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Websites For Children’s Learning – Or - “miss, What’s A Jonquil?”
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Websites for Children’s Learning – Or  -  “miss, What’s A Jonquil?”

How many times has your child come home from school and declared

“I have to do a project on...”?

Does your heart sink as you know that you will be spending hours trawling through websites trying to find appropriate information for your seven year old? Or answering questions such as

“What does that word say” or “what does that word mean?”

As a teacher of 5 to 7 year olds, finding websites children could use independently to find out information was difficult. There are some wonderful sites but they are not geared to children under 9ish.

Children love finding out information and it is especially rewarding when they have done it by themselves.

I have been trying to look for websites child friendly texts. 5/6 year old friendly! There are sites around aimed at these children but I’ve found them to be quaint in their approach with cartoon owls telling stories and unrelated pictures. They do have texts about their subjects but this is written in language which younger children find hard to decipher or understand so the research is no longer independent.

I’ve been looking at websites for children and decided to review some for their approach to helping young children to research. I chose a topic, daffodils (not sure why, just seemed a good choice at the time) and set to work. I was looking for websites which would be accessible to young children or those having problems learning to read. The child researching must be able to be independent with possibly the odd reading or navigation issue.

Above is a part of a screenshot from a website for children. (I couldn't fit the rest in or put it in this part of the text!!)

At first glance, the website looks very child friendly with lots of primary colours and comical drawings. There are children who would be so disappointed looking at this website thinking they could access the content but instead, come face to face with a block of text like this one above. There isn’t even a picture or photograph to accompany it.

I have been in the privileged position of watching children develop their reading and research skills and have come to the conclusion that many people view children with little intelligence or savoir-faire. I know that this view is flawed. In my experience, children want to be challenged and to produce work of which they are proud. They get an enormous boost of finding something out on their own and letting others know about their findings, whether through writing, video, orally or in picture form.

An all-singing, all-dancing website is fun and I’m sure it has its place but the internet is a crucial for children to develop their research skills and they don’t necessarily need a dancing pig for an explanation!

It would be good to compile a list of child accessible websites. Are there any with good texts, lots of illustrations and maybe some audio and video to help children understand? I don’t think that would be asking too much, would it?


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