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Three Great Websites for Kids

Can you imagine being stuck inside for the summer? Well, thatís kind of what happened to me and my four children. They are not enrolled in camp, and I am unable to drive right now anyway. I know my friends would willingly step in to help out, and my husband would ungrudgingly change his work schedule to help out - but not going to camp seems to be the easier choice here, and this summer is all about ease.

I also cannot send my children to play outside all day. We live in Arizona where the temperatures get too high - even for children who donít know any differently. I donít want to get arrested for Ďmaking my children play outsideí. Sure, they would happily swim in the pool all day - only I canít be outside for long periods of time, and I definitely canít go in the pool with them. So, pool time is strategized for the time of day when shaded areas are more prevalent and the temperature is on either side of the dayís high.

Play dates worked for us for awhile. Iím functional enough to host a multitude of children, and guests who brought their own sack lunch were always invited back a second time - but, then we were struck with a couple of contagious maladies (which Iím still trying to figure out how they struck since weíve been housebound most of the summer) that understandably drove away our only connection to the outside world.

So, whatís a mom to do with four children stuck inside during summer break? Iíve certainly collected my share of fun recipes, crafts, and do it at home science experiments - but Iím recovering from surgery and my ability to lead, guide, motivate, and stand is limited.

We all knows what happens when children are left on their own. After dumping all of the Legos out unable to find the piece they need, Lego building is over. They spend hours setting up the Play Mobile pirates versus gladiators scene, and the battle ends in five minutes. Nine games of Monopoly in eight days gets to be a little tiring, and - then - the computer beckons.

Iíve decided not to engage in battle against excessive screen time (I think I have a reasonable excuse not to). I have set some rules around computer time. As long as my children Read, Play, Learn and Help each day, the computer is theirs. Also, I have armed my children with some exciting and dynamic sites to engage them and peak their curiosity. These sites are fun and intellectually stimulating too! What more could a mother want?

Look at that - kids can sign up for camp and spend time engaged in learning around a variety of topics. These include: the zoo, the observatory, laboratory exploration, and the science of amusement parks. Mom is the counselor and signs up all of her campers. Campers can wander around the various tracks, choosing appealing and interesting topics. Once the topic is chosen, there are short reads, videos to watch, and projects to complete. Campers earn wonder cards for completed topics and get to spin the wonder wheel for a bit of additional learning. You can also sign up to receive daily wonders that arrive in your email inbox and follow Wonderopolis on Facebook. This site is easy to navigate for children of all ages (mine currently range from 7 through 13).

I found this site thanks to Free Tech for Teachers. Youíll be introduced to the MocoMag on the front page. Each online publication focuses on a specific topic. We recently read the ďunderwaterĒ edition. The magazine contains stories, videos, and fun activities. Registering - as with Wonderopolis - is free, and youíll get six months of free access to the MocoMag. My children and I took a quiz to discover which underwater creature we were (I am a whale); we watched a video to learn how to draw an elephant; and we spent some time trying to master the toughest tongue twisters we could find. Mocomi has an entire printables section, a YouTube channel, and you can also like them on Facebook as well. Itís another fun space where mom wonít mind her children spending some time.

Moms, if you want your children to learn a second language this summer, Duolingo is the site for you. Iíve had this app on my phone for awhile now. My husband and I have used it to brush up on our Spanish as our two youngest children move forward in a Spanish immersion program at their school. Duolingo is one of the most easily engaging language learning apps/sites that I have seen. The website is easy to navigate - taking you from the basics to more difficult tasks. It mixes vocabulary, sentence structure, and oral feedback. This is a fun website (and app) for the whole family to use.

If youíre stuck inside - or if you just want to feel good about the technology your children are wasting their days away on, youíll certainly appreciate these websites.

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