Over the past few days I’ve been working with Grade 4 students who are either creating Top Ten Lists (and requiring more research information to justify their top ten) or are researching topics for their Non-Fiction Feature Articles in Writers Workshop.  In order to find (and evaluate – that’s next week’s focus) information on the web, we looked a few different Search Engines for Kids.

Before we even got started with Search Engines, I needed to make sure that the students  understood a little more about how search engines work. We watched the video below from the very good Common Craft Plain English series on Web Search – Strategies in Plain English

Next, I introduced four different Search Engines especially designed for Kids.  Each one offers something different from the other, so we talked about how there is never a search engine that’s perfect for every search we will ever do in our learning!

Boolify
Librarians, teachers and parents have told us how hard it is for students to understand web searching. Boolify helps students bridge that gap by visualizing the process and letting students interact with the abstract concept behind the search process in a tangible and hands-on way.

SquirrelNet
SquirrelNet is a kids only search engine that has Google SafeSearch activated. From the homepage itself, you can also access the Google directory of websites relevant for children.

Dib Dab Doo & Dilly Too!
The search engine is again based on Google Custom Search and it tries to keep the content as children friendly as possible.

Kids Click!
A web search site designed for kids by librarians – with kid-friendly results!

For the classroom teacher, I left these resources also for them to introduce to their students over the next few days.

Search Engines for Kids
– and what they search –

No Search Engine is entirely 100% safe. Custom search helps to keep out a lot of unsavory links, but it is definitely not foolproof. Most of the search engines for kids also display ads with some undesirable ones sneaking in. Parental control software in combination with these search engines can help to keep children shielded from the bad side of the web. It is a tough battle but at least with these sites, parents and teachers can worry a little less.

As with any use of technology, our lesson included strategies for what to do when the “undesirables” sneak in.  Although I “modelled” good and bad examples of what to do when faced with something “icky” (for the sake of time as I only had a 45 minute slot) – if I was to do it differently – I’d have the students work in pairs and come up with little demos of what not to do (scream at the top of your lungs) and what to do (lower your lid and raise your hand).  Kids seem to love it when I model the “what-not-to-do” examples!

Information also adapted from: Make Use Of: 10 Search Engines for Kids with Safe Browsing