I am ambivalent about electronics, especially when it comes to my kids. I know that they have their place and that they can be both useful and entertaining, but I still worry about how easily television and computer can fill time that could be spent jumping on trampolines, catching lizards, painting with water colors, and writing the next great American novel. You know what I mean?
I made a personal decision to not have a television nearly 7 years ago and I don't miss it. The computer, however, is something that everyone in the family wants to use . . . a lot. I don't have any answers or even any real clarity to provide when it comes to figuring out how to manage family screen time (though this article from Project Based Homeschooling did give me a lot to think about). We are still figuring things out together here as the kids get older. I can, however, recommend to two great sites that my kids are enjoying - websites that are educational and enjoyable and have both kid and mom approval at our house.
Curiosityville is a mom-owned start up business that I can fully get behind. It is a research-based learning website for pre-k to early elementary school aged children. All three of my girls, ages three, five, and almost seven, love it!
We were given a subscription to the site so that we could try it out and share our experience, but I can honestly say that it is a site that I would gladly subscribe to. There aren't many kid's websites that I have found that I can feel good about. So many of the sites that claim to be "educational" are really just full of video games. Curiosityville is unique in that it is actually an educational adventure that my kids think is still so much fun.
The Ten Core Learning Areas that the site focuses on are:
- Executive Function
- 21st Century Skills
- Social-Emotional development
- Language and Literacy
- Science and Scientific Thinking
- Creative Expression
- Social Science and Culture
- Physical and Healthy development
Things this mom likes about Curiosityville:
- Each of the kids has their own easy sign in (even my 3 year old) so that I can keep track of their site use separately
- A report is emailed to me after each kid uses Curiosityville and it details for me what the kids did on the site so that I know what they are up to and can follow up with them. I can also check out each kids Learning Tree to see how they are doing.
- Curiosityville sends personalized ideas for activities to do at home based on what they show interest in on the site. They also have a lot of ideas and resources for parents in the Family Room of their site.
- I even actually love the periodic emails I receive from Curiosityville with ideas for games to play with my kids at home, things to do outside together, and even ways to manage technology in our family.
- I also appreciate that the site is fully interactive - there aren't a bunch of video clips and shows for the kids to get stuck on.
- Most of all, I like that this website actually encourages the kids get off the computer. They enjoy the activities on the site, but it leads to them wanting to get off and have a pretend safari of their own, go outside and examine a real ant hill, turn on some music and have a family dance party. It gets them excited to play and learn and do new things!
- The kids love getting to choose which room they are going to play in - Eila's favorite buddy is Pablo the Frog, Esme loves Jack the Police Dog, and Ada loves Ruby the Cat.
- Eila loves all the art projects, especially making sculptures and practicing art Ed Emberly Style.
- Esme, my little scientist, loves using Rosie's microscope to examine pond water and dust . . . it has her wanting a real microscope now and I'm on the search!
- Ada, who has lately taken a real interest in learning to read, has been enjoying Ruby's reading and alphabet activities.
- Most of all, the kids like being able to use a website without Mom hovering and outlawing certain games or videos. Curiosityville has this mom's 100% approval.