Internet Sites for Kids, Parents, Teachers, Librarians, and the Young at Heart
We encourage you to treat this page as your point of departure for a journey. As intrepid travelers, have fun, and don’t forget to bookmark your new discoveries.
For this page, we periodically travel down some of these digital paths and we try to highlight landmarks in a handful of areas. If you find a broken link, please let the ODL Web Team know.
Art—by and for children
The Open Directory Project has links to websites by and about childern’s book illustrators, including some collections.
Young Composers is a site dedicated to aspiring young (39 years of age or younger) composers of music. Kids can send their music to this site, where listeners can download the tunes for free. There is brief biography of the composer, and several ways to access the music. The musical styles listed range from Baroque/Classical to World Music.
The Museum of Science has a wonderful online exhibit about the genius Leonardo da Vinci: Scientist, Inventor, Artist, complete with a well-written and easy to read biography (worth the trip by itself).
The Web Museum, Paris is a commercial-free, Internet-only art museum. This site doesn’t appear to have been updated for years; however the content remains important, particularly the special exhibits and a collection of “famous paintings.” The paintings can be viewed both as thumbnails and as full screen images.
The National Gallery of Art, “created in 1937 for the people of the United States of America by a joint resolution of Congress,” has a handsome site NGAkids just for kids, full of activities and projects.
Here is an introductory sampling of other interesting locations:
- Global Children’s Art Gallery
- Stonesoup Magazine—an international magazine, written and illustrated by young people ages 8 to 13.
- Art Projects for Kids—Kathy Barbro has posted over 600 “classroom-tested” art projects on her blog.
- KinderArt®—another promising site dedicated to arts and crafts activities and education, including free art lesson plans for teachers and parents.
Fun and Games—web sites for fun as well as education
PBS Kids has links to some of its children shows: Barney, Mister Rogers, Sesame Street, and Teletubbies (to name only the best known). The site also has a number of interesting childrens’ initiatives.
If you don’t mind a dose of promotion with your entertainment, you’ll love the Official Star Wars Site. Created to promote the Star Wars series of films, the pages feature art and design from all of the movies, story background, film information, and even some animated comic books based on Star Wars characters.
The US Forest Service has a colorful and fun page—Smokey the Bear’s Home Page—with activities, games, and fire prevention information.
KidsCom is a educational game site that seems especially sensitive to parental concerns. The site includes a word game that reinforces ten Internet safety rules for children (such as “4. Don’t give out personal information like your address, telephone number or school name to anyone unless you have permission from your parents.”) Advertisements are clearly marked by a cartoon character.
Some special museum web sites may have appeal to children and adults:
- The Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago
- Le Grand Louvre young people’s pages
- The Smithsonian Institution Home Page
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Museum Kids
The Disney Company site is highly rated, and appears on many recommended lists. It is of course commercial and promotes Disney products.
Reading and Writing
GrammerCheck.net was created by “an English teacher with a passion for teaching.” Grammar Check Infographics is a page that cleverly illustrates “grammar rules (ex. Oxford comma, prepositions, idioms), common confusions (ex. affect vs. effect), and alternatives to overused words as well as academic and creative writing tips” with high-quality, smart graphics.
The International Children’s Digital Library (ICDL) strives to “specifically address the needs of children as readers.” The ICDL is a library with worldwide participation, and “an international collection that reflects both the diversity and quality of children’s literature.” There are some intreguing and innovative ideas here. There is at least one qualification, the Library’s striking and singular bookreaders are proprietary software programs that will need to install on your computer’s harddrive (it uses 510MB of disk space [about 1/2 GB] and Java Virtual Machine). ICDL does have a note that says, “NOTE: By summer of 2003 we plan to offer a version of ICDL with minimal technical requirements that will run on any Internet-enabled computer. ” For the time being, if you have the room on your computer, and no particular aversion to adding new programs, this looks interesting.
