Many parents are against letting young kids play video games and there are valid reasons for keeping kids from playing video games. One of the biggest reasons, in my opinion, is that they will become addicted and not play more active kids games that serve as great exercise. Now this guide is not meant to encourage parents that are against allowing their kids to play video games, as I totally support their decision. This guide is meant to help parents that do want to allow their young kids play video games (in moderation, I hope) and use them as a learning experience. These are just a few games I have found that are great for young kids that teach them certain concepts or just give a fun age-appropriate way of improving their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. This guide focuses only on the following game systems: Xbox, Playstation 2, Gamecube, and Game Boy (Color, Advance, and DS); and does not cover computer games of which many educational ones are available for young kids.
Xbox, Playstation 2, and Gamecube Games
These are games systems that play games on the television making it easier to monitor your kids and participate with them, especially in games with multiplayer modes.
Game Boy Games
These games are great ways to give kids a way of entertaining themselves, especially when traveling. They can also offer some great educational playing experiences. Although the new DS has some good games, I find that many young kids cannot handle the two screen playing modes of most of the games. The DS can also be hard for small hands.
Recommend Games in Alphabetical Order
Chicken Little (Xbox, Playstation 2, Gamecube): This game is very closely based on the movie. You play through the levels and as you progress you get to see different cut scenes. This is a great game for kids who enjoyed seeing the movie and those who have not will not feel lost because of the many cut scenes throughout. Some of the levels can be hard for young kids, but with practice they should do okay.
Disney’s Party (Gamecube): This is a great multiplayer game that includes several different mini games to master. I find this game to be a great way to bond with kids. As a nanny the kids and I will often talk about recent trips to Disneyland or our favorite Disney movies and shows when different things from the game bring back memories. I find this brings an extra interactive dimension to playing the game that brings you and the kid together and gives focused bonding time that can sometimes be hard to get. There is also a version for Game Boy Advance, which is a great game for young kids to use their fine motor skills and is better for if you are trying to get your kids to learn to entertain themselves, especially when traveling.
Dora the Explorer: Journey to the Purple Planet (Gamecube, Playstation 2): This game is great for young kids, especially if they enjoy the show. The story line goes much like the show where you help Dora go through the level, as the map tells you. This is game is easy to playing, which makes it great for young kids, however the ease of play may bore even young kids after only playing it a little and easily beating the whole game. There are also some Dora games for Game Boy Advance (Dora the Explorer: The Search for Pirate Pig’s Treasure X, Dora’s World Adventure!, Dora the Explorer: Super Spies, and Dora the Explorer: Super Star Adventures) that are great for young kids to play and entertain themselves when traveling that offer the same or similar learning benefits in a different game environment and story line. All the Dora games have educational aspects including basic Spanish and counting.
Harvest Moon Games: These games are great role-playing games that are appropriate for young kids and are also interesting enough that older kids can enjoy them as well. In the games you are a farmer and work to turn a profit on the farm. You can grow crops, raise livestock, and fish. Here is a list of Harvest Moon games available for the different systems discussed in this guide: Harvest Moon (Game Boy Color), Harvest Moon 2 (Game Boy Color), Harvest Moon 3 (Game Boy Color), Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town (Game Boy Advance), Harvest Moon: More Friends of Mineral Town (Game Boy Advance), Harvest Moon DS (Game Boy DS), Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life (Gamecube, Playstation 2), Harvest Moon: Another Wonderful Life (Gamecube), Harvest Moon: Magical Melofy (Gamecube), Harvest Moon: Save the Homeland (Playstation 2)
Ice Age 2: The Meltdown (Xbox, Playstation 2, Gamecube): This game is great for kids that enjoyed the first and/or second Ice Age movie(s). In the game you play as Scrat, the squirrel. Throughout the levels you collect acorns and different objects to continue. In the game you also encounter many of the characters from the movie, as you go through levels that relate to scenes from the movie. The Xbox, Playstation 2, and Gamecube versions are relatively easy for young kids to get a hang of.
There are many other games out there appropriate for young kids (many inappropriate ones exist, too). This is just a short list of the ones I think are best and are most enjoyed by the kids I take care of. My main advice on picking games even the ones listed here is to check them out before letting you kid play. This allows you to decide if you think it is appropriate for them and helps you know how the game works so you can help your kids if and when they need help figuring parts out. A good way of finding other games not listed here is to look for games based on your kids favorite television shows or movies.