Monday, March 09, 2009

funschool and other fun free sites for kids

I have known about this web site for a year now, but until now couldn't get it to work on our computers. Now it does (hooray firefox 3!)

This site is full of fun, actually educational games, some of which I've 'been looking for something that did that'.

There are games on all subjects and all elementary levels (including preschool). The first we tried totally cracked me up, since I was a librarian in a pre-mother life. In it, you are the librarian and have to get books for kids--but you have to remember where the books are and get them before the kids get frustrated and walk away. It was hilariously like being a real librarian.

Other games my kids and I enjoyed were 'action fraction', 'dr. brain's robot' (an addition 'flash cards' kind of practice game, but fun), and 'super hyper spider typer.' Just the names of the games are fun enough! Besides, how can you knock a game where "big Bruce" flips burgers into people's mouths?

It's not a replacement for a legit, graded curriculum. But it is a fun and free supplement to what you're using, especially for kids like mine who need help practicing skills (like basic addition facts), but don't want to do the flashcards on Compass Odyssey (boring even the first time) or in real life. Maybe we'll get those math facts down after all! And learn to type.

Another site the kids have enjoyed is

I especially like the puzzle game "Hermie Heckle's Playhouse."

Of course, there is also our universal favorite, I especially like the games on the "Fetch" website. They let you build a rollercoaster while teaching you about energy and do other equally creative science activities. My preschoolers love the videos on the "Curious George" website--they show kids doing science experiments that my kids can replicate at home, and modeling how we talk about science. They also really like the videos on the "Sid the Science Kid" site--especially the movie about decay (scroll down to 'decay song'). PBSkids is loaded with more. There are games that teach about nutrition on the Arthur site, songs and stories on SuperWhy, pbskids Island (great site for teaching early reading skills) and more. In fact, the Sesame Street site is the most boring of those available.

The one kids website I used to recommend that is now banned in our home is The ads are aggressive, the site is difficult to navigate (leaving the kids wandering in advertisement-laden cyberspace) so I have to get up and help them find what they want, the games are so addictive and plentiful that the kids turn into zombies and won't turn it off when it's time. The site actually teaches kids how to get lost in cyberspace by the way it is constructed, allowing them to literally wander from place to place within for hours and hours and hours. And not only is it addictive in an unhealthy way (I had one kid go into out-and-out night terrors when interrupted during one particularly mesmerizing game--that's when we pulled the plug on that site), it is, by it's very nature, deeply commercial. Nobody's going to find pbskids merchandise at every turn, but they do find Dora stuff everywhere they look. And the more they play on, the more they beg for and are interested in the stuff at the store. I don't need that kind of 'educational programming' in my house. Plus, a lot of their 'educational' games are only superficially educational, despite the information they force-feed parents at the beginnings of the games telling them what vital skills their children are learning. It is edutainment at its finest. I don't need that. If we're going for entertainment, let's go for entertainment and not make any pretenses about it needing to be educational. I'd rather send the kids outside to play, anyway. is for the same people who read those parenting magazines at doctor's offices and take them seriously. Oh, and puts TONs of junk onto your hard drive without notifying you--cookies, java crap (did you know your computer runs faster if you empty the sun java cache every so often, despite their warning when you try that you shouldn't unless you're a programmer or something equally ludicrous), etc.

Oh, and you can always try the Compass Learning Odyssey, which we use as our primary school curriculum, on, and on the Compass site.

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