The Websites Your Kids Use at School that You've Probably Never Heard Of
If you’re a parent, you may have this notion in your mind that you know everything about your kids – everything they do, say, and think. Maybe you thought your mom knew everything about you, too. Or…maybe you’re not like me. But nonetheless, one of the most disappointing realizations of “adulting” for me has been coming to terms with the fact that I don’t know everything about my kids. If you fall into that category, too, here’s another nail in the coffin: there are websites your kids are using at school every week that you’ve probably never even heard of. That’s right. Your child is experiencing the worldwide web as part of their K-5 curriculum, and you don’t even know what’s going on. But don’t worry. Most of the websites schools are using to help kids learn reading, math, spelling, typing, and other skills are really great. To help you start getting an inside view of the sites your kids are interacting with at school, here’s a look at four websites many elementary schoolers spend a decent amount of time on each week:
Rhode Island-based ABCya.com may well be the world leader in online educational games for children. Last year, kids played more than 1 billion learning games on the ABCya network (which includes the website as well as mobile apps for iOS and Android). ABCya focuses on helping kids from preschool age through 5th grade with basic skills academic concepts they need to succeed in school and in life. The core ABCya experiences teach math and language arts, but the site also provides a wide variety of learning games that focus on STEM concepts, typing, and even the arts.
ABCya was created in 2004 by Alan and Lisa Tortolani, both of whom were public school teachers on the east coast. Based on their need for quality, technology-driven tools to help their students learn, the couple began creating resources they could use in their own classrooms. The rest is history! ABCya is now known all over the United States, used in thousands of schools, and has been featured by The New York Times, USA Today, Parents Magazine, Scholastic, and Apple, among many others. Visit www.abcya.com to learn more and to start playing with your child!
Another well-known tool in classrooms across the country is i-Ready, a math and language arts program that combines both online activities and in-class curriculum and assessments to help students progress academically. i-Ready excels as a learning tool because of its ability to provide individualized learning activities based on a child’s unique needs and progress. When a student begins to use i-Ready, they participate in an online assessment that tests their math and reading skills. This test, itself, is an individualized experience! Questions are given to each student based on their previous responses, so no assessment is exactly the same. Through the i-Ready test, the system determines in an effort to figure out what each student’s perfect math and reading level actually is.
Based on that initial assessment, i-Ready then leads students through sequences of math and reading instruction, activities, and games. Personalized feedback helps kids stay engaged and excited about continuing to learn. i-Ready games are fun and totally kid-oriented. You’ll be surprised at how much your child likes playing i-Ready. You’ll be even more surprised as their math and reading progress improves dramatically!
i-Ready was created by the team at Curriculum Associates. In addition to classroom work, i-Ready games are also available at home. Visit www.i-ready.com to learn more.
As our world becomes more techie, schools are giving more and more emphasis to STEM education (science, technology, engineering, and math). So, it may be no surprise to you that many teachers and administrators are actively seeking ways to incorporate basic software development (coding) into elementary school learning. There are a lot of websites, apps, and programs that have been created to help kids learn to code, but Kodable is one of the more popular, with 50% of elementary schools in the United States currently using the platform.
Kodable is both a website as well as a curriculum that helps teachers present basic coding concepts to their students. The program was created by elementary school teachers and focuses on both group and independent coding practice. Perhaps most importantly, Kodable sees their mission as not just focused on helping kids learn to code, but rather, on helping them build broader creative, communicational, and collaborative skills.
In addition to their school-based tools and curriculum, Kodable is also available for kids and parents to use at home! Learn more by visiting www.kodable.com.
The team at Starfall is committed to helping kids have fun while they learn. The website opened in 2002 as a free online resource devoted to helping children learn to read. Starfall grew out of the personal experiences of Dr. Stephen Schutz who, as a child, struggled to read due to the effects of dyslexia. Dr. Schutz envisioned online experiences where children could learn at their own pace and have fun doing it. Since its founding, the site has served thousands of children in schools and homes all over the world.
Starfall experiences are available for children in grades K-3 and focus on reading, math, music, and other fun activities. The best thing about Starfall? It’s free! The company is run under the direction of the Starfall Education Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that is devoted to enriching the educational process for children all over the world. Have fun learning online with your kids by visiting www.starfall.com.
Did you check out some of these sites? They’re pretty great, right?! Let’s give a shout out to our teachers and administrators who have worked behind the scenes to find these resources and make them available to our kids! Thanks to them, and to the creators of these offerings, kids are learning vital concepts in ways that are fun, engaging, and specially designed to increase their understanding of principles that will mold their lives. What other websites have your kids used to help them learn? Share with us in the comments below!