If you think that play time is waste time, think again. Studies show kids need to relax their brains to make the most of learning experiences. Interactive computer games give kids time to sort out and absorb what they've learned. Cybergames can also teach difficult concepts and present young learners with opportunities to apply their new skills.
Cyberchase Online Game: "Can You Fill It?" (http://pbskids.org/cyberchase/games/liquidvolume/liquidvolume.html): "Do the math!" takes on new meaning at this game-oriented site. Players have to estimate the volume of different sized containers by trying to fill them with water using the fewest number of pots.
RuneScape (www.runescape.com): The multiplayer role-playing phenomenon Runescape involves strategizing, critical thinking, planning, and character building. It may feature "monsters to kill, quests to complete, and treasure to win," but it's no mindless adventure.
Math Hunt (http://teacher.scholastic.com/mathhunt/index.asp): Elementary school children team up with Number Cruncher (an animated octopus) to search for science or social studies information, using the facts they've gathered to complete activities involving addition, subtraction, charts, graphs, decimals, ratios, proportions, and more.
Starfall: Learn to Read (www.starfall.com): Interactive multimedia games at Starfall build comprehension and teach phonics to beginning readers. Educators should visit the Download Center for reading and writing instructional materials.
A+ Math (www.aplusmath.com):
A+ Math helps elementary school students improve their math skills with help from interactive flashcards and games like Concentration.
NetSmartz (www.netsmartzkids.org/games): Before you leave students on their own on the Web, have them visit NetSmartz, which features interactive, age-appropriate games and other learning materials about Internet safety for children ages 5-17.
Online Geography Games (www.standard.net.au/~garyradley/games): Gary Radley's online geography games encourage students to learn more about world regions, countries, and capitals by playing quiz-like games.
Gamequarium.com (www.gamequarium.com): This site has online activities designed to teach phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. In addition, there are games that target subjects such as math, social studies, keyboarding, Spanish, and science.
Carol S. Holzberg is the educational technology specialist for the Greenfield Public Schools District.