Games for a 3-Year-Old to Play on the Computer

Young children can learn through computer games.
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You don't have to wait until your little daughter is in college to turn her into a techie. Start early, during the preschool years, with a few entertaining -- and educational, computer games. While your 3-year-old isn't quite ready to handle the same magical wizarding world game that her 12-year-old brother can't keep away from, she can still play her own games on the computer. The computer enchants us all.

1 Free Computer Games

You don't have to break the bank buying pricey computer software for your 3-year-old. Plenty of free games exist online that are designed for young preschoolers. The trick to finding the best games is to look for reputable websites. Generic websites for kids that you happen to find may have good content -- or they might not -- but well-known sites such as Scholastic or PBS have free computer games that are age appropriate and helpful in teaching basic skills to your little learner.

2 Early Literacy

Language learning doesn't happen only in books. Your 3-year-old is beginning her journey to becoming a reader and effective communicator. As a Mom, you can help her, by providing early literacy learning computer games. Look for games that help your child identify letters and sounds. These games often feature such devices as: Click on the letter "D" when a voice says the word "dog." Other helpful games include rhyming word play or games that teach the alphabet. While a computer game is entertaining for your little one, try adding a favorite character to make it more meaningful. For example, PBSKids has literacy, reading and letter games that feature well-known PBS childrens' characters and shows. Elmo, Big Bird, Bert and Ernie are always a favorite. And not to forget Oscar or Cookie Monster.

3 Math Games

As a preschooler, she's not doing algebra just yet -- or even doing grade-school math, but she can begin to build a mathematical foundation. Grownups tend to think of math as those impossibly long word problems that have so many x's, y's and z's that your head spins. To a 3-year-old, however, math is fun. For this age group, math is learning the basics like shapes, patterns, size, matching sets and numbers. Math computer games for kids of this age should include these concepts in a simple, entertaining way. Look for games that have big, bold, bright shapes that they can match or colorful numbers that they can name.

4 Art

Kids can create mini-masterpieces in the digital world. That's not to say that your 3-year-old should throw out her crayons, paints and glue. Instead, she can create good old-fashioned pen and paper art, as well as digital art. Your little girl can paint a picture, make squiggles, create shape-filled patterns online. While there are an abundance of art-themed computer games for young preschoolers, those by arts organizations and museums often feature higher quality activities. For example, the National Gallery of Art's NGAKids website has an array of art games that are easy for a 3-year-old to play. Kids can choose different colors, add special effects, design with virtual paintbrushes in different sizes, and even make their artwork move at this little learner-friendly site.

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.