PBS have done it again! There is a TV show called Design Squad, and this is the companion site. I love the great challenges for kids to solve , like "build a tower that can support a tennis ball at least 18 inches off the ground while withstanding the wind from a fan." The site provides a list of materials, as well as questions to help guide the process. There's lots for kids to read, as well as prompts to get them thinking creatively, or as the site says, "like engineers". This looks like a wonderful site for homeschooling parents looking for science projects that will enthuse kids. You can watch episodes of the show, access the projects, or find information about the activities for parents and educators. Read more about what PBS has to offer in my Plundering PBS post from September. (Thanks to Richard Byrne, Free Technology for Teachers, for the Design Squad link.)
BBC Synonym Game
Need a child-friendly webspace where kids can practise finding synonyms? This game doesn't have many bells and whistles, but it might suit your purpose. Check out the BBC's other literacy resources for younger kids or older kids while you're there. (Thanks to Joy Simpson at Literacy Resources for the link.)
At this site, there are two books to read, interact with and make changes to, The Journey to Darkest Somewhere, and The House of Scary Words. The site prompts kids to make changes to the text if they wish, and there are activities to complete inside the story such as matching homonyms, and finding small words inside larger ones. When you've read the book, you can elect to save it with your changes as a pdf, so you can read it later. There's also a pretty slick game, The Legula Adventure, which enables kids to read and listen, make choices and do word-related activities. If you want to save the progress of your game, you need to register.
Here's a wonderful place to read stories online for those who are hearing-impaired, and those who are not. Kids can practise their reading by listening and following the subtitles, and there's sign language for kids who need it. Stories are themed, like Toddler, Funny, Adventure. Each one is a little video, some with the screen showing the illustration and text for the page, plus the person signing the text for that page, and the audio running concurrently. Here's one called Mr Majeika for you to try. Others, like Owl Babies, have the illustration animated. There's also some great advice on reading to kids.
If you're looking for more collections of online resources that impressed the Book Chook, try September's Resource Roundup, Useful Sites for Parents and Teachers (1), Useful Sites for Parents and Teachers (2) or Useful Sites for Parents and Teachers (3). If you'd like more ideas about encouraging children's literacy, why not download the latest issue of Literacy Lava, or browse other posts via the blog archive at the right.