L.'s Lovely Link List - FamilyEducation

L.'s Lovely Link List

January 27,2009
I'm probably like most parents in that I have a love/hate relationship with my child's interest in computers and the Internet--especially on the weekends. On the weekends, L. bounces around at home, unsure what to do with himself, and he often holes himself up in the office for hours on end, clicking and playing his two loves--SimCity and Microsoft Flight Simulator--or visiting favorite websites. He'll also visit sites that reflect his current interests: Last week, after the inauguration, he spent hours looking at limousines and reading up on the history of presidential limos. We found this site and watched a short clip about Obama's new top-secret limo. When he was living and breathing outer space, he spent hours downloading NASA podcasts and watching them. I love that he's so adept and comfortable with the computer and can find the information he wants. We have a few ground rules, of course: no Google searches without an adult present, definitely ditto for YouTube searches, and all computer games he finds online must be screened first by an adult. But lately L.'s been spending less time in educational pursuits on the Internet and more time trying to track down not-very-educational games. As a way of steering him back to those NASA podcast days, I spent a huge chunk of my free time last week feverishly tracking down educational sites and resources for L., so that we could enhance his learning at home. Then on Saturday we sat down together at the computer and I showed him all the bookmarked sites. He then had the great idea of my writing up a post that would include links to all of them (we road tested each one), so he could spread the love. So here goes--L.'s Lovely Link List (sounds a bit R-rated, but you know what I mean): Is your child burning with questions about the White House? Check out White House 101 for all the answers. Want to take the Presidential 7-Hat Challenge? You know you do... L. loved this quiz game--not only did he get to pick three U.S. Cabinet members, but he held a "press conference" and got to see his name in print at the end of it. Great tongue-twisters here--definitely better to hear over and over again than butt jokes. L. LOVED this tour of Ellis Island. He didn't know anything about Ellis Island, which I found kind of shocking. I remember learning about Ellis Island when I was in elementary school, and it seems to me that third graders should definitely be learning about it. (Hint: We've found that all the really cool stuff on the Scholastic and Time for Kids sites is "hidden" under teacher resources.) He also really liked this Lewis & Clark exploration game. This is a great site for patient kids who are willing to click and wait for the audio to load. No, it didn't work out for us, but I include it here because I really liked it! Do you have a budding doctor on your hands? This site should keep him or her busy for hours... L. hates to write, and he types reeeeeeally slowly. One of the things we're trying to work on is helping him improve his typing. I found lots of great typing games like this one, and this one. For all things maps--and L. IS all things maps--check here. So now when your child asks for computer time, visit these sites and you can rest assured that the time will be spent in the rigorous pursuit of knowledge, not just playing some strange demolition derby game that was downloaded for free off the Dell start page.