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"Animal Crossing: New Horizons" Is One of the Greatest Educational Games Ever Created

Andrea loves video games. She is obsessed with the Nintendo Switch. She likes Animal Crossing New Horizons, Octopath, Stardew Valley, Zelda.

Animal Crossing New Horizons is an incredibly educational game. It teaches about animals, bugs, fish, meteor showers, fashion, interior design, food, money, fossils, friendships, art, emotions, holidays, and more.

Animal Crossing New Horizons is an incredibly educational game. It teaches about animals, bugs, fish, meteor showers, fashion, interior design, food, money, fossils, friendships, art, emotions, holidays, and more.

Game about Creating Your Own Island Has Immense Educational Value

Animal Crossing New Horizons is a blockbuster hit from Nintendo. The game came out during the pandemic. People of all ages found it cathartic to tend their island, grow flowers, make friends with anthropomorphic animals, catch bugs, reel in fish, watch meteor showers, and design amazing outfits. (The list of activities you can do in the game goes on forever.)

  • The game is available on the Nintendo Switch.
  • It's easy to get into the game.
  • It's not violent at all.
  • You can visit other people's islands online.

The game is open ended. People can play it in whatever way they like. What is so impressive about this game is the educational value it offers for people, whether they're children or adults.

The game is packed with a diverse amount of vocabulary, the game changes with the seasons, and it encourages making friends with those who look different from you.

Lessons Learned in Animal Crossing New Horizons

ScienceReading & WritingSocial

Learning the names of fish. Better identification of aquatic creatures.

The game has a significant amount of language in it. Playing the game will increase your vocabulary whether you're a child or an adult.

Learning about different personalities and how to get along with others.

Learning the names of flowers and plants.

The game tests language skills by giving you tasks to complete and to see if you can follow through with it.

Learning about the needs of others and how to connect the dots with their needs.

Learning about stars, meteor showers, and constellations.

Each character has their own unique brand of dialogue. This helps with learning sentence structure.

Learning how to share.

Learning about famous art.

There is a museum dedicated to cataloging art, fossils, bugs, and fish and knowing all the terms.

Learning about different emotional responses. The avatar learns new expressions / reactions as you play the game.

Expanding Vocabulary

The game has several ways in which it helps expand your vocabulary.

  • The dialogue is interspersed with a variety of words. The characters themselves teach you about things you might not have known existed, like panzanella. (Thank you, Curlos.)
  • The game heavily plays off helping you identify and catalog objects. You learn about furniture, flowers, bugs, fashion items, food, kitchen appliances, musical instruments, astrological signs, fossils, and more.
Only the dedicated will catch all the fish in Animal Crossing New Horizons. The fish selection changes each month.

Only the dedicated will catch all the fish in Animal Crossing New Horizons. The fish selection changes each month.

Learning about Fish and Bugs

One of the more fun things about Animal Crossing New Horizons is getting to capture bugs and fish. The goal is to complete an entire encyclopedia about species that live on your island. An owl named Blathers teaches you about the creatures, and sometimes to his dismay. He isn't a fan of bugs.

The owl also teaches about fossils. He gives in-depth lessons about dinosaurs, saber tooth tigers, and more. The game helps people to better identify animals in the real world. The game also teaches about when these creatures appear: whether during the day or at night or the season.

People who play this game will most likely learn about creatures they didn't know existed. They'll also be able to identify where these creatures live whether in the forest on trees, in the ground, on trash, in homes, in the river, or in the ocean.

The game also allows you to explore the ocean and dive for crustaceans, clams, shrimp, and other creatures.

  • This game is great for children who want to learn more about animals, bugs, fish, and the like.
  • This game is great for those who have an interest in wildlife biology.
  • There is plenty to learn about the environment and the range of ecosystems on the island.
  • The game has a bug exhibition and aquarium. You can explore these places and learn more about the creatures.
  • There is a variety of species when it comes to villagers.
You can have up to 10 villagers on your island. You could have an island of only dogs (Wes Anderson reference there), or you could have an island of only snooty characters. You get to decide.

You can have up to 10 villagers on your island. You could have an island of only dogs (Wes Anderson reference there), or you could have an island of only snooty characters. You get to decide.

Villager Species

Alligator

Deer

Kangaroo

Alpaca

Dog

Kappa

Anteater

Duck

Mole

Axolotl

Eagle

Otter

Bear

Elephant

Owl

Beaver

Fox

Panther

Bird

Frill-Necked Lizard

Peacock

Boar

Frogs

Pelican

Bull

Giraffe

Pigeon

Camel

Goat

Raccoon

Cat

Gorilla

Reindeer

Chameleon

Hamster

Seagull

Chicken

Hedgehog

Sea Lion

Cow

Hippo

Skunk

Cub

Horse

Tiger

Maybe one day you can appear on the Chelsea Flower Show. Animal Crossing New Horizons intends to awaken the gardener hidden inside you.

