It’s hard to find really good computer games for kids – even if you’re willing to pay good money for them. Here are a few we love that are free – including ad-free!
- Tuxpaint is the best free drawing software for kids that I’ve found. You download it, so your child is not on an internet site at all. It has stamps, different brushes, and even animation capabilities (which we have yet to explore). Your kids can even submit tuxpaint entries to the Doodle 4 Google contest!
- Red Fish Soup / Poisson Rouge is a multilingual (portions of the site are in English, French, Greek, and Chinese) site where children learn through explorative play. I see it as a virtual children’s museum of sorts – there are no games to win, but lots of cause and effect activities, as well as puzzles, songs, matching games, and more.
- Starfall.com is a fun early literacy site with books to read online, as well as holiday-specific activities.
- JacksonPollock.org allows even the littlest artist to create Jackson Pollock style paintings – found through Chronicle of an Infant Bibliophile!
- Moneyville is Emma’s new favorite game, which I discovered thanks to Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns. You need to create a username, and it’s a game best played by kids who can read. It’s been a nice introduction to money management for Emma, and she gets to practice basic math as well.
- Your basic word editor that came on your computer. You would not believe how happy this makes my kids.
Besides being married to a computer scientist makes having technology in the home fairly inevitable, but I also think introducing kids to carefully-screened technology can be very beneficial. My parents invested in our first computer when I was four years old, and I credit the time I spent playing (again, carefully selected) games on that computer for giving me an intuitive understanding of technology that has served me well in life. Besides, friendly sibling competition combined with an entertaining typing game made me the fastest typist I know, which makes it easier to get blog posts written in the tiny bits of time I find – not to mention a PhD dissertation typed with a newborn on my lap!