What exactly is Sheppard Software?
Ever heard of Sheppard Software?
If not, you’ve been missing out.
Trying to find fun, educational games for kids in a safe online environment can be like trying to find a needle in a haystack.
You don’t want to let your kid loose on the internet, but you also know that some engaging, enriching online activity could be beneficial for your child.
Well, look no further than Sheppard Software!
Sheppard Software is a website dedicated to providing fun, enriching activities for various age groups, from pre-school and up.
I’d never heard of Sheppard Software until very recently. As soon as we checked it out I was psyched! I don’t want to let my six year old play with random games, because I don’t trust what might pop up on the screen.
This is a good solution.
At SheppardSoftware.com you can find free software that provides learner-based content in a protected online space.
The site has had over 20 million visitors in the last year alone (so apparently a few other people were already aware of this gem. Ha!)
This software is the perfect solution for some good, engaging media for my Kindergarten aged son. We still want to keep screen time down to a dull roar, but in moderation this is a great option.
This software would work well for family use, as well as for homeschoolers, and in school computer labs.
How much does Sheppard Software Cost?
It’s free. Yes, FREE!
Can’t beat that price, unless for some reason you find a company that wants to pay YOU to use their stuff. If you find that company please let me know.
If you want an ad free site you can pay $36 a year for personal use, although this isn’t necessary, since the ads are so unobtrusive in the free version. I honestly don’t even notice them.
If you need an ad-free experience (perhaps if you’re an educator), here are the paid options:
Why Would My Child Use Sheppard Software?
The software could be great for various reasons, but mainly:
- To reinforce academic content they’re working on in school
- As homework (if being used by schools)
- For entertainment (this is a great alternative to traditional video games)
- For remedial help if a child is struggling with some core academic concepts (i.e. identifying letters, doing basic math, etc.)
Age-Appropriate Content for Kids
Sheppard Software breaks down its content by age group. They offer sections for:
- Adult learners
The site would hold larger appeal for younger learners, I would say pre-school and elementary school especially.
What’s nice about the way the content is broken down is that it’s easy to find exactly the right fit for the skill level your child is working at.
It’s nice to find a website that you can feel comfortable with your child using, without worrying about the content that they might stumble across!
Website Layout and Design
Sheppard Software can be a bit overwhelming at first glance.
There are a LOT of options on the homepage, but once you get the lay of the land it’s simple enough to navigate.
On the left hand of the page there is a “Popular Games” section, and on the right hand side you can find new content.
The “Recommended sections per level” tab is especially useful to navigate quickly to the relevant age/content you’re looking for. You can find it by scrolling down the home page:
As you can see, it’s very easy to isolate the section you want based on both topic and age level.
Once you begin playing around with the various games, you can easily go down a rabbit hole of related content.
However, unlike YouTube, there’s nothing sketchy for kids on this website! So you can feel confident that your child isn’t going to stumble into a really creepy rabbit hole filled with weird challenges and cartoons that were made by a cult. So, win!
Worst case scenario they end up on a game that’s too hard for them, and you may need to help them navigate back to the correct ability level. I’ll take that risk over the whole cult thing.
The numerous options available could be an asset if you have an independent child who likes to explore topics in depth. However, it could potentially be distracting for a child as well.
If staying with one activity is important for your child, you may have to help guide them along a bit.
Content Breakdown by Category
Sheppard Software USA Geography
The USA Geography section is VERY THOROUGH.
You can learn the capitals and states (don’t get too cocky, you may feel like you have a grasp on this, but…just try to find South Dakota. I dare you).
There is a ton to learn here: everything from the Harlem Renaissance to a US Landmark Puzzle section.
For an inquisitive learner, it’s great that so much information is accessible in an easy to consume way. It almost comes across like the exhibits you see at science and history museums, where you can press a button and learn more about whatever it is on display.
Sheppard Software World Georaphy
Terrific online educational games, especially geography.Dallas Children’s Museum
Want to know the capitals of every country in Asia? Not really? Well, someone does! And they can practice right here.
