Fun websites for kids

Welcome to the first article commissioned by Kids in Madrid which is based on my experience as a bilingual parent and expert in children’s literature for English as Second Language learners. I look forward to receiving your feedback and comments!

Everyone knows that children are keen to copy their parents in everything grown up, especially if it involves gadgets , is colourful and looks entertaining! Why not let your kids have a try on some of the specially designed websites for kids and see them learn English without even realizing it?

The best site for under 3 year olds has to be the fabulous Cbeebies site.

Children from as young as two are invited to explore fascinating worlds with easy games which either require the players to use the shift keys or the mouse. Some of the characters and shows will be familiar to Spanish viewers however even if the shows are an unknown, the games are engaging and have their own special appeal.

Other easy-to-use sites are Peppa Pig and Bob the Builder.

The Peppa site is a lot of fun, bright and cheerful. Saying that, there isn’t much language so it is of limited help when learning English as a second language. However it is a good place to start when introducing your children to the wonderful world of computers. The only control required on Peppa’s games is the space bar and they are so easy I’ve seen 1 year olds playing them! One friendly warning though – the “Sing along” activity is worth avoiding as the words are nonsense and the music appalling, even to a youngster’s uncritical ear.
Bob the Builder’s site is slightly more difficult, but still only requires being able to use a mouse. The instructions for each game are narrated rather than written (the latter being the case with Peppa) thus allowing young players to be more autonomous. My children have spent hours playing on the various games on this site and never seem to tire of them. Who better judge than they?

From six onwards, two sites which I’ve found useful with my son are the Literacy Center and Starfall.

Both sites rely on users being aware of phonics and also being familiar with the keyboard. I have had lots of positive feedback from Spanish parents and English parents alike saying how helpful these pages are. Both work on the simple premise of empowering the young readers. Sense of achievement is maximum and neither site focuses on mistakes that may have been made along the way. They are both deeply satisfying sites, for parents and players alike.
Please let us know of any other websites along these lines which are worth looking at. Between us all we’re sure to create a savvy generation of bilingual Spanish children!

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