About Julie Coiro
Using Search Engines to Locate
Appropriate Internet Sites
for Elementary Students

This session was created in the hopes that you will be inspired to begin using the Internet with your children at home. The Internet is a wonderful resource for students and now you have the opportunity to become even more involved with your child's learning. We'll be looking at some of the most well-known searching resources that you can use with your children to help locate materials that will enhance what they're learning in the classroom while making sure they are visiting age-appropriate information.
The topics we will be covering include:

1. What is a Search Engine?
2. What are some well-known safe search engines for children?
3. What are some examples of Internet Libraries for kids? 
4. What sites are safe to visit without using a search engine?
5. What basic Internet terms should I be familiar with? 

What is a Search Engine?

In its simplest terms a search engine is very much like an electronic librarian. When you visit your local library, you may be familiar with how to use the card catalog or you may begin by simply asking the librarian to locate a book about a certain topic for you. Using a search engine works in much the same way; you ask a certain search engine to locate material about a certain topic. However, instead of asking outloud, you type in your request and click on search.

In more formal terms, a search engine is a tool that helps catalog the Internet by indexing keywords on web sites and helping the user to locate certain files that contain that keyword. Much like different librarians bring back different books or resources for you to look at, different search engines report locate different types of resources and give them back to you in some type of list fashion. The difficulty with Internet search engines is that they are not as organized or even as smart as most librarians and often a search engine will locate many resources that are not really related to your topic or they may report them back to you in a very unorganized, or at least unfamiliar, format.

When using search engines with children, it is important that you use a search engine that locates a manageable list of age-appropriate resources that children can sift through easily to find what they are looking for. Let's take a look at some different types of search engines designed specifically for children.

Four Safe Search Engines Designed for Children

1. Yahooligans
The information at this site is indexed by general categories. You can follow the categories to more specific information or you can just do an open-ended search through all the categories at that site.

2. Ask Jeeves for Kids
This search engine encourages children to ask questions in "plain English" and then helps learners fine tune their questions with a series of pull down menus and more specific questions.There is also an adult version of this site called Ask Jeeves.

3. Kids Click
This web search for kids was designed by librarians. It also includes nine Internet searching lessons that teachers and parents can do with learners.!/

4. LycosZone for Kids
From the main page, clicking on Homework Zone links you to some easy to use reference materials for children including a kids almanac, encyclopedia, dictionary, atlas, animal locater, and kid's online library plus lots of categories of regular school topics.

5. TekMom's Search Tools for Students
This easy interface for students (and teachers/parents) enables you to access many appropriate search engines for kids from one screen.  Access content area search engines, online encyclopedias, images, dictionaries, maps and more.  Just type in your search term in the most appropriate box and click go!

Internet Libraries for Kids

Internet Libraries are collections of resources that have been categorized and indexed with children in mind. Many times, these libraries will provide searches of their website as part of their service, but they look a bit different than the search engines discussed above.

7. Thinkquest Library

8. Awesome Library

9. Internet Public Libary

10. CyberSleuth Kids

11. Education

What sites are safe to visit without using a search engine?

Listed below is a very short list of Internet web pages designed for you to explore with your children. These pages will give you some other topics to explore until our next session. You can feel safe to follow your child's lead at these sites and let them go where their interests lead.

1. Berit's Best Sites for Children

2. Enchanted Learning

3. Discovery Kids

4. Scholastic Newszone

5. Families Connect FamiliesConnect is a website created for parents and children to use together.  It offers families (parents, kids, grandfathers, aunts, cousins - everyone) an opportunity to learn about the Internet and use it together. There's also a link for Kids Connect on this same page.

Basic Internet Definitions

This list of definitions will provide a basic understanding of some of the terms you may hear during our session tonight. The list is mainly here for you to refer back to at a later date when you are at home and may need a quick "refresher". Please don't hesitate to ask me to explain any of these terms in more detail during any of the sessions that you may attend.

Internet - a global network connecting millions of computers; you can use the Internet to send e-mail, browse the World Wide Web and exchange files with FTP

Web browser - a software application used to locate and display web pages

Html - (Hypertext Markup Language)- a simple coding system used as the basis for creating web pages and web sites that allows you to follow multiple paths in a non-linear fashion; the coding system is made up of "tags" that place special commands around images or text. For example <b>Title</> makes the word Title bold.

World Wide Web (WWW) - the collection of all the web pages available on the Internet

homepage - the first or main page of a web site that contains links to other pages in the site

URL address - Uniform Resource Locator - the website address that indicates a domain name and then a specific location of a certain file on that domain

link - a location to click on text or a graphic to go to another location or file

search engine - a tool that helps catalog the Internet by indexing keywords on web sites and helping the user to locate certain files that contain that keyword

metasearch engine - an advanced search engine that searches many individual search engines at the same time. is metasearch engine.

FTP - the process of exchanging files from one computer to another using File Transfer Protocol

web page - HTML documents that are viewable in a web browser

web portal - a special web site that offers a collection of services and resources like a searchenging, news, email, etc.

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This page was created on February 22, 2000