Poisson Rouge or Red Fish Soup is my absolute favourite children’s game site. It has more than a hundred games, but they are grouped into categories that make them easy to find and check out. It covers just about everything – mouse skills, literacy, maths, languages, music, colours, and art all using everyday themes like insects, transport, space and toys rather than commercial characters.
It’s designed to be used independently by children – after an initial screen there is a playroom scene, clicking on different toys takes you to a different set of games. It is very intuitive with no written instructions at all. Everything works by either a mouseover or click with bright, obvious movements to catch attention. There are a wide range of games, from a simple jack-in-the-box to colour matching to complicated arithmetic. There is even an imaginative game where kids can create a puppet show with fairy tale characters.
It doesn’t matter what age people are, there are three practical skills they need in order to be independent on computers and the internet – using a mouse (or finger on a touchscreen), clicking and preferably double clicking, and being able to find links and menus. Obviously this is leaving out all the critical thinking skills needed to be safe and is just the basics of getting around. Different games on Poisson Rouge let kids practice moving the mouse by popping bubbles or flowers without being under pressure to follow a particular path. Then there are other games that let them experiment with a click or a click and drag, so as they build their skills they can access more. A lot of the games use a variety of skills, first using the mouse to clear the screen, then clicking to choose a game, then clicking precisely within the game. This has encouraged my girls to use it collaboratively, with the little one doing the simple things she can do then handing it over to the big girl.
For little ones not up to that yet, there is a little red box on the bottom right that says ‘PRTV‘ for Poisson Rouge TV. My little girl adores this and the scientist in me loves it too, I also think some of them are hilarious. They’re not really TV, but very simple animations. There are some stories, simple patterns, or the ‘Birds’ series is extremely clever. I won’t give it away, but definitely check them out. They are all great to spark questions and conversations.
There’s not really much else useful I can say as a review – it’s good for skills, good for a wide range of interests and abilities, non-commercialised, and extremely well designed. Forget the children, I can spend hours on there playing. Basically, don’t waste any more time reading here, get over there and start having a play.
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