If you have little ones, how to help them learn a new language? The answer might just be through some fun games.
When you’re learning a language, you’re going to find a lot of words you don’t know. If your kid is learning about space, they might hear words like “gravity assist” or “meteoroid” and not know what they mean. How to find out?
One way is to look everything up in the “Simple English” Wikipedia. However, not all kids like to read long lines of text – and, to be honest, the “simple English” wiki isn’t all that well-formatted.
A better idea? Play some computer games that will be educational and fun!
Maybe we can’t easily go to outer space in 2022, but in your kids’ lifetimes… Who knows?
Here are some space games you can share with your kids to help them learn space vocabulary and facts about the solar system, galaxy, and universe(s?) beyond Earth.
Little kids may not have the best vocabularies, but they’re filled with such joy – and it’s a joy that games can harness and convert into educational energy. Here’s one that could work for the little ones:
It’s a very simple game (drag and drop), and it talks in English after each level.
These days, older kids spend a lot of time playing video games—maybe too much time. And maybe a first-grader could do better at some of these games than his parents…Give them time to explore the third planet in our solar system (Earth!) before they start to worry about the others.
This might be your kids’ favorite because it’s more like a traditional video game, like Slither.io.
(A good way to use this educationally might be to let your kids play it only if they’re willing to tell you, afterward, what they think about space junk.
This one is also like a traditional video game in many ways, but gives you some facts on the planets when you beat a level.
From: ESL Games +
This is a fantastic resource. It’s played like the game “hangman,” but a clue is given, such as “Triton is a moon of the planet _____.” You have to guess the blank. (Do you know the answer? Look it up!)
You can write it in and guess or use the “hangman” feature and guess it letter by letter. I recommend using the letter-by-letter feature, because if you type and guess, it won’t give you any points for misspelled words.
If your kid types “NEPTOON,” they’ll just get a head or leg added to their hanging man, but if they guess N, E, P, T, and O, they’ll get only one head drawn in the hangman (for the wrong guess of O) and NEPT_NE, and will probably be able to figure it out.
From: Woodward English
This isn’t as flashy or easy to use as “ESL” above, but it’s got better facts. Even if its readability is not excellent, it’s multiple-choice, so you don’t have to spell.
There’s no fanfare if you get the correct answer; a green box that says “Good!” just pops up under the “Next question” button. If you get it wrong, the box says “Incorrect!”…, but it’s still green.
It tracks your points (which can go negative): +1 for a correct answer, -1 for an incorrect guess. If you get it wrong, you can guess again, but a subsequent wrong guess will deduct another point. (Whereas a correct guess after a wrong guess will give you +1 point to neutralize the -1.)
But here’s the thing about older kids: they can read. They aren’t limited to the visuals of a computer game. Here are some great word-based space resources for kids to find and follow an interest in our last frontier.
From: NASA Space Place
The United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration has a glossary of “space terms” that can pique a kid’s interest… or help them to understand a term that they don’t understand. The descriptions aren’t short, but they’re good – and sure to inspire curiosity.
In case your kids’ curiosity isn’t satisfied yet.
From: All Things Topics
This site has a great assortment of printable space games and challenges. While mostly aimed at kids who have a higher level of English, these are a great addition to digital resources. Get your kids off of the iPad – and playing with actual paper.
Or crash into the sea – which is how our rockets currently get back from space.
Space is exciting. It’s fun. It’s a hot topic – and it will continue to be for a long time.
But if you’re just learning English, the mountain of unfamiliar vocabulary can be intimidating. That’s where games and resources like these come into play – and lend a helping hand.
Here’s a suggestion: start by reading about concepts in your own language so that you understand them, and then try the “simple English” Wikipedia. Try watching a movie like the Martian several times over: first with subtitles in your language so you understand the whole thing, then with subtitles in English, and then without subtitles at all. (Just, please, never watch it dubbed.)
Tell your kids to have patience and be lenient with themselves as they learn. Because they’ll pick it up. They’ll be talking about orbits and gravity soon. And eventually, they may start writing their own sci-fi stories – in English!