I have three young children, two boys ages 6, 4.5 years old and a 16 month old daughter. While my daughter’s only concern with the computer is how much time I spend on it instead of playing with her, my sons love to spend time on the computer.
My concern, above and beyond making sure that the time they spend playing computer games isn’t too excessive is always that what they are doing is interesting and informative. I don’t want them to just be driving a car around a race track, I want them to be learning something along the way.
Here are some sites that I have tested and they’ve approved. All these sites are free to use and offer a range of activities.
IXL Math has, you guessed it, math activities, divided into grade levels and targeted skills. This is more a site that reinforces knowledge taught at school or home, than teaches new things. I also have to really encourage my sons to go onto it, although they have a great time once they’re there.
Sesame Street.org is a site with all things Sesame Street. (Warning, there is a video that starts playing when you visit the site, so turn your sound down!) There are games, videos, things to print out, and even a section for adults. My oldest son particularly likes Grover’s game ‘In the Nick of Rhyme‘ and I like that they can learn to play these games and navigate the site by themselves.
Starfall is a site for preK through second graders who are learning to read and/or practicing their reading skills. It was recommended to us by my sons’ reading teacher, and has lots of activities, songs and printouts. There is even a store with materials and home school activities, although I’ve never bought anything through them.
PBS Kids is one of their favorite activity sites. It’s filled with games and things to do, and they beg to visit it. Of course everything is based on characters from TV shows, but I don’t find it to be too in your face. My youngest son loves Curious George and really enjoys visiting those games, while my oldest, who is learning to read, really likes SuperWhy, recommended to him by one of his best friends. There are games, videos, music and coloring sheets, and again, keep your computer volume on low if you’re in a library or at work!
CBeebies is the UK version of the American PBS kids, and it’s also the only TV they get to watch. It’s just like PBS kids, with favorite characters, games, printouts etc.
Jitterbug is tagged as ‘hip music for hip kids‘ and that’s just what it is- talk about fun! It’s not really a site for kids to play with, but I like to turn it on in the evenings, and let the good times (and music) roll.
What are your kids’ favorite online activities?