The entire World Wide Web can be seen as an informational ad reference source. But when it comes to kids, the nature of content presents a challenge of comprehension. You cannot tell a kid to go to Wikipedia and find out about “plastics” for instance. Well, he or she can, but a phrase like “semi-synthetic organic amorphous solids” would be beyond the grade level of many kids.
To revise the information to the level of a child’s knowledge requires effort on the part of the teacher or the parent. So, right here, let’s introduce ourselves to five free online encyclopedias which have simplified explanations of deeper topics.
The five online encyclopedias also help the parent or the teacher to free the kids to do their own browsing and research. Wouldn’t it be great if your kids could complete their homework without your handholding?
Simple English Wikipedia defines “˜plastics’ in much simpler words. The explanation is of course, not as detailed as its full blown version, but it is more basic for a child to grasp.
The online reference source is running around 64,555 articles right now in alphabetized categories. Simple English Wikipedia uses simple English words, grammar, and shorter sentences. Just like its big brother it also is available in many languages and you can note the number of articles available under each on the landing page itself.
Use the search bar or drill down the Knowledge Groups to search for topics. Similarly, other tools that come under Print/Export are also available.
A Yahoo search taps into the 52,000 entries and 84,000 cross linked references brought together by Columbia University Press. Yahoo Kids is a good enough homework help site with tools like a World Factbook, dictionary, a Q& A service, and small sections on science and animals etc.
The most direct way to access the encyclopedia is to use the search bar. The information contains further links which can take you deeper into related areas. The language according to the target audience is pretty basic.
The child pleasing interface of Fact Monster includes an almanac, a dictionary, a thesaurus, and an encyclopedia, along with other homework aids. This child friendly site is a part of Infoplease.com, the reference portal. Fact Monster also uses the database of the Columbia Encyclopedia.
You can use the search bar or browse by subject. Each subject covers a range of sub-topics. The information is brief and to the point. You can also tap into the Almanac which gives a lot of space to topics on science, math, and world facts.
Kids.Net.au is actually an Australian ‘not for profit’ kids safe portal run by a team of volunteers. The seven year old site has an encyclopedia among other informational tools. With one million articles on a variety of topics, the site is a good place to visit if you want child-safe and easy to understand information.
The Library of Congress as a reference site for children sounds a bit odd. But the world’s largest library has to be a great melting pot of knowledge. And the child won’t get lost as it has a separate online section for kids and families. If you want to know about American history for instance, this is a great starting point. Click on America’s Library and you get to read America’s Story and learn about the people and events that forged the nation. The America’s Library sub-site is filled with interesting facts, and to get an overview of all that, read the Welcome page.
While compiling this small list, I did not find many free encyclopedias for children with blanket coverage on a variety of topics. These five though stand up to the task adequately enough. But you might have to go back to the search engines for more in-depth information or you can also try out these tips on researching for homework .
Can you add your favorite to this list of free online encyclopedias if it’s not among the ones mentioned here?