Just like in the US Geography section, there is a ton of content here. Kids taking World History classes should get a lot of mileage out of this section, particularly if they need to memorize anything related to geography.
This would be extremely helpful for older kids (middle school and high school) preparing for a History exam.
Kids learn in a variety of ways, and having this type of tool on hand for visual reinforcement with a “game” component should work very well for some students.
Sheppard Software Animals
This section reminds me a lot of the National Geographic for Kids Magazines, which my son enjoys.
There’s a lot of factual information, which should appeal to an elementary school aged child. Kids this age love new facts, so use this to your advantage.
Want to know everything there is to know about bears, kid? Well by all means, have at it!
The “Animals” section is broken down into sub-sections:
- Kid’s Corner (Focused on games, where the above sections present factual information)
Sheppard Software Language Arts
This sections has a combo of games aimed at improving grammar, as well as a variety of Word Games for fun (Crossword Puzzles, Hangman, etc.) The target age group here runs the gamut; there’s game-based content for little ones learning what nouns are:
All the way through to SAT prep for high school kids:
And when you’re done playing around on the website, remember: the best place to start is still with reading books the old fashioned way.
Sheppard Software Health
The health section has some games for kids at the top (i.e. “Nutrition for Kids” and “Skeleton Games”).
Further down in the health section you can find info for adults (i.e. “Heart Disease 101” and “Stroke 101”).
I can’t imagine adults coming to Sheppard Software for this info, when sites like the Mayo Clinic and WebMD are available.
But maybe someone is like “I’ll play this vocab game with my kid and then do a deep dive into Arrythmias for some fun of my own!”
Sheppard Software Science
In Sheppard Software’s Science section they nicely break the material out into activities for younger kids, and then clearly marked options for “elementary/middle school” aged kids as well.
If you want to know what makes a mammal a mammal, you’ve come to the right place. If you wandered in here looking for an actual mammal, please redirect yourself to a local farm.
Tip: one of the most popular games on the website, The Food Chain Game, is in the Science section. You get to see the cycle of life in animated form right from the comfort of your family room.
Sheppard Software Math
Sheppard Software’s math section is comprehensive and fun. And large. You can go crazy in this section if “crazy” and “math” go together in your brain.
You can start out with some basic math functions and move straight through to higher level math – algebra, probabilities, ratios, etc.
This section is awesome, and I say this as someone who doesn’t really like math.
Kids will love the interactive games here. They’ll learn math without even knowing they’re learning! Sneaky, right? Like hiding veggies in brownies
Sheppard Software Preschool and Kindergarten
Sheppardsoftware.com is full of educational games and learning activities. There’s a special section just for preschoolers and kindergarteners that is fun without being too busy and overstimulating.From ‘Kids on the Computer’ blog
The Preschool and Kindergarten section of the website focuses on the basics: colors, the alphabet, numbers, shapes.
Sheppard Software just won an award for their Preschool and Kindergarten section. Here’s an excerpt:
No famous television characters here, but a wonderful collection of interactive, educational games just for preschoolers and kindergarten kids. Subjects include animals, colors, numbers, letters and shapes.From the Surfing the Net with Kids newspaper column
Sheppard Software Brain Games
The Brain Games section has classics like Solitaire and Battleship, as well as the most popular offering, Mouse Trap. These are old school style computer games – nothing too flashy here.
Best of Sheppard Software: Where to Start?
Sheppard Software really does have a ton to offer.
My son immediately gravitated toward this game. It’s a fun and engaging math game and you can set the “speed” to meet your skill level. This would be great for a kid who needs to work on math but is reluctant about it.
There are sections for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
The Geography offerings on Sheppard Software are very solid. Any kid taking a US History course who needs to learn all the States and Capitals could really benefit from this.
This popular game will remind you of an arcade game from the 80s. And what’s not to like about that?
I found it weirdly hard. I think my hands don’t work. Hard to say really. Anyway, your kid will love it! It’s on the Most Popular list for a reason.
This section cracks me up! It’s great practice for young kids to figure out what letters need to be capitalized.
