With the ongoing uproar over protecting children from inappropriate Internet sites,
its easy to overlook the fact that there are a growing number of youth-oriented Web
sites that can lure your rug rats away from the TV and engage their brainsand even
prompt them to get out of the house to learn about nature.
Start by visiting some big sites that will help your young ones get used to navigating
and reading onscreen. My favorites include Kids Planet (www.kidsplanet.org), from Defenders of Wildlife. It
will keep youth busy for hours, with fact sheets on exotic animals, clever games and
quizzes, and a printable coloring book for when the monitor makes their eyes glaze over.
For more games and fact sheets, along with a virtual house where youth can
learn about toxic chemicals, global warming, and endangered animals, check out the World
Wildlife Funds Kid Stuff site (www.wwf.org/fun/kids.cfm).
A visit to Ranger Ricks Kids Zone, from the National Wildlife Federation (www.nwf.org/kids), reveals rich offerings that will
tempt your offspring to learn about nature, from tough quizzes to some truly corny (and
therefore perfect for kids) wild-animal jokes.
Environmental Defenses Earth to Kids site (www.earth2Kids)
displays some captivating youth art and poetry along with a variety of environmental facts
and still more quizzes. n Tales of the rainforest, a tropical coloring book, and
compelling paintings by young artists in the Peruvian Amazon grace the childrens
pages of the Rainforest Alliance at www.rainforestalliance.org/kids&teachers/index.html.
Action for Nature (www.actionfornature.org)
gives young people the opportunity to write an environmental story and have it posted for
all the World Wide Web to see. Several sites offer suggestions for getting out and
experiencing the real outdoors. Among them are Ranger Ricks Kids Zone (cited
earlier), Kids for a Clean Environment (www.kidsface.org),
and Give Water a Hand (www.uwex.edu/erc), which
offers a downloadable guide to watershed- and stream-cleaning projects.
My 10-month-old son is still more interested in gumming the keyboard than in exploring
educational possibilities on the Web, but I look forward to the day when I can help him
connect with his world by connecting to the Internet.