Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Just for Kids - University of Illinois

Just for Kids is a site sponsored by the University of Illinois and features some great resources. I talked previously about the weather portion of the site here. There is such a variety of sources here for things from trees and forests to volcanoes to health and fitness. Most of them have a sound on or off option that reads the information to kids who may need that modification. Several of the resources are good for finding facts. For example, there is a section about river explorers, one about seasons, weather and wind, the secret life of trees, and other topics. Some of my favorites here include Forever Friends, Where Your Food Comes From, and A Walk in the Woods.

Forever Friends allows students to create a passport and visit other countries in Asia with a tour guide to learn more about what it is like in that country. There is a lot of information about each country. For example, the China section has 33 slides of information, some longer than others, and covered information like how to use chopsticks, customs, information about pandas, currency, their written language, population, and more.

Where Your Food Comes From is an interesting source because so many students don't know where their food comes from. (I suspect there are at least some foods we all eat that we don't know where they come from either.) This focuses more on countries and areas food comes from rather than something like what kind of animal or farm, etc. The intro includes things like coffee, tea, apples, oranges, and potatoes along with how trade routes in ancient times helped spread the use of certain crops. Besides learning about food, this is a great way to talk about supply and demand, trade routes, and how distribution works.

A Walk in the Woods is an opportunity to take a virtual trip to a nature trail. Not everyone has easy access to one at school or home and this is a way to go as a class without worrying about someone wandering into poison ivy! Information along with close-up photographs and questions as you travel through make it a fun experience that makes you almost able to smell the damp leaves. The Nature Notes section takes you through additional information where students can click on a topic and access a notebook of information and pictures about it. This would be a great start for a student project to have them research a topic and create something similar to make a class notebook.

There are more resources than I can cover in a post, so go and explore the site to see what you can find! Add a comment below about your favorite source or project ideas it sparked for you.

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