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 Science News

A screen shot of www.sciencenewsforkids.org

 

Website: www.sciencenewsforkids.org/

A CONTENT:
ScienceNews for Kids is a site devoted to the subject of science. From Biology to Physics, SN is a portal of information for past and current news about many different topics that revolve around the many different fields of science. Not just content with just providing information, ScienceNews also draws interest through its gamezone, puzzlezone, SciFizone, labzone and ever provides a section for educators called teacherzone.

A AESTHETICS:
ScienceNews employs an affective use of subtle colorization coupled with pictorial graphics littered throughout. With no one element that overpowers the senses, a visit is both relaxing and interesting at the same time. With the enormous nature of its content, SN does a masterful job of sectioning off each field of science in such a way that a visitor does not become too immersed in the sectioning off or coloring.

A+ ORGANIZATION:
Here is a strength of the site – its organization. Trying to provide information on various fields of science could, in itself, be daunting. However, ScienceNews effective provides distinct areas for each area and its use of activities only enhances the effective nature of its design.

A+ REVIEW:
ScienceNews is an excellent site that wholeheartedly achieves its goal of making science fun and interesting. Any visitor to the site will be greeted by many aspects that could entail a lengthy visit to take advantage of its resources. Making science fun to youth like minds is not always an easy task but SN does such a good job that it should be highly recommended for any educator or administrator – and for every child.



 KidzPage

A screen shot of thekidzpage.com

 

Website: www.thekidzpage.com

A CONTENT:
Enormous is one word that comes to mind when first visiting KidzPage. The sheer amount of content is tremendous – from the sites sections devoted to games, clipart, learning puzzles, and coloring to its celebration of various holidays like St Patrick’s Day, Christmas, Thanksgiving and even Halloween it is clear that the site intend to be a portal of sorts for many major activities and interests for any child visitor.

B+   AESTHETICS :
The site is very overpowering colorfully. Bright blues, greens, yellows and reds are used in the various sections to provide an almost rainbow-like appeal. With the clearly obvious theme directed to the more youthful visitor, the site does try to maintain visitor interest not just through subject matter but appearance as well. If anything might be said constructively about KidzPage it might be that a more cohesive direction to its color could be used instead of the more splash-like affect that a new visitor might feel upon entering the man page.

A+ ORGANIZATION:
The strength of this site is its organization. With the amount of activities and information that it intends to provide it would not be a surprise that a visitor could get lost within its direction. However, KidzPage does an excellent job of sectioning off the various areas of interest such as COLORIZATION where it provides links for printable color pages, coloring online, information about coloring and various activities that involve coloring.

A REVIEW:
Plain and simple, this is a nice site. It does a good job of section off the various areas of interest and make for a good place to access A LOT of content on any one subject. In fact, the strength of its organization allows it to overcome any perceived shortcoming because of its powerful colorization and, together with so many topics, give any visitor a place that will quickly carry their interest for a long visit.

 



 FunBrain

A screen shot of www.funbrain.com

Website: www.funbrain.com

A CONTENT:
Fun is the word that comes to mind when you enter a site like FunBrain. The site is a resource for education materials presented in a unique and entertaining way that engages the minds of adults and children. From games and puzzles to movies and comics there are hours and hours of enjoyment to keep any mind intrigued.

A AESTHETICS:
A strength of the site is that its visualizations only serve to enhance its overall appeal. With the pleasant use of colors and the imaginative use of cartoon characters every turn of the pages keeps any visitor engaged.

A ORGANIZATION:
Guides to whatever information is being looked for is provided via very standard linkages and subject- headings. Clicking on links brings a visitor to deeper links or content. An interesting aspect of the site is that both subject-matter (such as mathematics for example) and games are interwoven in such a way that makes learning fun.

A REVIEW:
The overall feel of the site and the well placed graphics and use of colorization enhance a site that just boasts fun.  As a site that can provide any visitor – child, parent or educator – with a colorful and entertaining means of making learning engaging, as a resource, it is invaluable. As an additional means of enhancing its value, a live blog is provided that provides related news and explanations or case related materials. Any parent or educator will be instantly drawn to its appeal and will soon realize that they have stumbled upon an invaluable education tool that can make learning – in a word – fun.



 BrainPop

A screen shot of the website, BrainPop.com

Website: www.brainpop.com

A CONTENT:
As a resource website for educators, students and parents, Brainpop contains an immense amount of data covering a large number of subjects from many subjects such as social studies, math or even health. The site provides training resources such as tutorials, graphics lesson guides to assist educators in forming effective lesson plans. The site was created as a means to try and explain complex subjects to younger minds using simpler concepts.

B+ AESTHETICS:
The first thing that instantly comes to mind is the word “busy”. The homepage that a prospective visitor is greeted with is a deep blue coloration with many changing and altering graphics and pictures. Perhaps the authors of the site meant to provide a more engaging greeting but a visitor might instantly become overwhelmed by the busy traffic like nature when trying to formulate a clear thought to take advantage of what is offered.

