Archive for the ‘Kids’ Category

Introducing Toddlers to Computers

Friday, January 17th, 2014

Computers have become such a part of modern life that it has become important to introduce them to children at an early age so that they are familiar with technology and better able to utilize it during their schooling years and beyond. Young children and toddlers can safely learn how to use computers and technology with the close guidance of their parents, at the appropriate age.

Teaching your child how to use computers is also a great time to bond with them while helping them learn important skills that will benefit them their entire life. Be sure that you interact with them and monitor them the entire time that they are using the computer, just as if you were reading them a book.

(Here at Gecko Parents we have a few tools for helping the process of introducing computers)

Around nine months of age is the earliest time to teach your toddler

Some parents prefer to wait until their toddlers are older before they introduce them to computers, but there’s no real good reason to wait if they show curiosity around computers. Toddlers can safely interact with technology when supervised. Most child development experts recommend teaching toddlers how to use computers starting at nine months at the earliest. At this age, children have developed the motor skills to be able to use computers including the ability to sit up on their own. Some choose to wait until their toddlers are 1.5 to 2 years old. There’s really no perfect answer as to what age is the best time to introduce them to computers, but nine months is the earliest time to consider it.

games for toddlers

Limit the screen time

Most child development experts agree that the amount exposure to technology and computers should be limited, especially at a very young age. The best way to do this is to limit the amount of screen time for your toddler. The time should be limited to about 20-30 minutes and most of your child’s free time should be spent on other activities. Limiting the computing sessions to 30 minutes is better when they are 9 months to 2 years old, and once they reach the age of 3 to 4 the time can be increased to up to one hour per day if the child wants more time on the computer.

Use games designed for toddlers

One of the best ways to introduce your toddler to computers is to use games designed for them. There are a wide number of interactive child development games on Sesame Street, Fisher Price, and other websites for toddlers. Be sure to avoid games designed for older children which can be fast moving and scary for toddlers. The games that you pick should be designed to teach your baby new skills, knowledge and creativity. Also be sure to use the appropriate filtering and parental control software on any technology that you use with your toddler, whether it is a tablet, phone or computer.

Start teaching your toddler when they show an interest

The best time to start teaching your toddler how to use computers is when they show an interest in them by grabbing at the keys on the keyboard or the mouse. Don’t try to force them to learn how to use technology but wait until they demonstrate some curiosity. If your toddler doesn’t show any interest in the computer, don’t worry about it. They will still have plenty of time to learn how to use computers in kindergarten, and a delay in computer interaction doesn’t mean that they won’t be highly proficient with them in the future at all.

Best iPad Learning Apps for Toddlers

Monday, December 30th, 2013

The iPad is the perfect learning tool for toddlers, and the evidence suggests that interactive iPad apps can be very helpful for early childhood development. The key is to pick apps that are engaging and fun for your toddler and apps that will teach them fundamental concepts and skills. Thankfully there are a wide range of apps that have been developed specifically for toddler learning and many of them are free as well. If your kids are using the PC as well, use our parental software to keep them safe.

girl with mobile phone

Endless Alphabet

Endless Alphabet is a fun app that is designed for children ages 3 and older and was created by Sesame Street artists. The app teaches toddlers how to spell using talking letters that are slid into place. Once all the letters have been placed, an entertaining animation pops up on the screen as a reward. The app is free to use but $0.99 can be paid to remove advertisements. This is a great app for learning spelling but some of the words may be difficult for toddlers.

Kids Piano Lite

Kids Piano Lite is an eight tone piano with several different “learn to play” music activities, and it includes some free children’s songs. Ads are not show in the “baby mode” and the app is designed for toddlers aged 2 and older. This app offers a way for toddlers to develop fundamental music skills and can be a great way to keep them entertained when they are bored.

PBS Kids

PBS Kids gives toddlers and children access to videos from their favorite PBS television series anytime. It is a free app and only for those who live in the USA. PBS Kids is a great app for keeping your toddler entertained during the day.

Toddler Soundboard Free

This app teaches toddlers shapes, ABCs and numbers through association. When a color is touched the app says the name of the color out loud, and the same goes for numbers or letters. It is a simple app but it can be helpful for teaching your toddler the basics of colors and letters through simple association.

Petting Zoo

Petting Zoo is a picture book that was developed by animator Christoph Niemann and introduces toddlers to 21 animals with clever and creative animations that both parents and toddlers can enjoy. The cost of the app is $0.99.

Drawing Pad

Drawing Pad is $1.99 and offers toddlers a wide range of digital art tools to create with. The app is easy to use and toddlers can create their own art with the help of their parents. Creations can be printed or shared online and the potential mess and clutter of crayons can be avoided.

