Back in the day, writing a report for school meant cracking open the stiff pages of the encyclopedia, finding your topic, and rewriting the entry in your own words.
Those days are long gone.
Nowadays, kids do their research by opening a laptop and googling. Search engines turn up hundreds of sites related to every subject. Sure, the wealth of information can make for a detailed and thorough report. But your child might spend several frustrating hours wading through the links, only to find most of them useless. The sites might be written for adults and too hard to understand. They may mention the subject only briefly and give no information about it. Worse, many sites offer info that is biased, politicized, or outright wrong.
You can assist your child by bookmarking high quality, trustworthy websites that offer accurate information in a style and format that is appropriate for children and young teens. Here are some great places to begin any school report all free.
Though aimed at middle school kids, the entries on Kidipede are easy to read and would work for younger kids as well. A history professor, who developed the site specifically to give kids a place to research their reports, writes all of the content. Searchable by time, place, and subject, Kidipede is the go-to site for history projects, and also offers lots of entries on science topics often up-to-the-minute info drawn from the news.
The venerable BBC offers a fun site for kids with brief entries on many topics. Pictures and video make it a multi-media experience.
The Library of Congress gives American history center stage with a site for elementary and middle school kids. Entries are organized by people, time period, and state, with plenty of cross-links to explore.
Tagged the official kids portal for the U.S. government, Kids.gov lets your child go straight to the source for civics reports. A directory links to the kids sections of many other government sites, like the White House, the U.S Mint, the F.B.I., and many more. Students from elementary through high school will find useful info here.
How Stuff Works
Great for older kids and teens, How Stuff Works contains a vast storehouse of articles on topics ranging from auto maintenance to why feet stink and many points between and beyond. This award-winning site started as the brainchild of Professor Marshall Brain. Now owned by Discovery Communications, How Stuff Works is adding new topics continuously.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science runs this science news service. The site gathers interesting science news from around the world and provides summaries and links. It’s great for older kids and teens looking for current events in science.
Encyclopedia of Life
Every life form you can think of has an entry on this huge site. As on Wikipedia, members of the public can contribute articles to the Encyclopedia of Life. But professional curators authenticate each one, so the information can be trusted.
If your kids need to do a web search, Yahoo Kids offers a safe search engine that only returns sites that are appropriate for children.
Multnomah County Library
Terrific list of websites to help kids with homework in any area. Be sure and check out the evaluating websites page. It lists clues that parents and students can use to figure out whether a website is a good and trustworthy source of information.
No discussion of internet resources for kids would be complete without a mention of parental control software to keep kids from stumbling into adults-only material. You can find reviews of the most popular products here: www.internet-filter-review.toptenreviews.com.
One other resource your kids should know about: the local public library. Librarians are standing by, waiting to help beleaguered students with their school reports. Happy researching!
About The Author
Jodi Forschmiedt is a freelance writer and editor based in Seattle, Washington.
The author invites you to visit: http://www.jodiwrites.com