Fun Websites
The Travels of Wiglington and Wenks Virtual World (www.wiglingtonandwenks.com)
Ages 7 and up
On this entertaining, educational site, kids design their own avatars who play games, assist historical characters (from Beethoven to Marco Polo), and explore real and imaginary words (the Great Pyramid, a pirate's den).  And the quest, as they say, is history.  Registration required; free, with optional fee-based premium account.
From parent testers: "This site has perfect education-to-fun ratio, which our family is always looking for."
Funbrain (www.funbrain.com)
Ages 6 and up
It's as if this site has a right-brain, left-brain divide.  It offers clickable educational games with problem-solving and rudimentary graphics (Grammar Gorillas, for example, is more grammar than gorillas).  In other games, math and literacy challenges hide out behind awesome animation and sound effects.  Testers found the entire site appealing.
From kid testers: "I can tell that it's trying to teach me something, but it's still really fun."
Kideos (www.kideos.com)
Ages 3 and up
Whatever your kids' virtual cup of tea - wildlife, vintage cartoons, a diapered baby grooving to Beyoncé - this site's got it: prescreened videos that are sometimes silly, usually laugh-worthy, and always kid-friendly.  Videos are organized by age and category for easy surfing.
From parent testers: "I liked that the videos are kid-appropriate.  My kids always want to go to YouTube, but there are some very inappropriate videos there."
NGAkids Art Zone (www.nga.gov/kids/zone)
Ages 7 and up
In more than a dozen witty interactive activities from the National Gallery of Art, kids use cool tools (think drag-and-drop elements, motion painting) to play with art.  Testers got a kick out of making George Washington dance in his portrait and fashioning online masterpieces.
From parent testers: "This site makes art come alive.  Usually kids are told not to touch art in museums, but here, art is ripe for the picking - they can morph it, control it, and create it."
The Toymaker (www.thetoymaker.com)
Ages 5 and up
At this site, the fun unfolds from the clever designs of artist Marilyn Scott-Waters.  Choosing from dozens of patterns, kids can print out and assemble whimsical paper toys and miniatures: fairy furniture, finger puppets, boxes, boats, a car, and more.  If your kids can cut, fold, and glue, then reams of inventive fun are theirs for the printing.
From parent testers: "This site is our go-to boredom buster, and I love that it starts with the computer but ends with making something real."
iTwixie (www.itwixie.com)
Ages 8 and up
It's banner motto may be "I'm so random!" but the content of this tween-girl social-networking site is happily deliberate: crafts and recipes, polls and challenges, and more, all designed to encourage self-expression, health, and creativity.  Registration required; free, with optional fee-based premium account.
From parent testers: "The positive, girl-power message is great."
Exploratorium (www.exploratorium.edu/explore)
Ages 8 and up
The famous San Francisco science museum feeds curious minds with wildly original online exhibits designed to engage and educate.  Intriguing interactive activities - including a memory lab and the Slice-o-Scope microscopic bread tour - also offer explanatory follow-ups for young answer-seekers.
From parent testers: "I love the overall message of this site: that real life, and learning about it, can blow your mind at least as much as anything made-up can."
Shidonni (www.shidonni.com)
Ages 3 and up
Kids use the computer mouse to sketch a creature on screen.  With a click, the creature comes to life and stars in its own virtual habitat, along with other drawn-by-kid elements (food, shelter) and funny sound effects (crunching, snoring).  The graphic format is especially nice for prereaders.  Registration required; free, with optional fee-based premium account.
From parent testers: "It was so sweetly satisfying for our son to watch the beaver he drew eat the stick he drew before going to sleep in the lodge he drew."
Activity TV (www.activitytv.com)
Ages 6 and up
Kid-friendly how-to videos offer step-by-step instruction in such beloved activities as cartooning, magic, origami, jewelry-making, and juggling.  Printable materials lists and instructions supplement the clear, follow-along episodes, and generally kids can work independently for maximum "I did it myself!" satisfaction.
From kid testers: "This is so awesome! I just learned how to do a coin trick, make an origami penguin, and draw a cartoon dog."
Fizzy's Lunch Lab (pbskids.org/lunchlab)
Ages 4 and up
Way more fun than the food pyramid, this PBS site promotes good nutrition and physical activity through educational games, yummy recipes, dance-along videos, printable place mats, and funny talk show parodies.  A spoonful of humor helps the information go down - as do the hip graphics.
From parent testers: "PBS does a great job here.  There are funny pop songs, amusing characters, and innovative features that make learning about health appealing."