Family Focus

(My apologies for posting this week’s column a few day’s late…)

March 17 is not only St. Patrick’s Day, it is also “Absolutely Incredible Kid Day.”

The Senoi tribe in Maylasia is reported to spend family time each morning discussing the previous evenings’ dreams. This daily ritual solidifies togetherness and confict resolution. I’m suggesting websites that parents and children can freely share and discuss. I hope I’m wrong, but I have this picture in my head that kids go off to their computer and mom or dad goes off to a different computer, and the twain don’t meet. I hope I’m wrong.

One website that I highly recommended several years ago, Surfing the Net With Kids, disappointed me when I logged onto it recently. Now it is full of ads and pop-ups and seems to have altered its focus to money making. I found it hard to navigate and a nuisance. And this week, it took ample amounts of surfing to find appropriate sites without a lot of selling, selling, selling. Here are some:

Whatsfordinner. The mission of this website is to make dinner family time. Whoever does the cooking in the household can appreciate the easy recipes, new each day, and additional aids that go along with each recipe such as the built-in shopping list. But this is more than a recipe site. Suggestions for ways to spend quality time is another category on the page, right below the recipe-a-day. I don’t run across many websites like this. I think it’s worth a look.

Kidscastle .The Smithsonian Institution sponsors this site, so parents don’t have to worry about their kids clicking on ads for toys, etc. As if parents don’t have enough to worry about with the amount of trash sites on the so-called “information highway.” And just because this site is from the Smithsonian, there is nothing stuffy and boring here. Games, cartoons, and activities that are fun as well as educational fill the website. I especially liked the Crazy Holidays Calendar and the Food Days Calendar. Some other activities include Name the Bug; Create a Sculpture, Build a Sod Hut (really!), and the Giant Panda Challenge.

Upbeat . This is sort of an anti-grim-daily-news place where all of the brief features are positive, optimistic and inspiring. The stories are about real people overcoming odds, or spreading light and joy to others. Now that would make for a nice discussion around the dinner table.

Funology. Funology’s tagline is “the science of having fun.” Don’t let the word science drive some of you away, though. Learn new magic tricks, or recipes for making a volcano. Or, try the Boredom Busters. Read the That’s Odd clips. The website is not cluttered with ads, and the activities are entertaining.

Imagination Factory . If your family is committed to the environmental benefits of recycling, then you will be happy to discover a host of projects that use would-be discards for crafts. Find creative ways to recycle at this site.

Kids Gardening . The motto at this site is that gardening is for all ages, starting with preschoolers. There are classroom activities for teaches as well as a Parents’ Primer for helping your child get started with his/her own projects.

Celebrating Families . Included on this site is a monthly calendar of national events geared to celebrating and strengthening families. It was here that I learned about “Absolutely Incredible Kid Day.” Celebrated each March 17th since 1996, the day is meant to tell the children and grandchildren in your life how important they are in your life.

As I mentioned earlier, it was challenging for me to find kid’s sites that do not bombard the surfer with advertisements. Stick to the tried-and-true websites such as museums, acquariums, PBS sites, and other non-commercial places on the Web. I am assuming that those parents reading this monitor their children’s surfing habits and have enabled restricted access to questionable websites.

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~ by IndianaDunesPoet on March 18, 2005.

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