Ben's Guide to U.S. Government for Kids
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this site is the U.S. Government Printing Office's educational online outreach for grades K-12. The nonpartisan, text-heavy site provides tutorials and games on all branches of U.S. government, history, states, and symbols. It's informative, but amusing enough that kids will actually enjoy learning things. Parents and teachers may have to help younger kids sift through the lengthy information and read them only the most relevant parts.
What kids can learn
Language & Reading
- reading comprehension
- text analysis
Thinking & Reasoning
- applying information
- part-whole relationships
- academic development
- personal growth
Engagement, Approach, Support
The site involves a lot of reading, particularly for older users, which can feel cumbersome. There are a few games, but some aren't too educational, like the connect-the-dots Liberty Bell and a maze that leads to Independence Hall.
Info is almost entirely text-based and the few interactive games lack depth or much connection to the content. More multimedia features and opportunities for kids to make connections and apply learning would liven this fairly dull resource.
The parents and teachers page has some ideas for classroom use and a list of links to other sites. Some of the games and activities are printable and could be used offline. The site lacks accessibility for kids with learning differences.
What's it about?
With a cartoon Ben Franklin as your guide, BEN'S GUIDE TO U.S. GOVERNMENT FOR KIDS is easy to navigate and clearly organized by grade level. One click on Ben's age-appropriate kite takes kids to links about historic documents, government symbols, the election process, and more. A list of government-sponsored sites points kids toward more specific info on additional topics like environmental protection and immigration. There's also a games section, where kids can color, play word games, figure out mazes, or match states on a map.
Is it any good?
This nonpartisan site isn't heavy on bells and whistles, but it's rich in information about the ins and outs of federal government and citizenship. The plain graphics, simple games, and lengthy text make this U.S. Government Printing Office-sponsored site a fine place for students, parents, and teachers to go for information, but not necessarily for entertainment.
Some games repeat throughout the grade levels, and a few are too rudimentary to interest most kids older than 12. Explanations of how bills and laws are created, why the nation needs a government, and what government agencies do in the community are clear but dry and, therefore, may not wow most gradeschoolers.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about why some of the historic documents posted on the site, such as the U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights, and the Emancipation Proclamation, are important.
Families can also discuss how learning about the government can help kids and families be active citizens. How does knowing about the government help us make positive changes in our country?