The computer is a magic machine. Those of us who work and communicate and play on one every day certainly think so, but to little kids the magic is truly palpable. Ask to see a picture of a caterpillar, for instance, and presto! Ask for a coloring picture of your favorite princess, and here you go! Ask for games, for puzzles, for movies, for music... is there anything the computer can't give you?
Lots of things, actually.
But sometimes, in our firm conviction that "screen time" must be kept to an absolute minimum for young children, we neglect to take advantage of all the ways in which the wonderful world of the internet can help the little ones learn and grow.
Enter "printables." Otherwise known as entertaining and educational things you you can print off of the computer for your kids. In the olden days, our moms used to pick up booklets of these pastimes down at the five-and-dime. Today, we type and click around a bit, and press "print." During summer days of "brain drain" and other unoccupied hours, a coloring page, game, or brain teaser that you've magically made appear from your computer's printer really can save the day.
Where do we go for printable magic? Click these links, and say "Alacazam!" Won't your kids be amazed at what you can do?
You can't go too far wrong with PBS Kids on screen, and their printables are among the best you can find online. Coloring pages of your kids' favorite characters, dot-to-dot games, cut-outs and much more to keep those crayon-filled fingers busy. We're especially fond of Clifford and Curious George's printable offerings. How about you?
For little ones with very specific requests for coloring pictures of the subjects dear to their hearts (cars, princesses, bugs, letters), you can find a huge range of images on either Crayola or DLTK's sites.
For something a bit more whimsical and off-beat, we turn to Poisson Rouge. This French site offers intuitive and imaginative games of discovery for the youngest kids, and their printable coloring pages have loads of lovely, funky graphics taken from the site.
In the department of games for slightly older kids, there are also plenty of excellent choices. Word search games have always been great fun, but what about customizable word searches? That's just what the Fun Brain Word Turtle tool allows you to make. You can create a puzzle that's just at the right level for your child, with all of her favorite buzz words included. So fun and easy! And for brain-teasers that range from math to literacy to hink pinks (for those who love to rhyme), Super Teacher Worksheets will keep you in the printables business for a good long while.
In short, it's true, you can find just about anything on the internet. And if our kids can benefit from the magic without getting hooked on screens too soon, all the better.
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