While the slightly over-protective parent in me wants to shelter my children from the internet until they are 30, I realize that knowing how to use a computer has become a necessary part of learning. And there are some quality learning sites that can engage your children with games, activities, crafts and science experiments that are worth checking out. Just make sure you monitor their online use (more tips for internet safety here) and consider keeping the computer they will be using in a central area so you can see what sites they are on; for younger kids you should participate with them while they are learning how to navigate so they don’t get discouraged or frustrated (and then throw the laptop across the room).

Here are 5 great learning websites for kids:

photo of a family using a laptop together

Lawrence Hall of Science
This site has a ton of great science experiments that require a few supplies (most you probably already have around the house), as well as some fun science-related learning games. Science is not my strong suit, so I love letting her check this site out for answers and activities. Plus it’s a nicely constructed website with clean lines and aesthetically-appealing graphics.

PBS Kids
PBS Kids is one of my favorite reading websites. Their games and activities are integrated with characters from the shows my kids and I love (Who isn’t a fan of Arthur?!) And with a free membership to PBS Kids Island, parents can track their kids progress in areas like rhyming, letter recognition and phonics. I also love this site because there aren’t any distracting ads that your kids would inevitably click through, leading them elsewhere on the internet.

Our favorite game on Funbrain is Madlibs Jr., it’s guaranteed to get some giggles. They also have a math arcade with games tailored to your child’s grade level. And there are books to read on this site, such as, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and more reading games to help reinforce the lessons they are learning in school.

This is a great site for preschoolers because it has games and activities featuring some of their favorite characters. I am not a fan of letting my kids watch too much television (but it’s inevitable), so when my twins are asking to watch Dora or Diego I often suggest we play some games on NickJr. to satisfy their cravings. You will also find free printables and crafts on NickJr., which can always help entertain a toddler.

A friend told me about this site recently and I am so glad she did. While they have some fun games like word searches and vocabulary building games, the big draw is that your child can write and create their own stories. After writing their stories they can add images, enter their work in writing contests and even order a hard copy of their story (with parents’ permission of course). This is a great tool to foster creativity and help budding authors build confidence in their work.

I am always looking for great new websites for kids that aren’t dense with flashy ads and outdated designs, and as I find them I will be sure to share!