We’ve pulled together the top 10 educational websites for kids updated for 2020. These are educational websites full of games, video, content and activities to keep your kids entertained while growing their minds.
We all know as parents it can be really hard to find a good balance between tech and ‘real life’. There are definitely some apps and websites out there pitched as ‘educational’ that are really just games.
Not only that, but some of these ‘educational’ games are highly addictive. With gamification, constant level ups, and light and sounds that seem like they come straight from a casino, kids keep coming back for more. It’s difficult to see how these games are developing our kids’ minds, aside from some limited problem solving and dexterity skills.
Then there’s the dangers around using some of this technology. What with Facebook privacy issues, technology addiction, and some of the really creepy child grooming websites, it’s a real minefield out there! And don’t get us started about websites that require your credit card details to log in!
But, if your kids are big into tech, and you’re trying to limit their screen time to just the educational stuff, then rest assured there are some great websites out there. These are sites developed by teachers and parenting experts, rather than engineers and marketers.
The difficult thing for parents, though, is sifting through the hundreds of lesser quality websites to find the nuggets. Well just relax and grab a cuppa, we’ve done the hard yards for you! We’ve put together a ‘Top 10’ list of websites parents can encourage their kids to use, while knowing they are safe.
Top 10 educational websites for kids in 2020
Funbrain.com is everything you could expect from an interactive, educational website. There are literally hundreds and hundreds of games, activities and info products on this website. The content is top-quality, and Funbrain easily takes out our number 1 spot.
For ages Key Stage 1 – 8, or Years 1 – 13, there’s something for everyone. The games have great graphics, and simple but effective gameplay. The videos are really high-quality production. And there are entire books available you can read straight from the website. Funbrain.com provides fantastic educational content, that’s highly interactive, which means your kids won’t get bored! The website is totally free to use, and there’s no signing up and logging in, which we love. The flipside to this is that the website is heavy on advertising, with both sidebar and sponsored content ads.
www.starfall.com is one of the largest and best educational websites around. If you’re a parent, then chances are you’ve already come across this great website. It comes in at number 2, as it’s starting to look a little dated, and some of the gameplay can be a little tedious.
Starfall teaches through play, with hundreds of games in categories like reading, writing, maths, etc. The screenplay is straightforward, with simple, colourful graphics. The emphasis here is on the learning, rather than the gaming. You can download the app, and sign up to access even more of the website. The cost is just $35 for a whole year, and well worth it for the depth of games you get. If you want to use the desktop version, you’ll need to use Adobe Flash, which is being phased out by 2020.
3. National Geographic Kids
www.natgeokids.com is probably our favourite website on this list. It comes in at the number 3 spot though, as the content is pitched for older kids, probably 10 and up, and not all kids will be into the content offered here.
National Geo for Kids is big on education, and the site is full of information about the world around us, from China, to dinosaurs, to space missions, and everything in between! It’s like an online magazine for kids, full of articles, and competitions, and educational videos. One of the best things about Nat Geo for Kids is that they regularly update it with new information, which is great. For kids that love to read and learn about the world around them, this site will keep them busy for months! We did notice some sponsored content on the website, although it was very kid-friendly advertising.
4. NASA Kids’ Club
www.nasa.gov/kidsclub is the go-to website for all those space-enthusiasts out there. If your kids are into spaceships, mars rovers and comets then this is the website to check out.
The actual Kidsclub section is fairly limited, although very educational, and simple to use. But if this section doesn’t meet the space needs for your little future Buzz Aldrin, they can click through to all the great NASA website resources, like images of the day, Nasa TV, and all the present and past NASA missions. Some of the gameplay is based on Adobe Flash, which is being phased out by 2020. It may also not work correctly on a mobile device.
5. Young Ocean Explorers
www.youngoceanexplorers.com is an amazing website made by a Father and Daughter team from New Zealand. If your kids are into the deep blue sea, rather than the skies above, this is your new go-to website.
