Top Ten Websites for Elementary School Children

The internet provides students and teachers with a vast source of educational tools. When confronted with many choices, the educator must carefully determine which are most appropriate for use in the classroom setting. Many of these websites allow users to set up free accounts. In order for a website to be on my top ten list it must be appealing to children and include at least two free activities. My top ten is not in any particular order.  Each one has its own unique value. Here are my favorites for children in elementary school.
Number One: Spelling City This site allows users to find word lists and practice spelling and language skills. One of my favorite games from Spelling City is "Hang Man Mouse". Children love it when the mouse wins the cheese before the cat awakens! Teachers can set up an account and import their own word lists customizing it to their own students' needs. This site is appropriate for all elementary grades that work on word lists. Here's a link to my page on Spelling City.Number Two: Starfall Starfall is a wonderful website for young children to practice letter identification and letter sounds. Cute stories for developing listening comprehension skills are a component of this website.
Number Three: Arcademic Skill Builders Along with the magnificent artistry, animation, and sound effects, this is a fantastic site to develop fluency with addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division skills. Students can race against the computer or compete with their own classmates in the Jet Ski Addition game. There is also a feature which allows teachers and students to customize the level of difficulty of the addition and subtraction facts. Other math skills, such as time, money, and fractions are incorporated into games as well. In addition to the large number of math games, Arcademicskillbuilders has language arts and geography games. The "Capital Penguin" game provides children with practice in memorizing the state capitals.  This website has over fifty free games which range from first through sixth grade.  There is also a paid subscription based membership which provides data for tracking student progress.
Number Four: Literactive Literactive is a perfect site for developing phonological awareness. You'll need to register in order to utilize the activities. (I don't think you'll get any spam from them.) Literactive is not based in the United States so the pronunciation of a few sounds is slightly different compared to the dialects heard in the USA. (I believe Literactive is based in the UK or Canada.) The guided reading page on this website includes several of the classic nursery rhymes. It's terrific for developing concept of word. Kindergarten and first grade are the best grades for using Literactive.  
Number Five:National Geographic Kids. National Geographic Kids is certainly a great way of motivating students to learn about animals. Beautiful photos and videos are the hallmark of this website. Kids love to spend time navigating the animal videos and photo gallery on their own.
Number Six: Poissonrouge. For those of us that didn't take French, I am guessing that "Poissonrouge" is French for "Red Fish". This website is quite imaginative! I like the keyboard which the students can create a musical pattern and play it back. This makes a great connection in the minds of children as they grow in their understanding about repeating patterns. The snakes and ladders game with the red and blue ladybugs is a child-friendly way to expose numeracy concepts and review numeral identification. When you mouse click on the spaceship you're off on a mathematical adventure, depending on which "planet" the user lands on.  (UPDATE:  This website now requires a paid subscription for full access but has a free activity of the week.  The yearly family membership fee is $19.00 and a school registration of $50.00.  You can register and use the site for free for ten days with a trial membership.)
Number SevenBrain POP jr Brain POP jr is geared toward grades  kindergarten through third.  This website offers short movies narrated by a young girl along with her sidekick, Moby the Robot.  There are a wide range of topics related to science, social studies, math, language arts, and more.  The movies are a great supplement for teachers to use with units of study in the core subjects.  Each cartoon  usually lasts no more than 3 minutes.  Teachers can use the pause and replay feature to stop and discuss a point with students.  There is also a close caption feature, a related topics button, and much more.  After viewing the cartoon, students can take a quiz.  The quizzes can be used to review the concepts presented in the movie watched or to assess students' understanding.  Brain POP jr. has a "Movie of the Week" which is free for anyone to watch.  At least one free cartoon can be found in each of the subject areas but science and social studies usually has 3 freebies apiece.  An annual home based subscription of BrainPOPjr will cost $ 99.00.  The classroom membership is $ 160.00.  The school-wide, limited access subscription is $1,200.00 a year.  With this membership, you can use BrainPOPjr from 7:00 am to 5:30 pm.  These rates were posted on BrainPOP's website in March 2015.  Keep in mind that rates change over time.  BrainPOP has different subscription fees depending on the type of program purchased.  The upper elementary version of BrainPOP is priced higher than BrainPOPjr .
Number Eight:  "Just For Kids" from the University of Illinois Extension in Urban Illinois is another great website.  The gold on this website is the science and social studies units.  The University of Illinois Extension says the grade range is for K-8 classrooms.  One of the activities for the lower grades might include Food Fun - Apples to Zucchini page where children can color food beginning with letters of the alphabet in sequential order.  I believe most of the activities are appropriate for upper elementary or could be used at the middle school level. Just For Kids is like going on a treasure hunt.  There are hidden drop down activities that I found quite by accident!  First of all, many of the pages have an "Activities" or "Fun Place".  Visit A Walk in the Woods, and go to "Fun Place", then click on "Timber Talk".  At "Timber Talk", children can write their own story about the woods and submit it to be posted on the website.  Students can also read stories that other children posted.  The nine featured pages are not the only ones available.  Scroll down to view the other links such as: Tree House Weather KidsRiding the Winds with Kalani:  A Weather Adventure, Secret Life of Trees, All-Star River Explorers, Great Corn Adventure, Out on a Limb, Dr. Arbor Talks Trees, and Animals Past and Present.  This website has excellent content and detail especially in the units related to plants.  Teachers will need to preview the content in advance to find out if it coincides with their school division's curriculum.  The format is similar to listening to a book and turning to the next page.  Students with limited reading skills can listen to most of the science and social studies content.  This provides for a bridge for students to master concepts while in the process of learning to read.  The male narrator's voice is clear and easy to understand.  He speaks very enthusiastically!  Several of the pages have language options.  Some of which include Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, and more.  This website is free to use.  Individuals or schools that have limited internet access and purchase a CD version of the website.  The two CD's offered are inexpensive and are available at the University of Illinois Extension website.
Number NineABCmouse is just for the little ones.  It's target group is ages 2 through kindergarten.  There are free subscriptions available for public and private schools that meet certain conditions.  There is also a free subscription for Head Start classroom.  If you are interested in a subscription for use at home, the cost is $79.00 a year or $ 99.00 for a two year subscription.
Number Ten:   The usmint.gov/kids/  is a website for children developed by the U.S. government.  Our tax dollars are well spent here!  The Cents of Color permits children to color the various 50 State Quarters.  Albeit in a whimsical motif!  Children can click on the map of the United States, mouse over the map to select a state and click the desired U.S. state.  The quarter for the selected state appears and is ready for the child's virtual painting rendition of it.  Placing a collection of the 50 State Quarters on a display table in the classroom prior to the computer activity will peek interest in the youngsters.  To make this an exciting computer lab activity, the teacher could give each child one of the 50 State Quarters and have the children locate their quarter using the U.S. map from the activity.  There is also quite a bit of historical trivia on this website.  Adams, Jefferson, or Both is a trivia game in which children read a description, determine the appropriate U. S. president, and drag and drop his image in the space provided.   With the sound of the Atlantic Ocean in the background, the Jamestown Challenge allows students to answer questions pertaining to the some of the historical facts about the Virginia Company and Jamestown.  This final website from my top ten is subject to change.  It will rotate between government, state, and other nonprofit organizations that develop internet activities for children. 
There are many great websites for children on the internet. Paid subscriptions are often worthwhile investments. Raz-Kids.com, Samson's Classroom, Education City are three such websites. As I said at the beginning of this post, in order to meet my top ten criteria, there must be at least two free activities. If you know of other fantastic educational websites for children, please nominate them by commenting on this page. It does not need to be a U.S. website but does need to be in English. I moderate all comments.

