This week, Education World searched the Web for engaging -- and safe -- sites offering learning games for pre-K-2 students. The sites below fill the bill -- whether you're looking for a learning center activity -- or just an activity for yet another indoor recess.
Do you hate online games? Sure, they're fascinating and kids love them -- and, oh, the things they can do! -- but you just never know what kind of ad is going to pop up on even the most innocent-looking site. You never know what "contest" a kid will be seduced into entering, or what virus a student might download unwittingly. Little ones especially have trouble distinguishing between the ads and the games.
And yet the power of the media in those games to engage students, and the interactivity they allow, are such great teaching, tutoring, and practice tools. It's a shame not to make use of them. For this reason Education World searched the Web for engaging, interactive and safe sites that offer learning games for your youngest students. The ten sites below represent some of the best we found. Not all the sites are ad-free but all the games are. So keep them in mind when you're looking for a learning center activity, a review or practice activity -- or just a fun activity for yet another indoor recess.
Funschool Games and Activities
Funschool offers this impressive array of games for students of all ages. Each grade level has its own database of games; kids simply click their grade level, choose a game from the list, and click Let's Play. Games include Begins with, Multiplication Bridge, Animal Homes, Haunted Alphabet, and much, much more. The main game page displays between one and two ads, marked "ad" -- in letters that might be too small for young eyes. The games themselves do not display ads, however. (Some games may require Shockwave, Java, or Flash.)
Gamequarium Jr. Games
This "portal for Preschool-Grade 2 students" offers games in six categories -- ABC, 1-2-3, Colors, Shapes, Time, and Money. Each category (with the exception of 1-2-3) contains four games;1-2-3 contains five. The games are fun and educationally appropriate, but the homepage music is as annoying as any I've heard. (Make sure the kids have headphones!) I also found it disconcerting to use a cursor that is shaped like a fish, and the sound and fury on the homepage caused that page to freeze enough to try my patience. If you can get past the homepage, however, the engaging games work just fine! No ads.
Learning Games Activities for Kids
The KidzPage.com presents a dozen activities for K-2 students. Most are matching activities -- matching shapes to symbols, pictures to words, numbers to number words, and so on. Other games at the site include a counting game, word scramble, flash cards, and more! Blessedly, this is a quiet site -- no music, just simple sound effects when matches are made -- but it's still colorful and fun. One ad on the learning games page, clearly marked "This is an ad."
Number Time Play a Game
The BBC maintains this colorful site, which provides math games and activities for students in preschool and primary grades. Children can choose from six games that teach addition, subtraction, matching, and counting. The site also includes songs, story animations, and printable activity pages. A Teachers and Parents page explains how to play the games (The Dart Game especially needs some explanation!) and offers tips for introducing them. A Teachers page contains suggested lessons and extension activities. The games are easy and fun -- and the voices of the animated hosts are decidedly British. Well done! No ads. (Requires Macromedia Shockwave.)
This PBS site contains 24 learning games for students from preschool through the elementary grades. Several are appropriate for pre-K-2 children; those include looking, listening, and math activities. The most helpful feature of the site for teachers of young learners, however, can be found at the bottom of the page. Click Choose a PBS Kids Site to find a menu of all PBS kids' sites, many of which contain games for young students. For example, the Games section of the Barney site offers 11 (mostly matching) games; Between the Lions provides ten reading and language arts Games; and the Sesame Street site contains lots of early learning games --just to mention a few. No ads. (Requires Macromedia Shockwave)
A school-based technology specialist, first for her own students and then for all preschool and primary students, developed the Java-based games at this site. Now, it's one of the most extensive resources of online games for that age group that I've ever seen. Games at the site are categorized in four subject areas -- math, science, social studies, and language arts -- and can be accessed either by subject area or alphabetically. A curriculum guide is available for each subject area; the guides list each game by its (linked) title and indicate the subject area and appropriate grade level for each. Clearly, this site was designed by a teacher! If you're overwhelmed by the number of games available, just click Can't Decide? and the computer will choose a game for you! This site has the most ads of all the sites I've selected -- one to two ads, clearly marked "AD," appear on every page -- however, the number, variety, and ease of use of the site's games make a visit well worth the aggravation.
Article by Linda Starr
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