As a teacher and/or parent, finding safe and educational preschool online games can be a challenge. A simple search for "online games," "preschool games online," or "free children's games" will bring up literally thousands of results. And we all know no one has time to look through that many sites!
Some parents and teachers are hesitant to let their child use a computer, and more specifically to use the Internet. But there are many valid reasons for starting your preschoolers on the technology path early.
Online games are beneficial for preschoolers for a variety of reasons. First, it allows children to practice their technology skills. If you are not planning on homeschooling your child, you can expect that they will be starting to use computers in kindergarten.
You can give your child a leg up by teaching them some basic computer skills like: using a mouse and on-screen pointer, navigating a website, finding letters and numbers on the keyboard, and turning a computer on and off.
Secondly, online games for preschoolers give opportunities to learn about letters, numbers, shapes, colors, drawing, and many other topics. Quite a few of the reviewed websites below feature well-known or memorable characters that make learning fun for your child!
The only word of caution that I would say is that these preschool online games are so much fun that children tend to get wrapped up in them! This is a good opportunity for you as the parent or teacher to set boundaries and teach limiting play to a certain time period.
In my classroom, we have a kitchen timer right by the computer. We also have a "Turn" list. The children who want a turn on the computer print their name on the list. We encourage them to print their name as best they can (encouraging this skill!). At the beginning of the year, they may only print the first letter of their name, but as each month progresses, they print more and more of their name.
We then set the timer for 5 minutes. They can visually see the time go by so it's not a surprise when it goes off and they are done. You may also want to verbally warn them when it's almost done so they can prepare to finish their game. Trust me, 5 minutes is plenty of time on the computer at school.
Also, we allow 2 children at a time to be at the computer. One plays the other is whoever is next on the list. The rest of the children go to other interest learning centers of their choice. This prevents groups of children from hovering by the computer rather than interacting.
In addition, we don't necessarily have the computer available each day. We choose which days the computer, as an interest center, will be open based on the activities we have planned for our preschool day.
The master of art supplies for children, Crayola, also gives children an online place to express their creativity. Their site not only has many games, but also a card creator, and certificate maker.
The games are fun for kids and are, of course filled with lots of color!
Last, but not least, we can't forget to head over to Disney's game site. You'll have to do some searching to find games appropriate for preschoolers here. It seems this site is geared more toward the older child crowd.
Don't let that discourage you, though. After some digging, I was able to discover a few games that my kids just love. Some of the games features their favorite Disney characters (Cars, Tinkerbell, Bolt, Nemo, and Monsters, Inc.) are adorable and exciting.
You'll certainly want to monitor your child closely on this site, as you probably don't want them playing some of the games aimed at teens.
This site has over 450 games with a step by step learning path for Prek. It includes books, puzzles, games, songs, art activities and more. It not only has learning games but can be uses as a full preschool curriculum. There is a monthly subscription fee of $7.95/month, well worth the number of activities available.
One of the most popular sites for preschool online games is Nick Jr. If your preschoolers love the characters on Nick Jr., they are sure to enjoy playing the games found on this site. You can search the games by character, by age appropriateness, or by developmental skill addressed (such as numbers and counting, letters and spelling, and matching).
One of the favorites at our house is PBS Kids. My children love the characters and the games are enjoyable as well as instructive.
This site also allows you to find games by character, or by topic. If you are working on letter recognition with your child, for example, you could play Sesame Street's Letter of the Day, WordWorld's Dog's Letter Pit, or Mister Rogers' Alphabet Doors, among many others.
There are no age suggestions for the games, so you'll have to determine their appropriateness for your child, based on their development. Some parents and teachers may find this to be an extra step, but the games are well worth it.
Funschool is a site that offers games for children of all ages. You’ll have to navigate to the preschool section, so that your child doesn’t end up playing a game geared toward older children.
Once there, though, you'll find many games and activities to keep them occupied. The majority of the activities, I would say, lean more toward the "amusement" side and less toward the "instructional" side of online preschool games.
There are no well-known characters on this site, so if your child is really motivated by that, you'll want to search elsewhere for preschool online games. Many of the coloring pages and art activities are cute, and could certainly give your child a creative outlet!
Most people associate Fisher-Price with learning toys, but they also offer a website filled with fun games. This is the only site I found that gives games for children as young as infants to play! (Of course, you’d be doing most of the work at that age.)
On this site, you'll find games and activities that are based on some of the toys that Fisher Price sells. For example, there are games features Little People, Rescue Heroes, and Imaginext characters.
This is a good resource for preschool online games that are free to use.