Thank you for reading!

6 comments:

  1. You've named two of my favorites, Spelling City and Starfall. I will check out the others on your list. I'm always looking for great online resources!

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  2. A fun & educational site that we love for Educational printables, preschool games, stories and more is ZiggityZoom.com Go to the Activities section.

    http://www.ziggityzoom.com/activities

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    1. Anonymous,
      I liked the water balloon pinata idea featured on Ziggityzoom. I would love to see that in action with the children. Ziggityzoom has some advertising which led me to another website with internet games. While the games were designed for children, the themes were inappropriate. I feel that children would tend to follow the links as I did and end up at the other website. It would be nice if the advertising could be removed or changed to something more suitable. Nonetheless, Ziggityzoom had some good articles and ideas for parent and teachers to use. Thank you for the input.

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  3. Hi Zoom Zoom,
    I loved your list of websites for children. I can surely use these with my own kids as well as my little school buddies.
    Kim and Debby
    http://spanishbeginnningsounds.blogspot.com/

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    1. Deborah and Kim,

      These websites for elementary children are great. I found some of them by chance and others through scouring the internet looking for free online resources for kids. I needed to devote some time myself at each site in order to understand the unique features that were offered by each website.

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  4. Good post An interesting discussion is worth a comment as in this age group children learn quickly and as they grow older they start exploring.
    Top Preschool education,
    Pri Primary Education

    ReplyDelete