|Ten Web Sites For Kids
We pick the best for fun and education.
Reviewed By Jonn Salovaara
||We've scoured the online universe for stimulating sites to delight your children. What follows are some of the best. Age recommendations are approximate. It's always a good idea to help younger kids navigate a site, at least the first time. Our ratings run from one to four stars.
If you've got favorites, be sure to contact us at dadmag "feedback."
Okay, this is Random House trying to sell even more Seuss products. Still, if your kid has even seen a Dr. Seuss book, he or she is going to love seeing the "game" (actually a sort of electronic "flap" book) made from the illustrations. Click on one fish, what do you get? Two fish. And so on. At least the text, maybe a little too small, is printed on the pictures. (preschool)**
If your kid likes checkers, this site will keep him or her occupied without you for a while. Let them try to beat the program. Who knows, it may even improve their game. My seven-year-old thought it was hard to drag the pieces but with practice even this age group can do it. And yes, you have to jump. Warning: mildly addictive.
(ages 6 and up)***
This gives you easy access to lists of both Caldecott and Newbery winners as well as links to information about favorite books. Clicking on Harry Potter takes you to a UK site with a brief, pointed Rowling interview. Also available here: online stories, including stories in Spanish and French, and brief bios of favorite authors.
(ages 8 and up) ****
B.J. Pinchbeck's Homework Helper
The reference section of this site eventually led me to a World Book article in my search for info on the Mayans (a recent homework topic for my eleven-year-old.) It would be easier to go directly to World Book. Still, this site offers many, many other links for information about a plethora of typical homework topics. The links I checked out produced lists: you have to scroll down the list, hoping your item is included. I've been spoiled by better search engines.
(ages 8 and up)***
The Exploratorium museum of San Francisco www.exploratorium.edu
A science museum at your fingertips: search through online exhibits, check out the Hubble space telescope, and catch up on science news behind the headlines. View a webcast of a recent eclipse in Zambia. You can also explore the science of baseball, skateboarding, hockey, and cycling. In the baseball section, you can select a famous player, move his career to a different era, and see what his stats would look like in his personal future or past. The online exhibits are comprehensive, fun, and easy to search. They range from the human genome project to frogs. (ages 8 and up)****
If your kid is an animal lover, this is worth checking out. The site defines "endangered," and gives both regional and state-specific lists of endangered, threatened, and "proposed" species. It provides information on recovery programs and organizations, allows you to search for info on a given species, and also offers links to pictures of animals. The site is supported in part by the EPA and the North American Association for Environmental Education.
(ages 8 and up)***
Ask Dr. Math
Everything you always wanted to know about math but thought everyone else already knew. Here a kid can get a clear, very comprehensive answer to a question like "what is a perfect number?" or "why do you get more when you divide by a fraction?" There's an archive of already answered questions that can be reviewed alphabetically or as sorted by level: elementary, middle school, high school, college and beyond. Also: a search engine for the archive, links to sites that provide challenging problems, and an email address for your own question. The legwork is done by Swarthmore math students and college math student volunteers from around the world.
(ages 8 and up)****
What I liked best about this site was the section on invention which includes true stories about women and girls who invented things (like the flat-bottom paper bag and the dishwasher) and provides a list of books about inventing. My daughter preferred the games section where there's one like Hollywood Squares. There is also an advice column and something called Chick Chat. A section for story writing invites girls or, presumably, those willing to pose as girls, to submit a story for a contest. Run by Girl Tech toy company now owned by Radica, Ltd.
Apparently the result of a real passion for Greek myths combined with a desire to sell a computer game related to them, this site includes a somewhat primitive but nonetheless charming group portrait of the Olympians upon whom you can click for details of their exploits. Also available: info on heroes and monsters. That portrait is a "painting" by Gordon Dean; additional, sketchy, illustrations are by Mark Fiore. Joel Skidmore put it together, with an "encyclopedia" of Greek stuff, all of which is guaranteed "kidsafe." Darn.
Within seconds a kid can be reading the Nobel Prize acceptance speech of Churchill, Mme. Curie, or Gao Xingjian, the 2001 laureate in literature. You can also read a brief biography of Mr. Xingjian or any of the other laureates, past and present. As classy as you might hope, this is a lovely site, especially for those with big, not to say grandiose, ambitions (query to self: Why don't they have a different TV program: "Who Wants to be a Nobel Laureate?"). Simple access to excerpts from works of winners and to recent articles about laureates. Choose from English, Swedish, French translations. What, no Chinese? Sponsored by the Nobel Foundation.
(ages 10 and up)****
Jonn Salovaara, a writer who lives in Chicago, has two children ages 7 and 11. He reviews books for dadmag.com.
Content in DADMAG.com is meant to be distributed freely to interested parties. However, any excerpts from the stories in DADMAG.com must credit DADMAG.com. Copyright 2000, DADMAG.com, LLC. All rights reserved. Site Development - Andexler.com