Website offers ad-free learning activities for kids

9:40 AM, Jun 27, 2011   |    comments
ABCmouse.com
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(GANNETT) - If you are looking for quality educational activities for your preschoolers and/or kindergartners, then ABCmouse.com will be of interest to you. Calling itself an "Early Learning Academy," this website boasts over 2000 educational activities which are delivered to your child in a sequenced manner.

ABCmouse.com provides kids with an online classroom in which to explore math, reading, science, social studies, art and music. In addition to daily lessons, the classroom has areas in which to practice using the computer mouse, a clock and a virtual piano. There are additional activities involving a farm and a zoo.

While a small portion of this website is available for free, the depth and breadth of the full experience is worth the $7.95/month (or $79.00 for a year) subscription fee. With this subscription, parents can register up to three children, and the website creates a learning path for each one.

Parents start their child with age-appropriate activities by selecting from: Toddlertime for kids age 2, Preschool for kids age 3 (which has two starting levels), Pre-K for kids age 4 (with two levels), and Kindergarten for kids age 5 (with two levels). Parents can help their child create an avatar, and then select what their female-only teacher will look like.

The main curriculum of the site is presented in lessons which are shown on the classroom's white board. The lessons contain books that read out loud and highlight words as they go, games, puzzles, art projects and music. For games, kids might be asked to help a penguin navigate a maze by clicking on a specific number. Or they might help a zookeeper spin a wheel to see a picture of an animal and then learn an interesting fact about that animal.

After each activity, kids earn tickets - the currency of this site. They can use the tickets to buy things for their avatars including new clothing, furniture for their room, pets or toys. Tickets can also purchase exotic fish for a fish tank. By using the tickets, kids learn counting and how to save to purchase items.

ABCmouse.com is a good fit for families looking for a wide variety of educational activities for their kids. With over 2,000 activities, there is a lot for any child to explore, and the sequenced learning path is a good way to present learning activities to young children. Another plus is the parent section which gives parents control over what their kids play and provides feedback. There is even an excellent timer option that allows parents to set the amount of time that a child can play.

While I would recommend this site to families with young kids, I would suggest that you check out its free section first. The ABCmouse interface is very crowded, and for some kids, this might feel a little distracting.

With so many activities on the site, they inevitably vary in quality. Many of the games are very well done, particularly those that introduce word sounds. But some of the interactive books are weak, because they don't offer any animations and are not all that interesting to read. They do, however, highlight words as read. Luckily, there is a ton of activities to explore, so you will easily find something that intrigues your child.

Some preschool learning sites create a walled garden where kids can not leave the site until their parents enter a password. Since this site does not provide that protection, parents will want to be around while their kids are playing so that they don't end up clicking into somewhere they shouldn't.

Sites like ABCmouse.com make finding educational activities easy, and keep kids from being blitzed by ads. If you like this website, you might also want to check out Starfall.com (a free learn-to-read site) and PBSKidsPlay.org (another subscription site for early learning).

 

USA TODAY

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