You might want to check out A Century of Children’s Books, an annotated list of classics and favorites compiled by Oklahoma City Children’s Librarian, Sally Epp.
The de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection at the University of Southern Mississippi (“one of North America’s leading research centers in the field of children’s literature”) has a selection of web pages that spotlight their collected writers and illustrators.
You can find Internet pages honoring innumerable authors—famous and not so famous—by using a good search engine such as those on Google, Bing, or IXQuick. (If you need help using search engines, try Teaching Library Internet Workshops: University of California, Berkeley—Searching the World Wide Web.) As examples, here are a handful of the pages we found:
- Author pages such as those for Judy Blume and Roald Dahl.
- Pages dedicated to famous books and their characters, for example Seussville, and The Peter Rabbit Homepage.
Quite a few classic books can be found in full-text versions on the Internet. Just a few examples are Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (part of the wonderful Project Gutenberg which includes e-reader files), Anne of Green Gables, the Velveteen Rabbit (the original “Toy Story”), and the Wizard of Oz series of books.
If you want to look for other books online, try the Online Books Page search engine.
Carol Hurst’s Children’s Literature Site—a collection of reviews of great books for kids, ideas of ways to use them in the classroom and collections of books and activities about particular subjects, curriculum areas, themes and professional topics.
Award-Winners for all time: Association for Library Service to Children’s Newbery, and Caldecott Awards, and Sequoyah Book Award, the “third oldest state book award,” Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators’ Golden Kite Award.
The Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, has created a website—BookHive—that offers reviews of children’s books by more than 50 children’s librarians from the library system’s 22 branches. The site was constructed based on “market research and lots input from children throughout the county.”
Internet Public Library (an “educational initiative” of the University of Michigan School of Information) highlights its Youth and Teen Divisions. (The Teen pages are especially attractive—without being distracting.)
Bookreporter.com has two sites dedicated to children—Bookworm at kidsreads.com (ages 6-12) and teenreads.com. Similar to their parent site, these pages promote reading with reviews, author interviews, and excerpts.
Scholastic (a publishing and media company producing educational materials to “assist and inspire students,” since 1920—see their web pages for a number of authors whose series are particularly popular with school-aged children; series include Harry Potter, Goosebumps, & The Babysitter’s Club.
Children’s Book Resources (a web page of The Purple Crayon: A Children’s Book Editor’s Site) is a listing of hyperlinks to literature for children. The links lead to electronic versions of various public domain books suitable for children.
The Children’s Book Council site has a number of interesting web pages.
Factmonster.com is ” a fun and informative destination with unbeatable resources,” “unique in combining essential reference materials, fun facts and features, and individualized homework help for kids.” Content is “categorized so that kids can quickly locate just the right facts (for homework or curious browsing) on topics ranging from science to sports to people in the news.” The site has advertising, however, it is clearly marked.
HomeworkSpot is a section of pages devoted to helping students find information on various subjects (organized by school grades—elementary, middle school, etc., as well as subject matter). Parent company StartSpot’s mission states a “desire to improve people’s ability to quickly and easily find the best and most useful information on the Web.” Needless to say, there’s a lot going on here—many link suggestions. (This is, of course, a mixed blessing; sometimes it’s a challenge to choose a direction.) There is a useful column or feature here on Evaluating Resources dealing with the challenge of accuracy and reliability of information available on the Web.
The Enchanted Learning company has a website called Zoom School. The site is designed to be “an on-line elementary school classroom with lessons in geography, biology, language arts, and early childhood activities.” Subjects within these categories include classic crowd-pleasers like sharks, dinosaurs, & space.
Looking for help with grammar rules? You might try GrammarCheck.net. They have a helpful Infographics section, with illustrated rules and suggestions. They also have a grammar checker, where one can paste text into a window and have it analyzed—only basic analysis (similar to MS Word) is free though.
Safety & Other Assistance
Teaching Kids to Be Safe Without Making Them Scared is from The Kidpower Book for Caring Adults, a comprehensive guide about personal safety, self-protection, confidence,and advocacy for young people.
