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Children’s Online Learning Activities
Following are my three top picks for non-commercial and lightly commercial websites for educational purposes.
No surprises here. PBS is devoted to education and high values. A parent or guardian can rest assured that there will be no violence, sexual activity, or condoned hatred or prejudice. Printed words are displayed with concurrent narration. This helps learning and recognizing written words. It is a sneaky reading class! Furthermore, it looks as though every children’s program sub-site has a page link especially for parents and another for teachers. That is a bonus!
PBS Videos and Games
Videos and Games are offered in the middle of the PBS KIDS home page.
The videos I checked ran from 10 to 30 minutes. I particularly enjoyed “Jim Henson’s: Sid the Science Kid.” For any of the videos, it is easy to find a link to explain the educational goal of the series.
There is a Summer Reading Adventure link which goes to games and a contest. Some of these are partner organization links.
Another regular feature is the Games link. Of the games I tested, I found the instructions came eventually both in print and with a narrative voice-over. Sometimes, though, it seemed that the computer generation’s method of clicking away until the correct result occurs worked best. Games include categories of Spelling, Dress-UP, Spanish Language, Animals, Dinosaurs, and Healthy Eating.
Every class or camp group I have ever seen nurture butterflies just adores this experience!
More PBS Options
The site contains a menu across the bottom of the home page for
(1) TV Times (meaning children’s programming) with an easy to use system to find one’s own local station. The station I checked had children’s programming running continuously from 5:30 AM through 6:00 PM.
(2) Music – a list of ten PBS TV programs from which one can see a list of songs to hear and read the lyrics. As with almost everywhere within PBS KIDS, for example, the Mr. Rogers Neighborhood Music title page shows a paragraph with the overall goal of the program (expressing emotions safely).
(3) Coloring pages – Over 24 programs offered coloring page links. These are printable and simple pages as would be found in any paper coloring book. Next, crayons or marker or paint must be applied. J
(4) A Search function button.
Suggestions to Parents
The majority of the programs seem geared to pre-k children. Although there are programs for elementary aged kids, the preschoolers and primary grades seem to dominate. There are SO MANY options at PBS KIDS, that I recommend one sits with his child to introduce the website and to narrow down choices.
This is a relatively small quiz and learning site, but it is excellent. One’s efforts help the United Nations World Food Programme, provide education to everyone and help end world hunger by providing rice to hungry people, both for free. Most of the subjects are geared for junior high school children through adults. The great thing about the quizzes is their response to the player’s level. The software determines the player’s level of competence and does not frustrate him or her by moving to advanced, difficult questions. That is, until all the repeated review questions get one ready to advance.
The Subjects Covered
The subjects now offered are
My caution here is that freerice.com may become addictive to the parent.
Scholastic has long been a publisher of educational print materials. It has a solid record of offering books at low cost to students through book clubs. Now, its website is worth visiting. A very nice feature is a “filter” to choose activities and resources based on the child’s grade in school: preK-K, 1-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12. Furthermore, in addition to links for parents and teachers, Scholastic has links for school administrators and librarians.
Because Scholastic is heavily geared to schools and teaching it has advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is a more scholarly and comprehensive approach to activities with the possibility to expand inquiry. The slight disadvantage is that there is only one menu item on the home page which is useful to the at-home child. This is STUDENT ACTIVITIES.
As with the PBS KIDS site, there is narration (obtained by clicking on a microphone or headset icon) to accompany printed words.
Please remember that all of these activities are individual and electronic rather than large muscle or social-interactive. Balance you child’s computer learning with old-fashioned outdoor play!
Text and photo copyright 2012 Maren Morgan.