A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Earth Rangers encourages kids to participate in conservation efforts while teaching them about our world. The site does revolve around a fundraising campaign to save particular animals, but you don't have to raise money to reap the benefits of the site, which contains lesson plans, videos, articles, and games. These activities explore ecological topics such as invasive species, captive breeding programs, and water conservation, and they show tons of animals ranging from majestic to adorable.
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What's it about?
On the surface, EARTH RANGERS appears to be a way to get kids to raise money for conservation. However, if you dig deeper you'll find a wealth of thoughtful learning activities that address topics such as conservation, natural selection, and biodiversity. Video clips are short and will grab kids' attention; they're best used if you want to show examples of animals and their behaviors. The Wildfire Blog section is a great resource for scientific text that kids will actually be interested in. Earth Rangers also offers a series of fun online games, but kids don't learn a lot from them.
Is it any good?
The site has gathered a really nice set of well-organized and fun ecology activities. Many of them get at the true nature of science, allowing kids to figure stuff out instead of simply memorizing facts. From Pattern to Principal: Discovering Science Through Observing Patterns in Nature offers three ways for kids to go outside, gather data, and discover a pattern that accounts for that data.They can either figure out why squirrels build nests the way they do, break firefly "Morse Code," or figure out why plants grow differently on a north-facing slope.
Video clips range from informational to silly. Kids will crack up when they watch "Compilation – Funny Talking Animals." It doesn't teach them very much about conservation, but the goofy videos may get kids more interested in exploring the more educational parts of the site. Blog articles are short and to the point-- very accessible for kids. For example, "Climate Change Is a Challenge for Narwhals" clearly describes how humans have impacted these tusked whales. Kids can explore themes such as cause and effect while looking at a cool living thing. Games, however, have limited learning value. In Eco Invaders, there's a "Did You Know" fact listed at the bottom that tells kids about invasive species, but the game itself only involves shooting weapons as well as hand-eye coordination.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how they feel about asking friends and family to support fundraising efforts.
Ask your kids how we can reduce our impact on the planet by using less water and electricity at home.
For families interested in finding more ways to help the Earth, check out our list Going Green Online.
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