A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this outstanding site from the National Park Service promotes interacting with nature. The main objective is to complete more than four dozen activities -- puzzles, mysteries, quizzes, etc. -- to earn your "WebRanger" status. The activities vary in difficulty level and topic (parks, animals, nature, people, history, science, and puzzles). Kids can also upload their nature-related photos (they don't publish any identifiable pictures of children's faces) and stories (no personal informational allowed). There's no advertising.
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What's it about?
The National Park Service challenges you to become a WebRanger! After signing up and completing your first activity -- learning all about the symbols of the National Park Service emblem -- you then build your ranger station where you can view live videocams from different national parks, send postcards, keep track of all the activities you've completed, and find more nature-related activities to do. Depending on what topic you pick, you might learn how to pack a dog sled, sort recyclables from trash, guide sea turtles to the ocean, or strategically place forts in order to guard a harbor.
Is it any good?
Every activity on the site involves learning, but kids will be too busy solving puzzles, reading maps, and collecting secret words to realize that they're actually absorbing tons of knowledge about the world around them. Even better, you can choose from three levels of difficulty and the topics you're most interested in -- from animals and nature to history and science.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about different national parks and what you can find when you visit them. Why is it important to preserve these parks? What park would you most like to visit and why? How do animals live in the winter? What does a ranger do? What are some things to pack when you go for a hike? How can you tell if water is clean?
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