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Aciqra "(uh-SEE-kruh) is a free and open source virtual sky map and planetarium which tracks and displays astronomical bodies including planets, nebulae and stars to an accuracy of a fraction of a degree for thousands of years into both the future and the past. It's software that generates a virtual sky so you'll always know exactly what's up in the real one. Aciqra includes and displays a wide variety of different objects. It tracks and simulates solar system objects like the Moon, the Sun, the planets, asteroids and comets. It also includes a large database of stars and various other deep space objects including star clusters, nebulae and galaxies." It is really pretty cool. It would have a multitude of uses. One use would be to teach older kids and secondary/university students more about astronomy. This is really professional-level, but easy to use. Need help? There's a page for that. Their Sourceforge project page is here. Did we mention this is free?

 

American Sign Language Learning Aid Link goes to the program page. Download the program here. This is the Windows version, there are others. "A set of programs designed to help the beginner ASL student learn ASL. It is composed of two parts: ASLLA-Dictionary and ASLLA-Fingerspeller. ASLLA-Dict allows the student to look up English->ASL sign. ASLLA-Fspell allows the beginner to practice seeing fingerspelling." Thanks to Andy Uehara, who wrote these programs and is deaf, if that matters to you. Cool. A short manual and other info may be found inside the unzipped program folder. Found it on Sourceforge.

 

Balancing Act from PhETBalancing Act from PhET is for elementary grades. It teaches Balance, Rotational Equilibrium, Lever Arm, Torque, and Proportional Reasoning with an easy to understand interactive applet using a teeter-totter. Kids think they're playing a game!

"Sample Learning Goals:
Predict how objects of various masses can be used to make a plank balance.
Predict how changing the positions of the masses on the plank will affect the motion of the plank.
Write rules to predict which way a plank will tilt when objects are placed on it.
Use your rules to solve puzzles about balancing.

The teacher's guide (pdf) contains tips created by the PhET team." It's good, like a recipe for doing this lesson. GSFK recommends you download it. PhET has LOTS of these simulations, indexed by grade level and by subject area.

 

Balloons and Static Electricity Another interactive science simulation from PhET. "Why does a balloon stick to your sweater? Rub a balloon on a sweater, then let go of the balloon and it flies over and sticks to the sweater. View the charges in the sweater, balloons, and the wall."

 

Brain Workshop logoBrain Workshop "What if a simple mental exercise could improve your memory and intelligence? A recent study published in PNAS, an important scientific journal, shows that a particular memory task called Dual N-Back may actually improve working memory (short term memory) and fluid intelligence. This finding is important because fluid intelligence was previously thought to be unchangeable. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the dual n-back task also enhances focus and attention and may help improve the symptoms of ADHD/ADD. The game involves remembering a sequence of spoken letters and a sequence of positions of a square at the same time. Brain Workshop is a free open-source version of the Dual N-Back mental exercise. Easy download, easy install. Another SourceForge discovery.

 

Celestia Fantastically cool download! "... The free space simulation that lets you explore our universe in three dimensions. Celestia runs on Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X. " Zoom between planets and constellations, watch Deimos and Phobos fly across the face of Mars, hundreds of other things to see! With data on every object you look at. Download it from SourceForge. Stupifyingly wonderful. (Celestia must be installed on computers, it cannot be played online.)

 

Celestia Motherlode is where you can download free extensions, add-ons, etc for Celestia.  If it's even possible to improve upon Celestia, this is where to do it. There are some really great things here! Watch the file size, some of these are fairly big for some school computers.

 

Children's Books Forever! "Free children's books that have become ...favorites around the world. You can use them on Smartboard, PowerPoint, or overhead projectors." Prometheans, too, we might add. All are in pdf format so can download and save them.

 

Childsplay "is a suite of educational games for young children." 14 games in all. We've used these with 5 - 8 year olds and the games are excellent! Free to you (GNU-GPL licensed) and ready to download and install. Another excellent effort from an independent programmer, courtesy of Sourceforge.

 

Cool School Now an online game! The download version is not available anymore - if you still have yours, make a backup!

 

Download a Dinosaur lets you download free templates for making paper dinosaurs!

