Useful websites for kids must be engaging for children, and both safe and offering some educational value for parents to love them as well. The following 20 sites are a bit more off the beaten and well-known path worn by Nickelodeon or Disney!
1. PEEP and the Big Wide World
PEEP and the Big Wide World is a fun and interactive educational site for three- to five-year-olds. The site has plenty to do for the little ones and gives parents plenty of educational resources. There are coloring pages along with games, and the site offers activities for parents and kids to do offline. PEEP and the Big Wide World has plenty to keep toddlers to the preschool aged occupied and is a fresh gateway toward building a true love for learning.
Funology touts itself as being “the science of having fun!” Kids will love the magic tricks, allowing them to impress their family and friends. Parents will love the many crafts pages and the blog that reviews games and more. There are also scientific experiments available for kids to do with parents. One such experiment is to build a terrarium for a child’s favorite dinosaur. Or check out the recipes page for healthy snacks, breakfasts, lunches, or dinners.
3. The Great Plant Escape
The Great Plant Escape is geared toward children in fourth or fifth grades. The site is an extension from the University of Illinois and is geared to teach kids about plants and their systems through problem-solving. Activities are structured to strengthen a child’s math, science, social studies, and even art. Children can work the pages independently, but the fun is enhanced when parents join in. Parents might want to start a small garden or plant a seed to allow children to see the growth of plant life for themselves.
4. Switch Zoo: Animal Games
This site is a true joy, even parents may beg for a turn to figure out where a certain species of animal is from. Switch Zoo has plenty of games to keep kids occupied. Parents will appreciate the fact that kids are learning as they play. Kids will delight in making their own animal, building the right habitats, and a great deal more. There are also educational resources that parents may want to tap into to help their child learn even more.
The site is owned and operated by none other than ‘Professor Bubbles’ himself. The bubblesphere site is full of recipes for making large and fantastic bubbles or a slew of tiny ones. Kids can experiment and post their experiences in the forum. Kids can add their own recipes, while learning to mix and make bubbles of all kinds. Children can also track the adventures of Professor Bubbles around the world.
Kodable teaches children aged five to six years old how to write computer code. Kids learn through a self-guided game. Children drag and drop computer code to further their creature along on its way. The free application comes with the first 45 levels of the game.
This site is just right for school-aged kids, from kindergarten to the eighth grade. Funbrain mixes the educational with games that are simply all-out fun. Parents are invited to get even preschoolers in on the action in this site. The books and comics section includes excerpts from that favorite of many kids: The Diary Of A Wimpy Kid.
8. Giggle Poetry
Have a kid who is struggling to read? Giggle Poetry may be the answer. Children are challenged to rate poems with the ‘giggle meter.’ Word and reading games also abound, each immersed in poetry sure to attract and keep a child’s attention.
9. Hackety Hack!
This site is for teens aged 13 and up. The site is perfect for budding programmers. Kids are able to read about programmable languages and to test their new knowledge in a safe environment. Only an e-mail is needed to sign in to post messages or sample programs.
Kids will love the many games in the language arts, math, and more. Parents will love the fact that there are no downloads, plus the fact that no personal information is required for game play. The games also sharpen a child’s computer skills with typing games.
Here kids learn all about cyphers and making secret codes. Budding cryptographers learn how to scramble messages and passwords. There is no need to provide an e-mail for kids to have fun on the site. There are lots of games that will also test memory. The site was built and is maintained by the National Security Agency.
12. Invention at Play
Invention at Play offers kids the chance to dream, play, and experiment. Kids learn to stretch their imaginations through various games, such as word play or problem solving with virtual blocks. Children are also introduced to inventors and their inventions. In this very cool site, kids learn that play and the use of their imagination can lead to a new invention.
Chillola.com is a way for children from around the world to interact with one another and learn another language. Educational and fun, Chillola offers the chance to learn English, Spanish, German, French, or Italian. Kids interact through sharing their works of art, poems, and more. Parents will love the fact that the site is not only a great way to learn a new language, but that the tools are entirely free.
14. Amazing Space
This site will bring the wonders of space right to your child’s computer. The site is better suited to older children, as there are no games. However, kids will be able to see outer space through the Hubble telescope, or catch a glimpse of their own night sky online. The site encourages parents to grab a telescope and share with children the beauty of the sky from their own backyard.
This site is coupled with the Scholastic newsletter that your kids receive at school. There are plenty of games and opportunities to explore the news that’s important to kids. Kids can also rate and report on sites they find entertaining in the ‘cool spots’ tab. Parents can keep up with what their kids are reading about in the news that is important to their children.
16. Dance Mat Typing
Kids get to learn the ‘dance moves’ from a wise old billy goat and his mates. Kids learn by watching the screen instead of their hands as they learn to type. This is a silly and fun but very educational site offered by the BBC. There are related sites that teach the language arts, history, and math. Educational games in Mandarin, French, and Spanish are also available.
17. CIA For Kids
This site is suitable for kids aged K–12. There are games and information about what the CIA does. Kids will have a great time exploring the world, figuring out puzzles, and more. For the little ones there are coloring pages that can be printed. There are resources for parents on how to keep kids safe online, as well as a portal to cool and useful sites for kids.
18. Mr. Nussbaum
The Mr. Nussbaum site covers a lot of territory. The site has games for preschoolers and all the way up to grade eight. There are plenty of games, along with educational tabs that cover history, math, science, and much more. The goal of the site is to enhance children’s learning from the classroom into an interactive experience on the web.
19. Brain POP
Brain POP offers movies, games, an experimental arena, and so much more. The site is suitable for kids in grades K–12. Parents will love the fact that the subjects covered in core standards are also available through this site. A separate subscription is available for those who choose to home school their children. Brain POP also serves as a resource for ESL students.
20. Lil’ Fingers Storybook
Introduce toddlers to the world of reading with Lil’ Fingers. Lil’ Fingers has big buttons and bright colors to attract a child to stories like Bears In Bed or One Little Rabbit. The site also introduces books that parents may want to add to their child’s collection or pick up at the library. There are also games and videos to entertain a growing mind.
21. Kids Web Japan
Kids who are into Manga comics or are simply curious about another culture will love this site. Chocked full of kid-worthy news and what’s popular with Japanese kids, it’s sure to keep them coming back. There are games, virtual culture, and learning activities. There are even animated cards kids can send to those they love. Parents may be surprised at how well their children enjoy this marvelous site.
Featured photo credit: Mads Bødker via flickr.com