Maybe one day you can appear on the Chelsea Flower Show. Animal Crossing New Horizons intends to awaken the gardener hidden inside you.

Learning about Flowers and Gardening

Animal Crossing New Horizons also gives players the chance to develop their own flower gardens. The game helps people better identify flowers from: roses, lilies, tulips, mums, hyacinths, violets, windflowers, and more. You can also plant shrubberies, which are seasonal.

The game teaches about gardening and encourages taking a sustainable approach to the planet. The player can craft things out of weeds rather than just dispose of them. The game encourages tidying up spaces and not leaving weeds everywhere. The game also don't like litter.

Some trees grow fruits: coconuts, apples, peaches, pears, oranges, and cherries. For young children, this could be a way to learn about foods.

You can also make your own pumpkin garden. The pumpkins come in four different colors: green, yellow, white, and orange. Turnips are sold for a price and teach people about passive income.

Learning about Famous Art

One of my favorite side quests in the game is collecting art and trying to fill up the museum with masterpieces. The art fox, Redd, comes to the island once a week on his boat. He sells four pieces of art, but some of them are counterfeits. The counterfeits won't get into the museum.

  • All of the art pieces are from famous artists.
  • The side quest helps people to better identify art.
  • The game teaches about how eerily close a counterfeit piece can look.
  • Blathers leaves information in the museum about the art, so you can learn more. You can visit and read about Leonardo da Vinci, Vincent Van Gogh, Francisco de Goya, Johannes Vermeer, Hishikawa Moronobu, and dozens of others.

The art museum is a good way to get people excited about art and to encourage them to go to real museums where they can actually see these masterpieces. In teaching about art, people also learn about history, culture, and everything to do with the humanities.

Get your clothes on fleek on Animal Crossing. You can have a side part. You can have a middle part. You can have your hair in any color of the rainbow.

Get your clothes on fleek on Animal Crossing. You can have a side part. You can have a middle part. You can have your hair in any color of the rainbow.

Never Ending Fashion

The game has a boutique where you can buy clothes and learn about different styles. The player has the freedom to create whatever style they want. You can also design your own patterns. For artistic children, this gives them a chance to draw and put their artwork into the game.

You can use the patterns for other things. For instance, the DIY patterns can be used for fireworks.

The clothes in the boutique are named, so people can learn about what each garment is actually called. The game has a never ending line-up of clothes. For children, they can also learn what is appropriate for each season. There are the basics and the more bizarre items. Basics include: hats, sweaters, coats, shirts, dresses, pants, skirts, shorts, and shoes. Bizarre items include: fake mustaches, cyberpunk suits, togas, Egyptian headdresses, cat ears, Halloween outfits, astronaut suits, etc.

  • The clothes teach about fashion and culture.
  • The long list of clothes helps improve people's vocabulary.
  • The clothes teach about what is appropriate to wear for different occasions and seasons.

Developing Social Skills

The game has a range of characters that the player interacts with. You can add ten villagers onto your island. There are several different animal species with about eight different core personalities including: normal, peppy, jock, snooty, lazy, cranky, smug, and uchi, which means big sister in Japanese.

  • The personalities are split among male and female characters.
  • The male characters can be jock, lazy, cranky, or smug.
  • The female characters can be normal, peppy, snooty, or uchi.

The villagers will exhibit traits that match their archetype. The jock characters want to exercise all the time, the snooty neighbors are interested in the gossip of the town, the lazy ones just want to sit around all day and eat snacks.

As the player, you have to be sensitive to their different interests. As you develop closer friendships with the villagers, more options and quests become available. Jock type characters like gifts that are associated with working out. Lazy characters love snacks.

The game teaches that not all people are alike. We all have different interests. Sometimes the villagers get into disagreements. Sometimes the villagers get together and play, sing songs, or party.

Some Other Characters Outside the Villagers

  • Tom Nook is the one pulling the strings behind everything. He encourages you to help make the island better, and he charges you bells for renovations. Tom Nook is essentially a capitalist overlord.
  • The otter, Pascal, wants pearls. In exchange for pearls you find under the sea, he leaves you with unusual sayings and proverbs. He gives out mermaid DIY recipes.
  • The art fox dealer, Redd, is friendly on the surface but he has crooked ways. He acts like he is cutting you a great deal, but he often sells garbage. He likes to call you his cousin.
  • Gulliver is a seagull who keeps getting shipwrecked on your island. You have to help him find missing communication device parts hidden in the sand.
  • Wisp is a ghost who roams around the island and if you scare him -- he explodes. You have to collect the five pieces of his spirit.
  • A photographer, Harvey, lives on another island and you can use his home for photo shoots.
  • Celeste is Blathers' sister. The owl wanders around your island when a meteor shower is possible and to give you wand and other star related recipes.
  • Mabel and Sable own the boutique. You have to talk to Sable consistently to really get her to open up to you and offer you patterns.

