Websites your kids will love (that won’t make parents cringe)!
I have three boys – two in elementary and one in middle school. Since the pandemic began, I've been on constant alert for fun websites for my kids that keep them interested, make them happy, and make me feel like they’re maybe, just maybe, learning something educational along the way. When they want screen time, I just send them to this page.
I'm looking for sites that are easy-to-use, clean, and age-appropriate (oh, and preferably free). Below is the list of my latest finds. Check back often for updates.
If you're looking for non-screen ideas, check out the projects for kids page.
Do you have an idea you’d like to see added here? If so, please send me a message on the 'contact' page.
Solar System Scope
The 1st graders are in love with this website, and so am I. It's an interactive site that allows you to explore all the planets and the solar system in real time.
Download the app to locate constellations in the night sky on your mobile device.
My son's third grade class is begging to play this at home. While 'playing' in DreamBox, K-8th grade students are immersed in a world where learning is fun — leveling up from one interactive game to the next and collecting data for their teachers as they play.
Check out the free trial if you don't have access through your school.
Built by teachers, this site is full of [free] fun educational games that are organized by subject and grade/age level.
My eight-year-old is an avid fan, and loves to jump into it during remote school breaks. My six-year-old has now joined into the mix and loves it as well.
My youngest LOVES children's book author Mo Willems. He likes to join Mo in his studio while Mo talks about writing and illustrating books in his 15 episodes of "Lunch Doodles" on YouTube. To learn more about Mo (including fun little games and downloadable activities), visit The Kennedy Center website.
DZTV: DENVER ZOO
Denver Zoo re-opened to the public in 2020 with several new restrictions --check the website before you go for the latest rules. If you're not up for going to the zoo in-person, check out these fun virtual safaris from home. Find them on the zoo website, or on the Denver Zoo YouTube channel.
My kids all love math, but my 11-year-old probably enjoys this site the most. It allows you to work at your own pace, leveling up as you go. Although we use it almost exclusively for math, the site also offers grammar, science, history and more. Plus, it's run by a great non-profit organization (who you can donate to, if you wish).
Scratch teaches kids basic programming within an online community. My kids all love looking at other people's projects, and have fun coding and sharing their own interactive creations.
This site is designed and maintained by the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab:
ART FOR KIDS
My six-year-old found videos of this artistic family on YouTube Kids and surprised me by drawing a very impressive sketch of a doctor.
In addition to lots of fun step-by-step drawing videos, you’ll also find painting and origami lessons for kids on this site, or on their YouTube channel.
I admit it. I got a little sidetracked playing some of these games, myself! There are tons of puzzles, word searches, coding and math games. They're geared towards kids, but let's face it, we can all use a little mindless 'brain game' time.
This site lets kids customize their music and their musicians to create unique sound tracks. To get started, click the "web version," then select your avatar. From there, you might want to view the tutorial to help you get started (click the hamburger button, then the "?" help button).
AMERICA'S TEST KITCHEN - KIDS
For your budding chef, the kids section of America's Test Kitchen contains great activities and recipes that you and your kiddos can try out. There's even a trivia section to test your cooking knowledge!
Getting my kids to move has become much more of a challenge during stay-at-home orders. This site has super cute free videos that will encourage your kiddos to get up and move their bodies!
Famous people reading books to my kids -- I love it! This site features a great collection of books, all animated and all read by a celebrity. Each book lists a suggested age range and also offers supplemental materials, in case you're feeling ambitious. All totally free -- a great find!
What kid doesn’t dream of being a spy kid? For all of your spy kids looking to decode secret missions and messages, check out the CIA kids section. Go to cia.gov and click the tab for “spy kids.”
Check out the new feature in Google - type an animal's name e.g. “tiger” in the search box, then find the section (right under Wikipedia’s entry) that says “Meet a life-sized tiger up close” and press ‘View in 3D.’ This opens your camera, showing a virtual tiger in your house! There are lots of other animals you can see as well, plus you can take pictures of yourself posing with all of them.
A super fun math learning game with wizards and spells, where kids have to solve math problems in order to move to the next level. This game is especially fun if you have multiple kids that love math, since they can be in the same level and ‘world’ and play together.
The WHO website has several great parenting tips and resources for COVID-19, but they're a little hard to find. Here is the link to the parenting page. One great item is the children’s book at the top of this page, titled "My Hero Is You. How kids can fight COVID-19!" This is a book written to help kids understand the coronavirus and how to deal with it. My favorite line is "I need you to be my hero."
If you have a piano/keyboard and a child with interest, this is an affordable online option for piano lessons. The instructor is great with relating music to things kids love, and all the music lessons are posted on-line for free. So far, my kids are LOVING it and begging to do more. To join the premium account, it’s roughly $20/month for the first child, $10/month more per extra kid. Other price points are available as well.