A ORGANIZATION:
One of the strengths of the Brainpop website is it’s organizational approach. The homepage that a visitor is greeted with upon first entering the site is precise in its approach to provide an easy pathway to any subject of choice. You simply need to click on the subject of choice and you are directed to a different page with a more simplistic design listing a varied amount of particular subject related links.

A REVIEW:
Overall, the site achieves it’s intention of providing a tremendous amount of information and materials to assist students, educators and parents With the accompanying support materials – lesson guides, graphics and printables – the site provides an invaluable resource. Apart from the very bright and busy nature of the home page a person will soon realize how helpful the site can be.



 Spelling City

A screen shot of spellingcity.com

Website: www.spellingcity.com

A+ CONTENT:
Spelling City is an interactive website whose content is designed to provide both the educator as well as the student various aids designed to enhance the spelling and vocabulary experience. Using such training aids as training videos, customizable data presentation and support forums, educators are provided with a multitude of resources to choose from to help them with their own lesson plans and goals. Students are also aided by such elements as live voice for word pronunciation and sentence usage, spelling /vocabulary testing and interactive word gaming.

A AESTHETICS:
Spellingcity.com is a website with an enormous amount of data and teaching aids presented in a colorful fashion throughout the initial homepage. The color scheme is pleasant to the eye and does a nice job of sectioning off the navigation to many of its resources. However, the enormity of the project is such that there are so many resources, finding what you are looking for can, at times, be a bit daunting due to a lack of a more cohesive routing method.

B+ ORGANIZATION:
The website does aid any interested visitor by providing sectioning of student/teacher/parent on the homepage of the site which is a welcome navigational method. The various color blocks for some of the different sections is a plus as well. The designers of the site do their best – given the large amount of data available – to groups as much as possible to take advantage of the site.

A REVIEW:
The website is, first and foremost, a resource tool of varying strengths for the educator, student and parent. With such a daunting task to as provide an “all-inclusive one-stop-shop” for anyone interested in spelling and vocabulary, it gives anyone a multitude of avenues to achieve whatever goal they could possibly want – be it creating lessons plans, using varied multimedia presentations or just simple testing. If you can get past the navigational shortcomings the site can be an enormous resource tool for everyone and anyone.



 ABCya!

A screen shot of abcya.com

Website: www.abcya.com

A+ CONTENT:
ABCya! is a free interactive educational website geared towards elementary school aged children.  The website makes use of games and activities that have been created by teachers in the areas of math, social studies, reading and more.  The website also introduced basic computer skills.  The website is consistently updated with new information and games.  The games and activities are all content based.  The website also offers a section of educational apps to be used with the iPad, iPhone or iPod.

A AESTHETICS:
ABCya! has many sights and sounds for children to interact with.  At times, the readable area is very narrow due to large advertisements bordering the text.   However, when the child enters a “game page”, navigation becomes easier with an increase in readable area as well as less advertisements.  The games are age appropriate in each area.  The lower grade levels offer audio instructions rather than text instruction.

A ORGANIZATION:
The website is child-friendly in its organization.  Children can pick a level, kindergarten through 5th grade, and be directed towards grade level games, activities and stories.  Navigation may be tricky, however, once engaged in an activity or lesson, navigation becomes easier.  The website is very quick in its loading of images and plugins, making navigation and transitioning between pages a bit smoother.

A REVIEW:
Overall, this website is a good website for the child who needs enrichment in certain areas of their education.  There is little teaching done on the website, but there is a lot of practice available.  This would be a great site to use over vacations or summer break for retention of academic skills.  ABCya is appropriate for computer-savvy students to use independently.



 Out On A Limb

A screen shot of urbanext.illinois.edu/conflict/

Website: www.urbanext.illinois.edu/conflict

A+ CONTENT:
Out on a Limb provides offers online exercises for children to learn about conflict resolution. There is an added teachers’ guide that provides supplementary lesson plans and activities to enhance the website.  The website also can be converted from English to Arabic or Spanish.  Rather than just changing the content to the chosen language, the character voices are also changed; thus eliminating the need for subtitles or captions.  This website is gauged towards children in the elementary grades.

A AESTHETICS:
Out on a Limb utilizes voices in their lessons that are realistic.  The voices speak with inflection and tone.  The videos and simulations are free of visual distractions- they focus on the speaker’s face.  The website, overall, is attractive and appealing with colorful animations and large, easy-to-read text.  There is a use of animated characters in slide show format to align with the short text on the screen or the audio.

A+ ORGANIZATION:
The website is child-friendly in its organization.  Pages can be changed by clicking on a large blinking arrow rather than having to click on links.  The teacher section has a more advanced navigation system, using links and hot buttons.

A+ REVIEW:
This site is extremely interactive.  Children will enjoy the “choose your own adventure” feel that they will get when choosing a solution to a problem.  Children will be able to explore their options in a safe environment before generalizing this skill to the real world.  The goal of the website is to promote healthy relationships and to teach three basic conflict resolution styles. The students learn that they can handle conflict in ‘the loud style,’ ‘the soft style,’ or the ‘think and share’ style. Examples of each style are presented after each scenario. The students also learn about communication skills, how to listen to others, and how individuals perceive things differently.  The situations that are posed are realistic and probable.  Out on a Limb uses examples of conflicts that children may experience daily to promote their message of tolerance of varying points of view, individuality and diversity.  I feel that the examples will promote discussion, making this an appropriate small group or adult and child activity. The home page of Out on a Limb engages children right away by asking questions like, ‘Have you ever gotten so mad you stomped away?’ Overall, I am impressed with this website and wish that I had found it earlier!



