What are your favorite fun learning sites for summer?

While I want my kids to have a relaxing fun summer, there is plenty of downtime where they can take 30 minutes a day to work on some skills.

For example, I want them both to improve on their touch typing. I also want Walsh to be faster at his math facts. He passed all the multiplication math facts tests but he figures them out instead of knowing them by memory. (He hates rote memory activities.)

I asked parents on the Momania Facebook page to recommend some of their favorite sites. And they came up with some great ones. Here are what they suggested. Please tell us your favorites.

For typing: One mom shared this very fun touch typing site from the BBC called Dance Mat Typing. Talking animals guide the kids through four levels 12 stages of touch typing. They show you how to use the home keys and the correct finger for each key. I think my kids will think this if fun and will accomplish want I want — faster typing and using the right fingers!

For rote math skills like multiplication tables:

One mom suggested Xtra Math. I’m not that far into it yet. It’s a totally free site, with no advertising and they won’t sell your info. I just registered all three kids. You get reports by email or you look online to see how they are doing. You can adjust the program for them. For example, Walsh doesn’t really need to practice addition and subtraction but he does multiplication and division so you can set it for just those activities. It looks pretty straight forward. No bells or whistles or sugar to make them thing this is fun. I could be wrong though.

Khan Academy – This website offers videos in many academic areas and also offers practice examples. It seems to be free as well.

BigBrainz.com — This one you’ll have to pay for to get the good stuff. It is a real video game that kids want to play and end up learning their math facts. (See the video above.) I know Walsh will love this one. (I hate downloading things though. I worry about viruses. Anyone had any problems with viruses?)

Computer skills – like HTML, Dreamweaver, Photoshop — The kids want to be on the computer so I’ve decided to at least make some of that time useful.

Last summer I used Lynda.com to work on my HTML/CSS and Dreamweaver skills. I am planning to get again this summer so the kids can jump on also learn HTML, Dreamweaver, Illustrator, or Flash. The website has it all so they can jump around and actually learn really useful skills.

It is $25 a month for the regular subscription but I don’t think that gets you the practice exercises. If you have the software then it doesn’t matter because you can just start a project on your own.

Summer study books – Our school recommended SummerSkills.com for summer books to study with. They ask for 20 minutes three times a week.  It comes with three lessons a week for 10 weeks. So it’s not a huge time commitment but will keep them thinking.

Walsh will be skipping fourth grade math and jumping into fifth grade math in the fourth grade. So the teachers suggested he review the fourth-grade math book.

Rose is jumping to eighth grade math in sixth grade. She took sixth and seventh grade math this year so I got the seventh grade math book just for review fractions and decimals in algebraic equations.

I got Lilina the kindergarten math book so she would have something to do while the other kids worked, and she loves it. The other kids haven’t started with theirs but Lilina is already on lesson 7. I knew she knew all the preschool math so I went a grade up for her. Some of the stuff is completely new to her (like fractions) but that’s OK.

So what are your favorite learning sites? What should we check out?

20 comments Add your comment

John

May 31st, 2012
7:29 am

I’m surprised you know very little about Khan Academy. Its a pretty interesting story. “Seems to be free” doesn’t even scratch the surface. His videos are the fasted growing non-profit channel on youtube. Oh yea, and they are educational videos. Also his team of rockstar software engineers is revolutionizing math practice.

pws

May 31st, 2012
7:32 am

Do fun things with them this summer, that involve actually using their math skills. When you go shopping, and the sale sign says 25% off, have them calculate in their head how much that item is going to cost, before you take it to the register. Let them bake cookies, and use the measuring cups and spoons for the ingredients. This helps reinforce the need to learn fractions and percentage. They need to actually use their math skills in real life situations, instead of rote memorization. This will also help with their thinking skills, and help them learn to think outside the box.

motherjanegoose

May 31st, 2012
8:08 am

@pws…I was not going to comment, since I have no kids underfoot this summer, but you made me think…

I am not sure many parents can do this as so many use credit or debit cards. I gave mine the check, when we went out to eat, and let them pay with cash…also to figure out the tip.( my two had friends who never knew about the tip in HS and left a quarter.) This helped them to see how much things cost, what kind of tip to leave and to make change…a lost art with many young adults.