How to Work and Get Money

The game's currency is bells. You use bells to buy, sell, trade, etc. In the beginning, it can be hard to accrue enough bells to do anything. With the turnip quest, you can increase your money quickly, especially if you go online and sell your turnips at places with high demand for turnips.

  • ACNH shows how you can earn money by doing chores around the island.
  • The game teaches basic money management.
  • Money doesn't grow on trees... except for in Animal Crossing.
  • Fruit sells well in stores.
  • You can save up items in your storage and sell them later.
  • Tom Nook always wants more money. He wants bridges and stairwells. He wants to add rooms to your house.
  • Chopping wood, hitting stones with a shovel, collecting fish and bugs can all turn a profit.
  • Having better friendships means the villagers might offer you bells for items.
  • The game encourages you to get more bells so that you have more purchasing power and can do more in the game.
  • There is also the Nooks Mile system which rewards you for doing good deeds around the island.
You can celebrate a long list of holidays and learn about new ones on Animal Crossing New Horizons.

You can celebrate a long list of holidays and learn about new ones on Animal Crossing New Horizons.

Holidays

The game will mimic the season you are currently experiencing in the real world. You decide at the beginning of the game whether the island will exist in the Northern Hemisphere or the Southern Hemisphere.

As the game goes through the year, the villagers will celebrate different holidays. Some of the names of common holidays are changed: Thanksgiving is Turkey Day. Festivale in February is the Carnivale in Brazil.

  • Bunny Day is an Easter event with a focus on eggs.
  • Halloween comes with spooky costumes, tricks, and lots of candy.
  • Cherry blossom leaves are gathered in spring. Maple leaves are gathered in fall.
  • In the Nook residential services building, you can buy special goods related to events taking place around the world.
  • You learn about different New Year's Eve celebrations.
  • Earth Day is celebrated.

Tools and Skill Development

The game has six tools that improve with new recipes and when you reach certain milestones. The six tools that can be improved are: the shovel, the watering can, the bug net, the fishing rod, the slingshot, and the axe.

The game encourages people to try to do things with their own hands. You start off not knowing how to build anything, but as you continue to play on the island you come up with new recipes for furniture and clothes.

  • The shovel helps you bury items. You can bury seeds or replant plants. The shovel is also used to whack rocks and get stones or other items from them.
  • The watering can is used to help flowers to grow and to get the optimal amount of pumpkins.
  • The bug net is essential for catching bugs and other items flying around in the air.
  • The fishing rod reels in fish and other items like rocks and garbage.
  • With the slingshot, you shoot down balloons that carry presents.
  • The axe is used to chop down trees to collect wood.

To build new items, you'll have to forage for supplies. Sometimes the items are hard to find or come by.

The game is encouraging people to make crafts, get into woodworking, attempt to design something, and even get into interior design and landscaping.

Dreams

There is an option in ACNH where you can explore other people's islands as though they were dreams. You have to go online and use a code to find the dream islands.

People work really hard to create these. They can be rustic, cottagecore islands or based entirely off Halloween. The dream islands are all about aesthetics and vibes. This is another way for people to explore the game, learn about objects they may not have found themselves, and to let designers do whatever they want. People have created islands based off Harry Potter, Disney characters, sitcoms, and everything else.

It would be amazing to see an island based off Dante's Divine Comedy. That would be a hard one to make happen.

  • Dreams is all about working the imagination.
  • Dreams get people to think about the subconscious. Many of the characters in dreams talk about what does it really mean to be asleep.
  • This side of the game adds a philosophical element.
  • In dream mode, people can come to your island and do whatever they want without actually ruining the island. You can't take things home with you.
  • Dreams in the game is also a way to share stories and cultural ideas. A designer from another part of the world will have a different way of looking at things than you do.

The Openness of the Game Encourages Play and Creativity

The game can be approached in an infinite number of ways. This is a great game for people to express themselves creatively and to live their days in whatever way they want. There isn't a prescribed way of doing things. You are not following a specific track to end the game.

You get to decide how the island looks, so this encourages creativity. You can decide what villagers you want on the island and which ones you feel like don't belong.

You get to design flower gardens, your own house, your fashion, and anything you want to with a pattern. The game allows you to be free to think in whatever way you want and to explore that. You don't have to be super close friends with everybody. You don't have to have a field of gold roses. You can fill up your whole museum with items or not bother with it at all.

For some people, this is too much openness and they want more of a scripted game going from one task to one task until the credits roll. That's not how Animal Crossing games work. The franchise as a whole is more organic. You often don't repeat the same day twice.

  • You have to work hard for many of your creative dreams.
  • You have to be consistent if you want to see creative growth.
  • You get to decide what is fun and what you want to skip.
  • Learning about creative expression can also help with developing independence.

© 2021 Andrea Lawrence

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