CBeebies – Educational Fun For Location Independent Children

CBeebies Home PageThis is the first in a series of reviews of educational resources for location independent parents and their children. In this post I review the BBC’s CBeebies website. This is the UK site, rather than one of the international portals, as it seems to be the only one that offers a full range of resources. And I’ve got a secret weapon in this review: my daughter has been using the site since she was three (she’s now seven) and I’ve had a close view of how she’s used the site and what she has found interesting.

The Interface

When you visit the CBeebies site, there’s a menu across the top that allows you to explore options such as playing games, listening to songs, watching videos, hearing stories and making and colouring things. As you hover over each option, it says what it is, so children who are not yet reading can still use the site successfully. The homepage is brightly coloured and will appeal to a wide age range. Activities on the site relate to the programmes shown on the excellent UK television channel. Most content can be watched through the built in online player, though there may still be some requiring RealPlayer or Windows Media Player.

No registration is required to use the site, which is constantly changing to reflect changes in programming and to ensure that even regular visitors to the site never get bored. There is plenty of information for parents who will want to know about the thinking behind the site and the child development themes covered. When using the site, we tend to go straight to the show browser, so that my daughter can click on any picture she finds interesting and view the associated activities.

Games, Songs And Stories

My daughter likes the site because it’s fun; for me, the advantage is that fun is successfully combined with education. There are counting games, sorting games, colour games and alphabet games for younger site users, as well as more involved games about the senses and other scientific activities. The songs range from common children’s nursery songs featured on the TV channel, to programme theme songs, to fun songs about any and everything. My daughter particularly likes the songs about the seasons, which are music videos featuring the CBeebies presenters.

CBeebies Show Browser

The stories include retellings of fairy tales such as Hansel and Gretel as well as new stories featuring television characters, such as Charlie and Lola.There are games for children with special needs. (For example, the Something Special tie in games teach children how to sign, which my daughter enjoyed learning.) And finally, there are games which mimic traditional online games, such as the Tommy Zoom game where children have to use the arrow keys and spacebar to get their character to collect treasure. This one is a particular favourite. If you have a printer, then you can print off drawings to colour and recipes to try, giving children something to do offline as well.

How We Use The Site

The way we have used this site has changed over the years. When we started it was in part a way to keep our daughter in touch with something familiar. Now it’s just a site with cool games. At the age of three our daughter enjoyed drawing games, puzzle games and listening to stories. Now that she can read, she doesn’t listen to stories as much but she still enjoys the songs and the creative games. The games have introduced her to new concepts about the world and have helped with literacy and numeracy development. Best of all, my daughter’s had a great time.

She is now beginning to look for more challenging activities and I know just where she will find them — on CBeebies’ sister site, the BBC schools website.

What sites have you found most useful for balancing fun and education for your location independent children? Contact us if you would like to provide a review.


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