 

Drawing for Children is a great, very cool, free download (Windows only) from the Netherlands. It says "drawing" but it has been used in computer labs for language arts, too! You can enter text and load .bmp files from Windows Paint. "Drawing for Children is a free drawing program for children with many nice options. The best way to learn to use it is simply to use it. There is though a document describing the use of the program. For more information, see the readme file."

 

NASA has a free e-book titled "Earth As Art". It's full of stunning photographs and fascinating information, download the pdf here: http://1.usa.gov/TSIGYL Freeware such as Calibre will convert the pdf to various e-book formats!

 

Spinning gold starEducational-freeware Now with even more new stuff! Check this site out!!  "Welcome to www.educational-freeware.com! This site is dedicated to listings, descriptions and reviews of the best free educational software for kids and adults. Some of the software is web based (see the online section), and some is Windows software that you can download (see the downloadable section).  Many of the software titles are multilingual. In order to see what titles run in your language, you can list the software by language."

 

Elementary Software.com Free, good, downloadable math and grammar games! Written in Runtime Revolution.

 

English for early years These are lessons in letter sounds/phonemes and sentence structure (how to make a sentence show sequence of events.) Downloadable zip files that make folders containing the lesson, which will then start your browser. Interactive Flash lessons that use your browser. From Education Services Australia and Curriki!

 

Flash Cards free download game for Windows only. This is a great game. "It's a simple flashcard program that covers addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. You can select any one of the operations to practice on, or have the program mix them up. Though the default is 10, facts up to 100 are selectable. Version 3.0 includes the ability to practice fractions. A timer or a clock runs in the background, and a count of correct/incorrect answers is displayed. This program is freeware. Enjoy."

 

GCompris Our first app from France! Available in over 40 languages (see their main page for a list). "GCompris is an educational software suite comprising of numerous activities for children aged 2 to 10...Currently GCompris offers in excess of 80 activities and more are being developed. GCompris is free software, that means that you can adapt it to your own needs, improve it and, most importantly, share it with children everywhere." Computer discovery, color, sounds, memory, experiential, amusement, reading, mathematics, puzzles,telling time, money, and strategy games like macala. Some of these will really make a child think! Another SourceForge find.

 

GNUmber Munchers "is an educational math program based on MECC's early 80s munchers games, with new graphics." So writes Will Heublein, whose two fun and playable Number Munchers tributes are your freeware alternative to hunting down those old games and trying (usually without success) to make them run again. OK, so these are not exact clones of the MECC games, but they're close enough! We've been using them with elementary and middle school students for a few years now and they get the job done. No mouse needed, just use the arrow keys. GNUmber Munchers 2010 is an online beta version that runs fine on Internet Explorer. We wish more people would emulate Mr. Heublein and redo some of the good old MECC games! To download these games: Go to the very bottom of the GNUmber Munchers page where it says "Old Windows versions (Downloadable .exe files):" Standard version is for upper elementary/middle/jr high students, Elementary is for elementary kids. What is GNU?

 

GeoGebra "GeoGebra is free and multi-platform dynamic mathematics software for learning and teaching. It has received several educational software awards in Europe and the USA." Math teachers only - please read on: "...dynamic mathematics software for all levels of education that joins arithmetic, geometry, algebra and calculus. On the one hand, GeoGebra is an interactive geometry system. You can do constructions with points, vectors, segments, lines, conic sections as well as functions and change them dynamically afterwards. On the other hand, equations and coordinates can be entered directly. Thus, GeoGebra has the ability to deal with variables for numbers, vectors and points, finds derivatives and integrals of functions and offers commands like Root or Extremum. These two views are characteristic of GeoGebra: an expression in the algebra view corresponds to an object in the graphics view and vice versa." It's easier to play with this program than it is to read the above! This is wonderful free software with its own wiki and support groups.

 

Graph 4.3 Here's a powerful upper grades' free function graphing program from Denmark (it's in English). Draw functions, draw relations, save as graphics and .pdf, evaluate, calculate, point series, trendlines, shade, label, create your own custom functions. Another SourceForge project. Made by Ivan Johansen. "The program is open source (GNU GPL) and you may give it to whomever you like."

