Commonsense media


There is such a plethora of entertainment out there—just how do you go about selecting movies, TV shows, video games, apps, books and music that all members of the family can enjoy? This site reviews a lot of content for several age groups — from two and three-year-olds to teenagers — to select family-friendly fare that is also entertaining and absorbing. It also advises caution on sharing favourite films and TV shows with children as some movies and shows that we might have once considered innocuous might turn out to be frightening for younger children and contain bad language or adult content.

It also features educational materials that parents and teachers can use to train students in the ethical use of digital media. There are modules on digital safety, searching, privacy, how to protect your creative work, send email and more. All these modules are designed keeping in mind the relevant age group. For example, the module on search for students in kindergarten is very basic, as compared to that for Grades 1 and 2, where keywords are introduced.

Parents and teachers can also locate a lot of advice on a wide range of topics, from social networking for children, to the influence of celebrities on their kids, to cyber bullying. Scroll through feature articles, answers to readers’ queries on preventing children from multitasking (which could lead to distraction) or finding suitable role models for teenage girls.




Kids and sports are a winning combination—which child would much rather not read about football, baseball or basketball than all the ‘ologies in school?  This is a companion site for the Sports Illustrated for Kids magazine and features games, video clips, photographs, blog posts and news stories. Kid reporters are a part of the setup and post their video clips, reports and opinions regularly on the site.

The games on this site are based on popular sports—so you can play golf to escape a haunted island, fight pirates launching tennis balls to steal your treasure, play all kinds of racing games—some in outer space–or win points at snowboarding or skiing virtually. Photo features on the NFL draft, the US First Lady’s fitness programme for children and suitable sports gear are included. You can participate in art contests every month—there are also T-shirt and cap contests, where you could not only come up with a winning design, but actually have people buy items with your designs on them. Blog posts cover a wide range of topics, from a straightforward report of the Society for American Baseball Research’s annual convention, to fantasy casts for films starring athletes to unusual sports—underwater hockey and bossaball—played in the summer. That said, this site is heavily US-centric and is still in the beta stage.


KidsitesOne of the oldest sites for kids on the Internet — it was founded in 1997, which is equivalent of the early modern era in Internet history. extensively reviews and lists sites submitted on it. They focus on quality of content, presentation and subject matter, as well as on sites that are free for use and accessed by children. Fill up their on-site Submission Form if you have set up a website for children and would like them to review it.

So what kinds of sites get listed on KidSites? Many are educational — focusing on school subjects, such as music, math, history and science — and on subjects that fascinate children, from dinosaurs to space. Other sites feature comics, crafts, online games and sports. The sites listed provide authoritative information on the animal category includes links to the American Kennel Club, with its articles on the responsibilities of dog owners, to the ASPCA, with its more extensive pet care guides. The girls’ interest section features links to the Girl Scouts of the USA as well as Barbie, while the link to the Crafts for Kids site gives you instructions to creating papier-mâché objects, for instance. The Busy Bee Kids Crafts site features instructions for using a Bug Jug to study insects in the backyard, as well as a recipe for homemade sidewalk paint! Teachers will find sites featuring lesson plans and worksheets, whereas parents will find links to parenting tips and advice from paediatricians.

KidSites follows a fairly strict privacy policy — they do not share your e-mail address or contact details with others unless required to do so by the law. They discourage children younger than 13 years from contacting them via their forms — however, parents, teachers and guardians of children can do so as necessary.


National Geographic Kids

NationalGeographicKidsNational Geographic has been known for its delightfully well-written, gorgeously photographed, extremely informative and beautifully put together magazine and television shows. Their site for children is just as engaging, and is guaranteed to keep the little (and not-so-little) ones glued to the computer screen for hours, as they chase down interesting facts and news items on the world around them, to complete their homework or add to their knowledge!

National Geographic Kids introduces children to the wonders of exploring our world. The site is very visual — children can view videos and photographs of animals, forces of nature, space, people and places in various languages such as English, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese. They can also upload videos, photographs and blog posts that they have created in the community section. Children can read articles on environmental issues, animals, historical figures, country profiles and interviews with explorers, scientists and conservationists; they can also learn some simple crafts, such as making a dog bed or preparing a herb garden kit in the fun facts section. This section also includes some recipes from various countries. Children will enjoy trying out these recipes, which are simple enough for them to prepare with some adult supervision. Doing something in the kitchen gives us all a wonderful sense of accomplishment — and this sense needs to be fostered and encouraged in children. So watch your kids prepare ice cream sandwiches on hot days or try out chicken with chocolate sauce, a dish popular in Mexico, in the winters. This site also features clubs of all kinds — on nature, animals and books and son on.



WebkinzThis is a site set up by a Canada-based toy company, where children, who enjoy playing with plush/stuffed animals, are given a secret code after they sign up (or purchase the soft toy), which enables them to play with and care for their pet as if it were a living animal. Children can adopt and name pets; they can also custom-design a room for them. They can play games and compete against other players in tournaments and can also answer questions. Their participation in these activities enables them to earn cash, which they can use to shop for their pets online. A news section is also included — the attempt is to add something new every day, so that children keep coming back for more.  There is an extensive FAQ section, which introduces the website and the activities it features. There is also a section for parents. The aim is to get children to learn fun facts, read, type and think logically, even as they play games and care for their pet. Here you basically teach your children to act responsibly.

Although the site is bright and cheerful — the use of colours is certainly eye-catching — it can be a bit confusing for a first-time visitor. What parents might find a bit disturbing is the need to buy a toy to play with, in the virtual world. Although the toy stores are located in the US and Canada, the toys are distributed internationally. The parents’ section provides a tour of the site, as well as account control features.


