What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Just for Kids is a warm, colorful website with lots of health- and science-related content for younger kids. Kids can click through story-like slide shows that teach the value of friendship and of eating fruits and veggies and that have some fun fact-based tales about insects and worms. It's from the University of Illinois, and although some sections feature links to other resource sites, most are educational, safe sites sponsored by U.S. states and nonprofit organizations.
What kids can learn
Language & Reading
- letter or word recognition
Thinking & Reasoning
- part-whole relationships
- solving puzzles
Responsibility & Ethics
- respect for others
Engagement, Approach, Support
Design is a little dated, but the colorful graphics and spirited content make up for that. The slide-show-style presentation is great for younger kids. However, the site navigation could be better.
Activities let kids practice spelling and math skills, and they'll feel empowered by the little things like getting to choose an avatar for their virtual passport.
There's a Teacher's Guide that helps adults use the site but not much help for kids. Lots of links to outside sites are great for finding similar content on the Web.
What's it about?
JUST FOR KIDS is a website that offers kid-friendly information on a variety of topics including treating others well, agriculture, and nature elements like weather and the woods. Kids learn about responsibility in sections on baby-sitting and pet ownership; activities like a printable pet-food-cost-estimation sheet help drive the point home. The text is broken down into easy-to-read sections with images and narration. Many activities also help kids practice language skills like spelling as well as basic math skills like counting and division. You can choose between English and Spanish text for each section.
Is it any good?
Just for Kids, created by the University of Illinois Extension program (an educational outreach effort from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), offers background information, activities, and additional resources on a number of topics ranging from insects to basic agriculture. The content doesn't feel overwhelming or boring because the site's clever design breaks up the text with a slide-show-style presentation and lots of images. Kids click through pages while either reading or listening to narration; in addition to learning about responsibility, nutrition, ecosystems, and other topics, they also get to practice basic math and language skills in games and activities. The Adventures of Herman the Worm introduces kids to all things worm-related, and the Great Plant Escape is a mystery featuring Detective LePlant and some leafy helpers. Navigation is a little funky; once you enter a section it's hard to get back to the main menu (you have to click a link way down at the bottom of the page), and there could be a more cohesive theme to the page, but overall it's an inviting place for kids to learn about healthy living on Earth and all that it entails.
Families can talk about...
This site features a few games and activities that help kids practice spelling and other skills. Discuss how that's different from games with fighting or shooting. Which are the best kind to play?
Different sections of this site touch on growing food, choosing food, and eating nutritiously. How can your family eat a more balanced diet?
The Best of Friends section talks about pet ownership and responsibility. If your family has a pet, discuss ways your child can be more involved in its care. If your child wants a pet, what factors should your family consider before getting one?