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Top Websites to Keep Kids' Thinking Caps on this Summer

By Stacey Ross

Summer is here and in no time my kids went right into pool/beach/play mode. They know, however, that after lunchtime they need to "feed their brains." For the first few weeks I chose math activities for my girl and geography for my boy. If we were to do this all with just paper and pencil, I am sure it would be dull, so I went searching for sites that will help to make things a bit more interactive and empowering, and so far, so good!

Educational, yet fun

KahnAcadamy.org is intended for young toddlers up to adults. It covers a wide range of key subjects but has a very intuitive program for math. Impressive is its library of videos which covers K-12 math, science topics such as biology, chemistry, physics, and more!

DuoLingo.com teaches various languages, and at the same time translates the World Wide Web! This site is great for all ages and works with various levels of second-language proficiency. It implements multiple modalities to utilize the student's first language to learn his/her language of choice!

National Geographic Kids is designed to teach kids about the world we live in! It provides kids games, videos, photos, jokes, activities, recipes and more! Recommended for 7+. A version for younger kids is available, too! This is a perfect starting place for parents to introduce kids to various subjects before taking the kids out "in the field!"

Get your game on!

Chess.com comprehensively teaches chess! Ultimately, the user will play against other people, so some parental guidance is advised. If you are totally new to the game or just wish to brush up on the rules and strategies, you will love this site! I do!

Matthew “Vertueux” Potter, avid "gamer," shares top educational videos that most people do not realize challenge the noggin as much as they do!! Parents who get into the action might need to schedule a time bracket, as I have been told an hour turns into several once you get engaged with these puppies! I have also heard of some "into the dawn" players, whom I will not mention by name!

NeoPets.com has been around since 1999! Still quite entertaining, the website is full of games, virtual pets and a lot of fun. Kids discover exciting games, puzzles and activities daily and are kept very entertained! My girl loves earning points and buying things. I find it fascinating to watch kids get so involved, but I tend to limit time on these types of games. Great for all ages, with an emphasis on 10 and under.

For the book worms

PotterMore.com is designed by author J.K. Rowling, who wanted to further the depth of her series and to encourage reading, particularly for kids and fans of Harry Potter. Do you know any Harry Potter enthusiasts who lack motivation when it comes to reading? I sure don't, but more enrichment is a lovely thing!

Book Adventure.com is another fun way to motivate your child to read! Kids in grades K-8 can search for books, read them offline, and go back to take a quiz, then earn points to be redeemed for prizes like books, magazine subscriptions, tattoos, candy, CD’s, and games. This reading program is ongoing, all year around.

Barnes & Noble.com has a Summer reading program, which asks kids to read and keep track of 8 books in a downloadable journal, then take it to a Barnes & Noble store between May 21st & September 3rd, 2013 to receive a FREE reading book from the B&N featured list.

Stacey Ross is an online consultant, social media enthusiast, freelancer and owner of SanDiegoBargainMama.com. A former teacher and middle school counselor, she is now a mom of two who researches and freelances about lifestyle topics involving family and well-being.

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