Kindersite

by stephenholloran1

This week I will talk about the website Kindersite which is a fun but very useful pedagogical tool for use in elementary cycle one classrooms. Some of the activities can be used with older elementary students. It should be noted here that it is aimed primarily at first language learners in pre-school but the level of the activities is appropriate for elementary second language learners. I should mention here that a slight disadvantage of the site is that it is most obviously a British site, so the accent and some of the vocabulary is ‘foreign’ to ‘Canadian English’. On the other hand, it contains a vast array of books, games and songs that are easily accessed from the homepage. The site is very colourful with age appropriate images. The activities are graded according to age, but with first language learners in mind. Never-the-less teachers can adjust to the differences, between first language and second language levels,  and use these gradings to select appropriate activities for different class levels and individual learners. The sound quality is quite good is the oral activities. The site is interactive, in that many of the activities allow the students to pro-actively participate. For instance the digital books can be stopped and replayed by the student. Students can also play games, where they can play alone or with a partner. Other activities include puzzles and e-cards. The e-cards are of particular interest to teachers who would like to have students create cards on special occasions such as birthdays, Christmas, Easter etc. This site is very practical also for teachers who wish to walk around the class and help students individually, while the rest of the class works autonomously on their own or with a partner. In addition, the fact that students can read the digital books and other activities at their own pace allows more advanced students to work more quickly while students having difficulty can take all the time they need. This means students are more interested in the activities and do not feel overwhelmed.

http://literacylog.blogspot.ca/2009/07/kindersite.html makes a comment that caught my attention about Kindersite: Kindersite’s stated mission is twofold: first, the proprietors want to provide a portal to safe, educational content for children ages 2-8; second, they want to provide data to facilitate research on how children use such online content and how it affects their learning. This statement shows the essential quality of safety with regards to the site, but also that the site is actively participating in pedalogical research, thus one sees here the site is very serious in its approach to learning.

http://www.media-and-learning.eu/resource/kindersite-project gives an interesting comment about Kindersite: The content that is found to be most engaging or requested by a child can be added to a personal list, via an updateable ‘My page’ mechanism. This feature gives the site a very personalized approach that both student and teacher can take advantage of. For example, teachers can tell students to go to their ‘My Page’ area to get materiel or ask students to place materiel in the ‘My page’ area.

http://www.teachersfirst.com/single.cfm?id=11413 mentions that Kindersite is an ‘award winning site’ although they do not specifically say what award. Never-the-less, this site gives a very positive review of Kindersite. They mentioned a couple of points that I find very relevant to teachers: that it is expanding to older children of 7-12 and that there are activities in seven languages. I briefly touched on the age factor earlier in my blog, but this expansion to older levels is most useful to primary school teachers. Concerning the multiple language issue, and obviously, as an English teacher, the other languages would not be used often; but, on occasion, students may be interested to take a ‘cultural excursion’ to these other languages. This could prove of interest, for instance, as a comparison exercise with English, though this may be frowned upon by ‘purists’ who refuse any word other than English. For the very young and beginner students, this would not be a good idea, but on occasion, with more advanced, enriched students, this may prove useful as a change. Other problems however may arise with access to the other languages. For instance, if a teacher has a student, say Hispanic, that student may do the Spanish activities rather than the English ones. Therefore, like any online activity, the teacher must be careful to closely monitor the students.

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