Do your kids beg to use the computer and you rack your brain trying to find educational opportunities instead of games? With a few tips from Google you can keep your kids busy and stimulated. Check out the following list of online activities kids can do using free web tools to explore the world, travel through time, and use their imaginations.
1. Walk in Neil Armstrong’s footsteps… or rove around Mars’ surface. With Google you can explore the moon’s service — walk around and see what the astronauts saw on their 1969 moon landing, with a narrated tour by Buzz Aldrin. Try it here. For more space exploration, check out Google Mars, which lets you zip around the Red Planet’s surface, immersed in hi-res imagery from the Mars Rovers. Your child can scout it out before planning their 2040 trip.
2. Explore the world in images. Google Image Swirl lets you search for something you’re interested in, like “dinosaurs.” You’ll see images of stegosauri, ankylosaurs, or pteronodons, with similar images branching off the original one — as you click each one, new images swirl into place. It’s a quick, visual way for your kids to explore what most fascinates them, whether it’s Da Vinci drawings, tree frogs, or sailing ships.
3. Fly around the world... and dive under the ocean. Google Earth lets you navigate the world in 3D — you can zoom in from space to the streets of cities like Hong Kong, San Francisco or Johannesberg, watch the changing rainforests over time, and dive underwater to explore the Marianas Trench, tropical reefs, or shipwrecks. Enjoy endless hours of exploration for free here.
3. Read the original texts. If you’re learning about evolution, Google Books lets you leaf through the original copy of Darwin’s 1859 Origin of Species online. Curious about the 1969 moon landings? The astronauts wrote up their experience themselves in LIFE Magazine (which also ran a special lundar landing issue). Does your teen want to get immersed in the culture around the Wattstax concert? They can read JET Magazine’s original story from 1972.
4. Help them build their dream skyscraper. Google Sketchup lets budding architects design sophisticated 3D structures — be it a concert hall, starship, or floating garden — without any real technical knowledge. Your pre-teen is almost guaranteed to build something more impressive than you can.