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computer games for the little guys

Mar 12, 2010 // 1 comment // Categories: computer time, early literacy.

I remember being way pregnant with Owen (with very little lap left), when Maddy–then a curious, bouncing 18-month old–was seasoned at banging away at the keyboard on Sesame Street’s Peek-A-Boo.

And why not? It wasn’t like I planted her in front of the computer while I painted my nails and ate ice-cream (though some days I might have wanted to). We were together, the games were meaningful, and she was interested.

I put a teeny-tiny star sticker on the left side of the mouse to remind her on which side she should click, and she was ready to roll. She’s still very much interested in the computer, as are Owen and Cora; for that I am grateful.

So because so many of you have asked, and because we still frequent these sites, I thought I’d share some of our favorite computer games for the little guys:

  • Sesame Street: Like I said above, this was really the first site that we used with our kids, and Maddy was probably about a year when she started with simple games like Peek-a-Boo and Keyboard-o-Rama. The resources for parents on this site are incredible, and the site has really become much easier to navigate in the last year or so. Again, it’s totally worth spending one–or two–days’ naptimes to check out. Here are some starting points:

-Zoe’s Dance Moves: Always a favorite here, not so much for the early literacy focus but instead for help with promoting mouse control. (Okay, and the music and Zoe’s moves are not to be beat.)

-Cora still loves the to pick out letters on Keyboard-o-Rama, and she’s only weeks away from three.

-Snuffy’s Magic Garden is a fun again for helping with mouse control, as little ones can make Snuffy’s garden grow by “watering” the flowers.

-Animal Sounds and Sounds Around Town both help little ones listen closely for the sounds of familiar things, and with help from a parent, even tiny ones will giggle at these two games.

  • Mouse Control Practice: These are some fun sites we’ve used to help promote fine motor development and mouse control for our kiddos.

-Make a Teddy’s Face: That’s it–creating teddy bear faces! Ad-free and very simple graphics make this an easy site for little ones.

-Design a Face, Build a House, Dress a Bear, or Build a Snowman: All basically the same as ‘Make a Teddy’s Face’, these games sometimes have a model to follow and sometimes allow little ones to ‘build’ on their own. Either way, simple moving and clicking, dragging and dropping, moving and clicking . . .

-Bubble Wrap!: Seriously fun, this one is totally addicting. It’s Bubble Wrap, computer-style. A fresh sheet of Bubble Wrap, ready to be popped by the clicking each bubble. Move into ‘Manic’ mode, and the bubbles pop as you move the arrow across the screen. Nuts crazy fun.

-Bubbles: Relaxing bubbles float across the screen, and each one that gets clicked gets popped. The tally of popped bubbles is kept, and Maddy and Owen try to beat each other. Great hand-eye coordination practice, and for my kiddos, it’s a good foot in the door for video games.

-Flower Garden: Pick flowers, plant them, water them, and they grow. A bigger-kid version of Telly’s.

-Feed the Monster: My kids get the giggles over this one because the monster is funny-looking, and he keeps calling for more food. He’ll eat and eat and eat and eat, and my 6, 4, and 2 year-olds think it’s a riot.

fyi: If you missed our previous computer-faves posts, here they are:

That’s about it for the sites we’ve used with the little guys, but know that because my kids are so close in age, the few sites we frequent have overlapped. Maddy still likes the Sesame sites and enjoys the mouse control practice ones; early on, Owen challenged himself (to near tears!) trying to do the more advanced sites that Maddy could by then easily handle; and it really depends on the day for Cora. Some days she’s happy watching Maddy and Owen navigate and other days Cora really fights for her own screen time, which I’m happy to give.

Please, please feel free to link back if and when you’ve shared your favorite computer hot-spots for kiddos. We’re always up for new ones! Happy computing!

Still need some convincing that little ones should have at least a wee bit of time in front of the computer?
PBS Parents offers these tips for screen time with kiddos and offers this list of resources about children and computer use. Thanks, PBS Parents!

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