Ben's Guide to U.S. Government for Kids

Common Sense Media says

Useful education tool, but games won't wow kids.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

Learning(i)

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Kids can become more informed about the U.S. govenment and may be inspired by the democratic principles of "a government of the people, by the people, for the people."

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

This is an educational, nonpartisan government site, so no ads here.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable
Privacy & safety
Not applicable

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

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • reading comprehension
  • text analysis

Social Studies

  • citizenship
  • government

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • applying information
  • part-whole relationships

Self-Direction

  • academic development
  • personal growth

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

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.

Learning Approach

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.

Support

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 kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • reading comprehension
  • text analysis

Social Studies

  • citizenship
  • government

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • applying information
  • part-whole relationships

Self-Direction

  • academic development
  • personal growth

Kids can learn about how the U.S. government is structured. Four sections include information for students in kindergarten through high school. Kids will learn about the branches of government, citizenship, how national and state government differ, historical documents, elections, local resources, and famous American symbols, ranging from buildings to icons like the bald eagle. Kids will get a good overview of how the government works, but there's a lot of reading and only a few games. Ben could beef up his guide by housing some of the linked information on the site and making the content more interactive and engaging.

This Learning Rating review was written by Erin Brereton

Parents say

Kids say

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?

QUALITY
 

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?

Website details

Genre:Educational
Topics:History
Pricing structure:Free

This review of Ben's Guide to U.S. Government for Kids was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

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What parents and kids say

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A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Kid, 8 years old September 2, 2009
AGE
8
QUALITY
 

this hole site is great

love this site and so do my kids
What other families should know
Great messages
Kid, 6 years old October 3, 2011
AGE
6
QUALITY
 

...click...

does this site have to have the word sex
What other families should know
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 13 years old Written bysam1201 March 11, 2011
AGE
3
QUALITY
 

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