FactMonster is kid’s version of InfoPlease. Currently run by Pearson Education, it’s chock full of dependable information cut down to kid’s size. Featuring lots of “homework help” features and munchkin-level explanations, this is a great place for kids to start learning to do research on their own. Also features an atlas, dictionary and encyclopedia.
InfoPlease is a great, free, internet-based almanac with a plethora of quality information about almost anything you can think of! Run by Pearson Education (of textbook-publishing fame), it has an atlas, encyclopedia, dictionary, thesaurus, “Day in History” page, and even a few more nifty tools like the periodic table and conversion tools. It’s truly a one-stop-shop for information! The clean layout and well-designed separation of sections makes finding your topic a snap. If you can’t find it here, you can’t find it anywhere! A great place to start your research.
Now that spring (or maybe early summer, considering the temperatures this past week!) has finally arrived and all of my plants are in the ground, it’s time for serious consideration of all things garden! One of my favorite sources at this time of year is The Old Farmer’s Almanac. While I always purchase a print copy at my local hardware store, the online version is also fantastic!
Continually published since Robert Bailey Thomas created the first issue in 1792, the Old Farmer’s Almanac is America’s longest continually published periodical. The new print edition comes out every September, but the website is continually updated with interesting and up-to-date tidbits on all things astronomical, meteorological, culinary, and agricultural, with a “pleasant degree of humor,” as they say on the website.
The home page has a fun variety of information including various “…. of the Day” tidbits (ex: Question of the Day, Advice of the Day, etc.), weather and moon phase information, and a calendar. The website is divided into more specific sections, there are pages dedicated to weather, moon/astronomy, gardening, best days, cooking and recipes, home/health, community, and their store. Each contains a wealth of free information and folklore that gives you the same feeling as picking the brain of your crusty, if extremely knowledgeable, country grand-uncle.
“Today in History” is a web-based almanac created by the Library of Congress, the preeminent information collector and source in the US. Every day of the year features a snapshot of an important event that happened on that date somewhere in America. Each entry includes a description of the event and various primary-source materials such a photos, maps, sound recordings, or scans of documents that come from the Library of Congress’ “American Memory” collection (which comprises over 9 million items pertaining to American history). Most of the information comes from the Library’s collection itself, but it is also supported by information from well-known history books and vetted websites. You can navigate to “yesterday” or “tomorrow” easily through links at the top of the page, or use the archive page to search for more specific topics. This is a great site for teachers, students, and researchers alike because of the proliferation of primary sources!
The David Rumsey Map Collection is a website featuring one of the largest personal collections of maps in the US. Mr. David Rumsey has committed to making his collection available online and available to the public. The website currently hosts over 54,000 items from his collection and is updated on a monthly basis. The majority of the maps are of North and South America, rare, and from the 18th and 19th centuries. However, there are some maps of the globe itself and other areas (like Europe, Asia, Africa) as well. They have a variety of kinds of maps too, like wall maps, atlases, sea charts, children’s, and pocket maps. The oldest maps are from the 1760’s and the newest the 1950’s. David Rumsey is also a software maverick. He uses his knowledge of software to display his collection in different ways. His proprietary “Luna Browser” pops up and allows users to view the entire collection or perform keyword searches across the collection.
You can also sort maps by category, browse by specialized sections like “who” “where” or “when,” or save groups of maps for later perusal. After finding and clicking on the map you wish to view, a side-bar gives the publisher/author of the map, date, a short title, location of publication, size, and brief explanation. The map scans are extremely high-resolution, so you can zoom-in and get extreme detail on each map. You can even save and download the scans. This collection is amazing! For someone who wants to find a range of sources on a single location (range of dates, types of sources, even war maps) it is a great resource!
Hi all and welcome to our second installment of Internet Library! Today I’m bringing you another fabulous dictionary that’s great for parents, teachers, kids, and ESL students. I use it regularly in my own class because of the awesome variety of features that are available (more of which are available if you subscribe).
Robert Parks wanted to create a dictionary for a general audience that combined words that were important in daily life and those important in academic life while avoiding technical jargon or unusual words that would normally be found in unabridged dictionaries. It’s larger than an abridged dictionary but smaller than an unabridged dictionary. The dictionary has several features that make it perfect for students. The dictionary is English-English, and sometimes that can be a challenge for students (even if their teachers prefer they avoid their first language). The dictionary allows you to change the level of English used in the definitions from “Beginner’s” to “Intermediate” to “Advanced.”
Beginner definitions are extremely simple and show the most commonly used definition of the word. Intermediate increases the difficulty of the definition itself and present the most common meanings and some of the lesser-known meanings. Advanced is full native English-speaker level and includes all the definitions of the word. No matter what level you view, the definitions include the headword (with notations for syllables and pronunciation), a link to word lists showing the level of word, alternate spellings, a recording of someone reading the word (EXTREMELY useful – while many students are taught how to read phonetic symbols, it’s still really hard to interpret them!), the part of speech, definition, and example sentences. Some even include pictures. Synonyms are listed in the same area as the definition, so if you have a word with multiple meanings are can choose a synonym appropriate to the meaning you choose.Each entry also includes “Word Combinations” and “Word Explorer” sections that show you how this word is combined with others to form phrases or compound words, or words that are related to it categorically. Along with the typical dictionary function, the website itself contains other fun tools for students, including ways to make glossaries, quizzes, and puzzles, as well as 4 different ways to search for words besides the regular search box (like looking for words by prefix or suffix). I love this dictionary for its amazing flexibility, and especially for the pronunciation features.
Hey all! Hope that 2015 is treating you all well so far! I’m back in action after a bit of a hiatus, and I’m starting off the new year with a series of posts called “Internet Library.” We all know that the internet is a wellspring of information, but it’s harder to say which sources are legitimate and trustworthy. Starting today, I’m going to be sharing sites that offer high-quality, vetted information for people out there who need to get good information fast. This goes way beyond Wikipedia, folks! Hope it’ll be interesting and informative for all y’all out there. All the links in the series will be archived in a new page (linked next to “Home” and “About” at the top of the blog) so you can find them all in one place.
The Merriam-Webster Visual Dictionary Online is based on the book by the same name, published by QU International. The Dictionary itself has a long history, starting back in 1982 with the partnership of two French men and a dream to create a visual dictionary. Over the years they have published many visual dictionaries, including The Junior Visual Dictionary, The New Visual Dictionary, My First Visual Dictionary, and of course, their latest and greatest, The Merriam-Webster Visual Dictionary. This dictionary is available for free online, and is a great resource for contemporary students who rely on the internet for most of their information needs. The online version is similar to the print version, featuring over 20,000 terms with 6000 color images. It’s even better than the print version because of its advanced search capabilities and pronunciation recordings for each word. There are many 2 ways to navigate the online dictionary: the first is similar to the print version. The left sidebar of the website shows the 15 themes that the dictionary is divided into, for example “Science,” “Society,” and “Transport and Machinery.” Clicking on the theme leads you to “contents” page, breaking that theme down into smaller and smaller segments, helping you to navigate towards your goal.
Clicking on the smaller themes leads you to labeled illustrations. Clicking on the word in the illustration brings you to the word and definition on the bottom of the page. The definition is rather short – it only includes a single spelling and a single definition (there is no other information, like part of speech or alternate spellings or synonyms). However, you can click on a small icon next to each word, and a recording of someone reading the word is played. You can also find your word through a Google Custom Search of the website. The web-version of the dictionary has many special features like vocabulary games, and links to Merriam-Webster software and books. This dictionary is a great resource for teachers, students, parents, or regular dictionary users!