Children are drawn to technology- most toddlers know how to operate their parents’ devices. My kids can do more on my phone than I can, and I frequently find the wallpaper changed, or new apps. Many kids also love video games, and streaming online. It’s easy to steer this love of screens to beneficial learning time that kids enjoy. All but the last one are free to play, so check them out!
Math Playground is a great site. You can find so many mathematical topics, broken down by both subject and grade. Everything from simple operations to telling time to logic can be found here.
Prodigy is a fun game lets your child explore a virtual world, having duels with wizards and other creatures, interspersed with math questions. Even though it’s a math game, my daughter looks at it as a wizard game, and she really loves this one. The levels continue through eighth grade, so it appeals to both big and little ones.
Teach Your Monster to Read
Super cute Teach Your Monster to Read engages kids with monsters and space ships while working on phonics, putting together sounds and eventually words. There are a few levels, so they can grow with this program for a little while.
Dance Mat Typing
A really wacky typing game, Dance Mat gives kids get the opportunity to work on proper finger placement while quirky creatures cheer, “Click on me!!” This has really helped my two learn how to type correctly, but it’s fun enough that they don’t mind the practice.
Holy cow. Khan Academy is another awesome site where you can find videos and practice exercises on everything from music to math. We’ve used this often for learning more about a certain technique or topic that we’re studying. The instructors explain the lessons in ways that are easy to understand, combining visual demonstrations with explanations.
Another math site, IXL offers extra practice over the summer to maintain those skills. Everything from pre-K to pre-calc is covered in a fun way.
Touch Develop introduces your child to beginning coding through a variety of activities. In one link, Turtle Drawings, kids get the opportunity to direct a cute little turtle around the screen, giving him commands to go up, down, and sideways. The tutorial helps understand the process, which may be confusing at first.
From my experience, a parent needs to be present during web surfing that involves YouTube. Things can go from PG to crude or scary pretty quickly. With supervision, however, the world becomes your oyster. We’ve used YouTube channels to view the world as we study geography, documentaries as we study history, a never-ending stream of videos on scientific concepts, even pronunciation when working on foreign language. An engaging video on the Doppler effect does a better job than I could, especially when they’re developed with kids in mind.
Bill Nye the Science Guy
You can find Bill Nye on Netflix or at your local library. Thirty minute videos on so many topics, presented in a truly innovative way. They’re in-depth enough for middle-elementary kids, and always include a music video that will leave you singing along about clouds or energy.
Magic School Bus
In this animated book and video series, an elementary school teacher and her class board a “Magic” school bus which transports them around the world, sometimes inside the human body! They’re cute but informative, and hold kids’ attention long enough to teach them a thing or two.
BrainPop is the only site listed here that requires a paid subscription, but it is truly well worth it. BrainPop encompasses science, history, ELA, math, and so much more. They have a daily video that’s always free, and you can view their selections without logging in. Many schools and libraries have subscriptions available for the community, so check with your local resources.
If you have a favorite online resource, share it here with our readers. Happy learning!