Aren’t children wonderful? Their developing brains are like sponges and absorb so much information. With each generation, technology usage increases and it is amazing to watch a toddler navigate their way around an iphone or iPad. There are some great websites out there that are both fun and exciting and provide learning opportunities at the same time. I have three children myself (aged 10, 8 and 5) and have picked out ten websites that I think are wonderful for children.
ABC 4 Kids is a site that represents all of those favourite programs that most of use grew up with, such as Playschool, Blinky Bill and Sesame Street. This website is aimed at the younger generation and is an easy to use, colourful site that even parents will find easy to navigate. There are games to play, craft activities and your children can even watch their favourite program on the computer again and again and again.
Fun Brain is organised into a reading section, a maths arcade and games. This site is often used in primary schools as it encourages children to learn maths, vocabulary and keyboard skills without them even noticing!
This one is for all of the Harry Potter enthusiasts and was co-created by J.K Rowling. The site is easy to move around in and offers things like the history of the characters, some magical spell recipes, and gives you a real online experience of the Harry Potter world.
Reading Eggs is another ABC initiative. There are some great reading games and activities and are engaging for children. The site is divided into sections based on ages as young as three and right up to 13. There are however charges associated with this site. You can sign up for either a 6 or 12 month subscription at a cost of $59.95 or $79.95 respectively. There is also the option to purchase packs which includes activity books, stickers, posters and reading books. Great for classroom activities. The site offers a 14 day free trial so you can try before you buy.
It is claimed that one Barbara Millicent Roberts (aka Barbie Doll) is sold every three seconds, with an estimated one Billion Barbies being sold across 150 countries since 1959. Needless to say, this website needs no introduction. It is what you imagine with all the glitz and glamour that you could imagine.
This great website provides something for all children right from kindergarten through to year 12. There are fun activities, book suggestions, projects, games and even podcasts. Teachers will find research based lessons with detailed instructional plan and worksheets. The site is colourful and easy to navigate with a great search functionality.
With auto-correct and spell check readily available, spelling seems to be something that is often neglected. Spelling City has some great tools for helping children learn spelling techniques. This website offers Premium Membership which allows student progress tracking, some vocabulary development activities, premium games and much more.
Another family favourite, The Wiggles website is as professional as their world tour. It offers a great range of games and activities. Become a Wiggle Time member and you will get access to even more including a Parent Resource Centre with a Parent Message Board and Forum. The kids can even personalise your own Wiggles website, just like a real web developer!
Way back when I was in school, we learnt to touch type using a heavy old industrial type writer. It took all my strength to type an ‘A’ with my left hand pinkie. Now keyboards are much easier to use and there is less of a reason for only using two pointer fingers to type. This website offers a fun set of tutorials to learn how to touch type – something that is becoming far more important than getting your pen licence. The website talks you through step by step in a system called Dance Map Typing.
Skoodle, previously known as Super Clubs Plus, is a safe social network. Think Facebook without the Face. Users are carefully monitored and learn first-hand how to keep themselves safe online. Skoodle is used in a number of schools and is aimed at children aged six to 14. In fact, only four years after it was launched there are over 180,000 Australian primary school children actively participating from 2,200 Australian schools and together with 300,000 children worldwide. Telstra Foundation helped launch the site and their research found that after 4-6 months of being an active user, the vast majority of children consistently exhibit safer, more resilient and respectful online behaviours.
This list only just touches the surface of some really great websites for children. Some other sites that my own children explore are www.kidcyber.com.au, www.global2.vic.edu.au, www.mathletics.com.au, www.yepi.com and www.kids.nationalgeographic.com.au.
It is always important to monitor children while they are online, and a good idea to set up some of your own family guidelines that include things like the amount of acceptable time spent online and sites that they are and are not permitted to visit. The web truly is wonderful and offers a whole new world of learning. Enjoy!