The Best Educational Game Sites (Part One)

On my blog, I usually focus on higher education. On-line degrees draw a lot of people back to school, who ordinarily might not have attended college. But honestly, distance learning has such a wide all-inclusive scope that college in only a part of it. If turning the computer into a classroom works so well for adults, why wouldn’t it work just as well for kids? If not better!

Turn a love of video games into a love of learning, photo by antonpinchuk

Today I’m not talking about home schooling your kids, I’d like to talk about some websites out there that exist to make learning fun and exciting for them. Trust me, I have three kids, and sometimes they would rather take a time-out or an early bed time rather than do their homework. And how can I blame them? When I was a kid I hated homework, too (not as much as eating green beans, but a close second).

But when I was a kid, there weren’t websites out there to take spelling, phonics, math, and science, and turn them into lively, colorful games. So I’d like to take a look at a few sites that focus on learning and teaching younger students, instead of the sites that are geared towards advertising and merchandising. Bear in mind that these sites are to HELP children learn, they are not accredited home schooling sites that will stand in place of school.

These are just fun ways to get your child interested in studying.

Starfall is a site about learning to read. Started in 2002, initially it was geared specifically towards kindergarten age, but over the years it has expanded its content, and now has skills teaching games and exercises for kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade, home school, and children learning English as a second language. There are also comics, plays, stories, and interactive activities. The site is free, but does require you to sign up to use it. However, you can try out several free activites on the site to check it out beforehand (the free tutorial about why kids shouldn’t bully is nice).

Ticket to Read offers a free trial, because it is confident in the depth of its content. After that, parents can purchase site access for their kids on a per-semester basis (anywhere from ten to twenty dollars for a semester). The games and activities on the site have been developed by educators, and focus on repeating sounds and letters to ensure the students are learning and not just playing. Once the child logs in, they master different sounds and skills, and earn “tokens” and “tickets” that they can exchange in an on-site store for toys and gifts. This gives the kids achievements to work for. Also, they have a leader board for who has the most tickets and tokens. It’s a fun site, easy for a child to navigate, and it will also get a kid to sit and work on phonics and spelling for hours at a time.


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