By Tanner Higgin, Graphite

For educators who are interested in using games for learning — specifically towards developing skills as they relate to the Common Core State Standards — here are five games students can enjoy that we’ve found sync with standards.

1.  DragonBox Algebra 5+

DragonBox features an exceptionally clever design that’s so fun, and so elegantly accomplished that kids don’t realize they’re learning core concepts of algebra. The start is simple enough: students move colorful cards around a screen to solve puzzles; there are no numbers in sight. But by the time they’re done with the game’s 200 levels, they will be solving algebra equations that are comparable to what they might get in class worksheets. It’s particularly refreshing because, as one of the teachers on Graphite explains, “it’s one of the only games…that isn’t simply drilling math problems.”


2.  The Sports Network 2

It’s not easy to make a game about reading critically — one of the key CCSS skills — but The Sports Network 2 pulls it off. Students are thrown into the role of a cable sports show producer, and must make sure the show’s content is written well and on point. One of the side benefits of the game is how relatively accurately it portrays an actual job, so it gives students an insider’s look into the world of broadcasting and communications, and shows how language and reading skills can come in handy.


3.  Prodigy

Another comprehensive game for elementary grades, Prodigy fuses math with tried-and-true role-playing mechanics. Kids use math to wield magic and combat monsters as they venture through a fantasy-based world and level up their characters. It’s not ground-breaking game design, but when kids just need to hammer out some practice, Prodigy gives them the opportunity to do so within a more entertaining context than the traditional worksheet. It’s also designed to adapt to students’ answers, providing remediation when necessary to make sure they progress.


4.  Word Raider

If you’ve got students struggling with vocabulary, Word Raider is a good option especially for English language learners. While the mechanics aren’t quite as clever as DragonBox, it has a solid formula that focuses on important academic terms and visual learning. It’ll give struggling students valuable practice, and the Indiana Jones-esque temple exploration provides some fun context. However, since it uses the microphone, it’s best in smaller class settings or for use at home where kids can focus and there’s not a lot of background noise.


5.  DreamBox

For younger students, DreamBox is a comprehensive, game-based math curriculum oozing with style and full of well-designed, self-paced games that adapt to students’ abilities. For classrooms that can have a wide range of differentiation, DreamBox allows kids to practice at their own level. One teacher review on Graphite also points out that DreamBox’s forward-thinking, research-backed design gets kids to “move from concrete to abstract thinking.”

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Tanner Higgin is Senior Manager, Education Content, at Common Sense Media, creator of Graphite ™, a free service for educators in search of the best apps, games, and websites rated for learning. This post is one in a series collaboration. Games included here have received high ratings on Graphite by educators and by the editorial staff at Common Sense Media. Go to Graphite to read full reviews of games and how teachers use them for learning in class.

  • Bklyn_123

    Another great app is which just launched. It aligns with Common Core standards and it teaches multiple definitions of words and words in context. It has an adaptive learning system so users learn at their own pace and get just the right level of word play. Fun and addicting! It is rated 9+ as is most appropriate for 4th grade to adult word learners.

  • Pingback: 5 Games and Apps That Build Math and English Skills | MindShift | Learning Curve()

  • Prasanna

    Nowadays, Maths and English skills are very crucial and I am sure these apps are really helpful to nourish skills with fun and play, informative write-up Jordan.


    Try Also to watch TV to see PBS for your kids as well. in the UK they are loving it also.

  • RhinoMob

    If you want to create High Quality, Visually Entertaining and Addictive Games for the iOS and Android Platforms. I can help anyone who wants to create an game apps. feel free to contact Rhino Mob for create mobile apps and games.

    • Stephani

      Create something you can input your child’s weekly spelling words!

      • T

        Yes! The spelling apps out there now are horrible and really miss the mark.

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  • Kopious Designs

    Math Boost helps to improve speed of answering simple addition problems.

  • Tina

    Give ” El Mathador:Grab Math by the Horns” a try. This math game is fun and is a great way to brush up on one’s multiplication and addition skills.


    You can try also to engage students with our games at We have already two games and our words database consists of over 2800 words in 90 categories. Enjoy!

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  • Lisa Conrad is also a great free resource for Number system, fractions and decimals. It is a RPG in 8 pixel zelda format.
    I personally love the dashboard where teachers can view manage class and monitor their progress

  • Kelly Faulkner

    anything geared towards secondary students? there’s so many wonderful things for younger children, but little for older ones who really need the help.

  • Hero Lancy

    Well, if your children has a hard time learning this skills. Feel free to visit our blog for
    interesting education tips and insights at

  • Hunter

    The Mathed app on Android has been a great math app for both my kids, a 4th grader and a 7th grader. It gets progressively harder through the levels and as you move through the various types of operations. I’ve tried several math apps for them but none of them were compelling enough for the kids to continue on their own. I play with my 4th grader and my 7th grader prefers to play alone. I totally recommend it!

  • john edelson

    The best vocabulary-building games are ones that use the words that link directly to the student’s studies. The one service (web, app) that allows teachers to enter their own word list to use in any of 35 different vocabulary learning games or activities is VocabularySpellingCity.

  • EA

    Unfortunately, Word Raider is no longer supported as of July 1, 2015. Are there any other great online
    English language/vocabulary/grammar games out there?

  • Jeffrey Holmes

    We have a free kids Math game called Box Drop Math Addition, a fun game for mastering math facts that is now free in all the app stores! We’d love to hear what you think of it:

    Check out our trailer on Youtube:

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