Thursday, June 3, 2010

Websites for Kids


Sometimes I have major guilt about letting my boys watch TV. I know they are only watching good shows (you know Max and Ruby are the cutest little bunnies imaginable, and who can argue with PBS Kids?), but still. TV is TV, and I feel guilty. On the other hand, there are certain things that a mom has to get done in a day, and sometimes a little screen time just does the trick. (I know there are plenty of non-TV families out there. Your forum is coming!)

About a month ago, though, I realized that my four-year-old, Blaine, is now old and dexterous enough to work on my computer, so we've replaced most of our TV/movie time with interactive websites. I know screen time is screen time, but I so prefer to watch Blaine clicking and talking and playing along than zoned out like a vegetable.

Two major advantages that I hadn't anticipated:
1. Blaine really struggles with fine motor skills. Learning to manipulate the mouse pad on our laptop has been a huge triumph for him.
2. Thanks to one of the websites (see below), Blaine is totally learning to read (and is thrilled about it)!

Our favorite websites for young children:
1. Hands down, the best site I've seen, and the one I allow most in our home: starfall.com
This site is colorful, easy to navigate, and ALL ABOUT learning to read. There are various levels available, so even a school-age child enjoys it. I've been working on letters and phonics with Blaine for a long time, and the fun games and songs on starfall have really helped solidify those skills. One of my favorite aspects about starfall is that you can print little books for free from the site. Blaine and I have printed several for him, and I'm telling you, there is no greater satisfaction than hearing your son read, "Zac is a rat. Zac sat on a can."

2. The LDS Friend Magazine website at friend.lds.org is darling. Blaine loves to do the coloring, puzzles, and hidden picture activities.

3. Being the huge Dr. Seuss fan that I am, I love seussville.com. Here is a direct link to the games.

4. Another fun one is pbskids.org. Lots of learning activities and games.

5. I've also let Blaine do a bit of sesamestreet.org. The games and activities are cute, but personally, I can only take so much of Elmos' voice.

6. When Blaine's a bit older I can't wait to show him kids.nationalgeographic.com. It's a fabulous site.

Again, I think we need to be careful how much time our children spend in front of any screen. But, I have to say, when I need a few minutes to take a shower, I love to see my little boys cozied up in front of the computer and hearing Blaine say, "Do you want to learn about the letter 'R,' Roger?"

11 comments:

Rae said...

Yup we're huge Starfall fans here too.

But you guys have to check out http://www.poissonrouge.com/poissonrouge.php
It's awesome. It's a french website but you can click on the flags to select english. It's totally interactive and educational and my E loves it!

And I haven't forgotten my promise to contribute, how about July?

k a t y said...

You left off one of my very favorites: Poissonrouge.com! It has no written instruction, so it's up to your child to figure things out. My girls 3 all the way up to 8 love it.

jeanine said...

I would rather have my boys playing on the computer than watching a show. Of course, on pbskids (and others) they can watch shows... so I have to be sure to tell them "you have to play a game. no shows!"
And thanks for directing me to Starfall. I had William on there the other day and he loved it!

erin said...

There's a fantastic website called TumbleBooks that reads books out loud to kids. It is a pay site BUT you can access it for free through a library website - try this link, I use it in my classroom as well.

TumbleBooks via City of Austin library:
http://www.austinlibrary.com/databases/index.cfm?action=individual&db=166

(CLick on Tumblebooks Library once on the Austin website). If this link doesn't work, I usually google library texas tumblebooks and there are others.

Official blurb: The TumbleBook Library is a collection of animated, talking picture books. TumbleBooks are created from existing books which have been licensed from children's book publishers and converted to the TumbleBook format. Many books are available in Spanish and French, as well as English. Games and puzzles are also included.

Melanie said...

Ok, this post is exactly what I needed! I can't wait to check these out to give my kids some other good activities this summer.

Anonymous said...

Another one I recently came across that my little boy enjoys (age 3) was Boowa and Kwala

http://www.boowakwala.com/kids/boowakwala-home.html

Anonymous said...

Another one I recently came across that my little boy enjoys (age 3) was Boowa and Kwala

http://www.boowakwala.com/kids/boowakwala-home.html

Sugar... said...

How exciting! I'm so glad you put all these down. I have to say we are not big on the whole computer thing, but these might change my mind!

Jonesy said...

We're on starfall a LOT, but I'm excited to add a little variety to the mix! We checked out the poissonrouge site this morning for a few minutes & the girls are SO excited to explore it more! Keep the great ideas and links coming, ladies!

Deanna said...

Thanks so much! I had heard of Starfall quite awhile ago, I think before I even had kids so I forgot about it. And now is the perfect time to have been reminded b/c my daughter is very close to reading. She loved it and did so well. Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Another great website to check out is discoverykids.com/puterbugs. It is fun and educational at the same time.