Welcome to our KidDesktop blog!

KidDesktop is a kid friendly Windows desktop alternative providing a safe PC learning experience without allowing access to inappropriate files, programs, or Internet content. This blog provides information parents and teachers can use to help children get the most out of their computer experience, including updated information about KidDesktop and reviews of kids’ websites and kid friendly YouTube videos.

Archive for March, 2009

Kideoplayer

I recently checked out a great site called Kideoplayer (thanks Seth!), and I definitely recommend it.  Kideoplayer was conceived as a safe ways for kids to watch YouTube videos without being exposed to all the other non-kid-friendly stuff on YouTube.  (Sound familiar?)

Of course, Kideoplayer is a bit different from KidDesktop’s YouTube playlist.  With KidDesktop, parents choose videos for their child’s playlist.  Kideoplayer’s creator, Tom, has created a website which ONLY shows the videos he has identified as safe, educational, and fun.  As with KidDesktop, you and your child don’t see the “More From,” “Related Videos,” or “Promoted Videos.”  If you or your child don’t like a particular Kideoplayer selection, just hit the space bar to skip to the next one.  More info about Kideoplayer can be found here.  It sort of reminds me of Pandora, but with kids’ YouTube videos instead of your choice of music!  Definitely a fun addition to your child’s Activity Bar.

(A quick note: the first time I tried to “space-bar-skip,” while running the site on KidDesktop nothing happened.  I hit the KidDesktop “home” icon and could then skip freely.  Curious to hear if others also experienced this minor issue, or if it was a fluke.)

Orisinal

I just checked out the game site Orisinal.  The site boasts more than 60 games, featuring  cute animal characters and outdoor backgrounds done in pastel colors.  The soothing Japanese music completes the sensory experience: no violent or explicit games here!  While preschoolers and younger kids will probably find the games too difficult, older kids and adults will enjoy playing them.

A little history: creator Ferry Halim started the site in 2000.  He makes games for a living and considers Orisinal his “personal playground.”

Orisinal games don’t really have any educational merit.  Unlike many of the games for preschoolers, they won’t reinforce reading or math skills.  But they are cute, and older kids (and their parents) will enjoy wasting some time on them here and there.  Just be careful: the games can be addictive!  Good time to use the timer function on KidDesktop, or to impose your own timer system if you are the one visiting Orisinal.

Dr Seuss & Read Across America Day

March 2nd marked Dr Seuss’ birthday, and the National Education Association’s annual Read Across America Day.  To celebrate, schools across the country sponsored programs encouraging reading.  Our local middle school did a great production of Seussical the Musical, which our whole family attended.  The 6-year-old had seen a taste of the show at his elementary school earlier in the week, and the 4–year-old loves the “Horton” books; they both thought it was great.   But Dan and I also enjoyed the show.  Who wouldn’t?  For more than 50 years both kids and adults have adored Dr. Seuss!

Naturally, this all got me wondering about online Dr. Seuss resources for my own little, silly-rhyming enthusiasts.  My first stop was Seussville, an inclusive site with click-and-play computer games, as well as a biography and a catalog of Dr. Seuss books, music, clothes and other items.  Kids who are not yet reading will need a grown-up to walk them through the games the first time, but afterwards they should be able to manage by themselves.  Reading kids will enjoy making their own Horton-based storybook with the Storybook Maker.

On the YouTube front, there are many great Dr. Seuss videos from which to choose.  The Zax is an amusing example of what happens when two people refuse to compromise.  (Parents of small children, does this sound at all familiar?)  The Cat in the Hat is an oldie but goodie, basically guaranteed to please.  The Sneetches Part I and Part II are pretty long — Part I is 6 1/2 minues and Part II is 5 1/2 minutes — but kids with a longer attention span will enjoy the classic animation and music, while maybe even learning not to discriminate against others.

There are also YouTube videos from different presentations of Seussical the Musical.  None, alas, from our local middle school.  But Monkey Around has been taped by several productions and usually features some fancy footwork and fun music; this version is one of my favorites.  Solla Sollew, where Horton sings about a place where everything is alright, is a bit more mellow, but quite cute.  Biggest Blame Fool (in the Jungle of Nool) is more upbeat and fun, as is Amazing Mayzie (which is also under two minutes).

Check out these great Dr. Seuss resources, and don’t forget to read the books to your kids, too!

Ziggity Zoom

I recently encountered a very good website for toddlers and young preschoolers (2-4 years old) called Ziggity Zoom.  Ziggity boasts kid-friendly games, printable coloring pages, read-along stories, and arts and crafts activities for parents and kids to do together.  The site is easy for kids to navigate due to the extensive use of spoken-word help, and also includes special sections for parents to peruse.

I particularly like the focus on learning numbers, letters, and pre-reading skills, not to mention kid-friendly recipe ideas, “get up and get moving,” “toys to make,” and others.  The entire site features simple but kid-friendly graphics including BunBun the rabbit, a princess, a pirate, robots, and TumTum the friendly alien.  Children can choose to create coloring pages, stickers, magnets, and other art projects for each character.

This time of year many parents wonder whether to send their child to kindergarten or to wait another year.  Although no website holds the answer, I found this page on kindergarten readiness very interesting.

I also really appreciated the activities parents and kids can do together, such as a print-out park activity sheet and another print-out zoo activity sheet.

To use Ziggity Zoom’s own tagline, it IS a fun place to zoom around!