 Starfall

A screen shot of starfall.com

Website:  www.starfall.com

A+ CONTENT:

Starfall  is a free website that is created to teach children to learn to read as well to improve existing reading skills.  The website is geared those in the 1st grade.  However, the site is appropriate for those in preschool through second grade.  Starfall teaches phonics and phonemic awareness through the use of games, animated stories and activities, movies and music.  This site would also be appropriate for English Language Learners (also known as ELL, ESL or ELD). The website’s method of teaching students to read is to focus on letter-sound relationships, word recognition skills, and reading comprehension strategies.  Children have the opportunity to share their opinions after each story and activity with a simple happy or sad face.

A+ AESTHETICS:
Starfall makes use of colorful graphics that are child-friendly.  Text throughout the website is consistent and easy to read.  Various cartoon characters are featured throughout the website in the interactive stories and activities.  Voices are easily understood and Have a high degree of clarity.  The music appeals to a younger audience.  It also appears to set a pace or rhythm to reading.

A+ ORGANIZATION:
The website is easy to navigate for computer users of all ages.  Text links are paired with visuals to help guide children through the website.  Activities, games and stories are grouped into four distinct categories according to reading level (ABC’s to I’m Reading!).

A+ REVIEW:
I believe that children will enjoy this website!  Starfall is frequently updated with seasonal activities and stories.  Stories on this website expose students to a variety of literature; non-fiction, poetry, fiction, folk tales, humor and comics.  The website is accessible through an iPhone, iPod or iPad, so children may take this website “on the go”.  Starfall has also recently released various apps that can also be accessed through these devices.  Children will definitely get a positive message about reading with the titles of the reading stages such as: It’s Fun to Read! and I’m Reading!  The website is ad-free as well, however, parents can buy supplemental teaching materials at Starfall’s online store.  There is also an active bulletin board discussion for parents who are teaching their kids to read.  Starfall boasts that their method is based on numerous studies and educational research. Overall, an A+ experience for all!



 Hooda Math

A screen shot of hoodamath.com

Website:  www.hoodamath.com

A+ CONTENT:
Hooda Maths approach to teaching math and math related concepts relies on gaming as the interactive tool to present data. It uses various clever methods to teach specific goals from addition and subtraction to geometry and even the quadratic equation. Grouped into four main sections: Games, Tutorials, Worksheets and Movies, Hooda Math uses a straight-forward approach to providing resource tools for both the educator and the student alike.

B+ AESTHETICS:
Colorful. The first thing that any visitor to the site notices is the blue border (amongst its many other colorful elements). It has a very simplistic appeal to it and, depending on whether or not you favor this, does not try and overwhelm you with its content navigation or presentation.

B ORGANIZATION:
Hooda Math is somewhere hampered by the advertising that appears throughout the site. Some of the actual advertising and seem to be part of the content when trying to navigate and a visitor can go astray before they realize this. However, divided into four sections for Games, Tutorials, Worksheets and Movies does allow a quick trip to a specific section if you already know what it is you are looking for.

A REVIEW:
While the website does provide any visitor with direct links to specific sections, a user can get lost within the advertising as it is shown throughout the site in rather large and domineering methods. But, as a learning tool for both the educator and student, Hooda Math does give a visitor an enormous amount of resources at their fingertips with which they can approach specific goals. While the site begs for a more refined method of data presentation, this does not take away from the fact that the site does cover a varying amount of subjects from Physics to the Quadratic Equation.



 Infinite Learning Lab

A screen shot of infinitelearninglab.org

Website: www.infinitelearninglab.org

A+ CONTENT:
Subject matter centered around the growing issue of Internet safety can be both overly technical and vastly dark but Infinite Learning Lab does a marvelous job of employing the Garfield characters throughout as a mean to explain topics in a more pleasant presentation without losing the seriousness of the approach for which the site is intended.  A wide array of categories from cyber bullying to various forms of media to materials assisting both teachers and parents can be found easily from the home page of the site.

A AESTHETICS:
Very colorful and pleasant to the eye. The use of the Garfield characters can peak the interest of any youthful visitors and can be appreciated by adults as well.

B+ ORGANIZATION:
While the potential for overload is certainly possible due to the growing technical and factual data available, the site does a good job of sticking to the core of its intention and that is to provide easily accessible information to assist any visitor interested in Internet safety. Categories are easily identifiable and the section for educators and parents is a plus as well.

A REVIEW:
Infinite Learning Labs approach to presenting information on a very sensitive subject matter is unique in its approach to employ the popular Garfield characters as representatives to explain various topics of interest.  The potential to make light of the sites message could have been a problem when using such characters but the novel approach makes discussing the different topics less daunting and not so dark – thus keeping visitor interest.