When children ask questions about the United States Government, two sites provide online access to kid-friendly explanations, data, and legal responsibilities at a range of government agencies. Each site has advantages and disadvantages, but the two sites combined offer young students access to all sorts information, written expressly for kids.
- Ben’s Guide to the U.S. Government, with Benjamin Franklin standing nearby as a guide, promotes itself as a site for students in kindergarten – grade 12, but the cartoon graphics make it more appropriate for grades six and under. Younger children have much to explore here — explanations, documents, games, and more. The best links, and these may be useful for children of all ages, are the site map and the U.S. Government Sites for Kids and Students, portals that offer access to government agency websites designed expressly for younger web users and indexed by subjects and agency name. Sponsored by the Government Printing Office (GPO), the information on Ben’s Guide changes infrequently but content on many of the agency sites is updated on a fairly regular basis.
- Kids.gov, designed by the General Services Administration is a more sophisticated portal, aimed at students in kindergarten through grade eight. Interactive features, the Site of the Month (great archive), and a podcast can motivate users to visit the site more than once. Apparently searching by agency is not possible on Kids.gov. a feature that would make it a much better site. The search feature, powered by Bing, takes visitors to a range of government and educational resources. I searched for podcasts, earthquakes, volcanos, online safety, and transportation with good results. Oh, and as a devoted podcast listener and producer, I wish they had many more downloadable podcasts (is there an archive somewhere that I missed?) with the ability to download.them to be downloaded. Kids today love to download audio files,podcasts would offer terrific learning opportunities.