly unit study), or you can go into the full strategy adventure game where you need to gather, craft, and build your world and defend it from monsters. If your child loves Minecraft this game is sure to be a hit.
This is a math game, which is pretty obvious from the title. It is available in 4 different versions – addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. By answering the math questions correctly, kids can navigate through the game defeating ghosts and unlocking passages. It’s a fun way to practice math skills in a game environment. You can find all four versions on the Nintendo site here.
The Nintendo Switch offers some exciting possibilities in the gamified learning realm. Labo, in particular, is a brilliant way of incorporating STEM and STEAM into your lessons. I am also excited about some of the games that help develop language and math skills. I will update this post as we start to use some of the games and let you know our personal experiences. We already bought Letter Quest!