 

Gonfalon di VeneziaHorazio's freeware  Here is a real potpourri of good free download ed games, by a guy from Venice, Italy named Horazio. Among them is TurboFarm, for 5 - 7 year olds, which is an animal names matching game. There are also some excellent interactive map games to help kids learn the names of states or regions. Examples are Liberty Map to teach the names of US states, another for Greater London, one for Italy, etc. There are also games to learn Japanese characters, vector math plotters, calorie counters, and more. Your choice of English, Italian, and Spanish (one game also has Korean.) "Grazie Horazio"

 

Interactive Math Simulations from PhET at CU Boulder. Here are 28 mathematics-related playable simulations - everything from fractions and times tables to physics, upper level math, and playing Plinko! Play online (needs Java), or download and install them, or embed them in your webpage! Don't forget to see the rest of PhET's simulations!

 

Jmol: (FREE!) "an open-source Java viewer for chemical structures in 3D, with features for chemicals, crystals, materials and biomolecules. Jmol is an interactive web browser applet. Overview:

 

  • Jmol is a free, open source molecule viewer for students, educators, and researchers in chemistry and biochemistry.
  • It is cross-platform, running on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux/Unix systems, and available in several languages.
  • The JmolApplet is a web browser applet that can be integrated into web pages.
  • The Jmol application is a standalone Java application that runs on the desktop.
  • The JmolViewer is a development tool kit that can be integrated into other Java applications.
  • Includes download instructions here
  • .
  • A handbook has been published for learning Jmol, and there are also other publications about Jmol.
  • There is also a list of tutorials designed to learn the use of Jmol, and more help, within Jmol Wiki.
  • Finally, there is a documentation section in this web site, for more technical details.
  •  

    Kea Coloring Book  "All the fun. None of the mess!" This free program lets kids color, save and print. It's like a coloring book on your computer. At least 250 more pictures can be downloaded from the site and added to the coloring books. You can download the program at various download sites (the Kea site links to C/NET's Download, which works fine). We used Educational Freeware as a personal preference.

     

    LenMus (link goes to download site at SourceForge) "A free program to learn music... LenMus is a free program for learning music. LenMus program allows you to focus on specific skills and exercises, on both theory and aural training. The different activities can be customized to meet your needs, and it provides interactive feedback until mastery of each concept is achieved. It also includes an score editor." Small download - 5.8 Mb.

     

    Logism "An educational tool for designing and simulating digital logic circuits, featuring a simple-to-learn interface, hierarchical circuits, wire bundles, and a large component library. As a Java application, it can run on many platforms. " "Excellent tool for learning, simple and effective." "Logism is an excellent tool for exploring how digital circuits work and makes for a tremendously useful teaching aid." This excellent GNU General Public License (GPL) free download comes courtesy of sourceforge.net. Small download - 6.6 Mb.

     

    Minisebran - Freeware For Toddlers. This is from Marianne Wartoft, a very intelligent Swede who has also created the excellent ABC Sebran and Seterra (best geography freeware EVER for kids AND adults!) among others. "Minisebran is a free suite of early learning games for kids 2-6 years old . It includes eight different exercises, including doodle drawing exercises and very simple games to get to know the numbers and letters, and learning to use the keyboard." We've played with it, it's fun! It would be useful for K - 1 as well as some special needs, and good for training fine motor skills.

     

    Moonbase Alpha "A 3-D Immersive NASA Exploration Game. Step into the role of an explorer in a futuristic lunar settlement...Moonbase Alpha is the first of two commercial-quality NASA games developed in partnership with commercial game developers." Looks great!

     

    NASA's Eyes Astronomical virtual visualizations for all! From JPL at CalTech. It's kind of a download plus online program. You need to download the part for your computer in order to see all the rest. "This visualization tool requires a quick one-time download and install." (It seems that "install" is now used as a verb AND a noun, even by those who are supposed to know better. The REAL noun is "installation" but that's an extra two syllables.) Three programs in one:

  • Eyes on the Earth - Explore Earth's Vital Signs and fly along with NASA satellites.
  • Eyes on the Solar System - Explore our Solar Systems and the spacecraft exploring it.
  • Eyes on Exoplanets - Explore the planets around other stars in our galactic neighborhood.
  • Of course each one has plenty of options, and lots of things to see and do.

