Websites for Elementary Kids?
July 13, 2009 6:09 AM   Subscribe

What are some school appropriate websites I can use in the classroom?

I find myself teaching computers K-8 this year. What are some good sites for the kids? I've found a few typing games that are educational enough to use in the classroom and they love it when I send them to one punch sites like isitchristmas? and doineedanumbrella. We also use internet tutorials pretty heavily, but I know this is just the tip of the iceberg. I'd like to have a whole list of appropriate sites (like games and funny things) for free days, as well as some really easy sites to teach the five-year-olds how to point and click.
posted by debbie_ann to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
My three year old granddaughter learned how to use my laptop's touch pad with this site: Orisinal The games are short, clever, and fun.
posted by figment of my conation at 6:17 AM on July 13, 2009

PBS Kids is really popular with some young ones in my family. However, the site is mostly just a collection of games that tie in with the PBS shows.
posted by kurmbox at 6:18 AM on July 13, 2009

Whoops, I boofed up the link:
posted by figment of my conation at 6:18 AM on July 13, 2009

Best answer: is my daughter's favourite, and I found that her teacher (JK/SK) uses it in class too.
posted by peagood at 6:22 AM on July 13, 2009

Best answer: I really like Orisinal, which features a ton of really sweet and adorable flash games. The graphics are a bit on the cutesy side, but they've got games for guys there, too.

TypeRacer is a lot of fun (you compete against each other in "races" based on your typing speed and it sounds more addictive than it is) but it might only fly for the older grades as the texts come up randomly and they might not all be appropriate. I'm not sure how you'd go about vetting that.

I'm not sure how appropriate this might be for school, but something like Straight Dope or Snopes might provide educational value on quirky, urban-legend type things you might not othewise learn about in the classroom.

Grade 7-8 is enough to start learning stuff like HTML, for which Funky Chickens is a really good intro site, though of course the standby is W3Schools.

I hope that helps; it's enlightening to realize how many of the sites I went on, at that age, might not have been the most wholesome choice (Fanfiction.Net comes to mind...).
posted by Phire at 6:24 AM on July 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm a K-8 Ed tech. Rather than giving you some sites that might or might not work, check out what other teachers are finding. Join one of their communities.

Use Diigo's educators group:

Also, if you're on Twitter, follow some ed techies. You'll find a gold mine of resources. Here are some EdTech twitter users in Twitter Groups:

If you're into delicious bookmarks, here are a couple of networks:

Also, check out the 2.0 Ning:

Within those above you'll find a treasure trove of resources and people willing to give time and support. Dont' reinvent the wheel, just steal it from some one else!
posted by rryan at 6:31 AM on July 13, 2009

poissonrouge is a big hit in our house, which we found on Mefi.

When I taught those grades in a tech lab, Smithsonian Folkways was very popular.

I think a bunch of great sites were linked on Mefi recently with the added bonus that they don't have ads, like kinetic sketch and jacksonpollock.

I had the most success with partnering with the main classroom teachers to provide a technical component to their classroom projects. So, the second grade class illustrated stories that they made in Powerpoint and produced books. The first grade class took digital photos that we posed to illustrate some concepts that they were learning in the classroom, then we uploaded them to the computers and they drew on them, then printed them. Stuff like that. The kindergarden class experimented with noises and sound, as I recorded them on a digital recorder and then uploaded the audio files for them. At the end of the year, we did an online slide show of all of their work.
posted by jeanmari at 6:34 AM on July 13, 2009

TeachTube. It's like YouTube but teacher-y.
posted by theichibun at 6:36 AM on July 13, 2009

Best answer: Here are some more links that I bookmarked:

NGA Classroom

Toy Theater: Matisses Pieces

Kaleidoscope Painter

Mr Picasso Head

As an educator, I tried to pull in other "real life" projects that I could support with tech because I wanted to make sure the kids got the lesson that the computer was a tool to do other things, not just for playing games or an end to itself. So, we had basic programs for typing skills that I started in fourth grade (and third grade halfway through the year). The upper grades took a computer apart and put it back together. The younger grades focused on sounds, visuals, hand/eye coordination with the mouse, choosing things on the screen, free draw that we printed off, etc. I also created big icons of all of the technology advances I could think of in media and data, from movie projectors to TV to VCRs to radio to ATMs, etc. Then they had to work as a group to put them in order of their invention and discuss which would come first (typewriter came before ATMs because you have to type on an ATM keyboard, right? That kind of thing.) That helped them to practice their analytical and collaborative skills. Also helped them to see the computer as part of an evolution in data and media tools. I think I did that exercise with grades 4 and up. Grades 6-8 did some basic HTML.

The most fun session was an in-service that I had for the teachers to demonstrate some of the things are (very underfunded and basic) lab could do. Even with the few tools and software programs we had, the teachers had fun brainstorming how they could use the lab to support their classroom projects and they really appreciated the chance to round out what they were working on.
posted by jeanmari at 6:46 AM on July 13, 2009

Best answer: Here is that previous AskMefi about sites for younger kids.

Also, if you use the internet in the lab, especially for young kids, now is the time to create a Code of Conduct for internet use that the kids learn about and take home to discuss with their parents. We had a rule that if you accidentally clicked in to some other site in the lab, you'd immediately take your hands off of the mouse and have the teacher redirect or close the window and start again. Even with safety software and settings, it was TOO easy for kids to accidentally end up on weird sites or ads that parents could potentially freak out over. That is the nature of the internet and it helped the younger kids to involve an adult when things went astray. The kids actually helped to brainstorm the Code of Conduct, which kept them accountable to peers and made my job easier. Just Google "Internet Code of Conduct" for examples of that.

I think the above ideas about using Snopes and just some basic research skills would be great for a unit on "What to believe and what NOT to believe on the internet". Best to teach media literacy early.
posted by jeanmari at 6:53 AM on July 13, 2009

Best answer: Kindergarten isn't too early to learn about internet safety, too. Never give your name, never give your address, etc. I think it's important for ALL ages to learn early that EVERYTHING on the internet stays on the internet and there's really no anonymity. The generation between mine and my young children's generation seems to not realize or care about that. Anecdotally speaking, of course. My nieces and nephews are of that generation and they just post everything and anything, without regard to who might see it. I've already drilled it into my kids' heads that they should treat the internet like it's public. If they don't care who sees them naked, post naked pictures. If they care (and personally, I think they should care), they shouldn't post (or text for that matter) naked photos.

My son's middle school talks about this, but I think 7th grade is too late for it. Start in Kindergarten.
posted by cooker girl at 8:05 AM on July 13, 2009

Response by poster: This is great! Thanks guys. In addition to awesome websites, thanks for the great ideas about class projects and internet safety.
posted by debbie_ann at 9:03 AM on July 13, 2009

I used to work at BrainPOP and it's a great site that has movies explaining different things, from measuring area to communism. While it's subscription-based, there's a free movie each week.
posted by iliketolaughalot at 9:10 AM on July 13, 2009

Best answer: Here are some more interactive AND educational sites for kids:

VectorKids's list of educational games links by categeory/subject

Interactive Biology Sites online for kids: listed and rated by Bryn Mawr College

Interactive Chemistry Resources: listed and rated by Bryn Mawr College

Central resource for interactive language arts resources online

Phonics from Sadler-Oxford

List of online Language Arts interactive sites

National Geographic Games

Science Museum Online Games

Getty Museum online games

Museum of London Online Games

Children's Museum online games

Architect Studio, 3D from the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation

National Gallery of Art KidsZone

sodaplay constructor (needs to be downloaded, but it is pretty cool)

Again, don't dismiss PoissonRouge too early, especially for K-2. It doesn't require keyboard or spelling (all clicks), it teaches basics of spatial/visual, phonics, etc. It has modules in English, Spanish, French and Chinese. It is good to go right away with no downloads, sign-ups or ads. My 3-year old gets totally into this wonderful site.

I'd recommend creating a list of bookmarks on each of the lab's computers or create your own web portal with links grouped by grade so kids can easily go right to the sites that you'd like them to try. Having them enter a URL is too crazy making (and impossible for the youngest kids). Leaving them to their own devices means that they'll go right to the sites that they use at home and not to educational sites (like the Disney sites or sites specific to TV/Movies).

Avoid suggesting sites where you have to sign up to access the site, have ads, or have a lot of sound (unless your lab has earphones).

Consider having the youngest kids partner for each PC/Mac (Kindergarten, 1st Grade). I was forced to do this because we had more little kids than computers. And I soon realized that they were helping each other and giving each other confidence. They were learning to share (I had them switch the mouse every 5 minutes or so to take turns). At that age, those were more useful lessons.

Don't limit yourself to the computers if you have other tech available. Video cameras, digital cameras, digital audio recorders, scanners, printers...these were awesome for third grade and under because they were more tangible. My third graders had to make safety posters for class. In small groups, they thought about what their safety message was and how they would act it out in a photo. We had a great time staging the shots. I uploaded their photos and they drew on them and added text before printing. The same photo could be given to more than one kid, but produced different posters because of the add ons.
posted by jeanmari at 2:55 PM on July 13, 2009

Response by poster: I now have a list of 91 Kid-Friendly websites and counting! Thanks
posted by debbie_ann at 7:23 PM on July 16, 2009

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