Abby Monkey: Preschool and Kindergarten

This is a free version of the paid app that has most of the same features as the full version. There are various activities such as shape matching, creating your own train, and more. The app is best for toddlers age 2 or older.

Funbrain Jr.

Funbrain Jr. offers five fun games for toddlers age 2 and older including a balloon popping game, pattern games, and an alphabetical order game. It is a popular free app and teaches many concepts and skills including quantity, sequence, patterns, letter recognition, sounds, and also helps with fine motor skills.

Interactive Science Websites for Kids Under 10

Monday, October 21st, 2013

Websites are a very useful interactive learning tool for children, as children are inclined to use technology for learning and entertainment in modern times. Giving your children as many options as you can for learning on their own time will help them do well in school and excel at subjects like science among others. Making learning fun is the best way to get your children interested, and interactive science websites offer fun games that will catch your children’s attention and get them excited about learning.

There are a number of interactive science websites for children, but some of them have more difficult lessons intended for older children or teenagers. When looking for high quality websites for your children aged 10 or under, you will want to find websites that have games rated for children from K-4th or 5th grade that are basic enough for young children to be able to understand. The best science websites for kids under 10 include a wide range of interactive games and lessons and other interactive science material such as videos and audios. These are some of the most best interactive science websites intended for children aged 10 or younger.


science websites for kids

 

 

Brain Pop Junior (http://www.brainpopjr.com)

Brain Pop Junior is the version of BrainPop.com for children aged K-3rd grade. This website includes interactive lessons on science as well as health, reading and math, social studies, art and many other subjects. Brain Pop Junior requires a subscription for a low monthly cost, but it is worth it as it is one of the best interactive websites for science training for children. Brain Pop Junior includes free games that do not require a membership as well as a tour of the website with access to some science games.

Annenberg Learner (http://www.learner.org)

Annenberg Learner offers a wide range of lessons and interactive science modules for ages K-5 and above. Although there are lessons for older children, the grade level can be filtered for K-5 and there are many unique and fun interactive science games available for this age range. Annenberg Learner also offers free science lessons that teachers and parents can use for classroom or supplementary science training. Much of the material is free but licensed lessons can be purchased for classroom or other use. Other disciplines are covered as well including arts, foreign languages, math, history and social studies, and literature.

PBS Kids (http://www.pbskids.org)

PBS Kids is a great resource for children aged K-6th and includes a wide range of fun games that teach science concepts, problem solving and more. PBS Kids also includes videos and shows that teach science concepts including Sid the Science Kid, SciGirls, Sesame Street, and many others. PBS Kids also has free interactive apps that teach science concepts that can be downloaded to iPad, and Android tablets and the apps can be filtered based on the child’s age. Show times for children’s shows can also be found on the website.

The Science Spot – Kid Zone (http://sciencespot.net/Pages/kidzone.html)

Since there are so many websites with small portions of their website devoted to science training for kids, the Science Spot has categorized a bunch of them and put them in one place at the Science Spot – Kid Zone. This is a great resource that can be used with the help of a parent to find age appropriate interactive science websites based on a specific science topic. Topics include astronomy, physics, life sciences, chemistry, geology, and more. Each science topic is separated into smaller even more specific categories, and each categorize has dozens of great links. For younger children there is a section devoted to links to science games for kids with pretty much all of the most popular science game websites listed.

National Geographic Kids and Little Kids (http://kids.nationalgeographic.com)

National Geographic has two sections devoted to interactive science for kids – NG Kids and Little Kids. The NG Kids section has games, videos and more. NG Kids has games and lesson material that is a bit more complicated and intended for older children, while NG Little Kids has basic science games for kids under the age of 10. Kids who are approaching the age of 10 can use most of the NG Kids website for science learning. Most of the games and videos are centered around science and natural science topics. Topics like geography, weather science, animal classification, astronomy, and many others are covered in the games and videos. There is also a section with detailed information on different animals, with a particular “Creature Feature” covering each animal with videos and photos, facts, a map of where the animal lives in the world, and more.

There are many other science websites that have great interactive features for kids under the age of 10. When it comes to picking a website to help your children learn science, be sure that you review the website and the material beforehand to make sure that it is appropriate in content and difficulty for your child, and be sure to monitor your child’s activity while they use the website.

Free Educational Websites For Kids – Gecko Kids

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

Gecko Kids is our portal of free educational websites. It acts as a homepage for kids, who can then browse through specially selected sites that are organised into four categories: learning, videos, activities and games. All of the websites on Gecko Kids are free to use and have been selected for their quality by our team.