When I worked at Wal Mart,in the late 1970’s, we did not have the registers that told how much change to give…we had to count back: your purchase is $14.28 and you gave me a $20.00?
2 cents make 30 then 2 dimes makes fifty 2 quarters makes $15 and a $5 makes $20.00…thank you! Wow…you do not see or hear that too often. Perhaps that skill will eventually be useless with plastic? Anyone?

Augusta

May 31st, 2012
8:16 am

We don’t stress about this stuff during the summer. It’s a time of play and joy and no school!!!!

However, we do require each child to read every night before bedtime. I like to see them each read one book every two weeks. But this is the time they all get to sleep in, be slugs, and enjoy summer. They are in school 180 days, and we all get exhausted, so summers are for fun!!!!

newblogger

May 31st, 2012
8:35 am

The last couple of weeks of school I had my 5th graders participate in a personal finance activity. We made checkbooks and created scenarios where they had to deposit “money” and withdraw “money”. We paid bills, had unexpected expenses, gave to charity or tithed, figure tax and tip on food bills. It was great! They were a little shocked at how fast the money can go. They did get “paid” once during the process and had a couple of other times when they deposited money. They have a few extra pages in their checkbooks and I hope they will continue to use their math skills and create their own activities during the summer. They really enjoyed it so maybe that’s not such a lofty goal. A free website that my class and my son enjoy is studyjams. It is a scholastic website for math and science. There are videos, karaoke, and quizzes on many different topics. Math maven by scholastic is a great problem solving website with several levels of math problems. Also, read, read, read!

motherjanegoose

May 31st, 2012
8:41 am

@Augusta…I loved the summers when mine were little as they too enjoyed play and joy and no school. I was home with them and we did all sorts of stuff. I worked camps in Gwinnett, to earn extra money so that we could do some fun things.
IMHO there are lots of kids and adults who stress out over being able to make change…at least their face looks like they do not have a clue! If I hand them $20.37 for a $15.37 purchase, I may have to tell them they owe me $5. I see this quite often. As pws said, life skills are important and summer is well a time when parents could share these skills in a more relaxed way…as the kids have no homework, projects or tests to take!

misawa

May 31st, 2012
8:55 am

While in college, I was taking my second circuits course with a different professor than the first. Circuits 101 prof would help us understand and construct certain formulas, but after that we were given the formulas on a “cheat sheet” for quizzes and exams. Circuits 102 prof allowed no such thing; instead of wasting brain space on memorizing formulas for one specific type of circuit, he provided us tools for figuring out ANY – no cheat sheet needed.

I was 30 years old before I realized that rote learning did not work for me. For multiplication tables, I was always the slowest of the bunch, because I was trying to visualize in my head the rows and columns and add them up. After doing this enough times, I knew that 5×4 was 20 – not because I memorized it, but because I had counted it up and proved it to myself.

My completely free, unsolicited rant on rote learning methods. :)

cobbmom

May 31st, 2012
9:18 am

Rote learning in math has gone by the wayside, at least in Cobb County. With the new national core standards in place for math (other subjects to roll out at a later date) we are moving to performance activities. Teachers were told if an administrator walks into your classroom and all students are doing a worksheet individually then you will be having a sit down meeting later. There are to be no timed tests for math facts. Group activities, using manipulatives, and higher order thinking are the new path. Math Talk, which is all mental math, is to be utilized in every classroom. No more regrouping, we will be teaching alternate methods of calculation. Some areas have shifted, such as multiplication begins day one in third grade. It will be a difficult switch for the first couple of years, students coming into the higher grades don’t have the number sense to do some of the work. So in addition to teaching the standards we will be having to remediate the number sense.