Steve and Riley bring the ocean direct to your child’s computer with high-quality, fact-filled videos. With a strong emphasis on environmental education, this Father-Daughter duo go all out to capture some great video content. With articles like What eats turtles? Do dolphins drink water? and Can a girl fish become a boy fish? this website answers everything you ever wanted to know about the ocean. There’s more Dad-jokes than you can shake a sea-sponge at, but don’t let that put you off. If Steve’s Dad-jokes ‘flounder’ a little, Riley jumps in to prevent a ‘ship-wreck’ (did you see what I did there!).
www.howstuffworks.com rolls on in to the number 5 spot on our list. We love this website, and have used it heaps ourselves. It’s definitely for older kids, probably 12 and up, but perfect for kids working on school projects, or looking for stuff to do during the holidays.
Howstuffworks.com does what it says on the tin, it shows you how stuff works. And by ‘stuff’, we mean literally anything you can think of, and some things you couldn’t even think of! Things like: How are ureilites made? How does kangaroo meat stop your dog from getting an allergy? and How does chocolate contribute to climate change? This website is so full of interesting facts, once you start clicking, you may find a few hours have easily slipped by. You’ve been warned!
7. Shaun the Sheep Game Academy
www.shaunsgameacademy.co.uk is an awesome free resource developed by Aardman Animations, makers of the Shaun the Sheep animated movie. The Game Academy teaches children how to code games using the amazing Scratch software. This helps remove some of the significant learning curve involved in using Scratch.
Coding is fast becoming a fundamental skillset, and some of the skills coding develops help with core curriculum development. Skills like problem solving, analytical thinking, logic and creativity are all pushed to the limit when coding games. What’s more, actual coding skills are required in industries such as gaming, animation and computer engineering. So if your child is destined to be Weta Workshop’s next head of animation, get them coding today!
ABCmouse.com is a full online curriculum for kids aged 2 through 8 years. With more than 9,000 activities over 850 lessons and 10 levels, this really might be the world’s biggest educational website!
The great thing about this website is the progressive nature of the lessons and the Progress Tracker that tracks your child’s learning through the site. You can even customise your own avatar and earn rewards and incentives for completing lessons! They really seem to have nailed learning gamification here. ABCmouse.com is a paid subscription model. But it’s really affordable at just $9.95 per month. And right now you can sign up for 49% off the subscription price.
9. Oxford Owl
www.oxfordowl.co.uk is a UK based website that helps kids to develop their reading, writing and maths skills. It’s developed by teachers and based on the UK curriculum, and there’s literally 1000s of resources available.
If your child is struggling with their reading, or you want to advance their skills, or perhaps you’re a home-educator, then this website should be on your list. The thing we like most about this website is its dedication to core curriculum skills and that it’s been developed by Oxford educationalists. You can be assured everything on this website meets the curriculum and will perfectly match what you child is learning in school. The games are simple and fun, and make learning a breeze. There are heaps of books you can read directly on the website. Just note there are also affiliate links to Amazon to purchase some books.
10. Discovery Mindblown
discoverymindblown.com offers the best of Discovery Family videos and information, along with games, articles and ebooks on everything from dinosaurs, to robotic basketball players.
Where National Geo for Kids is big on the educational content, Discovery Mindblown is more into edutainment. The videos are packed full of information, but delivered in the very high-quality movie format you’d expect of Discovery TV. This website also focuses on the shock and awe content, teeth-nashing dinosaurs, killer scorpions, the largest fish in the world, that sort of thing. It’s unlikely many kids will get bored with this website. But with a video-heavy format, the emphasis is more on being entertained than educated.
A note about safe internet surfing
When investigating which websites to recommend to your children, it’s important to know the level of moderating and monitoring on each site. Most do this well, but you do need to triple-check. Check for the ‘https’ security certificate in the address bar, have a look at the websites ‘about us’ page or similar, and make sure you try out a few of the games yourself first.
Also, we recommend choosing websites that require the parent to sign up their child. Or, better still, websites that don’t require any signing in.
Remember, it doesn’t matter how old your children are, if they’re using the internet, then installing monitoring software that filters adult material is essential. If you’re concerned about the quantity of screentime, you may want to consider installing Parental Control Software to monitor this.
Now that you know the top 10 educational websites for kids, you should also check out our best free maths games online for kids and best free literacy games online for kids