We asked the most Web-savvy folks here at the Monitor to tell us which kid websites they liked best - the most fun- and fact-filled ones. We did some searching on our own, too. Then we reviewed all the sites and narrowed down this list. Here's the final result. (If you get a chance, e-mail us with any comments, questions, or suggestions at: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
According to Monitor Web columnist and experienced dad (and Canadian) Tom Regan, this is THE BEST site for kids. It's actually a collection of sites maintained by the Canadian creators of "Theodore Tugboat," which runs on PBS-TV stations in the United States. You can go here and access a wide range of sites, arranged by heading. Headings include: Environment, Music, Sports and Recreation, Small Creatures, and more. There's even one called Especially for Girls. The site is a breeze to navigate, perfect for elementary schoolers. Older children will find things to enjoy here as well.
Web-portal Yahoo maintains this site. Here you can check on your favorite sports teams, learn some new jokes, and use a translator to learn a new language. The 'shout out' feature invites you to participate in reader polls. This site changes often, and it's super-easy to operate. Younger children will enjoy the games and jokes. News items are aimed at older kids.
National Geographic magazine has a huge site for grownups that has this impressive section for children. Are you interested in animals, exotic places, archaeology, geography, and more? This is a good site for you. You can post your opinion on environmental issues, watch a video of a koala bear in the wild, and listen to the sounds of killer whales under the ocean. Great site for middle schoolers.
Older children might enjoy this site created by CraniaMania, Inc., which is 'the first academic game site for teenagers.' Teens can challenge other teens nationwide, and classrooms can challenge other classrooms in weekly competitions. You can also use quiz games to challenge yourself in such subjects as algebra, biology, and world history. There's even material here to help prepare for AP and SAT exams.
If you go to school in school in America, sometime you're going to have to learn about how the United States government works. Why not learn it online from this fun, cartoony site? It was created by the US Government Printing Office. Benjamin Franklin (just "Ben," for short) is your tour guide through government. You can choose your grade level to learn at your own speed.
Here's how to access all the US government websites for kids in one place. Take a virtual tour of the National Zoo (check out the live webcams), the US Mint (learn how quarters are made), or even the top-secret Central Intelligence Agency. Kids of any age will find something of interest here, but younger children may need some help navigating the site. Middle schoolers and up could probably manage it on their own.
Want to make your own fossils, 'finger paint' with your feet, or play a game called Octopus? What about learning how to knit, creating a crystal garden, or having your own 'opposite day'? This site shows you how. Not only does the Kids' Exchange (sponsored by About.com) provide guidance for all these activities and more, it has a big list of things to try every day this summer. Most activities are aimed at elementary-school students, but with such a wide variety of things to do, even adults may find something of interest here.
How does an orbiting satellite create an image of the whole earth? How much would you weigh if you lived on Mercury? What about if you lived on Jupiter? NASA's site for kids will tell you all this and much more. The site is aimed at 5-to-9-year-olds, but it may be a good first stop for older kids who might be researching a paper when school starts up again.
(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor