Lately, I’ve noticed a ton of “pay to play” websites for kids. While I am all for great educational computer games, I know that for many families, paying to access online games just isn’t a feasible option. I wanted to share with you a list of some of the most popular free websites for kids. As a mom, I walk a fine line between wanting my children to be independent, and wanting to keep them safe. I have personally played and navigated each of these sites, and have tested them for content and safety (because you might be amazed at some of the content I’ve found when searching for “fun free games for kids”…YIKES!)
On our desktop, each of my children have a folder with their name on it. Inside each folder, are shortcut links to these sites. My kids know that those sites are the only ones they are allowed to access on the computer without a grown-up. I hope you will find the list helpful, and will perhaps check out a few of these sites with your kids this week! Here’s to making their “screen time” a bit more educational!
Learn to read with fun, interactive reading books and games! Make sure to check out the Download Center for great printables!
Down-side: While the majority of the site is free, you have to pay to access the *More Starfall portion of the site.
Kids work their way through increasingly challenging literacy games to earn virtual tickets, and the ability to “build” more amusement park rides for their island. Parents can also take advantage of the progress tracker, to see how their child is doing! Your kids will love playing and learning along with some of their favorite PBS characters.
Down-side: Younger children may find some of the games too challenging. My Pre-K had a hard time with some of the games, as they require reading, and knowledge of more advanced literacy concepts such as synonyms and antonyms, homophones, etc.
3. Nick Jr.
While not quite as educational as the above sites, you can rest assured that your child won’t find any inappropriate content while on this site. All of the games state the developmental skill(s) it works on, such as “Count with Us”, or “Make Music With Us” etc.
Down-side: Your child will face ads for things like dish soap, cars, etc.
4. Disney Jr.
All the favorites are here, with games, clips, printables and more.
Down-side: It is easy for a child to navigate themselves off this site, and into say, the Disney store, or a more grown-up section of the Disney website. The site is a bit tricky for young kids to navigate on their own. (I actually find it difficult to navigate. It is pretty easy to move from Disney Jr. to another “sister” Disney site!)
5. PBS Kids
This site differs from the PBS Kids Island site, as kids are more free to move from character to character, and aren’t playing a sequential, focused game. The site is easy for the youngest of kids to navigate on their own, and I love that I can trust all content their little eyes will see on this site.
Down-side: There are links a child can click that can take them off of the initial game-site, but they can always get back by clicking on the PBS Kids logo at the top of the page.
Play games, watch clips, and find fun craft and recipe ideas featuring your child’s favorite Sprout characters. (We love the Berenstain Bears and Caillou)!
Down-side: If your child is printer-happy, you could end up losing a lot of ink. Many games prompt your child to print. You’ll also face ads for things like Wiggles concerts, etc.
7. BBC CBeebies
My kids enjoy the British version of PBS, and like seeing new characters and games. The site features games, songs, crafts, and videos of the children’s shows on the BBC.
Down-side: Some of the games take some time to load.