You can take a look a the Gecko Kids site here

Although the Gecko Kids section of our website is in its infancy, we hope to be improving it’s features consistently in the future. Our aim is to create a site for children that is engaging, easy to use and features the best of the web, so that parents can rest easy that their children are browsing the best available material. There are tens of thousands of websites aimed at kids on the internet, but sometimes it’s hard to find the best of the bunch, without hours of trawling through rubbish. We aim to take the pain out of that, while also making it fun for kids to browse through our directory.

free educational kids sites

Hovering over each website in the categories will show a short description of the site and a screen shot, so you can get an idea of what the site is about before visiting. The layout is made in child friendly way, but is designed for parents to use as well.

Gecko Kids is also a corner stone of our parental control software, Gecko Filter. Gecko Filter has a ‘Gecko Kids Mode’, which will block the entire internet, apart from the pre-approved sites available from Gecko Kids.

In the future we aim to add a number of great features to all of this, and we have some pretty exciting stuff in mind. If you have any ideas or things you’d like to see in Gecko Kids or Gecko Filter let us know either by email or via the comments below.

You can take a look at Gecko Filter here

Best Math Websites for Kids Under 5

Monday, September 16th, 2013

There are a number of high quality math learning websites for children under the age of 5 that can be a great supplement to other math teaching methods that you may be using for your children. These websites have simple math games that can build your child’s skills and teach them important math concepts. Math games are a valuable learning tool for Pre-K children and a fun way for them to accelerate their math learning prior to starting kindergarten.

math

Using a multi-faceted approach to teaching math concepts is generally recommended for parents, and your math teaching can include home lessons, interactive toys that teach math concepts, and interactive tools like math websites and games. Here are some of the best math websites that are intended for children under the age of 5:

Sesame Street 

Sesame Street’s website (http://www.sesamestreet.com) is guaranteed to keep toddlers and children under the age of 5 interested in learning, as there are a number of entertaining, fun and interactive games for them. The dozens of games on Sesame Street’s game website teach important math fundamentals as well as language, science concepts, art, and more. Sesame Street’s game website is specifically designed for children under the age of 5, and the selection of games can be filtered by the age of your child. There are also interactive videos to teach social concepts, art games and interactive tools and more. If your child is a fan of Sesame Street he or she will love this website and its many useful teaching tools.

PBS.org 

PBS.org offers a large section of math games for children aged 4 and offers a great library of information for parents on how to teach various concepts to children starting at age 1. There is a list of milestone goals for children based on their age, and the PBS child development tracker goes up to age 9. There is an extensively detailed section on how to teach math concepts to your child during each year of their life. Other subjects like creative arts, language, literacy, physical health, science, and social and emotional growth are covered in detail by age level. It is a great resource for both parents and children for math and other learning topics.

IXL.com 

IXL.com has a Pre-K section with a wide variety of skill games for children under the age of 5. The games include counting, shapes, classification, size, comparison, money counting and other basic games to teach children fundamental math concepts. As your child gets older, IXL can still be used as the games on IXL go up to the 8th grade level.

Math Game Time 

Math Game Time (http://www.mathgametime.com) organizes its games by grade level and offers a section for Pre-K children including several games and worksheets as well as a number of math training videos. The site can be used by parents by clicking on the “Pre-K” section and selecting a game.

Cookie.com 

Cookie.com has some math games for children aged 3-5 including a learning numbers game, learn to count game, and an add numbers game. There are other games for children under the age of 5 including language games, science lesson games, and puzzle games for critical thinking development.

Learning Games for Kids 

Learning Games for Kids (http://www.learninggamesforkids.com) offers a number of math learning games for preschool children along with puzzle games. The math games including a matching numbers game, counting carnival game, and many others.

There are many other websites available to teach young children math concepts but these are some of the best. When using any of the above websites to teach children math concepts you can help them with using the website by navigating them to the proper page and setting the game up.

Using all the tools that you have available to teach your children math concepts is an often recommended approach, and these websites offer a great and valuable resource to help your children learn fundamental math concepts so that they can excel by the time they are ready for kindergarten level math.

The best websites for kids learning to read

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

When your kids are learning how to read and developing their comprehension skills, you will want to provide them with as many quality resources as possible. Using home based learning tools like interactive reading websites can be a great way to accelerate their reading education. Some of the best websites for kids learning to read have been released in just the past few years and are at the forefront of child education technology.

Interactive reading websites are a popular and fun way to supplement classroom reading education and other forms of at-home instruction. With a wide variety of reading programs and websites available you will want to use the most effective and engaging options available for your children.

Kids Reading

Here are a few of the best options available:

Starfall (http://www.starfall.com) is a free online reading instruction program that is one of the most popular online options for teaching children how to read. The website uses a variety of games and interactive entertainment as teaching tools for reading and as an educational alternative to other forms of entertainment. Starfall can be used to teach kindergarten through second grade, homeschooled children, and for special education. Starfall also released a reading curriculum in 2009 that is designed with motivational techniques and active involvement.

