A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Kids in the House is a U.S. government website hosted by the clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives. The page features information and activities about the House and its history, and it's geared toward children from early childhood through high school. The information on the site is arranged across four age ranges, making it easy to tailor the content to a kid's grade in school. Users don't have to submit personal information to use the site, and the Clerk's YouTube channel is only accessible by the high school age range, reducing video content access for younger kids.
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What's it about?
KIDS IN THE HOUSE is a website about the United States House of Representatives managed by the office of the clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives. From the site's home page, users first select an age level: Choices are Early Learners, Grade School, Middle School, and High School. Each level then links to content with language and complexity appropriate to that age group. The content varies in its length and specifics, but each age range features information divided into four sections: "How Laws Are Made," "Art & History," "Around the Capitol," and "What is Congress?" Each section features rollover text that offers definitions of key terms, and kids can visit a full glossary of the vocabulary from each section. There's a teacher page, too: Each of the four age-specific sections links to a teacher page that lists all lesson plans, activities, and related links for the site. Some include PDF lesson plans related to the House's history and purpose; others are links to websites such as the House's own "History, Art & Archives" or to the independent "Center for Civic Engagement." Users can also visit the "Meet the Clerk" page, which introduces users to the current clerk serving the legislative body.
Is it any good?
Though the site's pretty text-heavy, the content is solid, and families who dig deep will be rewarded with in-depth information and well-articulated details about the House's history and role in government. The four age ranges can seem pretty wide (and "grade school" sounds a bit clunky), but it's neat to compare the related content across the four levels and see what changes and what stays the same, especially in the glossary section and in the explanations of how a bill becomes a law. One great find: The high school section links to the clerk's YouTube channel, which has a wealth of terrific videos about the history of the House and the legislative process. That the YouTube channel is only linked from the high school page is one of many thoughtful details that went into curating this site; its developers worked hard to construct age-appropriate, highly useful content, and families have tons of great information to choose from in a nice range of formats.
That being said, the site isn't perfect. At least one link to email your representative is broken, and pages are text-heavy with sometimes-dated images. Still, there's some terrific reference information and historical content here; this one's definitely worth a look.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about who your family's U.S. representative is. Which other elected officials represent your family locally, at the state level, and in Washington, D.C.?
The four age-specific sections of the site all explore key facts about the House, including how a bill becomes a law and the House's role in the legislative branch. Talk about how these national changes in Washington can affect your family; which bills or laws have you heard of? What can bills created in Washington do to help people in your town or state?
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