(Click for the Complete Online Parent Reading Guide)
There is a nearly endless array of online learning games designed especially to help children with both reading skills and reading practice. Here are some of the best online sites that have reading games for kids:
- PBS Kids – This site has literally dozens and dozens of really cool games for readers of all levels. They include “Arthur’s Comic Creator,” which lets kids write and illustrate a comic strip that they can save online or print out, “Alpha Pig’s Paint by Letter,” which lets kids match letters as they add color to a picture, and “Fuzzy Lion Ears,” which helps kids sound out words with a clear voice-over that guides them as they choose different letters and sounds.
- Seussville – On this site, peopled with all the recognizable Seuss characters that most kids already know and love, kids can explore Horton’s jungle of Nool, stroll along Mulberry Street and swim in McElligot’s pool while they read along to classic Seuss tales. There are also printable activity pages.
- Sesame Street – This site has reading games of all kinds, including “Super Elmo’s ABC Jump” and “Rhyme Time.” It also has learning activities for families to do together and fun printable pages like “Make Your Own ABC Sandwich!”
- Scholastic Computer Lab Favorites – This site, from Scholastic Books, divides up its games by reading level. They include “Story Starters,” which lets kids pick a genre – such as sci-fi or adventure – and then spin a wheel. The game provides silly writing prompts such as, “Write a get well card for a shy flying shark from the future.” Once their stories are done, kids can print them out.
While the Internet has some fabulous resources for children – especially those designed by nonprofits, universities and government agencies – there are also plenty of pitfalls. Young children should never be allowed to use the Internet unless they are supervised by an adult. You should also learn to use the parental controls on your computer so that you can block sites you do not want your children to access.
Parental supervision is the first step toward safe Internet use. Learning how to use the Internet responsibly is the second. Children should be taught to never hand out private information on the Internet, to keep passwords a secret and to tell a trusted adult if something happens online that confuses or scares them.
PBS Kids Go! has a great learning tool for kids in the form of an online game: “Webonauts Internet Academy.” In the game, new recruits on a satellite space station run “training missions” as they learn about protecting their identity and privacy, how to be good Internet citizens, how to tell what information on the Internet is trustworthy and how to respond to cyberbullying. The game is free to play, but if your child wants to save her progress and return to play later, you will need to set up an account. The account is also free.
PBS Kids, Reading Games, http://pbskids.org/games/reading/
Sesame Street, Preschool Games, Videos and Coloring Pages, http://www.sesamestreet.org/?scrollerId=games
Scholastic Books, Computer Lab Favorites, http://teacher.scholastic.com/activities/clf/tguidesitemap.htm
PBS Kids Go! Webonauts Internet Academy, http://pbskids.org/webonauts/