Book Adventure (http://www.bookadventure.com) is another free online reading program sponsored by Sylvan Learning that is designed for children in grades K-8th. Book Adventure uses a motivational approach by allowing children to earn prizes for what they have read, and it also uses a number of interactive tools. Children can take quizzes on the books they have read, and there is also information for teachers and parents on best practices for reading instruction. Teachers can also use the website to track their students’ progress and issue prizes.

Studydog (http://www.studydog.com) is an effective online learning tool that is not free but offers a wide range of features and benefits compared to other tools. It allows parents and teachers to follow their kids’ progress, and the program adapts to an individual child’s progress and speed. Online access allows children to start and stop the program as they wish. Real-time progress reports are available at any time. Best practices for reading training are used at every reading level. Since the program is adaptive to a child’s abilities, it makes the games and interactive teaching tools easy for them to use while challenging them enough to aid their development.

ABC Ya (http://www.abcya.com) is another free reading education website that offers a variety of games for elementary school aged children. The games are developed by experienced teachers and are based on standard reading lessons. Games are available for each grade from K-5th and games incorporate multiple disciplines such as math and computer skills. The games are designed to be as intriguing and fun as possible for each grade level. There are also a variety of educational apps available on the website. The site is supported by child safe ads however which may be a downside for parents who prefer to use website without ads.

FunBrain.com also has a variety of games for free including math, reading, arcade and other games for K-8th grade children. Free books are available including best sellers and games are designed to be intriguing and interactive, and over 100 games are available. The site has offered kids games since 1997 and has expanded its offerings into comic books, free educational games and books, and more.

If you’re worried about your kids accidentally seeing web pages they shouldn’t when online, take a look at our very own Gecko Filter here.

Top Mobile Apps for Kids Under 5

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

Kids today are certainly more technologically advanced than their parents were at their age and this has app companies tripping over themselves trying to invent the latest and greatest mobile apps that are savvy and yet can still be utilized by such young minds. Fortunately most companies are on the ball and by early this year there were more than a few mobile apps developed that are both kid friendly and parent approved.

Monkey Preschool Lunchbox

Preschool Lunchbox is a fabulous semi-new app which is appropriate for kids between the ages of two and five. The snappy app includes five different games for kids to play, all hosted by an animated and witty little monkey who is more than willing to show little tots the ropes.

Games include jigsaw puzzles, memory and concentration and color matching as well as a couple other tried and true favorites. Each of the games has some chatty and lively background music which for some parents may become annoying, but it seems to get the kiddies excited about learning and the entertaining monkey is always a hit. It costs only $.99 to download so it is also economical and worth the price.

Monster’s Socks

Appropriate for kids three and older this app game would seemingly be too scary for youngsters if you went by the title alone, however the “monster” in this game that plays the role of host is anything but scary and kids fall in love with him right from the start.

The said monster has a peculiar problem: he has lost his socks and needs your child to help in finding them! Both monster and child will travel on a wild adventure looking for the lost socks which will expose them to constructing a bridge, sailing a boat and also bring them to the moon! The user has full control of the game at all times and it is great for those that love adventure but also like to figure out solutions to problems, all while helping out a friend who needs their socks.

The monster does spew some strange sounds which can get loud and possibly startle a young player so parents should monitor the volume but other than that this app offers quite an adventure and is truly interactive and easy to learn.

Toca Hair Salon 2

Toca Hair Salon part one was awesome enough but the newest edition really takes the cake. Perfect for ages three and up, though probably more coveted by the little girl population, this new edition has been revamped to include better scenery along with some new customers who desperately need an updated hair style.

The two new customers have wild personalities and are in the thick of a hair frenzy, seeking your child’s assistance in making them beautiful once again. There is a app that can be pre-downloaded to see the two newest members of the Toca Hair Salon family. The first one was quite popular but the new one is already surpassing the sales of the old. There have been few complaints whatsoever about this app other than the game doesn’t always save when a call comes in and is answered. And there is now a version available for the Kindle Fire as well.

At the low price of $1.99 your child will love the new challenges that this game highlights and the graphics are improved as well.

Dr. Seuss Books

Not a game app per say but rather a book app, kids under five will love the new features of this mobile app which is also available for the iPhone and Android. It comes with animated sound effects and vibrant illustrations and while the story is being read, the words light up so kids can easily follow which is great for them to learn phonics and other reading skills.

Kids can choose to narrate their own stories or listen to the professional narration already included in the app and they will enjoy a new feature that includes the pictures talking whenever they are touched. The app ranges from $3.99 to $4.99 and is well worth the price as it offers hours of entertainment.