NetSmart (NS) Teens has quizzes, games, split decisions, videos and more to encourage internet safety for teenagers.
GetNetWise is a site with the explicit goal of making it easier for parents to find resources to guide their children’s Internet use.
The Natural Child Project is dedicated to the idea that “all children behave as well as they are treated.”
Child Safety on the Information Highway provides information and advice to help parents and children travel the net safely. The article was written by Larry Magid and has been reproduced on many web pages. Also check out Larry’s Safe Kids Online site.
The American Library Association’s Great Web Sites for Kids is a “cybercollection” of special web pages.
US Dept. of Education’s Office of Educational Research and Improvement paper entitled “Helping Your Child Use The Library.” Chapters include “Getting Children Interested,” “When You Visit the Library Alone,” and Library Services for Preschoolers, for School-Aged Children, and for Teenagers.
ConsumerSafety.org is “a self-funded organization with no affiliations or advertising on [their] site.” The site gathers recall information from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The site presents safety information in an easily understand format, and supplies in-depth safety guides.
Health and Safety—Birth to 2 years—Safety Measures Around the Home from WebMD, covers common areas of concern from baby products to risks of choking and suffocation.
Kid’s Net has listings of educational, museum, and fun sites suitable for children. In Fall 2010, the Temple University Libraries acquired the collection.
Ignite Spot is an accounting firm that, as a service or a public relations outreach, has put together a page on “Financial Literacy for Kids.” The page includes numerous hyperlinks to other pages on the subject and related issues.
Another source for helping kids with the subject of money is Financial Literacy for Kids and Teens: Saving, Budgeting, Investing & Beyond—there are many useful links. The page is hosted by US Insurance Agents, an insurance comparison website.
Digital Safety: Staying Safe Online is an article about good online practices such as choosing secure passwords, preventing identity theft, being smart with social media, internet viruses and keeping your kids safe. The page is hosted by Budget Direct, an insurance company.
Science and Math—they’re alive!
An Overview of Simple Machines is a webpage for children, created by a kid, that explores “six different machine principals, considered to be the simplest and most basic, that are incorporated into modern-day machinery.”
The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has a notably rich site with a number of interesting web pages—and many tangents to pursue. For example, there is beautiful photo gallery with “more than 16,000 public domain photos—animals, reefs, coastal scenes and much more.” A section on coral reefs looks particularly interesting—educational and well-designed. Other Interesting areas include a section devoted to the neary 200-year history of NOAA. As we implied above, one might want to spend some time at NOAA for fun and insight about the world’s oceans and weather. (Speaking of weather, check out Modeling our Climate.)
The Marine Mammal Center has a relatively comprehensive section of its website that contains educational articles and essays on marine mammals such as seals, sea lions, whales, and polar bears.
Just a reminder—when it comes to a subject as vast as fish, there are a myriad of websites which contain useful information. Some of these websites have specific interests (such as those focusing on sharks or dolphins or whales), and others are more generalized. To find the right sites for you, try using a reliable search engine such as Google. Search engines are generally sophisticated enough to make thoughtful queries quite productive. Need help with searching techniques? Peruse Search Engine Watch for helpful tips.
While tracking down a lead, we found ARKive—a site who’s mission is “promoting the conservation of the world’s threatened species, through the power of wildlife imagery.” With brilliant wildlife photography, this site is for all ages—of special interest to children might be the games and holiday e-cards.
Several aquariums in our country have web pages (you can find your favorite ones in a good search engine such as Google). Many of these are primarily promotional tools with too little web content; however, the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago has some introductions to their exhibits, as does the National Aquarium in Baltimore.
