I have a 6-year-old little boy who loves to learn (particularly when it comes to Math and Science) and is always asking questions. As a teacher, learning readiness is important to me. However, I also feel strongly that our kids need to be kids, and that our society needs to pump the breaks in forcing our children to learn developmentally inappropriate concepts. Don’t even get me started on why we are forcing these babies to learn sight words before Kindergarten! Albeit, some kids are ready for it, and that’s fine, then that learning should be nurtured, but it isn’t for the masses. I digress. (At least in this particular post.)
At any rate, I’m not against teaching kids academic content at home, especially if they’re up for it. Sometimes I feel like kids can learn more academically at home than in school if we go about it the right way, and keep them interested.
We don’t push B, but if an opportunity to learn presents itself and he has a desire then we go for it! I’ve developed a small list of our favorite websites to use regularly that are learning-centered, and learning loved!
XtraMath is free and is dedicated to helping kids with their fact fluency. As a teacher, I know the importance of kids knowing their facts fluently. Sometimes you have to skip through them understanding how it all works and just get to the memorization. You can sign up as a teacher or parent, which gives kids a login. There’s a quick assessment, then it gets straight to the matter….numbers! It begins at addition, and after mastery moves to subtraction, then multiplication, then division. Lessons can only be done once a day and each lesson consists of 3 parts daily: Progress Quiz, Practice & Beat the Teacher, where they get to race the “teacher”. My son is very competitive so this added challenge works well for him and keeps him motivated. He can also be easily frustrated so I like that it challenges him in this area and we can continuously have conversations that “you aren’t always going to be good at everything.”
It only takes about 5 minutes a day to get through and you can monitor their progress. B started at 53% and is now up to 84% with his addition facts!
Once a child has mastered all the addition facts, there’s a certificate that can be printed to proudly display!
While Xtramth is free to use, the app is not, at $4.99. I didn’t pay for it since we don’t allow him to use devices. Every time he uses it he sits at the desk.
HOW MANY KID PROFILES CAN I HAVE UNDER ONE ACCOUNT?
As many as you want!
ABCMouse isn’t free. It costs $9.95 a month, which I don’t think is bad. We also pay the extra few dollars a month for the assessment piece-I like that I can track his “data” to see if I’m getting my money’s worth. With ABC Mouse kids learn math, reading, science, social studies and more. We started B on it when he was 3, where he was just working on colors and number recognition. He started showing interest in math pretty early on so I wanted to offer him this exposure. We’ve loved it ever since, 3 years later!
There are over 9,000 learning activities that include:
- video animations
- coloring pages
- books (some are independently read, some are read to you)
- art activities
- music videos
B hates the music videos and songs…and coloring pages (he prefers to free draw at his desk). He’s never liked lullabies or sing-songs, so, I allow him to skip through those in the program. He says they’re “dumb and annoying”. Ha. That’s my kid! Besides those 3 things, B enjoys ABC Mouse. He will sometimes sit at the computer for over an hour doing the lessons.
Kids can earn tickets for each lesson and redeem those tickets to decorate areas of the ABC Mouse world, buy toys for an interactive pet, and more. B isn’t interested in any of this. He currently has almost 20,000 tickets with no desire to spend them. He just does the lessons for the sake of doing them, I suppose. I wish I could electronically gift them to another account that would use them!
Each lesson moves the avatar (which a child can create on their own) through a pathway. Pathways open up new “worlds”. Each new “world” (space, desert, ocean, rain forest) contains fun facts about that habitat. This is probably one of B’s favorite parts of doing ABC Mouse.
The program follows the child’s age and grade level, but there are settings to skip ahead or go back in the parental control area. The initial assessment will place your child where they need to be and you have a little bit of liberty to move them from there.
There are several apps for ABC Mouse that can be used on Kindle, Android or Apple products. Most of them can even be used without wifi, as long as you type in your login information while operating under wifi.
HOW MANY KID PROFILES CAN I HAVE UNDER ONE ACCOUNT?
You can have up to 3 profiles under one account, which can save your wallet!
SpellingCity has a free option, but we paid for the annual subscription, which gives you access to more games. It’s $34.95 for the year, not bad! Spelling City allows you to input your spelling words or sight words and then creates games for kids to practice. We haven’t entered the world of spelling tests in kindergarten, but he does have sight words that we use it for, and with success!
There’s a free app that goes with it so you can use it on the go!
NASA Kids’ Club
NASA Kids’ Club has interactive games, but they all serve a purpose-and are Sciency! I love the “Roving on Mars” game that’s on the homepage because it taps into fine motor skills. So many kids today use tablets and are not familiar with how to use a computer mouse. Being able to use a computer mouse smoothly across a two-dimensional plane can be challenging for little hands, but it’s a needed skill. The object is to get the rover across the maze, and if you go out of bounds you have to start at the beginning (of that level, not completely over). It also serves great practice with patience, failure, and perseverance! (There’s always a way to tie in a social-emotional component to everything in my world!)
There’s a lot of fun content on this site that requires kids to think, problem-solve, and learn about the space program.
As indicated on the NASA Kids’ Club website, most of the content may not work on a tablet or phone. You will need a computer.
That’s it; my list of websites we allow B to use regularly. It’s purposely short because we don’t allow a lot of time on screens. These are the ones I’ve weened down by my process of elimination. I’ve chosen these based on kid-friendliness, ease, and content. We do NOT allow YouTube Kids so time spent on the internet doing anything is when I am with him, or from one of the websites listed above.
Do you have any favorites? I’d love to know!