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Computer and toddlers

I’ve written before about my children’s computer addiction. Here are two of my favorite free programs – chosen in part because they don’t have ads for your child to click into or easy ways to start chatting with customer service. All of these work great on our PC computer running Windows; I haven’t tried any of them on a Mac.


  • Tuxpaint is a very cool free art program that is (in my opinion) better than many of the children’s art programs available for purchase. The program includes a wide variety of art tools, including shapes, textures, and stamps.


  • Poisson Rouge/Red Fish Soup is a trilingual (UK English, French, and Chinese) exploratory site. Clicking on different parts of the main site takes you to games, music programs, programs to teach body parts, seasons, letters, numbers, coloring, and much, much more. None of the games can be “won” – they just get played over and over. This may appeal to some people and frustrate others. Change the language by clicking on the castle turret with the corresponding flag on the lower right corner of the main screen.

One more thing: try this hack if your child keeps pushing the power button on your computer.

I’d love to hear of any educational, free programs your child enjoys.

MaryAnne is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

13 thoughts on “Computer and toddlers”

  1. We’ve been trying out the Red Fish Soup site and it’s fun! Thanks for linking to it :)

  2. Super Fun Mama

    I love Central Park. They have a beta version right now. I have a few others on my blog but I definitely like Central Park the best! It has a little squirrel family and it teaches letters, numbers, shapes, social skills, and SOOOO much more.

  3. Pink & Green Mama

    Starfall.com is another great one. My oldest loves practicing her letters!

  4. Thanks everyone for the suggestions, looks like we have some new programs to check out!

  5. Starfall.com is a favorte for our little guy, but I’m gonna have to check out crazy little fingers.

    Here are some others….


    Here are some for older kids…..

    This one has lots of links to other sites…

    Some for art inspiration….

    Online Books…click on Wired for Books, apparently it’s free through my library site, but you don’t have to be a library member.

  6. Since I’m a fan of Jackson Pollock’s art I just tried the site infant Bibliophile recommended, and thought it was spectacular. :-) 19 still counts as being a child right?

  7. Heather - CROQZine.com - Dollarstorecrafts.com

    We use Toddler Keys as a keyboard/mouse/disc drives/power button lock. You can choose which things you want to lock individually (for instance, the power button & drives lock is always on). When you lock everything, any clicks or keystrokes bring up photos that you put into the TK directory. You can choose your own family photos, photos of things your kiddos like, etc. You can also associate sounds with the clicks, but that got irritating really fast!

    The only thing I don't love about it is that you can't assign certain photos to certain keys. It would be nice to assign letter pictures to their corresponding keys, etc. Sounds like your program already does that, though!

    It's a free download, too… http://www.snapfiles.com/get/toddlerkeys.html

    I also have let my son look at the sites listed by Infant Bibliophile!

    There's a youtube-ish site that is only for kids, and is juried by parents called TotLOL that has youtube videos appropriate for kids: http://totlol.com

  8. I’m so excited to try this out. A friend sent me your site b/c I’m always looking for sites/programs for my 3 year old. starfall.com is our all-time favorite. It’s all about letters and my son was fascinated by it way before he was 2. Thanks for your suggestions, can’t wait to try them.

  9. Infant Bibliophile

    I was excited to see your post; I keep thinking about doing a post asking people to suggest sites too! Our guy is only 17 months, and we’re just starting to let him play on my laptop. The Red Fish Soup site sounds fun. The sites I have let him play on so far are:

    He also really likes the sound effects part of a beta test software program here: https://beta.waterford.org/

    Other than that, we just look at iphoto together a lot!

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