CASMEO’s Family Adventures in Math and Science (FAMES) has a website dedicated to introducing your child to math and science with special learning kits designed for hands-on, practical learning that’s engaging and fun.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has a set of kids pages that present space and related subjects in a child-friendly format. Actually, all of the NASA pages might prove interesting to older children—covering subjects such as Space Science, Earth Science, and Aerospace Technology. The section for students can also help to focus your efforts, or uncover new resources—such as Astronomy Picture of the Day, highlighting a single image collected by scientists (there is an archive as well).
Teachers from Lakeside Middle School in Evans, Georgia, have volunteered their time to create and maintain an informative website called StarChild. A service of the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC) (within the Laboratory for High Energy Astrophysics at NASA/GSFC), the StarChild site is designed to teach young people about astronomy. Subjects—The Solar System, The Universe, and Space Stuff—are presented on two Levels (presumably the second level is more sophisticated). The site is colorful with lots of pictures.
Hubble Space Telescope site is an enormously interesting and often beautiful experience. These pages contain a number of photographs made using the Hubble telescope—complete with extensive notes or explanation (found under the link marked “caption”). There are links to a number of different pages—all lead to new sights (pun intended).
Astronomy for Kids is dedicated to making the subject astronomy more interesting, less boring—includes word puzzles.
Astronomy magazine’s website Astronomy.com has some interesting articles and photographs. Stories are organized by topics (such as”Today’s News,” and “Featured Story”) which are in turn broken into the subtopics: “Science” and “Hobby.” The science half of the topic seems to relate to the facts, and the hobby part reports on how people are exploring the subject (for example: “eclipse chasers”). This is a commercial site with a fair amount of advertising, but advertising is easily distinguished from the content.
On FBI- Fun & Games, you can learn about the FBI through games, tips and interactive features. Meet the working dogs and see how FBI agents investigate cases.
The Boston Museum of Science has a number of online exhibits.
This site could fall within all of our categories. The Annenberg/CPB Project Exhibits Collection provides exhibits “inspired by Video Series from Annenberg/CPB.” The interactive site features high-quality multimedia presentations on such subjects as Cinema: what goes on behind the scenes, and Personality: What makes us who we are. One particularly intriguing subject is Amusement Park Physics What are the forces behind the fun?
San Francisco’s Exploratorium has a handsome and substantial website, with interactive web exhibits. There is section on faultlines and earthquakes, including a captivating account of the infamous 1906 San Francisco earthquake, illustrated with photographs. In addition to the exhibits, there is the museum’s rooftop web cam, with a 360 degree view of San Francisco (including the Golden Gate bridge and the Wharf).
PBS’s Nature series has companion web pages that use video clips, puzzles, and text to consider whether animals are “intelligent,” and if they are, what they think about. Another PBS series has another companion web presence: Savage Earth. The program covers earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanos; the website has photographs and web movies. While you’re in this neighborhood, you might want to check the PBS website for other programs’ websites—they generally have several features.
The Electronic Zoo is a huge collection of links on all kinds of animals (from cows to ferrets) hosted by NetVet, a veterinary resource hosted by Washington University of St. Louis, Missouri. Be sure to scroll down the page (or click on any image on the globe)—there’s more here than first meets the eye.
Science U™ is a site for people who like science. They use interactive exhibits, and “engaging multimedia articles and activities” to make science fun.
The Multnomah County Library in Portland, Oregon, has an extensive list of hyperlinks on Mathematics. There are an overwhelming number of links, so some are undoubtedly better than others. We liked the Ask Dr. Math (Swarthmore College) and Web Math sites.
Nick Walker, a national TV meteorologist, has developed a page that is dedicated to children’s information and links about weather.
Introduction to The Nine Planets—”a collection of information about our Solar System intended for a general audience with little technical background.”
Volcano World includes such things as maps of currently erupting volcanoes, video clips of active volcanoes, and Ask a Volcanologist.
Bill Nye the Science Guy’s Nye Labs Online is an interesting web site that seems to use activity to stimulate interest (just like the television show).
Check out The Froggy Page for some light hearted zoology.
