Kids Games: What We WANT Them to Play vs. What They Actually Play

Kids Games: What We WANT Them to Play vs. What They Actually Play

Cerentha Harris
Nov 15, 2011

The week days are screen-free in this house. Screen-free for the kids that is, not for the parents. The kids then tend to gorge themselves on the weekend. (Which I don't feel so badly about since I read this piece over on Huffpost). While my husband and I grew up watching Saturday morning cartoons on TV, our two kids are glued to their iPads on Saturday morning either streaming Backyardigans on Netflix or playing games. Here are the 3 games I wish they'd play...and the three they actually play.

What I want them to play

And I realize as I write this that part of the problem here may be that what I want them to 'play' aren't actually games!

1. Mixel I love this cut and paste arty program from the ex-New York Times designer Khoi Vinh. It's not really a game, more a drawing/art app. The kids can cut and paste images to create their own cool collages. It's free. (Cookie Monster pic above by our 9 year old son. Still got a way to go figuring this new app out!)

2. BrainPop is an amazing resource. They offer up a beautifully animated news story connected to something that happened that day - could be Washington's birthday or the demise of NASA's space program. The kids do love it but it's too short to keep them occupied for a Saturday morning stretch. And again isn't a game.

3. Stack the States Far too educational for them to look at without me looming over their shoulder, but this is a cool Tetris-inspired game. The states appear at the top of the screen and you need to recognize their shapes or answer questions and then stack them on a float.

What they actually play...

1. Farm Story This isn't a dreadful game but it does turn out to be completely addictive. You plant crops, tend them and then sell them. With the money you accrue you can build up your farm. Hard to get them off it as you need to tend the plants or they die.

2. Dragon Vale An experiment in breeding - not that they have any idea what that means. This app involves developing a dragon park by matching dragons up and "evolving" them! Has replaced Farm Story in our house as the go-to Saturday morning game.

3. Plants Versus Zombies I blame a visit to the Apple store for this one. My son discovered it while playing on an instore iPad. You use plants to fight off zombies. They love the gross factor - the zombies are trying to break into your house to eat your brains. Lovely. Bring on Mixel - please!

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