Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Computer and toddlers

I’ve written before about my children’s computer addiction. Here are three of my favorite free programs – chosen in part because they don’t have ads for your child to click into or easy ways to start chatting with customer service. All of these work great on our PC computer running Windows; I haven’t tried any of them on a Mac.


  • Crazy Little Fingers is a free program that is supposed to lock out the rest of your computer. I have never been able to get out without using the Ctrl-Alt-Del key combination that is designed to get you out, but Johnny has, several times – and he usually shuts down the computer at the same time. I don’t know how he does it, but consider yourself warned. The program is very simple: it brings up a new picture and/or sound effect for every key your child hits. For letters, it brings up a picture of an animal that starts with that letter. I’ve learned about some new animals that way. If your child hits a number key, they get that number on the screen with a sound effect. Other keys just add sound effects to the picture that is currently on the screen.
  • Tuxpaint is a very cool free art program that is (in my opinion) better than many of the children’s art programs available for purchase. The program includes a wide variety of art tools, including shapes, textures, and stamps.


  • Poisson Rouge/Red Fish Soup is a trilingual (UK English, French, and Chinese) exploratory site. Clicking on different parts of the main site takes you to games, music programs, programs to teach body parts, seasons, letters, numbers, coloring, and much, much more. None of the games can be “won” – they just get played over and over. This may appeal to some people and frustrate others. Change the language by clicking on the castle turret with the corresponding flag on the lower right corner of the main screen.

I’d love to hear of any educational, free programs your child enjoys.

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