But the real fun is when that benevolent looking fairy in pink gets upset when the wrong letter is chosen. Watch out! That fairy isn’t messing around, all I’m saying.
Preschool and Kindergarten Letters Section
This software is particularly strong for younger kids, so if you have a child in Preschool or Kindergarten I would check out the dedicated section for that age group.
Have a look at the sections on letters, numbers, and colors to reinforce what your child is learning at school.
There are also lots of “flashcards” in this section to help practice early sight words.
Sheppard Software Computer Requirements
Sheppard Software will work as long as you have the internet! You’ll need to open it in a web browser such as Internet Explorer, Chrome, or Safari.
I particularly like the fact that no account or login is required to use the website. It seems like a little thing, but it’s just one less hassle.
Flash is required, so make sure you have the most recent Flash Player installed. Some games require allowing pop-ups.
Sheppard Software YouTube Channel
Sheppard Software does have a YouTube Channel. Here’s a sample offering:
I’m cautious about YouTube in general because it’s so easy for your child to end up in a weird, how shall we say, not child friendly place in just a few clicks.
However, if you’re comfortable with YouTube and/or able to supervise, you may want to check this out.
Benefits of Sheppard Software
The website offers several benefits:
- It’s engaging, particularly for young kids
- Offers lots of opportunities to bolster academic learning in content areas that kids will need for success in school
- Academic material is taught in an engaging and often “game-like” way, which will appeal to kids
- Easy to hone in on what you are looking for (i.e. material to help a child practice division; map-based games for an older child wanting a fun way to prepare for a history exam, etc.)
- It’s free! And for a nominal fee this would be easy to use in a school setting, or for homeschooling families
Limitations and Drawbacks
The main “drawback” is that the graphics look somewhat old fashioned, and aren’t as flashy as what kids might be used to.
However – this is not necessarily a bad thing in a world of constant overstimulation! And younger kids probably won’t notice anyway.
Although the site offers something for all ages, it comes across as a website primarily for younger kids (pre-school to middle school) and would likely not hold as much appeal for high school kids.
Review of Features
- Free content, or you can pay a small fee for an entirely ad free experience
- Hundreds of interactive online games covering all sorts of academic content areas
- Visual and audio effects make learning fun
- Differentiation options based on ability level
- Can be used to bolster lagging skills or to challenge kids already competent at a high level
- A newsletter is offered to find out what’s new
A Note About Screen Time
Like many parents, I worry about the quantity and quality of screen time my kids have access to. With so much media constantly available, I want to be deliberate about making healthy decisions for my family.
The American Academy of Pediatrics offers resources for families to help create a healthy “media diet” for their children.
According to the AAP, problems begin once media use begins to interfere with physical activity, social interactions, and hands-on experiences, which are all crucial to learning.
The recommended screen time for kids ages 2 to 5 is up to 1 hour a day of high-quality programing.
For kids ages 6 and over, the AAP recommends placing consistent limits on time spent using media and the types of media your child is using.
Sheppard Software could have a valuable place in a “healthy media diet” for kids, but as with all media, the amount of time spent on this tool should not become such that real world experiences are taking a backseat.
For a comprehensive look at screen time recommendations, check out Common Sense Media.
For further reading on this topic, you can also check out The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age by Catherine Steiner-Adair EdD. and Teresa H. Baker, as well as Julianna Miner’s Raising a Screen Smart Kid.
Sheppard Software is extremely comprehensive. It’s not flashy or trendy, but it has a lot to offer, particularly for Preschool through Elementary aged kids who might not be accustomed to slicker graphics.
As a parent, here’s what I like about this website: It’s engaging, without being too much.
So much of the media created for kids runs at a frenzied pace (think Paw Patrol) when a slower pacing is more developmentally appropriate (think Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers).
Kids are bombarded constantly with overstimulating graphics. Games can still be interactive and enjoyable without moving 1,000 miles an hour.
Sheppard Software strikes a nice balance here.
Sheppard Software is absolutely worth checking out for your child.