     

    If you were to download the Open Dyslexic font, you'd be able to see the text below in all its dyslexia-friendly glory...

    Open Dyslexic is a new open sourced font created to increase readability for readers with dyslexia. The typeface includes regular, bold, italic and bold-italic styles. It is being updated continually and improved based on input from dyslexic users. There are no restrictions on using OpenDyslexic outside of attribution. Your brain can sometimes do funny things to letters. OpenDyslexic tries to help prevent some of these things from happening.

    openWeb: A free iPhone/iPad web browser that uses OpenDyslexic to override the default fonts on the webpages you read. " openWeb - Dyslexia friendly web browser." The site also has links to other apps and helps for installation. (For Windows: download it, open the folder, click on the Font. Windows should then install it for you.) Thank you, thank you Abelardo Gonzalez, for all the work you've done! Going in anyplace someone who needs it might find it!

     

    Owl & Mouse Educational Software Great phonics software that reminds us of the old MECC Apple games of the 1980s. Free software for you to download and install, or play online. Their plug: "Help your child learn with games, software and educational activities from Owl & Mouse Educational Software. Early reading software—phonics software, alphabet games, and Dolch sight words in a fairy tale story. All of it FREE! Free online USA maps, world maps, map of Europe, map puzzles of the US, Europe, Africa, Asia, and many more. You can build your own castle and coat of arms—free downloads."

     

    Roxie's ABC Fish is a free computer version of the venerable children's card game. Practice upper and lower case letters, numbers, and a surprise music composition program at the end! Thanks to its publisher, Latticework Software (thanks guys), Roxie is now freeware!

     

    Roman Villa models from Armada Model Designs, Ltd. This has good pictures of the villa at Butser Ancient Farm and of villa layouts, but the best part is at the bottom of the page - you can download FREE PDFs of two sizes of model Roman villas. The colorful parts, diagrams, and instructions are in the PDF! You build the villas using card stock. What a school project! They also have downloads of a Norman castle, pyramids, Fireship - a board game about the Spanish Armada, and more! What a deal!

     

    Scavenger Hunts for Kids "Free, printable treasure hunts, scavenger hunts, and fun games for children." These are in Word format (.doc), not pdf. The ones we looked at were nice printable sheets with instructions. These are all downloads, nothing interactive or online.

     

    New SiteScratch cat logoScratch is a free programming language primarily for 8 to 16 year olds. It has an online community where kids can program and share interactive media such as stories, games, and animation with others from all over the world. As children create with Scratch, they learn to think creatively, work collaboratively, and reason systematically. Scratch is a project of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab. It is provided free of charge. Find out more by clicking on the cat!

     

    Sebran's ABC - Free Software For Kids "It's never too early for your child to become familiar with letters and numbers. Sebran's ABC's colorful pictures, pleasant music, and gentle games teach letters, numbers, simple math, and rudiments of reading." Free to you under GNU license. Reviews are posted on the site. We've "field tested" Sebran with 5 - 10 year olds. The games are good, they work. Kids like them, too. Thank you to Marianne Wartoft of Uppsala, Sweden, who wrote this fine software! You can fine various good places to download Sebran, just Google Sebran.

     

    Seterra - Free! Learn Geography. "Seterra is a challenging educational geography program with 70 different exercises. Learn about states, provinces, countries, capitals, flags and cities in Africa, Europe, South America, North America, Asia and Australia, using outline map exercises!" Quick, what's the capital of Slovenia? Of Texas? Where is Uppland? Find Burkina Faso! Find West Virginia! Click on Malta! This is wonderful freeware that really works with kids ages 9 and up - we've used it! Great for high school and college geography, too. From the talented lady in Sweden who brought you Sebran! New and improved! Seterra can now be played online, and micro-countries are included! Used and loved by geography teachers, it's one of our faves!

