Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Pest World for Kids - Kids Explore Bugs

Pest World for Kids is a fun educational website for students in elementary school grades. Pest World for Kids has a great index of pests which includes information on what they look like, where they are found, and how to prevent pest infestations. The Pest World for Kids website has four fun educational games that students will enjoy playing as they learn about insects and rodents. In the teacher section of Pest World for Kids, teachers will find lesson plans to accompany a couple of the educational games.

Applications for Education
The teacher page on Pest World for Kids provides for great, premade lessons for elementary school teachers. Each lesson plan comes with pdf files of either coloring pages (k-2) or drawings and fact sheets (3-5). The lesson plans for grades 3-5 are designed to incorporate one of the educational games on Pest World for Kids.

Free Books for Kids from Barnes & Noble

Today there was actually something useful in my junk email box, a free book offer from Barnes & Noble. Barnes & Noble is giving away a free book to every student grades 1-6 who read eight books this summer. Here is how the program works, Barnes & Noble provides students and teachers with reading summary forms. When the student has completed all eight summaries they can bring those forms into Barnes & Noble and select a free paperback book. Visit the Barnes & Noble website for full details on the summer reading program.

Applications for Education
This free book giveaway could be a good motivator for students to read this summer. The book summary forms from Barnes & Noble are concise yet detailed enough that teachers can tell quickly if a student has really read a book.

This is Phun - Physics Simulator

Phun is a project of a graduate student at Umea University in Sweden. The idea behind Phun is to create software that can used to create 2-D animations of physics concepts. The software allows users to create simple animations to demonstrate physics concepts. In some short testing of the software, I found it fairly easy to use although not the most intuitive I've seen. The Phun tutorial page does outline the functions of the program's tools. Once I read the tutorial page, Phun became much easier to use. Phun is available to download for PC and Mac operating systems.

Here is the video introduction to Phun.

Applications for Eduation
Phun is suited best for use in high school physics courses. The software is free and with a little bit of instruction high school students could use Phun to demonstrate their understanding of some physics ideas. A teacher of lower grades could also use Phun to demonstrate some concepts, but the software might be a little too complicated or frustrating for younger students to use.

Yahoo Search Gets a Little Bit Safer

Search results on Yahoo just got a little bit safer. According to Tech Crunch and other sources, Yahoo has partnered with McAfee to create malware warnings for sites returned on Yahoo searches. Websites that contain malware or are suspected of containing malware are now accompanied by a warning when they appear in search results.

Below is an image of what the warning looks like.

The top of that search results page looks like this.

Applications for Education
This free service from Yahoo and McAfee makes it a little bit easier to protect school computers and school networks from malicious viruses. Many schools have a firm "no download" policies to protect their networks, but malware and spyware can be picked up without downloading software. This service is just one more way to prevent acquiring malware and spyware. The only problem I see to this is that you have to use the Yahoo search engine to take advantage of the warnings.

Word Games to Improve Writing and Vocabulary

Most good word games are simple, but powerful tools for practicing, developing, and improving writing and vocabulary skills. Word games can be found included on a number of social networking websites as well as on educational websites. Many online word games are easily embedded into blogs or websites. Including a word game on a class blog is another way to increase student engagement with your blog. has a number of word games designed for school use. The games on range from simple hangman style games to games that challenge a player's knowledge of definitions and ability to use suffixes and prefixes.

Word Twist
is an online version of the popular board game, Boggle. Word Twist comes in two versions a four by four grid and a five by five grid. The purpose of Word Twist is to identify as many words as possible using the letters in the grid.

Super Text Twist is a simple word game similar to Word Twist which asks plays to identify words from a set of jumbled letters. The Super Text Twist game be played online or downloaded for use offline.

Applications for Education
Word games are great way to get students excited about and hooked on vocabulary practice. Word games and educational games in general are good tools for differentiating instructional time in a heterogeneous classroom.