When kids ask to go on the internet, we worry they’re only interested in stuff we don’t think is good for their brains. Kids think we only want them on babyish educational websites. So where’s the middle ground?
If you’re reading this then you already know that Beano.com is the best kids’ website ever built. Obvs. But even excellent kids like yours need some variety in their online diet, so we’ve hunted down the 10 most fun, intriguing and safe websites for children. Keep this list bookmarked! You’re going to need it…
Based on the BBC Horrible Histories show and the Scholastic book series, the Horrible Histories website is a goofy, grisly take on historical events and people, such as the Terrifying Tudors and Ruthless Romans. Kids mainly use the site to play games and quizzes which are suitably irreverent, interesting and fun, as well as reading about the Villain of the Week, daily history facts, and downloading printables and wallpaper, and other fun stuff. There’s plenty here to entertain and educate – expect shrieks of laughter from your little horrors.
LEGO Life – Create, share & discover is a social-networking-style experience for kids to share their love of all things Lego. Kids sign in with a Lego ID and customise their avatar as a LEGO minifigur, after which they can upload pictures, complete challenges, and comment using app-specific emojis (all of which are moderated). Content includes inspirational pictures of Lego builds and mini-figures, build challenges, videos, new product announcements, and even the occasional build instructions. Like something? Give it a heart and comment using Lego-specific emojis. Safe, positive and friendly, this is one for true Lego obsessives.
Beautifully illustrated and thoughtfully put together, Pottermore is a must for Harry Potter fans. Discover your Patronus (a magical animal that protects you from harm), take the sorting hat quiz to determine which house you’ll live in (go Hufflepuffs!), join a book club based on the novels, or take a virtual tour of Hogwarts, plus read about characters, magic, locations, and more from J.K. Rowling’s ever popular series. Thoughts from J.K. Rowling herself are peppered throughout offer kids insight and exclusive background to the author’s inspirations, plus there are opportunities to read new, original writing from the famed author.
Wondrous challenges and hair-brained schemes are celebrated in the kids version of the famed book, which has been listing world records both of human achievements and the extremes of the natural world since 1955. Kids can visit the site to learn about current challenges as well as researching facts for homework or just using the site for fun. There are quizzes and challenges, video content galore plus the site is hooked up to Popjam so kids with an account can attempt Guinness World Record creative challenges over there, too.
Dilemma: your kids love watching videos and you’re all for an easy life, but how do you find something other than endless mind-numbing YouTube playlists? The Kid Should See This has more than 3200 smart and super-cool, ‘not-made-for-kids, but perfect for them’ videos, all of which have been curated by the brains behind this site, Rion Nakaya and her 7 and 9-year-old kids. Rion’s selections are driven by wonder, enthusiasm, and WOW! moments, covering all topics ‘under and beyond our sun’, plus there’s a special focus on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and maths) subjects. This is homework by stealth, but mainly super-interesting content the whole family will want to watch.
We live in an amazing world packed with wonder and delight (see above). But it’s also a world where bad stuff happens. And when bad stuff hits the news, we defer to the experts – BBC’s Newsround – who’ve been filtering and explaining the news to kids since 1972. The site exists as one of the main tabs on the CBBC website and is mainly video based, but all clips are suitable for the target age range (6-12 years). The site covers the big four subjects (News, Sport, Entertainment and Animals) and offers content as video but also quizzes and feature articles. Covering the latest big stories as well as pop culture and human interest angles, think of Newsround as a shortcut to knowing what stories are important to kids. (Confession time: us grown ups sometimes visit the Newsround site to get the basics on a particularly complicated world event! Shhhh….)
Scratch allows you to program your own interactive stories, games, and animations, and share your creations with others in the online community, alongside nearly 30 million other creations! Scratch is B I G. It’s a creative, collaborative way to learn to code, designed for kids aged 8+. But Scratch is used by people of all ages and across home, school, museums, libraries and more in over 150 different countries and more than 40 languages. Kids can create code to cover subjects including maths, computer science, language, arts and social studies, but in a hugely fun and engaging way that will teach skills to last a lifetime.
Captain Underpants is our second favourite superhero (the undisputed number one being Bananaman, of course!). And we really don’t mind reading his adventures alongside George and Harold to the kids at bedtime. Planet Pilkey brings together all of Dav Pilkey’s creations alongside Captain Underpants, including Dog Man and Cat Kid, Ook and Gluk, Super Diaper Baby. The site offers videos, games (our favourite being Romping Robot Power Punchout – the object? To defeat the evil Wedgie Woman!) and downloads such as how to draw your favourite characters.
Plus there’s a free app to download – the Planet Pilkey app promises action, adventure and super-silliness in ‘a wacky mashed-up world featuring all your favourite characters’.
Space nerds will love NASA’s Space Place – a site with interactive games, projects, and facts about space and Earth science. Launched (geddit?) in 1998 as an education and public outreach project for kids, the site is a joint effort from NASA, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology and International Technology and Engineering Education Association. We’re not going to argue with them. Divided into sections on the sun, solar system, and other space-related subject matter, each activity and item is clearly marked as something kids can explore, do, or play. The games, which illustrate principles such as how a black hole works, are fascinating.
The Summer Reading Challenge takes place every year during the summer holidays, inviting kids to sign up at their local library, then read six library books of their choice to complete the Challenge. There are exclusive rewards to collect along the way, and it’s FREE to take part! The Summer Reading Challenge website extends this activity to the rest of the year, encouraging kids to keep track of their reading, find new books to read, take part in competitions and play games. They even promise the intel on which books your kids’ favourite celebrities recommend…
We know you already know, but let us remind you why we’re so great. We are truly committed to children’s online privacy issues and enabling a safe environment for them in the digital space, this is why we are a member of PRIVO’s COPPA Safe Harbor program. Translation: you know you’re safe to let the kids go crazy on our site. We’ve designed Beano.com to be an online destination that parents can trust and, despite our mischievous heritage, it’s the one thing we are not having a laugh about. Everything is handpicked by our Editors, or handmade by our team, and we also have a team of moderators on hand.
Beano.com is now THE ULTIMATE FEED OF AWESOME, a place to watch epic videos, find out about film, sport and music funnies, make and draw stuff, play games, invent and of course discover new pranks! All of that PLUS Dennis, Gnasher, Minnie and all your favourite Beano characters in lots of new stories and cartoons! You can access the new Beano online at Beano.com and we also have awesome channels on YouTube and Popjam. Just search for Beano.com