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Top educational websites for kids

Help cyber-savvy kids log on to learning with these nine brainy websites.

By Christina Tynan-Wood

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The Free Dictionary

The Free Dictionary

All ages, free

Pointing to that dusty copy of Merriam-Webster on the shelf and trying to get your kid to look up words on his own is so 1980s. The Free Dictionary makes vocabulary building fun. Your child just has to type in a word to learn its meaning and hear it pronounced (to save him the embarrassment of mangling it). This site is a great help for those homework assignments that ask kids to find words with similar meanings. It will even translate words into several languages. If your child still groans when you say, "Look it up," tell him about the games like hangman or the online spelling bee — at least he'll be playing with words.

Bottom line: This digital dictionary makes vocabulary building a breeze.

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Christina Tynan-Wood has written for Better Homes and Gardens, Popular Science, PC World, PC Magazine, InfoWorld, and many others. She currently writes the "Family Tech" column in Family Circle and blogs at