One of the great things about the internet is the number of quality free online games for children. I find that they are much better than the one’s available to me on CD. One warning though, it is important to provide supervision when your child is playing online because it is easy for children to click in the wrong place (especially on sites with advertisements).
If you're a bit unsure about letting your child play on the computer you might want to read the debate at Childhood 101. I didn't weigh in, but I think it is all about balance. My children watch some TV and I'm happy to let my older son (who can follow directions) play on the computer (after all I'm on the computer often). Since B is always easily distracted by an offer of more active play, I don't think we have a problem. But it is definitely something you should decide about for your family.
That said, here are 5 games that my preschooler enjoys …
the Wot Wots – linked to the ABC Kids TV show this game lets children play with the tools in the Wot Wots spaceship – the drawing board, the viewing dome and the sneak-a-peek. View animals through the sneak-a-peek, watch the Wot Wots, mix a shake or draw – there is plenty to do here.
Poisson Rouge – this site has loads of different games of all sorts. It is intuitively designed and children can just click and discover and work out how to do things for themselves. Each time we play we find something new. I highly recommend this site. If you only want your child to play one computer game, this is the one.
Boowa & Kwala – another site based on a TV show with songs, stories and games. It is easy for children to navigate around and figure out how to play the games. This is a new favourite site of my son’s because they have mazes, which are his new love.
Bembo’s Zoo – based on an alphabet book of the same name by Roberto de Vicq de Cumptich, when you click on a letter of the alphabet you see and hear an animal created with the shapes of the letters in the animal’s name. This has been great for my son who is learning his letters and it is fun to try and guess what each animal will be.
Switcheroo Zoo – This game is actually more suited to older children who are able to read, but my son loves animals and so really enjoys this game in which you can make your own animals. It is great for thinking about the characteristics of different animals and what the purpose of those features might be. This site does however have a lot of advertisements.
Thanks to the Book Chook for the recommendations for many of these sites. If you are looking for online resources for children she frequently writes about online games, resources for creating stories online and other ways that the internet can help your child learn.