Kids.gov has several interesting sections for understanding government and how it works. Kids.gov is “a service from the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies, part of the U.S. General Services Administration.”
iCivics is a non-profit organization founded and led by Justice Sandra Dey O’Conner with the goal of “reinvigorating civic learning through interactive and engaging learning resources.” The site provides “students with the tools they need for active participation and democratic action, and teachers with the materials and support to achieve this.” An example is Government and the Market: Lesson Plans. There are educational games, too.
Travel, History, & Adventure—people and places
The Geography Site is “committed to providing the best quality Internet resources for geography teachers, geography students and anyone with an interest in geography and how our amazing planet works.” Judging by the location of this website, this may have been a project of the British government; otherwise, it is hard to determine the entity or organization behind this venture (there is no “about us” page).
Pirates! Fact and Legend, on-line since 1996, is maintained as a free resource for pirate information with a variety of contributing authors. With a clean and clear design, Pirates! Fact and Legend includes sections on the History of Piracy. One of the things we like most about this site is it not just a collection of links (like this page). It is however a “wiki” (as is Wikipedia), and kids might want to check the information with another source when accuracy is important.
America’s Library (a handsome website created specifically for children and their families) draws from American historical collections of the Library of Congress. Stories use photographs, maps, prints, manuscripts, and audio/video recordings. Sections —including Jump Back In Time and Explore the States— are filled with interactive elements.
An Internet guide book, the Florence Art Guide links to illustrated narratives about famous landmarks of Florence, Italy. It includes such world-famous sights as the Cathedral (Duomo) of Florence and the Piazza della Signoria. The Art Guide is part of larger commercial site, Firenze by Net, which provides maps of the city, and entertainment information (practice your Italian first—English is not the rule here).
Sponsored by the Library of Congress, the American Memory pages offer over forty different collections of oral histories, maps, papers, videos, and photography. This site is hard to navigate (sections are not thoroughly identified), but the richness of its catalog may make up for it.
The Annenberg/CPB Project Exhibits Collection provides exhibits “inspired by Video Series from Annenberg/CPB.” The interactive site features high-quality multimedia presentations on many different subjects for example, Collapse: Why do civilizations fall?
HyperHistory Online is a site built around a massive timeline project covering 3,000 years. To access the timeline: first, pick a broad category—People, History, Events or Maps; next choose a time frame—1000-1500 or 1500-1999. Subjects covered on the timeline range from Art to War. The timeline is scrollable, and includes a good number of hyperlinks leading to detailed narratives. For a full perspective on history, this site looks like it’s hard to beat.
Some sites about the American West:
- The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum has a website (with a handful of exhibits represented).
- Hanksville.org (a “homemade” site) has a categorized list of Native American Resources.
- CyberRodeo (a promotional site for a couple of Dallas/Ft. Worth restaurants) has an extensive collection of Western links that branch off in a number of intriguing directions.
- A selection of Movie “Cowboys and Indians”—Official Hopalong Cassidy Web site, Official Roy Rogers – Dale Evans Web Site.
A good reference source for geography and exploration is the About.Com Guide to Geography. It includes a world atlas, a weekly quiz, geography humor, and all kinds of resources.
Lonely Planet (a publisher of “practical, reliable and no-nonsense travel information”) has provided a well-designed travel and geography website. A good place to start is the Lonely Planet—Destinations page where a colorful map links travelers to worldwide locations. Ultimately, most people will want to visit a country or continent’s Optic Nerve—a collection of slides.
The Internet Public Library invites kids of all ages to “join Olivia Owl & Parsifal Penguin on their worldwide tour!” at Culture Quest.
The Library of Congress offers Country Studies, a continuing series of books prepared under the Country Studies/Area Handbook Program sponsored by the Department of the Army. This online series presently contains studies of 85 countries.
The National Geographic Society has an attractive children’s website, National Geographic Kids that uses moving pictures and sound, and includes a Pen Pal page as well as exploration and education.
(Please note: some of the sites are commercial and primarily designed for selling merchandise.)