Students may use the following Web sites before and after school or during free time in the classroom. Of course, this is only a small percentage of children's sites on the Internet, but each site is rich in games and activities, and most of the sites promote educational content as well. Since children are at risk surfing the Internet unsupervised, the sites listed below have safety policies that guard children's privacy.
Snoopy is the official "Peanuts" Web site. Each day the home page features a different comic strip by the late Charles Schulz. Kids interested in memorabilia can read the Last Sunday Original Strip and the Last Original Daily Strip. In addition, they will enjoy browsing through the Strip Archive, viewing short (two-minute) Movies, or visiting the Game Gallery. Young children may print an outline of their favorite "Peanuts" character and color it with crayons or markers.
Giggle Poetry is a humorous, award-winning site for children in grades 3 through 8. The site is filled with opportunities to read poetry and to enter poetry-writing contests. Children learn how to write nursery rhymes, limericks, and more. For example, two children wrote the following:
"There was an old woman who lived in a shoe, which wasn't so bad when the winter winds blew. But the strong summer sun was too hot to handle, so she packed up her stuff and moved to a sandal."This site may help start a class poetry unit.
FunBrain may be the number-one site for children, with 35 million page views per month. It is filled with educational games for kids in grades K through 8. Games are categorized and given such enticing titles as Fresh Baked Fractions, Translator Alligator, and Proton Don. Teachers may access teacher-made quizzes or give paperless quizzes that the Quiz Lab grades automatically.
ALFY is stocked with games, crafts, activities, and interactive stories. Free downloadable filtering software protects kids from inappropriate content. ALFY is divided into eight centers, with activities that will satisfy the interests of most three- to nine-year-old children. ALFY's Cool Sites center uses a picture format to allow even preschoolers access to kid-friendly links.
A combination of fun and exceptional content and design make Funology an award-winning site. At last count, Funology had won ten awards, including Education World's A+ for delivering "just what the name implies -- fun!" The site is filled with games, riddles, puzzles, science experiments, and magic tricks. Children have several options. They may click on Boredom Busters for activities guaranteed to cure boredom, The Laboratory for science experiments, or Abracadabra for magic tricks. Each craft project, experiment, or magic trick includes a list of things necessary to complete the task.
The Yuckiest Site on the Internet
"First there was mud. Then there were worms ... and bugs, roaches, bodily fluids, bodily noises, and about a million other things that make kids go 'EEWWW!' Enter The Yuckiest Site on the Internet." This site uses children's love of the gross to explore the living sciences. As they learn about entomology, Earth science, and human biology, kids have fun too. Children may join Club Yucky for science fun, go to Worm World to take the Slimy Quiz to check how much they know about worms, or play Yucky Games such as Toxic Waste. Teaching units for ages 6 to 15 are available.
Bonus features hundreds of games, puzzles, and activities that invite children to play, imagine, explore, color, and find new fun. The site was developed as a free, one-stop center of entertainment. The NetScooter software replaces browser control icons with its own buttons, eliminating all links to the Internet. Safety is a top priority of Bonus.
MaMaMedia is a leading kids' Web site. "The site's mission is to offer a rich and entertaining time for kids while providing playful learning and increased technological fluency." MaMaMedia offers children nearly 100 activities, plus opportunities to view other kids' material and share their own. The site emphasizes creative thinking, logic, reading, writing, communication skills, and self-expression. The site won the 1999 Computerworld Smithsonian Award. Children must register to save their digital signature and favorite links.
Nick.com is a site for all children. Since boredom isn't part of the program, there is never a dull moment. Kids can visit their favorite Nickelodeon characters, check out daily specials, games, pictures, and more. Daily and weekly changes make this a high-interest site. Children can safely send in personal information, but "get your parents' permission first," Nick advises.
This site is filled with National Geographic material written for kids. The mix of fun and fact make it a site well worth visiting. For instance, children who visit the Cartoon Factory learn to write the dialogue for a cartoon. On the serious side, the Bookworm Corner gives children the chance to tell about their favorite books. Once children enter this site, it will be difficult to pull them away.
Wesley Sharpe, Ed.D.
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