There’s a lot of scary press about what a dangerous place the Internet can be for children who surf it unattended, and I am a huge advocate of knowing where and when your kids are online and with whom they are communicating.
Ohhhh, but there is magic to be found there too, things that I wish had been available when my kids were small, things that I wish had been available when I was small. Mollie and I played with dolls and blocks, but our grandchildren will play with satellites.
Singing Horses, http://www.dennyweb.com/singing_horses.htm
This is so simple, so basic, and so much fun. You can click on four horses, each of which has its own choral “voice” (soprano, alto, baritone, bass) and make them “sing.” Everyone loves to play with this.
Poisson Rouge, http://www.poissonrouge.com/poissonrouge.php
“Poisson Rouge” means “red fish” in French, and who knows why, or cares? You almost HAVE to be a child to navigate this site, because there are no directions; you just point and click and explore. There are games and stories, puzzles and art, music and stars and a universe full of other things. It’s completely self-directing and absolutely mesmerizing. I have to admit that I would play here for hours if I didn’t still have kids at home that need tending to.
J4NE the Pink Robot, http://upstartist.org/robot.html
Finding this site was a fortuitous accident. The artist who animated J4NE has a daughter, and when she was 2 she began to talk like a robot. He recorded her speaking a “blurb” for each letter of the alphabet and illustrated a little robot cartoon to go along with the blurbs. Sure, it might help your kids learn their letters, but you won’t find it obnoxious because it’s REALLY CUTE.
This site is nominally for adults but I have yet to run across anything in it that’s not suitable for kids too. It’s a gigantic amalgam of puzzles, everything from codes to acronyms to every kind of quiz there is. This site is great for anyone middle-school aged and up, or even younger if they read well.
J.K. Rowling’s Official Site, http://www.jkrowling.com/en/index.cfm
This is an extremely well-put-together site, very interactive and interesting. If your child is a Harry Potter fan (hint: he is!), you owe it to him to show him this site, which is brimming with Potter games, trivia and factoids of all types. It MIGHT even help him to wait until the next movie comes out!