Educational Web Sites for Kids
Today, I’ll point out some great educational web sites for kids. At our home, we attempt to balance educational and “just for fun” web sites with our five year old son. For younger kids, simple things like printing out coloring pages (use Google Images with Safe Search set to Strict) or simply printing out posters of favorite characters or animals are some easy and fun ways to use the Internet. We also look up answers to questions that we can’t answer ourselves at on Factmonster or using Google. We also try to model appropriate use of the Internet. Kids seem to ultimately follow what we do more than the limits we set for them.
I refer to Bloom’s Taxonomy to try and balance the type of cognitive activities kids should be engaging in. We want to make sure kids activities are not just at the bottom of Bloom’s taxonomy. On the other hand, kids do need some facts and some fluency with basic skills.
In the early days of educational technology, many applications worked on the very low levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. These were referred to as “drill and kill” applications. While we want to provide educational technology experiences for students at higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy, I believe some basic skills practice can be good at times and the computer can be a one good way to make that more fun.
To follow are some of my favorite educational web sites. Please note that when using games on web sites, you many need to upgrade your Abobe Flash Playeror other components. Some older computers may not be able to run all games. Families will see different amounts of advertising on these sites too, affording families the opportunity to teach your child about online marketing to children:
- Starfall — Phonics and phonemic awareness are one part of a balancing reading program. This phonics-based site contains some good, free pre-reading and reading activities. (Grades PK-1)
- PBSKids Go — tons of activities and games tied to PBS children’s programming. Some favorites for kids are Martha Speaks, Wild Kratts, Between the Lions, Sesame Street, and Fetch! With Ruff Ruffman. (Grades PK – 2)
- Internet4Classrooms — this is a huge metasite that lists games and activities by grade level and skill/standard/subject. (Grades PK-8)
- FunBrain — a large selection of games. We like to use the Classic games at school and stay away from the arcade type games. (Grades K-6)
- Oswego Math Games — good selection of math games kids like and that reinforces different skills. (Grades 1 – 4)
- Quia Math Games — a very large selection of math games sorted by grade level. Even though there is a premium option, kids can play all the games for free. (Grades 1 – 6)
- Edheads — This site contains lots of fun online activities that explore things like simple machines and the human body (there are a few interesting online operations kids can try.) (Grades 2-12 depending on the activity)
- Hubble Space Telescope — great source of amazing space images: stars, planets, moons, galaxies, and every type of space object imaginable. (Grades 3 and up)
- PBS Nova — Each PBS Nova show has a rich web site with activities and resources associated with each show. We especially like the Ancient Egypt sites for grade 6 students. (Grades 4 and up)
- USA Games — A good source for information about the 50 States. There are many levels of games to teach kids the names of states, state capitals, and other geography. (Grades 4 and up)
- PBS Don’t Buy It — Self-paced PBS site teaches students about the pitfalls of advertising and how marketing works. (Grades 5 and up)
- Lemonade Stand — This online simulation of a lemonade stand teaches student economic principles. (Grades 5 and up)
Local Resource: If you have cable access, Comcast has introduced a low cost internet service of about $10 a month, a low cost computer, and free training for low income families. See www.internetessentials.com for more information.
More Online Resources: For more educational web sites, check out the Williamsburg Schools Links Page and Hilltown Families bank of nearly 3,500 Recommended Links, including subjects like history, math, social studies, language arts, geography, science, virtual field trips and many others! — Share your own favorite site in the comments section below.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John Heffernan ♦ Tech Talk: Supporting Creative Play with Technology
John is currently the technology teacher the Williamsburg Schools. He has also worked as an educational technology consultant, a third grade teacher, and as a software engineer. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering from Tufts and a Masters of Education from Lesley University. John lives in Conway with his wife, 5 year old son, and 2 whippets. In additional to his interest in technology, John is a juggler, musician, and animal tracker. Read more about his engineering adventures at kidsengineer.com.