The Information Highway is congested with an abundance of educational websites. But, do you know where to make a pit stop and where to keep on driving? Let’s navigate through some topnotch educational sites for your school kids. Just in time for a new year.
The Internet offers up sites in a variety of categories. Features to keep an eye out for include: parent guides or tips, interactive online games, skill-building exercises (with answers), and free printable worksheets. Not all sites contain all of these features. Some reign you in with a few free games then bombard you with pop-ups and deals. The following sites are kid-friendly, parent supportive and ad-free.
These are my two personal favorites for kids, parents and teachers:
Although there are some ads for Discovery Channel products, they are not obtrusive. There are great resources for teachers: lessons, curriculum, research, tools and homework helpers. Just beneath the teacher links, on the left margin in the light green area, you will find fun activities for your child (grades 1-8).
Try the Brain busters (lots of creative logic puzzles). The answers are right there, so you might want to read the puzzle to your child or print it out and cut off the answer. There is a puzzle maker where you can create math or word puzzles. They even provide content lists. You can print out the puzzles. Your child might consider making some puzzles for his teacher, even copying a class set as a gift (your teacher will love this!).
Another good feature on this site is the free Clip Art. There are 100s of fun images available to your for nothing. Just copy the image to your desktop and use in a report or create cards or other projects.
Finally, there is Science Fair Central and Study Starters. Both of these sections offer tons of ideas and help for science projects.
This website is never ending with educational activities and ideas. Although it is linked to its bookselling component, you can avoid buying anything and enjoy the activities. When you arrive on the homepage, you will see to the left links for parents, teachers, and kids. Choose the area you want to explore.
For parents, explore the links to your child’s grade-level. If you have a middle schooler, read Catherine Holecko’s article, “Mission Organization”. There are buying guides and even parent study guides. My favorite is the Parent Primer of American History. Hopefully, they can get one up on Algebra soon!
For the kids, try the games. All are centered on book characters or language skills. Book Central features novels available through Scholastic. The Homework Hub gives you tips on being organized, memorizing facts, writing papers and more.
Other great sites to check out:
www.Pbskids.org – site sponsored by the public television organization. It is similar to Discovery. This end is for the preschool set. Visit pbskids.org/go for your school-aged group. Then, be sure to click on the “it’s my life” link. You and/or your adolescent can explore topics on depression, death, gossip, crushes and peer pressure with alcohol and drugs. There are also age-appropriate games.
www.Nationalgeographic.com – what do we need to say about this site? You will find fabulous photos illustrating people and places around the world. This is a great place to gather research for environmental or ecology-minded reports. The kids link on the lower right side of the screen will take your child to an animated site filled with news for kids, homework helpers, activities and experiments. Look for the feature on how to make your own “bag of ice cream”.
www.Sparknotes.com – this site offers free online study guides for nearly every book your teenager or college student will read. One visit says it all. Though, the notes are so thorough (remember the yellow and black Cliff Notes?), you may not want your child to visit. In some cases, the notes eliminate the need to read. A good site for parents to “cheat” a little and be able to engage in conversations about your child’s book without reading it yourself.
Like I said, there are so many educational websites out there, you could get stuck in traffic. Explore these sites first, and then search for your own. Some of these sites offer links to other good locations.
I need to add one more site for math: www.aaamath.com. This is a fabulous drill and kill site for all levels of math from kindergarten to eighth grade. Students can go through steps for topics (like how to find the percent of a number), then practice online.
Have fun exploring these sites with your kids!