Get Ready, Set, Surf
By Tiffany Carboni
The Internet has gotten a bum rap over the years for its perceived dark evils. Sure, there’s a lot of garbage out in cyber space, but there’s also a gold mine of fun, educational websites devoted to kids of all ages in all school subjects.
While some charge a subscription fee, most of the educational-related websites out there are free. But a word of caution, free on the Internet can sometimes comes with a price – clickable advertisements that will take a child away from the intended site. However, using common sense (and pulling up a seat nearby your child) can keep kids focused and on target for having a good, smart time on the ’net.
4Kids.org was created by a team of Kansas-based educators, writers, technology specialists and students, and follows the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act and features no ads. The site acts as a starting point for educational explorations, with games in language arts and math, as well as on specific topics that change each week.
Abcya.com claims to be the "leader in free educational kids' computer games and activities for elementary students to learn on the web." All the games and activities were created or approved by certified teachers.
Apples4theTeacher.com offers teachers and kids up to sixth grade games in the subjects of art, languages and culture (including Spanish, Polish, Irish, and sign language), literacy, math, science, and social studies. Additionally, puzzles, coloring pages, and holiday activities will keep kids coming back for more each month.
CanDoStreet.com is a membership-based site ($5 per month or $25 per year) that complies with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act and features no ads. Th e animated, interactive site teaches young children how to make good choices in being safe, having fun, and learning new things.
EnchantedLearning.com is meant to off er curriculum material for teachers for a fee, but there are lots of activities and sample pages to have fun with for free, even bird and dinosaur jokes that will keep the 10-and-under crowd in stitches.
Exploratorium.edu. Offers cool scientifi c activities for all ages, like building a solar system, estimating your weight on other planets and the science of cooking. Warning: we DO recommend kids try this at home (though under proper supervision, of course).
FunBrain.com, part of the Family Education Network, offers grade-school kids games in math, reading, and grammar, as well as a selection of free books and comics.
Kbears.com (short for Knowledge Bears) was launched in 1999 by parents, teachers, and educators who offer students in kindergarten through third grade games on deep-water creatures, world geography and spelling.
KidsKnowIt.com hails itself as the “totally free children’s learning network,” providing grade-school children games in the subjects of astrology, biology, dinosaurs, geography, geology, history, math, memory and spelling. Born from the imagination of a Salt Lake City teacher in 1998 who was frustrated with the lack of quality of educational websites at the dawn of the Internet, the site quickly developed a following of students around the world.
Kids.NationalGeographic.com off ers the same educational content we've come to trust with its vibrant magazines, except, of course, in a fun, multimedia kind of way. Featuring games, videos, stories, and activities, this site off ers gradeschool students activities and current aff airs presented in age-appropriate ways.
KidsScienceChallenge.com, presented by Pulse of the Planet, is a nationwide, ongoing competition for third-through sixth-graders to submit experiments and problems for real scientists and engineers to solve. The site is filled with exciting videos hosted by scientists, experiments to try at home, and lots of science secrets.
KidSites.com, touted as "Your Guide to the Best Kid Sites on the Web," offers links to hundreds of educational and just-plain-fun websites geared toward every subject of interest from dinosaurs to art, sports to music.
IKnowThat.com states its mission is to ignite a love of lifelong learning in children Pre-K through sixth grade by harnessing Internet multimedia and social communication to create an environment for engaging, interactive, and dynamic learning". To compensate for its lack of advertisements, the site charges $5.95 /$49.95 for monthly/15-month family subscriptions.
Multiplication.com supplies free games designed to help students learn times tables. In addition, the site off ers multiplication strategies to further help student learn more easily.
PrimaryGames.com, created by a high school techsupport specialist in Virginia for her own students in 2000, has expanded to encompass games for students of all ages in all parts of the world. Part of the School Sites Network, this site features holiday postcard activities and downloads, as well as games for subjects like language arts, math, and social studies.
Scholastic.com provides arcade games, quizzes, puzzles and writing games downloads for coloring pages suited for preschoolers through grade-school children, as well as links to students'f favorite Scholastic-published books. In addition, a link to Scholastic en Espanol directs users to games in Spanish.
SheppardSoft ware.com offers fun games in math, health, science, history, and geography for students in preschool through second grade.
Starfall.com has been a proud public service to students since it began in 2002. Recognized by Homeschool.com as one of its top five educational websites for teaching children to read, Starfall'fs approach to phonics is geared for students in preschool through second grade, as well as students in special education and English language development.
Syvum.com caters to online education, interactive learning, and homework help by providing quizzes in a variety of grade-level subjects like algebra, astronomy, math, biology, and geography. In addition, the site helps develop second language skills in Spanish, French, German, and Portuguese.
TheKidzPage.com, online since 1998, off ers more than 1,500 jigsaw puzzle games, 900 printable coloring pages, 2,000 pieces of clipart and enough free online games to keep kids entertained for hours. Activities are added daily.
UpToTen.com is an independent organization committed to providing children up to 10 years old French-English bilingual games and coloring activities to help reinforce second-language skills.
Sproutonline.com allows preschoolers to feel like big kids with age-appropriate coloring pages, games, craft ideas, and other activities that showcase favorite friends from the PBS KIDS Sprout television shows.
PBSKids.org offers fans of the channel's children's programming additional educational games, videos, and activities.
NickJr.com allows the younger Nickelodeon Channel fans an opportunity to play games, craft s, and download coloring pages of their favorite characters.
So long as the Internet is used in a safe manner, the World Wide Web can be a sophisticated, fun and highly beneficial tool for a child's e-education. Surf's up!
Tiffany Carboni's parenting blog is "MOTHER TONGUE & Other Sharp Objects.