WEB SITES FOR CHILDREN AGES 7-12

Ana Cintado

Kent State University

Graduate Student—Deaf Education

 

Name of site: "The Science Explorer"

URL: www.exploratorium.edu/science_explorer/index.html

Description:

This site provides a variety of science-related experiments for children to conduct in the home. They range from making a simple camera or periscope to creating crystals in the sun and watching mold grow on food.

The activities are organized on the home page according to general topics such as "Mysterious Mixtures" and "Dramatic Static". By clicking on the name of an activity, a child may access a more detailed description of that particular project. Each project includes a list of materials, procedures, illustrations, explanations, and other relevant information that may be of interest.

Why was it selected?

The activities listed may easily be conducted with adults or peers, which potentially leads to positive interactions and discussions concerning results. However, if a child chooses to complete an experiment on his own, the language and design of this site is aimed at his level and is easy to understand. Materials required for these projects are commonly found in the home and procedures are written in a clear, concise manner. Furthermore, variations and follow-up questions are provided for several of the activities that encourage additional observations. Children may then formulate their own conclusions and send in their discoveries to the authors of the site.

How can it be used?

In addition to providing curriculum enrichment, this site is particularly useful for teaching children how to learn. By engaging in these hands-on activities, they will begin to develop important cognitive skills such as learning to inquire, investigate, design, problem-solve, analyze, and reflect. Remember, children learn most by doing!

Note: When presenting this site to students, you may want to use the brief descriptions listed under each activity on the home page. These descriptions will not only introduce the subject of the experiment, but they will also help arouse the curiosities of the children. In addition, you may want to apply the theories of these activities to "everyday" experiences such as baking or watching movies. These applications are suggested throughout the site.

 

 

Name of Site: "Geobee Challenge"

URL: www.nationalgeographic.com/features/97/geobee/

Description:

A short multiple-choice quiz featured by the National Geographic Society on the subject of geography. This quiz is updated each day and includes a variety of questions from all around the world. Children can learn about continents, countries, regions, provinces, states, cities, peninsulas, and islands. They can test their knowledge on oceans, lakes, rivers, canals, and straits. They can even challenge themselves to questions about mountain ranges, landfills, national parks, native animals, and much more.

After a child completes the quiz, he or she may retry any questions answered incorrectly. Quizzes posted in the past may also be reviewed by clicking on the "Previous Questions" button found on the bottom of the home page.

Why was it selected?

Many surveys have shown that children in the U.S. lack sufficient knowledge of geography in comparison to children of other countries. Therefore, a greater emphasis on this subject is obviously needed throughout our nation’s education systems. However, as teachers, we must remember that most children will not enjoy being forced to memorize facts from a textbook. Instead, they need stimulating and meaningful activities that will motivate them to learn. This particular site provides a fun and challenging way for students to develop an interest in this subject and to gain more knowledge about the earth and its physical characteristics. Perhaps the most attractive feature of this site is that it is interactive in nature. Children are given automatic feedback on their answers and are provided with the opportunity to learn from their mistakes.

How can it be used?

This site can be utilized as a quick daily probe to assess the children’s knowledge of geography. After each quiz has been completed, a question deemed particularly difficult or interesting may serve to introduce the topic of discussion for the day. A map of the world may also be placed next to the computers that would allow the children to find the bodies of land or water mentioned throughout the questions. You may even want to suggest that the students continually mark their findings on the map, thus providing them with a visual and reinforcing measure of what they’ve learned.

Name of Site: Math Baseball

URL: www.funbrain.com/math/

Description:

An interactive game dealing with mathematics that is based on one of America’s favorite past-times. It allows the child to choose the kind of game (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, or all the above) and the level of difficulty (easy, medium, hard, or superbrain). The computer then provides a math problem according to these specifications. The child enters the answer and "swings the bat" by pressing a button. If the answer is correct, then he or she will get a hit. The hit may be a single, double, triple, or home run depending on the difficulty of the problem. If the answer is incorrect, then the child will get an out. Like baseball, the game is over after 3 outs.

Why was it selected?

Due to the overwhelming frustrations often experienced with math, many children begin to lose the patience and motivation to practice problems. As a result, these children fail to develop the basic skills needed to advance to higher level courses. As teachers, we must use any means necessary to engage our students and to give them a reason to want to learn. This particular site utilizes children’s natural inclinations and love for sports to attract their attention and sustain them for longer periods of time. Thus, they will be learning and practicing math without even realizing it.

How can it be used?

One possible suggestion is breaking the class into different teams and forming a baseball tournament. By keeping and posting scores, the "math champions" may be determined and awarded a small prize. Depending on your class, you may want to start with the easy level and progress to superbrain to avoid any frustration or failure. Remind your students that professional baseball players were once novices themselves. They had to work hard and practice many long hours to become stars. Success is not always built overnight!

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