Top 10 kid-friendly websites

Cool, safe sites for little surfers.

By Sarah Hatten

Super sites 1-5

There are so many sites on the web, it's hard to know where you should and shouldn't let your kids go. Allowing your children to surf the Internet can be nerve-racking, especially when simply clicking on a seemingly innocent link can lead to an array of problems: a mass of pop-up windows, spam, viruses, and worst of all, exposure of your little ones to inappropriate material.

Fear no more -- here is a list of 10 sites that are not only kid-friendly, but kid-cool, too. They are full of interactive games, activities and projects that will keep your children busy for hours. Many of them are award-winning, and even educational, (but shh, don't tell the kids.)

* Please note: parents should still be aware of where their kids are surfing, and they may even want to check out the sites with their kids the first time they visit to make sure the content is appropriate.

1. Story Place - The Children's Digital Library
www.storyplace.org
Visit this award-winning site with your kids for some interactive online reading. Featuring original stories divided into two library categories, pre-school and elementary, all of the stories also offer a related educational activity for the kids to do after reading or listening to the story. There are also activities for parents and reading lists filled with recommendations for similar books your child may want to read.

Bonus: Don't forget to check Story Place's sister site, Book Hive for more online reading adventures.

2. Doodle!
www.doodlestudio.com
Do you have a young budding artist in your midst? This website is described as a "unique approach to the traditional art class." This interactive site introduces children to Doodle, a 3-D animated art teacher, and his pals who give basic art lessons. There are simple drawing lessons, doodle and paint pads, as well as an online art gallery for displaying masterpieces.

3. UpToTen.com
www.uptoten.com
UpToTen.com is a website created for kids (up to the age of 10, as you may have guessed) by two parents who were inspired to create a kid-friendly website when their daughter was born so that she could enjoy it as she grew up. The interactive site has over 700 educational games and activities so your kids are sure to find something they will love. With this website in your browser's favourites or bookmarks section "I'm bored" will be a complaint of the past.

Note: This site encourages parents to get involved in their kids surfing by opening an account (absolutely free, no obligations) that gives more information about the site and its content, as well as subscribing them to the UpToTen.com newsletter.

4. Kaboose: Kids Domain
www.kidsdomain.com
This is one-stop web entertainment for kids ranging in age from pre-school to pre-teen. Kaboose's Kids Domain is divided into two age categories, one called Funschool for kids in preschool and elementary school and another called Zeeks for kids aged 9-14. Funschool features everything from puzzles, board- and arcade games to educational activities that will keep your kids learning and having a blast in the process. Zeeks also offers a great selection of games, plus celebrity gossip and moderated messages boards so that your teen can get involved in a safe online community.

Note: Parents can visit Kaboose.ca for family resources and fun.

5. CBC Kids
www.cbc.ca/kids/
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation boasts a website for kids of all ages. Check out the preschool page for five fun games, plus contests and information about your toddlers' favourite CBC programs. For kids in elementary school levels visit the after school page for unique educational games such as Yard Trix, an interactive skateboarding game, and Spy Net: Lockdown, a game that will have your child breaking codes, tracking satellites, and dodging lasers to protect Net HQ.

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