Time for another round of “Jake’s Favorites,” this time focusing on the online gaming sites for kids that my five year old (almost six! When did that happen?!?) really enjoys. Like his Mommy, he’s quite the avid gamer. He finally got his own laptop (a hand-me down Acer that took hours upon hours of trying to connect to the internet until we finally realized that Acer’s e-net manager or something like that was interfering.)  Most of them have some sort of free version, although sometimes it’s worth it to get the paid version. This post focuses on the more popular offerings. I plan to do one soon with some lesser-known gems.

Nick Jr.

Nick Jr,  definitely ranks high on Jake’s lists of must-visit sites. He skips past all the regular fare, such as Dora, Diego and Blue,  and heads straight to the Upside Down Show, where he can create his very own Schmancy Smashup. I sprang for the premium version, Nick Jr. Boost, but he doesn’t play it nearly as often as I hoped he would, especially after I locked in for a year at the lower price.  It does have some cute features. Jake is especially fond of the Toy Box. Your child earns marbles for playing games on the site, then can trade those marbles in for other mini games.  Parents can also track their child’s progress, but this only really works if you don’t help your child. I remember looking at it one day and thinking “wow, Jake’s an awesome typist for a five year old!” Then I remembered that I played the typing game for an hour one day trying to get him more marbles (and also because Moose A. Moose is oddly addicting).

Cartoon Network

Another perennial favorite is the Cartoon Network. He was already into this site before they came out with their new “badge games,” but now he’s completely hooked. They have over 240 games featuring characters from all their cartoons, from Batman to Pokemon and everything in between. A lot of the games are too difficult for Jake, but he always manages to find something that works for him. The badge games aren’t as plentiful yet, and you don’t really get anything for earning the badges (sort of like how some of us obsess over Pogo games for hours just to get a pretty little icon to add to a page that no one but us ever sees), but he loves the whole challenge of getting new awards. With the Cartoon Network, you do have to monitor their play a bit more than with Nick Jr, because it is really easy to wander off the page onto some other game that ends up being more of a teaser, then your child asks “but why I can’t I have these cool accessories for my new puppy?” The answer is “because Mommy doesn’t even have a flat-screen TV, so why would I buy one for your imaginary animal friend?”

Disney Jr.

One of my personal favorite, Disney Jr., which I still call Playhouse Disney, because that is what it’s always been to me. Just like the Sci-Fi channel will never by Sy-Fy to me. Really, who thought up that bit of marketing genius? “Let’s make up a new name for the channel that sounds exactly like the old name! People will love it!” Sorry, I’m still a little bitter. I don’t adapt well to change. So anyway, Playhouse Dis.. I mean Disney Jr. has always been one of my favorites, mostly because I’m a Disney fanatic. Aside from cute games and activities for children, they also have a “For Grown-Ups” section with craft and recipe ideas. Do I actually make these crafts and recipes? Not so much. I mostly love the idea of crafts and recipes more than the actual execution of the idea. I’m not too ecstatic about the layout of the grown-up’s section, the “craft” heading brings me to girly stuff and recipes for cupcakes. But I’m sure they’ll improve that. They’re Disney, after all!

Kid-Friendly Browsers

I used to have a great kid-friendly browser here, but they’ve since gone under. Thanks to Melissa of Who Is Hosting This for pointing out the dead link. As a thank you, I’ll send you over to their page on a Parent’s Guide to Internet Safety, with a few kid-friendly browsers. It’s a pretty great article, so check it out!