Five Websites Educators Love, Parents Want, and Children Need

Children love instant feedback.

Knowing we got something right or that it is time to review makes all the difference. I’d like to highlight a few websites that I believe are beneficial for students of various ages.*



Beginning to Read


1. Starfall is a wonderful website to help early students learn. The “Learn to Read” Page is an incredible, free tool: https://www.starfall.com/h/ltr-classic/


This page introduces students to a specific sound (such as the “short A sound” found in the word rat). Each sound studied has a game. There is a short, illustrated storybook that focuses on that sound for children to read.


The most valuable part of this site is the instant feedback children have. If a child is unsure of a word in the story, he or she can click on it. The word is then sounded out for the child. When a word is phonetic, each sound is highlighted and then the whole word is read together. If a child would like to hear the complete sentence read aloud, instead of one word at a time, she can click on a symbol beside the sentence.


A child reading the books will enjoy clicking on the image (which results in a change in the illustration). There are simple songs to help children recall sounds associated with letters.


















History



2. Ducksters: Education Site has much to offer for academic subjects (History, Science, Geography). Here’s a link to their page on history: https://www.ducksters.com/history/

There are various articles and biographies available on Ducksters. Images included for the articles help the reader stay engaged. For biographies a quick list of facts are included at the top of the article:


- occupation


- born


- died


- best known for


This allows students to gather knowledge quickly. Two fantastic features on this site:


1) An audio recording at the bottom of the page can be played. This makes the article accessible to readers of any level.


2) There is a ten question quiz at the end of many articles. It is a quick assessment to see if one has understood the content just researched. A copy of the quiz can also be printed off.


























Geography


3. Sheppard Software is a great website with engaging lessons and quizzes for many subjects and grade levels (they have categories that range from preschoolers through adult learners). Here’s a link to their geography page: http://www.sheppardsoftware.com/Geography.htm Regions of the world can be studied here. After choosing a map to study, you can learn more about that place with an informational drop down that appears on the left of the screen when you click on a particular location.



One particularly useful part of the geography quizzes is the instant feedback that is received after taking a geography quiz. They track what you got right and what you need to review, record your speed, and give you a percentage grade. Students and teachers love this type of information. It is a fun way to help students review concepts taught and to invite them to analyze their own growth as a learner. When students care internally about their learning, anything is possible!





Math







4. Khan Academy is an engaging website for learners of all ages. Their math section is invaluable for students! The informative videos help the learner see concepts more clearly.

Viewers gain “energy points” if they create an account. After watching the video on the selected topic, a viewer can assess their knowledge by reviewing the concept. The instant feedback is a fantastic help to any learner. Here’s a link to lessons on the unit circle. https://www.khanacademy.org/math/trigonometry/unit-circle-trig-func





Languages




5. Duolingo is a useful tool for those who are learning languages. It is also a great app on mobile devices. Languages are key in getting to know other people, learning from them, and showing them you care. How can we really listen to someone and learn from them if we do not know their language?


Has your child chosen to study a language you have not learned? This may be what you are looking for. It is not necessarily aimed at children, but with parental guidance it is valuable. There are currently 36 languages being taught through this website! Some of these are in the beta stages.


The first step is to register and choose which language (or languages) to focus on.

https://www.duolingo.com/register Then you set a goal of how often your family will use Duolingo. Then your child can try a placement test, or begin from scratch.


There are bite sized lessons with assessments along the way. Words and phrases are spoken for the learner to hear. Students are asked to go back and forth between the language they are learning and their preferred language. Tasks are given in various ways; a student will be asked to write, speak, read, listen, and translate. The feedback is instantaneous and before a learner moves on to the next task, he or she can review their answer and see why it is correct or incorrect.




It is exciting to be able to practice speaking words and phrases and know you are pronouncing them accurately. That will give your child confidence in class and when she or he speaks to someone in the new language they are learning.









Summary


These five websites are fabulous and also free! I hope that you and your student enjoy each one. I love the instant feedback that is available to students on each of these sites. It helps the student become aware of what they need to work on and what they are already great at!


Teachers love the way classroom concepts can be reviewed with these websites. Parents want their children to be successful learners and when schedules are busy these sites offer instant feedback that moms and dads would love to give if they were studying with their child. Children enjoy computer activities and receiving instant feedback. There is satisfaction for everyone involved when a child can see improvement as he or she practices and reviews concepts.


What are you waiting for? Check out these engaging sites now!*


*Parents have the beautiful responsibility of training and teaching their children (Deuteronomy 6:6-9). Please check out the websites mentioned here and determine if they align well with your family standards before having your children engage with them.




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