     

    Soup Toys You have got to try this it is amazing! "Just about every child likes to play with toys that make noise, balance, topple, float or otherwise interact with the world. Balls bounce, balloons float into the sky and magnets lift metal objects. All of these interactions teach children something the natural world around them. The beauty of Soup Toys is that it isn't confined to a single Window. When you run it, you have access to a virtual "toybox" where you can pull out the desktop toys that you want to play with. The sides of your computer screen act like walls and the floor. You can build block castles, play with toy cars, or have fun with virtual magnets. The possibilities are limitless." This was from the writeup in Educational Freeware .

     

    Stellarium "is a free open source planetarium for your computer. It shows a realistic sky in 3D, just like what you see with the naked eye, binoculars or a telescope. It is being used in planetarium projectors. Just set your coordinates and go." We love the constellation settings that let you show the mythological chracters around the bowl of the sky! This is in the same genre as Celestia.

     

    Zombie plague STEMware: Zombie Plague from the Partnership for Biotechnolgy and Genomics Education, University of California - Davis. " In STEMware: Zombie Plague, students explore a 3D world where they are responsible for identifying the pathogenic microorganism causing a deadly outbreak and implementing a cure... the science content embedded in the software deals with diagnosis, treatment strategies, and career connections that are applicable to any disease caused by viruses, bacteria or fungi. Interactions with characters in-game, introduce students to the variety of career pathways in modern biology along with diagnostic technologies used in the real world. Embedded assessments allow teachers to track student interactions." Kind of a mix between a James Patterson game and Edheads. Download the game here, or use the Curriki link above. It's a 305mb .zip file, so we suggest you save the file on a flash drive for installs on more machines.

     

    SuperTux All right, already! Due to popular demand we are posting this free game. What's it like? Think Super Mario with a penguin. Good graphics, good musical beat, VERY playable. Seems to develop hand-eye coordination. Just remember to drag the kids off it and make them go out and get their hour of play every day! Free to you under GPL license. "SuperTux is available for Windows, Linux, MacOSX as well as numerous other more exotic systems."

     

     Tellin' Time free download game for Windows only. "I put this together for my kids to practice reading the time off of an analog clock. It's based on a flashcard type game where an analog (12 hour) clock face displays a random time. The child is then expected to enter the "digital equivalent". A four minute timer runs in the background, and a count of correct/incorrect answers is displayed. This program is freeware. Enjoy."

     

    Timez Attack Now with Division drills in the new Version 4.5! "The Ultimate Multiplication Tables Video Game" This game is wonderful, and the base (2s-12s) version is a free download.  If you want the expansions you'll have to buy them. They're quite good. Everything Big Brainz says is true, kids love this game. Now with a new upgraded free version! NOTE: Our link goes ONLY to their Download page. For everything else, go to the Main Page at Bigbrainz.com. PS: Version 4.5 really is a lot different. Our kids like it better!

     

    Tux Paint Kids really love playing with this program! "Tux Paint is a free, award-winning drawing program for children ages 3 to 12 (for example, preschool and K-6). It combines an easy-to-use interface, fun sound effects, and an encouraging cartoon mascot who guides children as they use the program. Kids are presented with a blank canvas and a variety of drawing tools to help them be creative."

     

    The Virtual Microscope from University of Illinois. Oh you've got to get this for kids! Amazing closeups! Plug in a digital projector and show these on the wall! "The Virtual Microscope is a NASA-funded project that provides simulated scientific instrumentation for students and researchers worldwide as part of NASA's Virtual Laboratory initiative. This site serves as home base for the Imaging Technology Group's contributions to that project—namely virtual microscopes and the multi-dimensional, high-resolution image datasets they view. Currently we provide 90 samples totaling over 62 gigapixels of image data. The Virtual Microscope, which is available for free download supports functionality from electron, light, and scanning probe microscopes, datasets for these instruments, training materials to learn more about microscopy, and other related tools. The project is open source and the code is available on Sourceforge." More info at the site. Note: This program requires Java.

    WolfQuest Episode 2 is out! Download it! From the Minnesota Zoo and EduWeb comes this excellent download wolf simulation game. Players become a wolf and explore Yellowstone Park! Kids from elementary to high school love to play this game, it's hard to get them to stop! We printed out the enclosed instructions for players to use. Needs a newer computer with good graphics. The download includes both episode 1 and 2.

     

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