Game On, Part IV: Educational Games of My Youth
Although newer video games boast high definition graphics, trailers, and celebrity voices, I will always hold a special place in my heart for the original educational computer games of my youth. I learned all about “spelunking” and geography from Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego and I learned about prime numbers and fractions from playing Number Munchers.
I loved Carmen Sandiego in all of its iterations – even now the name’s title plays in my head as the theme song from the PBS game show – “hit it Rockapella!”
Find out more about Carmen Sandiego here.
One of the earliest games I remember playing was the Oregon Trail. We played this at my elementary school first without a computer and then later on the computer. This game was one of the original role playing games where teams of settlers headed out west together and were given several scenarios leading to different repercussions throughout the journey. Kind of like a choose your own adventure story that we acted out during social studies class. We learned how to barter at the general stores, how to manage resources, how to fix a wagon wheel, and how to work as a team. It really brought to life how hard it must have been to make the long journey to settle the western frontier.
If I were teaching elementary school kids in the US, I would totally play this game with them. Even though somehow in the end someone always died of dysentery.
Learn more about playing Oregon Trail here.
Mixed-Up Mother Goose
I attended an after-school program during Elementary School where we were lucky enough to have a couple of computers to play on. One of the first games I learned was Mixed-Up Mother Goose. The idea was to collect clues from the various storybook characters to find missing items and return them to their rightful owners. It really helped with reading comprehension and taught me how to maneuver with the mouse.
There is a newer version that you can download here.