While my boys, in particular, have wasted more than a few precious hours enjoying fairly useless computer time (Bionicle.com, anyone?), I try to keep things fairly educational around here. Yes, I'll admit it: I also grate vegetables and blend them into my turkey meatloaf. There. You've caught me.
I think an ample selection of educational software is vital to just about any homeschool, and am always on the lookout for affordable programs that sneak a little learning into the fun. Over the years we've had some hits (anything put out by DK), some misses (a glut of Scholastic cheapies), and more than our fair share of "Welllllll, I don't hate it."
The internet has made it a lot easier to tap into freebies that seem to make actually buying software so 1990s. But one decent run of a few days without a reliable internet connection is just enough to remind you that backups are always good ... especially when the best you have to offer your 11 year old on the 104th day of rain and the 10th day of the flu is Reader Rabbit's 3rd Grade.
In that vein, the offerings from Core Learning fit the bill. Fun, interactive and not from the Costco discount bin (you know what I'm talking about!) these are games that focus on learning in ways that will keep your kids coming back for more. We received a sample of the Crayola Art Studio and watched as it kept 6 children ages 2 to 11 entertained for the better part of an afternoon. There truly was something for everyone, and enough layers of effects and offerings to keep the program fresh for many, many hours of creative play.
So do yourself a favor: Stock up on a few sure to please programs that you can whip out in a pinch. You'll look like a hero, you may score enough time to make dinner and hey ... who doesn't need some really cool printouts for their fridge now and then?