Wintry weather outside and kids inside make the perfect combination for exploring some of the top Christmas websites created especially for kids and their parents this season. Children and adults are counting down the days until Christmas (maybe for entirely different reasons!), and these websites provide a host of interactive games, educational opportunities and read-aloud books as well as almost unlimited ideas to inspire fun, non-computer related activities. Teachers even enjoy using tons of these creative suggestions to spark cheer and excitement heading into Christmas day.
Head to the North Pole and explore Santa’s workshop, gift shop, craft shop, reindeer barn and more. Go to Mrs. Claus’s kitchen to see what Christmas treats she’s cooking up from her cookbook and be inspired to create some of your own. Best of all, head to the mailroom to write your personal letter to Santa. The Elf Pal Academy provides numerous lower elementary and English as a second language learning activities with a holiday flair, perfect for teachers, parents and kids to enjoy. You can create a free account and use it to help personalize your child’s experience at Northpole.com. Don’t forget to check out some of Santa’s sweet disco dance moves, too!
XmasFun is an interactive website with some great elements. Trivia games focusing on certain categories (songs, Rudolph, TV/Movies), sixteen different games and links to some of film and TV’s most famous Christmas specials make this a great website for all ages. Explore features such as Christmas crafts, fonts, graphics, recipes, jokes, music and more. Another highlight is the site’s list of random acts of kindness, which kids can add too as they try to share the Christmas spirit during this time of year.
True to its name, Santa Games offers fun, interactive games at every turn. Unlock a different new game each day as the countdown to Christmas continues. Christmas songs, read-along Christmas stories, coloring pages, screensavers, craft ideas and recipes add to the enjoyment of this site. In addition, interactive features encourage kids to build a snowman, decorate a Christmas tree and create Christmas e-cards to send to friends and family.
Leading the way in the latest interactive educational technology, NORADSanta engages kids in a wide range of academic activities while remaining fun and user-friendly. Excellent graphics contribute to the appeal of this website, and kids will love the arcade (where they can unlock a new game every day leading up to Christmas), listen to Santa’s favorite Christmas songs, write a creative story about Santa’s adventures and solve educational puzzles. The site’s signature feature is its mission to use the official NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) to detect, monitor, validate and warn about manmade aircraft (which includes the all-important Santa sleigh), missiles or space vehicles posing a possible threat to North America. Going strong since 1955, NORAD provides a Santa countdown and tracks Santa in four different ways: satellite, radar, Santa cams and fighter jets. NORADSanta is a captivating website encouraging science exploration, geographical awareness, reading, creativity and more through its inventive use of technology. Make sure to check back on Christmas Eve to track Santa’s whereabouts using the website or available app.
Although the graphics are somewhat outdated and instructions aren’t always clear, Claus is a fun site from the perspective of Santa and his elf-helpers. Kids can play games in elf school, print out an elf diploma and choose and elf buddy. The Nice-O-Meter will even check you or your child’s naughty or nice rating! Listen to original, elf-created songs, visit the toy workshop and reindeer barn, send an e-mail to Santa, plan a Christmas party with SugarPlum Mary, choose and make a craft with an idea from the craft room and more. Mrs. Claus’s kitchen offers great recipes and tasty treats categorized by Santa’s favorites, reindeer treats and bedtime snacks, sure to ignite inspiration in your young chef.
The entire family can enjoy these websites geared to take advantage of the Christmas season. In addition to learning activities and interactive games, they provide plenty of inspiration for memory-making outside of technology, a win-win for kids and adults of any age.
BIO: Patricia Dimick is a freelance writer from Denver, who mostly enjoys her role as a stay-at-home mom, but tries to make time to engage in fun DIY projects, go on trips to nature or play table tennis. You can reach her @patricia_dimick.
Photo: Image credit to Matti Mattila on Flickr