Techmom

May 31st, 2012
9:52 am

After getting my son’s SAT scores back, I’ve started to look for some online tools. If anyone has suggestions, I’d love to hear them. I’m considering signing him up for a test prep class. We let him take it initially without any real prep and it showed.

I’m just happy the summer reading he has this year does not require him to annotate. Geesh, it totally takes the fun out of reading! Plus now it can be read electronically.

motherjanegoose

May 31st, 2012
10:20 am

@ Techmom…we did not use prep classes but many folks do, I sat next to a lady on flight whose husband is a professor at Tech. We chatted about our kids. She said that her daughter would be going to Tech, in the fall, and that it WAS necessary to use a prep course to get a good score for Tech. I am curious what others have to say. Too late for my two but their scores were good,with out the class. Have your son take the SAT and the ACT…you can see if he scores better on one or the other.

@newblogger…hoorah for practical applications!

Techmom

May 31st, 2012
11:27 am

I am going to register him for the ACT as well. He took both the PSAT and PLAN (the ACT equivalent of the PSAT) and his scores on those suggested he would do better than he did. I’m not too concerned with him getting super-high scores as he is not going to Tech or UGA but he does need to improve.

Sonia

May 31st, 2012
12:41 pm

Great suggestions. I’ve already forwarded to a few friends, as I was with a group of educators last night and we were all sharing sites and ideas for the summer for our own kids.

Denise

May 31st, 2012
1:07 pm

Techmom, I did better on the ACT than the SAT so I only applied to schools that took the ACT. Got lots of full scholarship offers so that might be a strategy for your son if he does better on one than the other.

Todd

May 31st, 2012
3:58 pm

http://www.atlantatimemachine.com

Native Atlantans, and kids who love before-and-after history, will love this site.

Kat

May 31st, 2012
9:59 pm

It makes much more sense to do “real-world” math with cash than anything on the computer. You won’t have a computer around in the “real-world” until each of us is tagged like a product in the future. And, it is your own fault if you use credit/debit cards and are therefore “unable” to teach your child the fundamentals. Consider being a good role model by using cash versus credit, because when the card reader goes offline, you will have to use cash.

BTW: ABCMouse.com is a pretty fun site for the littler kids to play on, but there is a monthly fee. It’s worth it though – but it all depends on how you want to spend your money.

kaab

June 1st, 2012
7:23 am

Techmom – The SAT online course by college board is a good deal. There are 11 full length practice tests with detailed explanations for the answers and why the incorrect ones are wrong. It is worth the money if your son puts in the time. Additionally, there are lesson quizzes that focus on the subtopics that are covered on the SAT. I am not getting paid by college board :) I use this program with my students. We have seen positive results with its use.

____________________
Thatquiz.org a great site for math practice. There is even a section on counting change.

Carly

June 1st, 2012
8:05 am

http://www.typekids.com

Unfortunately not free, but good. My kids used this site to learn touch typing.

shaggy

June 1st, 2012
8:25 am

My boy’s free learning center:
Deep woods, with clear creeks to explore with his friends. Cliff faces in North Georgia, NC, TN, and AL to scale with his friends, and occasionally dad. Class taught by shaggy on knapping stone into tools, like a flint knife…graduation is in fall, after butchering a deer… using only stone pointed tools….extra credit for making something useful or beautiful out of the skin/bone/antler . Markmanship training, mostly on shaggy estate, etc….see he is not bored.

He already knows how do do the mundane, and does it very well when he has to. This gives him the other, much more fun stuff.
And it’s a free experience that you couldn’t put a price on anyway.

Kat

June 1st, 2012
6:28 pm

My kid (on the autism spectrum) loves Timez Attacks too. Anything he plays at school, he seems to love at home too.

Mark

June 4th, 2012
6:04 pm

For memorizing the basic math facts, try http://mathfactspro.com If Walsh uses his fingers, it won’t count the fact as memorized. It adjusts to each students speed, whether they are fast or slow, and will tell you which facts they have memorized, and which ones they don’t.