- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 20, 2002

Three little words did you know strung together with a question mark at the end can pique the interest of nearly any inquisitive person. A book seemingly built on this sentence, the World Almanac for Kids, is backed by a company known for its fact compilations since 1868 and offers a companion Web site filled with a concise stream of knowledge for the entire family.

The World Almanac for Kids Online

Site address: www.worldalmanacforkids.com


World Almanac Books, based in New York City, is a division of World Almanac Education Group, an operating unit of WRC Media Inc.

Creator quotable:

"In today's world of Internet-savvy kids, with so much information available on the Web, we created the World Almanac for Kids Web site to offer an organized, information-packed and easily accessible resource for kids on the Web. It is great for homework as well as for fun," says publisher Ken Park.

Word from the Webwise:

Acting as a leaner sibling to information-heavy sites such as Fact Monster (www.factmonster.com), the World Almanac for Kids does not overwhelm students but simply satisfies those in need of a few cool facts.

A colorful opening page beckons visitors with linked images such as President Abraham Lincoln, a rhinoceros, St. Basil's Cathedral, Earth and a light bulb, all of which lead to specific pages. Three areas, "Explore," "Fun and Games" and "Insider Info," also found on the opening screen, will take one on a less directed journey through 15,000 years of history.

Going the "Explore" route, I found the primary components of the site tidily organized in the sections "Animals," "Environment," "Historical Birthdays," "Inventions," "Nations," "Population," "Presidents of the United States, "Religion," "Space," "Sports," "States" and "U.S. History Timeline."

Each section simply displays a couple of pages of details, statistics or lists, with information ranging from the fact that Major League Baseball player Don Baylor was hit by pitches 267 times in his career to tidbits on German scientist Wilhelm Roentgen, who invented the X-ray in 1895.

A wonderful addition to the right side of every screen, "Did You Know?" guarantees visitors a bit of brain food through a little fodder about everything.

Within two minutes of perusing through random pages, I quickly learned that Silly Putty was invented in the 1940s by James Wright, an engineer at the General Electric Co., as he was trying to find a substitute for rubber and that Valentina V. Tereshkova, a Soviet cosmonaut, became the first woman in space when she flew aboard the Vostok 6 in June 1963.

Other options of interest on the site include a monthly article provided by the children's newspaper My Weekly Reader (this month's highlights the push for a monument honoring President John Adams), polls (such as one asking how many times visitors have seen the Harry Potter movie) and a contest. A current competition gives children a chance to win a trip to the District if they overwhelm judges with an essay naming the three most important people in history and telling why they made their choices.

Ease of use:

Simple yet colorful images combine with text-based pages, which should work on most Java-script-enabled browsers.

Don't miss:

Under the area "Fun & Games," students can reinforce some of the stuff they learned with a battery of online quizzes. The categories Animal, United States, Geography and the daunting Potpourri each offer five trivia questions, and braniacs who get all of the questions right can enter a random drawing to win a World Almanac for Kids Online T-shirt.

Family activity:

The whole clan can participate in some printable worksheets also found under "Fun & Games." They range from a crossword puzzle on the environment to an animals word search to a condensed citizenship test.

Cyber-sitter synopsis:

Of course, the site exists to tempt unsuspecting knowledge-seekers to buy the book, which I highly recommend. This self-contained package of learning still presents many hours of educational entertainment for children in third grade and above.

Overall grade: A+

Remember: The information on the Internet is constantly changing. Please verify the advice on the sites before you act to be sure it's accurate and updated. Health sites, for example, should be discussed with your own physician.

Have a cool site for the family? Write to Joseph Szadkowski at Webwise, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002; call 202/636-3016; or send an e-mail message ([email protected]).

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