TotWare - Benjamin's Favorites

Here are some PC and Mac shareware and freeware programs we liked.

For other opinions, see what they're saying on For a Web sites to visit with your child, see the list compiled by Stephen Savitzky.

(We started this page in 1993 when both Benjamin and the Web were younger. Lots of other folks now contribute pages and reviews, too, so look around.)

Don't forget that shareware can be expensive relative to a good commercial program, since the latter often have many more activities. For example, LetterLand is nicely done and only costs $8.00 but may not be 1/4 as good as, say, Bailey's Book House. (...Particularly when you discover that it only has about 20 letters!)

- Benjamin, David and Paul Mende - [Last updated 11/17/95.]


There are lots of Macintosh mirror sites of the info-mac archive and you should find one near you and use it gently. These links are mostly to the server at


KeyWack - info-mac/edu/yng/key-wack-20.hqx (265K)
A keyboard banger with wild pictures and sounds. Suitable for even the littlest to keep them from dragging your thesis into the trash.

BabySmash - info-mac/edu/yng/baby-smash-54.hqx (417K)
Same idea as KeyWack but just uses shapes.


Coloring Book - /edu/yng/coloring-book-32.hqx (1.4MB)
Easy-to-use coloring book. Click on a palette to choose color, click inside shapes to paint or redraw. Sound effects too.

Kid Pix Demo - edu/yng/kid-pix.hqx (395K)
A fine drawing /painting program for small kids. This is fully functioning but black and white, unlike the commercial version, which also has more features. B&W can be an advantage if you don't have a color printer and don't want the tots to be disappointed when you put their oeuvre on the fridge.

Rainbox - gst/grf/rainbox-12.hqx (68K)
A fun, brightly colored drawing program with animated shapes and color changes. It is similar to "Toybox" without freezing our Mac.

Toy Box - (72K)
Click to get different shapes and objects. Bright colors rotate through the palette so it looks a bit animated and is amusing to watch.

Kids World (demo) - (965K)
Easy-to-use tools, in the spirit of KidPix, for making animations. Only runs for 20 minutes or so and has disabled saves. Available along with many other demos, some playable and some for other platforms, from the Internet Shopping Network.

Amazing Animation (demo) - (1.5MB)
This is the same general idea as Kids World above, but not as easy to use for a very young child or as well executed, though it does allow more control. From Claris, which has other demos and products available on-line.


Animals and Sounds - edu/yng/animals-n-sound.hqx (447K)
Hypercard point-and-click stack with animals and their sounds. Option to hide the desktop (to prevent accidental application switching under System 7) and "Small Kids Mode" which lets very young kids navigate through by simply clicking (without pointing).

Bird Songs - [new site and version] - part 1 (1700K) and part 2 (1900K)
Bird drawings and their songs. You can listen, learn, test yourself and even keep those birds singing in the background.

Letters and Numbers

Letter Land - edu/yng/letter-land-151.hqx (1217K)
Game to match letters and words to pictures, with counting thrown in too. Colorful graphics and sound. Very engaging and easy to play. Unfortunately, it doesn't even have the whole alphabet. (The author said he didn't have nice pictures for some of the letters!) Still worth trying.

Alpha-boat - info-mac/edu/yng/alpha-boat-11.hqx (1.0M)
An alphabet game with pictures and voice. Uses mouse. Shows pictures and asks for first letter. Second part says letter and asks child to find it on the screen.

Hurlman - /game/word/hurlman.hqx (819K)
A modern update of hangman. At least it's non-violent....


Fatty Bear's Birthday Surprise (demo) - edu/yng/fatty-bear-demo.hqx (1.7MB)
Small but self-contained version of game from Humongous Entertainment. Adventure-type game, mouse only, things to find and do, good animation, sound, graphics.

Putt-Putt on Parade (demo) - edu/yng/putt-putt-on-parade-demo.hqx (1.6MB)
Same idea as above, featuring a talking car in place of the bear.

Dino Blocks Demo - edu/yng/dino-blocks.hqx (940K)
A simple arcade-type matching game. Player directs dinosaurs to catch falling colored blocks and drop them into same-color volcano.

Dreidel - game/dreidel.hqx (1525K)
An interactive dreidel for the traditional Hannukah game. With video and sound.

Oxyd - /info-mac/game/arc/oxyd-37.hqx and
Per-Oxyd /info-mac/game/arc/per-oxyd.hqx
This is a series of puzzles that require more skill than your typical two-year old has, but he might enjoy watching you or an older sibling.

PC - compatible

Amy's Fun-2-3 (now v. 2.1!)
This game is terrific. Several games in one teaching counting, matching, numbers, music. Great graphics and requires only minimal mouse skill.

Talking Teacher - (273KB)
Teaches letters and words. Starts with a keyboard banger. Amusing and seems to hold the attention, but dated. Mediocre graphics, too much keyboard use.

Animated Alphabet - (485KB)
Type the first letter of the word matching the picture, which then becomes animated.

Coloring Book - (121KB)
Just what it says.

The Incredible Machine -
This is a great game Rube Goldberg would have written. Not really for toddlers.

Word Rescue -
Combination word matching and adventure type game. Excellent graphics, lots of fun. Main drawback is use of keyboard instead of mouse, often requiring two keys simultaneously. On the other hand, it's an interesting non-violent reincarnation with style similar to Apogee's Duke Nuke'em. You can find other demos at this Apogee archive.

Math Rescue -
The game part of this is similar to Word Rescue but the math problems are idiotic. Fortunately you can turn them off, play the game, and look elsewhere for good math education.