Many friends have contacted me about my thoughts on using the computer to support our little ones’ early literacy skills.
They’ve asked what sites we use, what sites I recommend, when to begin computer use, and how much computer time I give my kiddos.
I’m no techie expert, but I’ll admit that my kids probably hit the computer for 10-20 minutes a day on average. I started Maddy on the computer well before she was two, and information on great sites for the little guys will be posted next week. (I promise. . . it’s already started!)
And here are just a few of the literacy-focused sites that Maddy, Owen, and Cora frequent during their computer time:
- Starfall: This site totally and completely rocks. It is ad-free, it has simple graphics, and it creates games based for nearly every literacy skill. I LOVE IT.
On Starfall, we especially love. . .
–the ABC’s: Cora loves to click on ‘C’ and then go back and forth clicking wherever the sparkles are to advance the screen;
–Learn to Read: Kids can literally begin at #1 and go from Play to Book, but Owen loves Car Race, Soap Boat, and The Big Hit;
–It’s Fun to Read: Maddy loves the Music and Art Gallery sections, and so do I. Reading skills are stuck into interesting information about musicians and artists, and kiddos can listen to short pieces of music and and view artwork from the masters. I want to dance when I see this site.
–Extras: My kids have made a million Pumpkins and Snowmen, and they have grown a zillion flowers in the Garden Shop. When I say we’ve spent time on this site, I’m not kidding.
- PBS Kids: With familiar characters, meaningful games that work literally all subjects, and an easy-to-navigate site, Maddy, Owen, and Cora all have their favorites here. I can’t even begin to speak to the resources on this site for parents, either; it’s something totally worth spending time exploring. Here are our current fave’s on PBS Kids:
–SuperWHY!: I’ve sung the SuperWHY! praises before, so I’ll spare you, but really, this section is fantastic for early literacy skills, as is the show itself. Maddy and Owen love the Golden Crown Spelling Bee, the Storybook Creator, and Rhyme Time Bingo.
–Curious George: We love Day at the Beach here. It is simple, it is easy, and Cora can play solo or with minimal help.
–Martha Speaks: This section has a great game that helps little ones learn mouse control, and right now Cora is addicted. If you click on the picture of a pizza, you’ll get to Skits Cooks. By following simple instructions on the screen, kids can ‘create’ a pizza by moving the mouse back and forth, up and down, and in circles by ‘adding’ different ingredients. I want to hug the creator of this game.
–Dinosaur Train: Tons of science information here really worth checking out. The Games work hand-eye coordination in a simple and non-threatening way, and the Field Guide is just incredible.
–Word World: Maddy and Owen love the Pig section to make funny foods with Pig, they love trying to solve the riddles, and like the show, this game itself focuses on making word learning and reading fun.
–PBS Kids Island: This part of the site is a little more involved, and it requires a parent creating an account. But after you take the time to do it once, it’s ready for any time you play (and it’s free!). It’s the kind of deal that players can earn ‘tickets’ with which they can redeem prizes to store in their tree houses.
Owen, more than Maddy right now, is totally into this; he has about a hundred cyber toys in his toybox. It’s hysterical. There are tons of resources for parents and caregivers, and you can even link to the research (woo-hoo!) that supports the games and activities. PBS is really working hard to make ‘raising readers‘ easy for everyone, and I love them for it!
I know I’ve diverged slightly from literacy sites, and I know that it seems as though we don’t stray very far from two major stops. But these two sites–Starfall and PBS Kids–contain tons of games and activities worth checking out, and they are ad-free and safe, which is totally important in my book.
- I’ll hit you with our favorite sites for little, little guys next week; or
- check out some of our favorite math-focused computer sites; or
- check out my Tech-Savvy pal, Leticia’s site for more detailed information on technology and our little ones.
Ps: Yes, I totally took the graphics from Starfall and PBS Kids without asking permission. My apologies!
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