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 April, 2009

Yes, you read the title correctly.  This YouTube video is entirely safe for kids, especially kids like mine who like the movie WALL-E.  (For more about WALL-E, read the post below this one.)

By way of background, for the last three years the Washington Post has sponsored a Peeps Diorama Contest.  The contest is open to anyone, and can feature any famous scene or event; the only rule is that every character in each diorama must be a marshmallow Peep.  People from the Washington, DC area and beyond get incredibly clever, creative, and crafty assembling dioramas.  This year’s winning dioramas were featured Easter Sunday in the Washington Post’s Peeps Show III.

This year, one of the featured dioramas was a depiction of the great kids’ movie, Wall-E.  (It’s #29 on Peeps Show III.)  Even better, since the diorama features moving parts, the artists made a 42-second long YouTube video showcasing their creation!  Very cute.

If your kids get a big kick out of the Wall-E video, they might also like this one of the functioning Wheel of Fortune from The Peep is Right (#28 on Peeps Show III.)

Wall-E

I’ve mentioned before that my kids are not really into watching movies.  With the exception of Cars and Mary Poppins, I don’t think there are any movies they have watched entirely, let alone that they have asked to watch more than once.  Until now, because:  They.  LOVE.  WALL-E.

To be honest, I think my children have great taste.  Dan and I have also enjoyed our many viewings of WALL-E.  All four of us find him to be a cute, fun, lovable character.  We also like the fact that the movie is directed at kids while still remaining entertaining for adults.  There is very little dialogue in the movie, and none of it is objectionable or even eyebrow-raising.  The plot is compelling, but neither scary or violent.  And all three of my boys (6.5-year-old, 4.5-year-old, and 30-something-year-old husband) love both robots and love space.

Naturally, the mammoth Disney website has a section about WALL-E.  It features pictures of WALL-E and EVE, some cute video clips, and a handful of games.  Some of the games are a bit difficult for younger kids, but I found it cathartic to pop bubble wrap and most kids will, too.  The “Say it Like WALL-E” game is also very cute.

Just two cautionary notes about this site:

1) One of the available options is WALL-E related downloads.  If you don’t want your child downloading icons/avatars, wallpapers, and activity packs to your computer, make sure you set the KidDesktop controls to disallow downloads.  (Easily done when you set up the website.)

2) Using KidDesktop, your child will not have access to the rest of the Disney site (movies, TV, Music, theme parks, etc) from the WALL-E site, unless you specifically allow them to “click on a link and leave adisney.go.com” when you set it up on their Activity Bar.  Obviously, this is a good thing if you don’t want them ranging through the huge Disney site and the Web at large.  If you change the default option, your child can then also go anywhere their clicks take them on the Internet.  But if you would like your child to have more Disney options without access to the entire Internet, just set up different buttons on their Activity Bar for all their favorite Disney movies, TV shows, etc.

Bert & Ernie on YouTube

Recently I found myself sitting at the computer with my 4-year-old son, surfing YouTube for fun Bert & Ernie videos to add to his YouTube playlist.  I figured he would watch them with me, eagerly volunteering which ones he liked and wanted to see again.  It was a great idea, until I inadvertently stumbled onto the exact reason we have KidDesktop and YouTube playlists for our kids.  While not going into explicit details, I’ll just say there is some crazy Bert & Ernie humor out there, much of which is not appropriate for children!

Hoping to make this search process a bit easier for other parents, I thought I’d spotlight some of the cute and kid-friendly Bert & Ernie skits I found.

  • Do Re Rubber Duck — QsjbEWKK8AU
  • Do Wop Hop — n1jAogzy3Fw&NR=1
  • Bananaphone — 51ZhEjB_KvU
  • Fishing  (1970′s classic) — pFTjeaDlxDI&NR=1
  • Fishing (2000′s modern) — syJ2p4ouy4c
  • Ernie buries Bert at the beach — gGmq_SfElA0&NR=1
  • Sandbox meatball game — g_kYsoHbW9o
  • Bert Doin’ the Pigeon — pPj3G7U-K04
  • Pizza and Grape Juice — to1QTsDMMxI
  • Ernie Counting Things — QDgAdXTcs00
  • Dance Myself to Sleep — kk1Y4xo4XJ4 kk1Y4xo4XJ4
  • Bert’s Blanket — 40v0i2tJ2tA

I hope your children have as much fun giggling through these videos as my child (and Ernie himself, for that matter) do!

Highlighting an Oldie but Goodie

When two of my friends independently referenced Highlights magazine within a week of each other (one of whom doesn’t even have kids…yet!), I figured it was time to check out the 60-year-old magazine’s kid-friendly website.

If you are like me, you grew up reading Highlights magazine while waiting to see the pediatrician or the dentist.  From the parents’ website:

Since 1946, Highlights for Children has left an indelible imprint on the hearts and minds of tens of millions of children. It has improved reading skills, helped define and develop values like honesty, thoughtfulness and tolerance, all while entertaining and enlightening. Highlights for Children represents a remarkable story in the history of American publishing.

The kid-friendly website — which links to the differently-named website for parents — features old favorites like Goofus and Gallant, now brought to life as on-line choose-your-own-adventure stories.  This is a great concept, and definitely both fun and a learning experience for the kids.  However, since it isn’t spoken-word enabled, non-reading children will need the help of a parent (or a helpful older sibling who reads) to enjoy the fun.  The Timbertoes and Hidden Pictures are also online.  Neither have spoken-word help, but early readers should be able to follow the Timbertoes’ stories and Hidden Pictures is pretty self-explanatory.  With the Hidden Pictures, children can also choose level one (seeing pictures of the items they are supposed to find) level two (having the item mentioned by nam) or level three (no hints…just search!).  Another feature, The Arizona Zone, reads a monthly feature of the magazine aloud to the kids.  The Funny Food Face page is yet another part that even pretty young kids can do on their own.

Overall I think that Highlights is a good website for pre-K and early elementary school kids.  Preschoolers will also enjoy parts of it, although most will not be able to do all the activities without help from a parent.  I’d advise parents to take a spin through the site.  If you add it to your younger child’s Activity Bar, be sure to have KidDesktop start on a page that will be interesting for them.

If nothing else, kids will enjoy seeing the same features on their computer as in their favorite doctor’s waiting room!

PS Teachers, check out HighlightsTeachers.com for some classroom activities!