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Educational software for your computer

School busA reader dropped us an email recently, requesting information on where to find educational software for elementary and middle-schoolers. That's a great question -- there are plenty of Web-based sites to choose from but, as our reader pointed out, it can be tough to find things to put on your computer to use later without an Internet connection.

If you dig around a little, though, you can find a few gems.

Kaboose has a long list of downloads in lots of different categories, including math, science, social studies, and music. Each list is also broken down by age group and operating system (Mac and PC). Several links point to Web sites that only contain printable PDFs and worksheets, but be sure to hunt around for downloadable software too.

The HomeSchool Mom, a popular Web site among home educators has a mile-long list of free educational materials in every conceiveable subject from typing tutors to Forensic Medical studies. Some of the links are for Web-based activities but many take you to sites where you can download free software or send away to receive goodies in the mail.

Adam Smith Academy offers free educational podcasts you can download and listen to on an MP3 player or your computer's media player. Younger children will enjoy stories from Kipling or Aesop, while older kids will love hearing stories by James Joyce or Nathaniel Hawthorne. The site even has a number of history lessons and college lectures available for download as well.

If you're looking for help with specific topics, be sure to check the Web sites of museums and science centers in major metropolitan cities. You could get lost for days roaming the Web site of the Exploratorium, San Francisco's famous science museum. Though much of the information is Web-based and interactive, there are plenty of links to other sites for additional printables and downloads. Budding astronauts of all ages can find virtually anything related to space, astronomy, and space travel at the educational portion of NASA's Web site.

One of the best places to find free and fabulous educational software is within the open source community. Although a few programs require the Linux operating system to run, most will also run on Windows or Mac. Have a look at this comprehensive list to see what's available and what's recommended for students of all ages and skill levels.

Tags: children, commercial, education, educational, freeware, kids, opensource, school, shareware, software, students