10 Great iPod/iPad Learning Games For Christmas!

So, a colleague of mine asked for suggestions for great apps for her nephews’ upcoming Christmas gift – a new iPod Touch!  (Someone has been very good this year, huh?)  After some consideration of my own personal favorites,  here’s a list of  iPod Touch games that will not only get them playing, but may also get their brains engaged, too!  Note that the links I provide are for the iPod Touch version of the game, but many have an iPad counterpart.  Happy gaming and learning!

spore_originsSpore Origins – Based on the popular Spore series, developed by master game designer, Will Wright, Spore Origins is a creative, make your own creature and survive game.  Modifying and upgrading your creation is fun and surviving the harsh environment makes for challenging game play.

sims3SIMS 3 – Another entry from the mind of Will Wright, SIMS 3 allows you to create a virtual person and watch as they respond to the events of everyday life.  Will they get a job?  Get married?  What are their hopes and dreams?  This is a great fishbowl-style game that allows the player to create situations and see the outcomes.  Note:  This game is not recommended for players under 12.

touch_physicsTouch Physics – Touch Physics is a puzzle game that let’s you “draw” your way to victory, while having to deal with the effects of physics (gravity and inertia for example).  Both fun and challenging, this game forces you to account for these natural forces when working toward a solution.

whizzballWhizzBall! – Remember the classic board game, MouseTrap?  WhizzBall! from the Discovery Channel, brings back that classic Rube Goldberg feeling with this unique puzzle game.  What’s really exciting for learning, is that users can create and share their own Whizzball! puzzles.

wordswithfriendsWords With Friends – What’s better than playing a word game?  Playing a word game with other people!  Words with friends adds the social element into this Scrabble-based game beautifully.  Play with someone you know or start a game with a random opponent.  Strengthen your vocabulary and spelling skills in the process!

osmosOsmos – One of the most aesthetically pleasing games, I’ve ever experienced, Osmos puts you in the role of a single-celled organism (?), called a mote.  Typically, your job is to simply become the largest mote on the screen, but clever use of Newtonian physics by the games’ designers make that particularly challenging.  The ambient music in this game is incredible, by the way.

civrevCivilization Revolution – The Civilization series has long been a staple of computer-based strategy games.  Recently, Sid Meier’s masterpiece has been ported to the console and the iPod/iPad ecosystems.  This game not only encourages strategic thinking, but you’re likely to pick up a historical fact or two in the process.

wordfuWordFu – Here’s another exciting word game that encourages quick spelling and an expanded vocabulary.  In WordFu, you square off against the computer or another player (over WiFi) and spell as many words as possible from a random assortment of letters.  Be sure not to sling your iPod when “chopping” a word!

tapreefTapReef – Start with a new coral reef and a few fish and build a thriving underwater aquatic community.  As you grow your reef, you can add new types of fish.  Though free, this game does encourage a micro-transaction format encouraging you to purchase the game’s “currency” to build your reef faster.

fantastic_contraptionFantastic Contraption – “If you build it… will it run?”  That’s how the developers of this imaginative physics-based game describe it.  Based on the popular Flash-based game, you can spend hours devising new designs to overcome the game’s challenges.  Will your design work?  Press the START button and see!

Do you have a game that’s both fun and encourages learning?  If so, leave a comment!