Our children don’t spend a lot of time on the computer, as a rule, but when they do, I like it to be as educational as possible. Over the years, we’ve found some children’s websites that are great and some, well…not so great. The educational content needs to be high, but so does the entertainment value (from a child’s perspective).
We really like educational websites for kids that include a variety of options, such as material to read or listen to, games to play, printables, and videos. We absolutely loooove websites that have all of the above in the form of free content!
Since we’re doing preschool at home this year with our four-year-old twins, I thought I would gather our favorite learning websites (in no particular order) all together in one spot. Our Top 10 Educational Websites for Kids
- PBS Kids – http://pbskids.org/ – we love this educational website for kids for a variety of reasons: the kids love the characters, parents love the educational value, lots of options to choose from (videos, games, online books etc.), appeals to a variety of ages, etc. It’s also easy for children to navigate. Target Range – toddler through the lower elementary grades.
- Highlights Kids – http://www.highlightskids.com/ – great variety on this website as well, such as animated books, both factual and fictional texts, printables, crafts and science experiments, etc. The content is very similar to what you would see in a Highlights magazine, such as hidden picture puzzles, articles on animals, stories about children, and so on. Target Range – elementary grades, specifically children who can read on their own.
- Starfall – http://www.starfall.com/ – Starfall is so full of educational information that it’s hard to even know where to begin. Although much of the content is free, some of the content is restricted to paid members. There are printables, songs, books for beginning readers, letter recognition, color recognition, even sign language – really too much to list here. Just go and check it out! This site would be especially helpful for those who homeschool. According to starfall.com, the targeted audience is toddler/preschool through 2nd grade, including content specific to special needs!
- Cool Math Games – http://www.coolmath-games.com/ – this site is a recent favorite of our second-grade math whiz. Many of the games included on this site utilize mathematic and scientific principles in a fun format. Some of the games seem to focus more on teaching the child how to use the keypad and directional arrows. However, most also involve critical thinking skills. When I asked our son for his favorites on this site, he mentioned Fruits, Truck Loader 4, and Home Sheep Home 2. Despite its name, the site also includes reading/spelling games, geography games, mazes, puzzles, and more. In order to enjoy this site, your children will need the ability to manipulate the directional arrows and the mouse or touchpad (if on a laptop), unless you want to sit and help them. For that reason, I would say the targeted age range would be for older preschoolers through the elementary grades.
- Seussville - http://www.seussville.com/ – we just love Dr. Seuss in this home, so I had to include this favorite, as well. This site isn’t as extensive as some of the others I have included, but you can still find good content here. You’ll find most of it under the Games and Activities tab, including some excellent Dr. Seuss-themed printables for coloring, reading, crafting, counting, and adding. One neat feature is being able to search by specific books or specific characters to find the related games and activities. The one downfall to this website is that it seems to take longer to load than most when switching between activities and tabs. Target range – Pre-K through lower elementary grades.
- JumpStart – http://www.jumpstart.com/jumpstartmoms/ – The free content on this site requires a little more digging than others because there is also a paid membership option (similar to Starfall). However, JumpStart offers tons of free printables (look under the worksheets tab and the activities tab), organized by grade. Some of the online games, both educational and just-for-fun, are also free. The best thing about this site is the wide age range it caters to: toddler/preschool through sixth grade!
- Caravan Friends – http://caravanfriends.org/ – I featured this faith-based website in a post about teaching Missions, but it’s also a great site just for learning about other cultures, specifically those in Asia. Cute characters help to engage children in learning about various regions on this visually appealing site. Here you will find lesson plans, printables, videos, and more! The stories and activities are available in the categories of Preschool, 1st-4th grade, and 5th-6th grade. Our children really enjoy reading stories about other cultures online as well as watching videos of children from this area. Target range – preschool through 6th grade.
- Nick Jr. – http://www.nickjr.com/kids/ – Here you can expect to find videos of your children’s favorite Nick Jr. characters and a few games themed after them. The Create tab has some online coloring pages, as well, although I found them difficult to use for younger children. One thing that annoys me about this site is having to watch an advertisement before playing a game or watching a video. If you have a child who really loves Nick Jr. then watching short ads might not bother you. I especially like the Dora the Explorer game on this site because it also teaches Spanish vocabulary by allowing children to click on objects within the game and hear the Spanish equivalent. Target range – toddler through preschool, and possibly up to first grade.
- Webkinz - http://www.webkinz.com/ – we found this site when our oldest son was given a Webkinz stuffed animal as a gift. You can buy the stuffed animals at many stores, and they come with web codes to activate an online pet. This opens up a whole world of pet-care, including creating and decorating a home for your pet, feeding and grooming your pet, and even training your pet. You can also visit the arcade to earn Kinzcash in order to buy more online items for your pet. I was very pleased to learn that Webkinz now offers free content that you can access without buying a stuffed animal. Instead, you choose a free virtual animal, create your login, and play any of the content that is not restricted to members only. Aside from the fun and learning that comes from caring for a virtual pet, the arcade offers a variety of educational games. Our oldest son had a whole collection of webkinz and enjoyed this site for many years! Although a child of any age could use this site with parental help, it’s easier for children who can read to navigate on their own. Target range – all elementary ages and even pre-K with parental help.
- National Geographic Kids – http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/kids/ – this site is relatively new to us, but our older boys love to learn facts about animals, places, and so forth. Here you can find videos featuring animals and countries, games for the brain and some just for fun, craft ideas, recipes, and more. Kids can even print out fact cards for animals or send animal-themed e-cards to friends. This site would appeal mostly to those who can read on their own, although the videos might still interest younger ages. Target range – all elementary ages.
Many of these educational websites for kids also have links to downloadable apps for those with mobile devices.
If you’d like ideas for board and card games your children might enjoy, be sure to read Our Big List of Favorite Games. I hope you enjoy exploring some of these sites with your children!
What are your favorite educational websites for children?
If you have toddlers or preschoolers at home, you might also enjoy this list of free resources!