Childsplay is a free, cross platform suite of developmental software for children. Since it is cross platform, that means it will work on Windows, Mac, or Linux. The version used for this post was the Linux version.
One of the great things about Childsplay is that the activities vary greatly in difficulty, so children from about two and a half up can enjoy at least some of the activities. Also, the activities are fairly intuitive, so children are able to immediately grasp the goal of each activity.
The three year old has been using this piece of software for about 5 months now. Over that time she has gravitated toward three of the activities: Memory, Packid, and Puzzle.
The memory game is great because it has such a wide variety of difficulty. It starts with a 2x3 layout, and after completion steadily gets harder. At its most difficult, the board is 4x6. The three year old has become more proficient, and it's fun to see her logic in action. Even though I love the traditional non-electronic memory, for some reason it always ends in the three year old hording the cards. I've found that the electronic version is a nice change of pace, and at this point will keep her attention longer.
Packid is a Pacman clone with a twist. Instead of collecting little pellets, you find letters that spell out a given word. Another change from the original is that you must find the letters in the correct order.
Puzzle is pretty self explanatory as well. There is a cut up picture that you must drag from one side of the screen, to the appropriate position on the other side of the screen. The puzzle pieces are all rectangular, so the difficulty doesn't go too high on this one. However, it does help to sharpen observational skills.
A Few of the other activities
Falling Letters (type the falling letter)
If you're thinking about purchasing software for your child, or maybe even just letting them tinker on a computer I highly recommend giving Childsplay a shot. It will practically raise your child for you…or not.