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My daughter constantly craves “Input” Ever seen short circuit? Well my daughter is just like Jonny 5 and will demolish everything in her path in her hunger for new knowledge. This is where the internet comes in handy. There are so many child orientated websites and one I unearthed early on was the Sesame Street Site ( http://www.sesameworkshop.org/sesame street/ ) because I myself love Sesame Street and my daughter is a big fan of Elmo.
When you first arrive you wait for a page to load (generally very quickly) and a picture of Sesame Street appears and tabs along the bottom pop up showing different characters and playing the notes for the Sesame Street introduction song. You can look through these character links if your child has one particular favourite or if you look to the left side of the page you’ll see a signpost which has several different general headings to follow, both for children and adults.
The outer rim of the page is a dark blue but the centre is bright and colourful, drawing in the eye and making it easy for little ones to focus on the main action. The front page can be click upon and sound effects can be heard, if you click on Oscars can a couple of times He will pop out with a Newspaper which will give you ideas of some of the games to play.
I will concentrate on the signpost links as the character ones are fairly self explanatory. On the children’s side of the post you have links for Games, Stories, Art, Music, Mail and Elmo’s World.
Games -------- The games are laid out on what looks like some strange machine. All the games are displayed randomly across the middle and you can use big chunky buttons to scroll across them all (great for little children as their mouse skills might be a bit erratic, having a big button makes it easier to hit!) or you can click on one of the buttons on the top of the big green machine and click specific games for A,B,C’s ,Numbers, Dot to Dots, Shapes, Sorting and Special (Miscellaneous)
The games are suitable for children of all ages though the majority are aimed at children around 3+. My daughter has played on this site since being 18 months old though as there are some simple games very young children can play. Be warned some of them take a lot of memory and so will take a long time to load. Not to bad if you have a powerful computer and broadband but if not you and your child may be frustrated at the time it takes some of the more flashy games to load. This is a pick of Beth’s favourites.
Keyboard-O-Rama -------------------- Suitable for children 18 months+ this game takes a while to load but you can tickle Elmo whilst you wait. Elmo then tells you that you can hit any key on the computer to play this game. You have to click on the “Play” button to access the game (something for Mummy or Daddy to do if your child is very little) then you can let little one tap on the keyboard and pictures will jump up on the screen and Elmo will tell you all about the letter you pressed.
Peek-A-Boo (a lapware game for parent and baby) -----------------------------------------------------------------
This is a lovely little game for tots of any age, as long as they can move there hands with some purpose and hit the keyboard they can play Peek-a -boo with Elmo, Bigbird and Zoë. As long as you click the links to get to the game your baby can do the rest! Beth is a little too old for this now but She loved it when we first came across the site.
Snuffy’s Safari. --------------------
Snuffy is on safari, he goes to the ocean, the jungle and the Artic. Use the binoculars to find animals, click on them and Snuffy tells you all about them. Suitable for children 21/2 plus as you have to have farily good mouse skills to play this.
Big Bird Gets A Letter -----------------------------
This game is probably a little old for Beth but she still loves it. Some knowledge of the Alphabet is needed to play it properly but big bird gives out hints for those who do not know their letters well. Big Bird receives a letter (a, b, c etc) and you have to find things on his shelf that begin with that letter. This is a relatively quick loading game with lots of help so that your child can play happily by themselves.
There are many, many games and they are all bright, colourful, educational and well explained. Most do require some mouse skills but a few are keyboard based. You can spend Hours looking in this section alone.
This section is split down into a further 3 sections, read a story, solutions and Make a story. Even here there is interaction and your child is encouraged to join in. Beth likes a few stories here and I can see this as being a lovely quieting down activity to do when you want to keep your little one quiet and peaceful for a while.
The stories look like the games, some are animated and some are just flat pictures. They are all bright and colourful and open in a small window helping your little one to be able to see the whole picture easily. (Think about it. If it took up the whole screen a little head with little eyes would miss lots of it unless they moved their head around a lot)
Beth loves “The lemonade Stand” as there is a lot for her to interact with and it is very simple to play. Older children will find several “choose your own adventure” stories where they can decide what will happen next. There is a good mix and most age ranges will find a suitable story for them here.
This is a seemingly small section with only 3 options to choose from :
Colouring pages ----------------------
You can find a colouring page for anything here, split into categories you can easily find a picture to print out here. This is a fantastic idea and you have literally hundreds of colouring in pages here at the click of a mouse. All are simple to print and I am sure these pages will help elevate boredom in children of all ages.
Painting Fun -----------------
This is an online painting game and my daughters favourite part o the whole site. It opens in a separate window and does take time to load but then you have 4 or 5 pictures to choose from and simply clicking your mouse over the chosen paint colour and then clicking on the image means your child can paint without making a mess o your carpet! The only complaint I have here is that there are not enough pictures to choose from.
