Games for Kids: Educational Fun from the 80s and 90s

We all have our favorite games from childhood. And if you still have them, I’m sure it’s fun to share them with your kids. Here are some great throwback games for kids that my generation played in the 80s and 90s that I plan to share with my kids someday. Some are educational and some are just fun.

Educational Games for Kids

Oregon Trail

Though it was released in 1971, this computer game stood the test of time and became a favorite for many generations. It teaches kids about the 19th century pioneer life of the Oregon Trail. It also teaches math and problem solving. Players have to make decisions about buying and managing supplies such as food, ammunition, and medicine. And inevitably you will hit a river—do you go through or find a way around? Decisions, decisions. You can now play the game online or on the Nintendo Wii.

Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

On its face this game doesn’t seem to be educational. Released in 1983, the object of the game is to track Carmen’s henchmen around the world and arrest them—ultimately trying to catch Carmen herself. Players return to the scene of the crime and use hints to follow the villains’ trail and find them before time runs out. But while doing this, players learn geography as these bad guys (or girls) commit their crimes around the globe. The hints also include cultural clues—facts and history of the country, such as the population or historical landmarks. Kids can find themselves enthralled in the game and perhaps not even knowing that they were learning. There are online stores where you can buy the game as well as sites that have re-created the game in their own way.


Although it was created back in the 1930s as a pad and pencil game, it had a resurgence while I was growing up. This is another game in which the learning factor is well disguised. This game will teach kids strategy, sharpen their logic and reasoning skills, and teach them about grids and coordinates. Players also use memory to keep track of where they have already guessed on their grid.


This is a great game to teach kids about money. First, players must manage cash wisely. While sitting on a big stack of bills seems attractive, players learn that if money isn’t invested in houses and hotels, they can’t win the game. Sufficient funds for the unforeseen as well as investing in more real estate are also necessary as well as smart buying decisions.

Fun But Not-So-Educational Games for Kids

Who can resist any of these? Trouble, Operation, Connect Four, Mouse Trap, Hungry Hungry Hippos, Life, Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, Guess Who, and Crossfire.

Lessons Learned from All Games for Kids

Even though many games for kids aren’t designed to be educational, they can actually teach valuable skills. Kids can learn to communicate, focus, take turns, and share. Games can also teach persistence and not giving up even when struggling with a game. Check out these suggestions for educational board games for kids in different age groups as well as great educational gifts for toddlers.

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