Are your kids begging for computer time? Put it to good use by directing them to these free educational websites, which offer plenty of learning in a format kids will love.
- NASA Kids Club: Here, kids can learn about outer space and NASA's work. Interactive games, such as one in which kids decide which items to pack for a mission to Mars, make learning fun. Famous characters, such as Elmo and Buzz Lightyear, are featured in sections of this site. Links to NASA Education, both the "For Educators" and "For Students" sections, are easily accessible from the Kids Club page.
- Starfall: From learning the alphabet to developing reading proficiency, Starfall is a top destination for literacy skills development. Catchy songs, child-friendly stories and plenty of interactive features grab kids' attention on this site. A paid membership gives you access to all of the site's features, including activities that reinforce skills from mathematics and other disciplines, but there's plenty of free content here to keep your kids occupied for quite some time.
- Museum of Science and Industry: Can't get to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago? The Online Science section of their website offers interactive games, videos, activity suggestions and more. (However, homeschoolers do get free admission to the museum, if you get a chance to visit, don't pass it up!)
- Sparky.org: Everyone's favorite fire dog is featured on this website that's all about fire safety. Visitors can watch videos, learn all about fire trucks and discover the connection between dalmatians and firehouses. There are several online games and plenty of printable activities, too.
- Wild Kratts: If your children like learning about animals or are fans of the PBS Kids show "Wild Kratts," they'll have a great time at the program's website. There are videos and even full episodes to watch, but that's not all. Children can also explore a variety of habitats, play games and get the scoop on all sorts of different animals.
Of course, internet safety should always be a priority. Always supervise your child's computer time, and be aware of what they are doing online. Inclusion in this list does not indicate full endorsement of a site's content, so please preview websites before showing them to your children.