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Fun Websites For the Youngest Readers
Early one morning (precisely 4:23 a.m.) I found my 3-year-old perched in front of the laptop, eyes glazed over, clutching the mouse. In my decaffeinated state of shock I asked, "Kaela, what are you doing?" She responded in a matter-of-fact tone, "I'm playing my Dora game." How long she had been siting there is a mystery. She sure wasn't going to tell me. She was somewhat unresponsive, completely absorbed in the task of helping Pepito, Dora the Explorer's puppy, navigate a series of slides to obtain the key for his kennel door.
And so began her obsession with computer games and my quest for websites with quality educational content and entertainment value.
She's four now and has been playing religiously for about a year. (We do set limits, in case you were wondering, but that is an entirely different topic). She recently began reading, so I will share some of our favorite sites for practice and fun, as well as some of the most interesting sites sponsored by children's authors.
Reading Fun & Games
Learning to read is exciting for a child. Encouragement and support will have an impact on their continued success whether they are just mastering their letter sounds or opening the pages of their first chapter book. Here are some websites that will help make this journey fun and rewarding.
- Learn to Read at Starfall This site is used by teachers and parents around the world and has reading activities for preschoolers through second grade independent readers. The animated online books are self-paced and will help your child sound out a word with a simple click of the mouse. They have animated videos to teach the "rules" and coloring printables.
- Funschool There are many games at this site that are just for fun, but look carefully and you'll find some reading and learning opportunities.
- Reading Is Fundamental A must see! In addition to various games, Reading Planet has a free membership club that allows members to create their own page with a custom look and share their ideas about what they like / don't like on reading planet, vote on favorite books, and enter contests.
- Readquarium- Online reading... More reading activities, with a special section for sight words and building fluency.
- GameGoo - Educational Games This is a favorite at our house, for the simple, goofy animations and games with enough silliness to make a cranky child giggle. Three reading levels to choose from.
- Kids' Place Recommended for 1st through 6th graders, this site primarily highlights authors by grade level. There are also games and activities to explore.
- PrimaryGames.com This is a large site covering many ages and subjects. Beware: there is also some irrelevant advertising.
- Goodnight Stories kids site Reading club, writing club and competitions.
- Fun With Spot Preschool and K level games and activities.
- Inkless Tales Animated stories, games, poetry and crafts.
- ICDL Read books online in a variety of languages! "A Library for the World's Children," this site allows kids to review the books they have read and read recommendations from other kids.
- Welcome To Seussville! If you love Seuss, this is the site for you! The games are for 1st-3rd grade reading levels.
- Scholastic.com | Kids For readers of all ages, this site has games, author information and activities based on all your favorite books. Some examples are: Magic School Bus, Clifford, Goosebumps, Captain Underpants, Harry Potter, I Spy, and The Babysitters Club. There is also a community for older students.
Best Author Sites to Visit
- Chris Van Allsburg If you are a fan of the Polar Express, or any of Chris Van Allsburg's incredible books, you will love exploring this beautiful site.
- Author Jan Brett's Home Over 4,100 pages of free activities, coloring and handwriting practice pages and projects featuring Jan Brett's beloved characters.
- RobertSabuda.com: Pop-Up Books Explore how pop-up books are made with this best selling author. Try making one of your own with templates provided.
The Big Three
My daughter still visits NickJr for her favorite Dora games and the vast selection of games featuring all of her favorite characters. Playhouse Disney and PBS KIDS are also frequent stops. PBS KIDS has the most extensive selection of reading games of the three, including SUPER WHY! , WordGirl and Between the Lions.
Subscription Based Sites
Here are just a few of the many sites that charge a monthly fee to play their games.
- MyNoggin.com Many of the same favorites as Nick Jr. (like Dora and Blues Clues) and some Noggin exclusives. This subscription site advertises learning games for preschoolers and allows parents to track their child's progress. A 7 day free trial is available.
- Reading Eggs This is one of my favorite resources. A subscription will give you full access to the reading game that teaches your child to read from the very basics through third grade level. Parents can also print out worksheets to use to reinforce concepts later. A free trial is available.
Programs that teach your child to read (with little effort on your part):
- ClickN' READ Phonics® This program is $59.85 for 100 interactive reading lessons. Designed for beginning, struggling and learning disabled readers. Also includes progress reports for parents.
There are so many great options to choose from to help your struggling reader or new reader! Try a few out to see which approach works best for your child and move on to a different site if your child find a reading game frustrating or boring.