Philosophy Games for Children

Children can benefit from learning philosophy from a young age. It is not necessary to drill them on Descartes and Kierkegaard; children can learn logic, evaluate ethical dilemmas, learn empathy, and consider the way they experience the world around them by playing philosophical games that are fun and simple. Keeping the age of the children in mind and choosing appropriate materials accordingly is vital; older children may be bored by content that isn’t challenging enough, and younger children may be overwhelmed by mature topics and complexities of ideas. Trust children to think on their own and learn at their own speed, and don’t demand immediate comprehension.

Introducing children to ethics

Ethics doesn’t have to be a heavy subject, so don’t be afraid to explore its elements with young children. Young children can be led in games of light-hearted, low-stakes choice. You can offer a child one marshmallow now, or offer to give one marshmallow for herself and one for a friend if she waits 5 minutes. Ask the children about their choices and talk about why they chose and how they feel about fairness and empathy. Older children and teenagers may grapple with thought-provoking problems with real world context, such as historical or current event debates. It is important to keep in mind the age and maturity of children while determining the appropriate level of ethical dilemmas to pose. Remaining objective, helping to keep tempers even, answering and asking questions to engage children, and encouraging discussion among children are essential to helping them get the most out of these thought exercises.

Building blocks of logic

Logic exercises can teach children a valuable life skill. For younger children, you can ask them to sort items into categories and ask whether it follows that certain groups collected into categories belong together; for example, fish are animals, and monkeys are animals, but are fish also monkeys? This follows the classic inference formula “If P, then Q” and helps children to think critically about inferences they make. Logic game stories that build on inference, consisting of sentences with partial information about characters and questions about what can thus be logically inferred about each character, can be played by older elementary-age children.

Looking around at our world

Observing the world around them and asking them to discuss their observations can help children both empathize and become aware of empirical experience. You may ask what color the sky is, whether everyone sees the same blue, and whether we know that everyone’s idea of blue is the same. You may ask whether they think animals see the same colors or hear the same sounds that humans do. Art projects in this area may offer further engagement, imagination, and critical thinking.

Children can volunteer to surrender one of their senses and try to describe a new object without that sense. It may also be fun to play a version of Plato’s cave allegory: ask children to describe an object based on a silhouette; explore why they made assumptions; and ask whether they could tell what the object was right away and how they could tell. Short discussions, fun topics, engagement from every child, and mindfulness of age-appropriate material will help to make your philosophy games for children successful. Children may take time to learn fundamentals of philosophy, but acquiring those tools through games and discussion can be both helpful and fun.

The author received her B.A. In a major of philosophy.. She is a blogger and freelance writer. Sometimes she write a guest post for

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