Websites for Kids of all Ages
I remember a time in my life that as I closed my eyes to sleep, my brain filled with nursery rhymes and the alphabet song. Since I am a nerd, I decided to teach my kindergarten kid the periodic table song (yes, I see a psychologist's couch in my child's future). When I was too exhausted to entertain a tiny being with extreme amounts of energy, I plopped my child in front of the computer (yes, I plead guilty) and opened a bunch of kid websites for her to navigate. I let her sing along with Boowa and Kwala or explore the jungles with Dora. I allowed her to learn science with the Magic School Bus or navigate a few more kindergarten learning websites I heard about from friends, family, and Google search. These sites were both educational and entertaining, which made learning fun.
Since then, the internet has exploded. There is now a surplus of safe, informative, educational, and entertaining sites for kids of all ages. While it is not a good idea to have the child spend too much time in front of a glowing screen, the digital domain is now part of the child's life. It may be unavoidable. Research has shown that "early computer exposure before or during the preschool years is associated with the development of preschool concepts and cognition among young children." So, there is more responsibility for parents to expose their children to good educational websites.
Here are some websites listed by age to which they cater, from toddler to older kids.
Lil' Fingers Storybook: Toddlers love listening to stories, and if the stories come with big buttons and bright colors, it is so much more fun. The site also introduces the kid to reading, which, as is well known, is critical for brain development.
Leading to Reading: Designed for children ages 0-2 and 3-5, kids read, sing, play, and explore various subjects and books, in English and Spanish.
PEEP and the Big Wide World: What is childhood without coloring activities? PEEP and the Big Wide World is a fun and interactive educational site for kids ages three to five. It has coloring pages, games, and offline activities for parents and kids.
Kindergarten and Preschool Games by Sheppard's Software: The educational games are designed with preschool and kindergarten children. The games range in topics that include colors, shapes, numbers, and the alphabet.
The Kidz Page: This site is packed with online coloring pages, jigsaw puzzles, word games, and unique sets of activities for holidays.
Learning Games For Kids: Online learning games and songs for kids are fun. They teach essential skills for preschool and elementary school kids.
KinderWeb Educational Games: Interactive games for young children. This site teaches about money, colors, shapes, and more. I must admit, I paused at "money"!
Curious World: This site is meant for preschool children. The site introduces the preschooler to math, reading readiness skills, and social skills.
ABC Activities: Helps the preschooler with alphabet recognition through many activities.
Learning Planet: Includes various interactive games for young children. This site helps kids recognize the alphabet, gain math skills, and participate in word strategy games. A yearly subscription is required.
Starfall: An interactive site with online activities, books, and printable materials. Children can listen to interactive stories and play games to teach them beginning and ending sounds. It also teaches rhyming, word families, and sight words.
Agnitus: A paid site for a tablet-based learning experience for the little ones.
Funbrain: This site mixes educational content with games with interactive activities to foster the Rs of learning – reading, writing, and 'rithmetic. It also features excerpts from famous books such as "The Diary of a Wimpy Kid."
Pigeon Presents! Starring Mo Willems' Pigeon!: Children can play interactive games and meet Mo's pigeon and other characters. The book guides also include posters and printable activities for children.
Mr. Nussbaum: This site is for kids from preschool all the way to grade eight. The site provides games and educational material in history, math, science, and much more.
Dance Mat Typing: "But my child does not know how to type." Not true. Your child types better than you, but if you are not convinced, Dance Mat Typing is an interactive site that teaches children how to type! Children can play typing games as they work their way from skill level 1 to level 4. The typing games are set to music and are appropriate for children of all ages.
ABC Mouse: A subscription-based comprehensive and fun learning academy for children from kindergarten to grade 2. ABC Mouse uses animations, books, games, puzzles, art, and printables.
ABCYa: A site meant for children from kindergarten to grade 6. This site offers games in languages, arts, math, and more.
BrainPOP: A robot and his friends teach kids about historical events, science, and even the stock market. If that isn't cool, what is?
Chillola.com: Site meant for elementary school kids. It allows children from around the world to interact with one another and learn another language. Kids interact through sharing their works of art, poems, and more.
Funology: It is never too early to learn science. Even if you do not find the perverse joy in listening to your child lisp the hydrogen-helium-lithium song like some of us did, sites like "Funology" can introduce the kid to fun scientific experiments.
Curious George: Curious George, the beloved monkey, will play along with the child through word puzzles, maze, and math games.
PBS Kids: This kids' website allows kindergarten children to interact with their favorite PBS characters (Clifford, Arthur, Sesame Street, etc.) by playing interactive learning games. There is also information for parents about helping children learn at home and transition to school.
Seussville: What's childhood without some Dr. Seuss? Kids can learn about Dr. Seuss on his biography page and play games. There are also activity ideas for teachers and parents. The site also has video clips of the colorful characters from Dr. Seuss's stories.
Bubblesphere: The internet is full of cute pictures of babies and toddlers squealing in delight at bubbles. The Bubblesphere site is full of recipes for making bubbles of all sizes and shapes.
Discovery Kids: Aimed at elementary school children, this site offers science-themed games and puzzles. It also finds answers to some of their most puzzling science questions, such as "Are bats blind?" or "Why do we need trees?"
Sesame Street: Games, videos, playlists, and more based on the characters and shows on Sesame Street. Teachers can use this site to find video clips related to classroom topics, and there are links for parents that provide a wealth of information.
Spatulatta: What is the best way to make a picky eater eat? Make them cook. This site teaches kids cooking basics and helps them try out new recipes. It is built around certain types of meals and their favorite ingredients.
National Geographic for Kids: This is a site for elementary and middle school children. It has games, stories, videos, and activities about animals and countries around the world. This site is an excellent technology tie-in for science and social studies lessons.
For teachers and parents:
Kids Count 1234: A perfect resource for kindergarten teachers with ideas for activities and printable materials that can be used immediately in their classrooms.
Crayola: More coloring! Crayola.com also provides project ideas and printable materials for teachers. The site features coloring pages, craft ideas, games & fun, products, and resources for parents and teachers. This site is perfect for parents and teachers of young children.
Little Giraffes: Includes monthly themes, ABC activities, story props, handprint calendar, math, book ideas, literacy, centers, word families, igloo, and sentence practice. Within each section are many ideas (including photographs) for kindergarten teachers. This site is a must for early childhood educators!
Scholastic: The site is aimed at children of all ages and provides an incredible amount of information and activities for parents, children, and teachers. Children can also listen to interactive storybooks.
There are, of course, many more sites you come across using a simple web search. There are online museums from all over the world, apps that help with math, science, and history. Some sites sponsor creativity, age-appropriate videos, and online libraries.
My kid is now a teenager, but I occasionally hear her hum the Boowa & Kwala song. I fall into nostalgia as I remember my chubby child, clicking away at her mouse, captivated by the colors and sounds of the entertaining and educational website.
The sky is the limit now for resources for our children. How we use them makes all the difference and may indeed make a difference in their lives.