Time for Kids

TimeForKidsThis site features articles on areas of special interest to children — from entertainment news to items on health, sports, nature and environment and world affairs. Time for Kids requires a subscription, which can be bought by either the parent or the teacher.  The print, online and whiteboard editions are included as a package — and editions of Time for Kids are geared to the US school system, from kindergarten to Grade 6.

Time for Kids has been designed keeping in mind the Common Core State Standards used in the US. The Common Core lays emphasis on the reading of information, and Time for Kids exposes children to non-fiction articles. Each issue includes a teacher’s guide, with lesson plans and teaching tips. These lessons and tips enable schoolchildren to closely read the cover story, emphasizing reading and writing standards featured in the curriculum. There is a section which features stories written by kid reporters, where they interview writers, cartoonists, NASA engineers, pop groups and actors; review Broadway musicals and historic museums, report on important events (TED x TEEN) and describe their personal experiences (participating in an obstacle race).  There is an extensive book review section as well as mini-sites on environment, the 2012 Olympics and the end-of-year holidays — Kwanzaa, Hanukkah and Christmas. Although this is a delightful site, it is extremely US-centric.


Science News for Kids

ScienceNewsforKidsThis site enables children to explore the worlds of physics, astronomy, human physiology, biology and technology. It is published by the Society for Science and Public as a companion to their Science News magazine. It is targeted at middle-school readers and most of its stories are taken from news items in the print magazine. Its news stories and features are accompanied by suggested activities, books, articles and other resources. It also provides information on numerous science competitions open to students worldwide.

The attempt here is to show children how the work of a scientist affects the world around them. The language is simple and straightforward — each news item includes a brief glossary of technical terms. The articles use everyday occurrences, such as baseball statistics or the impact of a camping trip in the wilderness, to illustrate how one talented player’s hitting streak can improve the scores of his teammates or describe the research being conducted on circadian rhythms. Or they might introduce students to careers in science and technology, such as sports medicine, crime scene investigation, cryptology and robotics. News stories cover a wide range of scientific subjects, from anatomy and biology to forensic science, marine biology and inventions. This is a useful site for students, since the news stories are an easy read and informative, while parents can catch up on science subjects to answer their children’s questions, or help out with science projects for various science fairs. Teachers can use the site to advise their students on careers in science, explain how scientists find answers to questions and link what they teach in the classroom to stories in the news.




An interesting online database of free audio stories, where you can find a mix of fairy tales, original stories, educational ones as well as those adapted on myths and histories. These are simply narratives which can also be downloaded for free. A must for children who like reading or are into creative writing as those in the age group of 8-12 year will really find it enthralling. The stories have been professionally read making the broadcast quality really good and best part is that all these are free. Recent additions have been nursery rhymes as well as junior stories which are quite enjoyable and fascinating. You can also find the audio versions of classics such as the Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Oscar Wilde, Rudyard Kipling and much more. So next time you don’t wish to carry books around you can always download the multilingual audio version and carry them on your iPods or phones and listen to them at leisure. Educational plans based on the stories are a definite add on.


Bedtime Stories


When education becomes fun and stories with teaching values become entertaining kids begin to enjoy more. You can find all this and much more on this website. If you are looking for audio stories in English and Spanish then search no more. This site is a treasure trove of modern stories with fairytale characters; educational information for both parents as well as teachers; and most of all that you can select stories based on values such as wisdom, friendship, generosity, love, gratitude, obedience and much more. Additional includes innovative tips and tricks to education young minds, how to write stories as well as workbooks on values. You can also download the PDF form of these stories.




An exhaustive database of quiz questions on a wide array of subject. The categorization is quite easy and the questions are interactive and the results can score can be viewed once all the answers are submitted. If you are preparing for competitive exams then it is a must visit site. You can find specific questions on KPSC, AIEEE Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry for previous years up to 2002; Engineering and Technology; Finance & Accounting; analytical questions; and subject specific questions ranging from arts and literature to History and Geography and much more. There is a special section for kids too where questions are based on birds and animals; cartoon characters; fruits and plants and general knowledge. You can even participate in various contests and challenges and compare your results with contemporaries and other members.


Children’s Storybooks


An illustrative and interesting collection of online storybooks for children of all ages. Few must reads include the ‘Fruit Salad’, ‘Little Miss Mary and the Big Monster Makeover’, ‘Tiger Son’ and ‘Wind Song’. You also have the option of downloading them on your phone and can easily enjoy the audio version as well. Exciting addons are riddles, a bunny bee maze and an online interactive colouring book with the option of printing them at leisure and colouring them with crayons, pencils or colourful markers. Jigsaw puzzles, games and quizzes make this site even more fascinating for kids of all ages.




The fun and frolic begins here for kids with the most loved characters namely, ‘The Cat in the Hat’; ‘Dinosaur Train’; characters of ‘Sesame Street’; and ‘Daniel Tiger’s Neighbourhood’. There are interactive games, videos, colouring pages and much more. You may also find the animated series for 3-6 year olds that encourages basic scientific thinking skills as kids learn about life science, natural history and paleontology. This can be done by exploring a variety of animals, which helps children in developing their inquiry skills and knowledge needed to help them think, talk and act like paleontologists. The narrations and videos are quite interesting and easy to navigate. Once the children get the hang of it they can enjoy and spend hours learning the interesting way. A great selection of videos for children to watch and learn!!!

There is a special section for parents and teachers which help them in procuring lesson plans and planning different activities for children.


ABC Fast Phonics



When learning becomes fun and enjoyable and young children learn their first words that is a proud moment for all parents. This site helps children in learning phonic, which includes vowels, consonants and similes. Navigating through this site is quite easy as you can first learn sound, phonics, letter names & sounds, words and letter positions and commonly used words that help in correct pronunciation. The audio with each section clearly helps in identification of words and if quite helpful for parents who wish to teach their children correct pronunciation.