These aren’t really games but checklists you can make up yourself and then take with you when you go out. One is a doctors checklist and there is a safety checklist and a health checklist too. Some of the things that appear are Americanised, and I really don’t rate this section at all.
Music is something children love and all kids will enjoy listening to the sesame street songs on Sesame Street radio. You do need to have one of the latest editions of real player installed to play this, and the radio takes a while to load but once it is loaded you can leave it playing in the background as you play the games or go off and do other things. The radio loads up in a separate window as a little radio. Big chunk buttons are on the front for playing, stopping and skipping to the next track. You can alter the volume too. All great fun and easily used by little ones and adults alike.
In fact with classics like “C is for cookie” “comb your face” “With a little yelp from my friends” and “the Rubber Ducky Song” forget having this on for the kiddies, play it whilst you’re surfing and it will be the ultimate smile maker and good mood restorer plus it’s a trip down memory lane (as well as Sesame Street)
Also in the music section is the Music Zone. In here you can make your own opera (great fun!) play some world music with Zoë and Oscar and a whole host of weird and wonderful instruments. You can play a game called “song bites” and one called “song places” but you need to have shockwave 8.5 on your computer to do these. Also they are very memory intensive activities, so older computers and those on dial up might not be able to access them.
This is a fantastic little feature where you can email and receive email back from your favourite Sesame Street friend! Simply input your name and address and choose your question to ask your favourite star (there are only a few preset ones like “What is your favourite colour?” and the programme will write an email for you and send it to Elmo, Telly, Big Bird etc and then you will get an email back at your email address containing some keywords. Type one of them into the keyword selector on the website and you’ll open a letter from your famous friend.
You can send an Ecard too. There are a few simple sections to choose from, send a just because card or one to someone you love or send a birthday card. Each section then has a selection of images to choose from, a few lines to chose from e.g. “You’re my Friend, I’m sending lots of love to you”. Then you can add your friends name and email address and your name and preview the card and then send it. It is a very simple process but the Ecards are cute and there is a fairly good selection.
Elmo’s World. -------------------
This is a section dedicated to Elmo’s very own show, Elmo’s World (You can catch it on Living TV in the morning and I think channel 5’s Milkshake shows Elmo’s World at certain times of the year )and is full of games and activities connected to the show.
Beth and I both enjoy Helping Mr Noodle find doggies to take for a walk. This is a lovely activity which is easy and great for helping children to learn to count. Beth Enjoys dressing fire-fighter Elmo too which is packed with fire Safety information.
This section is well set out and more suited to younger children from around 18 months of age.
This section is designed to help you find out all kinds of hints, tips and advice. Use the advice finder to get good practical help on any subject from illness to behavioural problems to healthy eating and more. Or use the activity planner to find lots of make and do projects designed specifically for toddlers (children up to 5/6 years of age) specific to certain events (Christmas, Easter etc) or just as an aid for teaching different things. (naming animals, recognising letters etc)
There is also a section just dedicated to babies and is full of great info for pregnant ladies and their partners and mums and dads of tiny little ones (under the age of one) you can sign up for emails which are very helpful and full of interesting stuff I signed up whilst pregnant and got them once a month till Beth was 1 year old. I actually looked forward to reading them!
Fun To Go --------------
Is just a link to the pintables and activity planner but it is handy to have them grouped together to sae searching through all the different sections on this massive site.
TV Info ----------
Is a useless link for people in the UK as it just has a link to PBS.org for scheduling information.
This is a section just dedicated to babies and it is full of great info for pregnant ladies and their partners and mums and dads of tiny little ones (under the age of one) you can sign up for emails which are very helpful and full of interesting stuff I signed up whilst pregnant and got them once a month till Beth was 1 year old. I actually looked forward to reading them!
This is a link to use for signing up for useful newsletters and is also the link to unsubscribe from any. You can sign up to take part in surveys and also to receive a weekly family newsletter or as already mentioned you can sign up for crib notes if you’re pregnant or have a young baby.
About Us. -------------
This leads to a little interactive tour explaining all about the Sesame Workshop and it’s aims. Worth having a look at as you might find out some interesting info.
Site Map ------------
This leads to a text content page split into sections by character and by themes. Very useful if you want to find a specific activity to help your child with one particular aspect of their learning e.g Letters and numbers.
Overall this is a large site full of educational information and games for toddlers. Some of the games and terms are a bit Americanised but this does not greatly detract from the educational nature of the site. It is bright and colourful and very easy to navigate for parents and children alike. Oh and the best thing of course is it is totally free!
is the link to remember, parents add it to your favourites now and enjoy a bit of peace and quiet this summer holiday! (Although you will have to give up your computer to get it!)