Today’s students have many alluring options on the Internet when it comes to researching topics for school projects. A database is likely not the first place they will go. Admittedly, there is often a slight learning curve when figuring out how best to accomplish a search in a particular database, but with just a little work up front, students can relax knowing that all of their results are authoritative and reliable. Why not get kids to see the benefits of databases at an early age with a fun and intuitive format? Kids Info Bits does just that! Read on to learn how.
This database is meant for youngsters (K-8) and is laid out in a way that is simple and easy to follow. Imagery and bright colors make the experience a bit livelier, and results are from authoritative kid-friendly sources. If kids can become accustomed to searching in databases early on, hopefully they will be more likely to continue returning to databases for trustworthy and accurate results!
Here is a sample of just a few of the resources available on this database:
Blackbirch Encyclopedia of Science and Innovation
Junior Worldmark Encyclopedias
Highlights for Kids
I’ll start out with a quick example to show how this database is organized. If I was looking for information on Mount Kilimanjaro, I could either type the term into the search box at the top of the page or make my way there by clicking on categories (Geography–Mountains, Deserts, and other Land Formations–Mount Kilimanjaro). The category search is useful if a child is assigned a more general topic, and they want to see what information is offered before making a choice on what to write about. Take a second to browse through a few categories to see what is offered. Once we’re looking at the Mount Kilimanjaro page, we see a list of three results. Don’t get discouraged, though! These are only the reference results. By clicking on the other colored tabs you can find results from magazines and newspapers, as well as maps and images. If a tab is “greened out” (as is the case with charts and graphs), there are not any results in that category.
Shapes next to results indicate the reading level of the material. Green circles are the easiest, suitable for K-2+ children. Orange triangles are considered to be most appropriate for grades 3-5+. Other icons at the end of each result provide further indications, such as whether there is an image in the article or whether it can be downloaded as a PDF. If, in the course of perusing your results, you decide you’d rather focus on a different topic, you can easily navigate backward using the “breadcrumb trail” that is laid out in purple at the top of the page.
Kids can listen to articles using the “Listen” icon at the top left of an article page, look up difficult words in a built-in Dictionary, and save favorite articles in “My Backpack” for later. The advanced search provides built in Boolean operators (And, Or, Not), and results can be limited by date, document type, and reading level. Be advised that selecting a certain date range will automatically limit your results to only newspapers and magazines.
-To view a PDF of all of the magazines included in this database, you can go to Help (at the bottom of the page) and then click on the link to List of Sources. Next, if you click “Links to Periodical Sources” and scroll down to Kids Info Bits, you can view Excel spreadsheets with both Reference and Periodical sources. When looking at the Periodical sources, be sure to look at the full text index dates as well.
-Items in “My Backpack” are only available for one session. The next time you access the database, the backpack will be empty again.
-The basic search box at the top of the page is a subject search by default, so certain terms might be a little tricky to look up. For example, if you type “thunderstorm” into the search box, you get a result for “thunderstorm forecasting” that only has two articles. If you type “thunderstorms” you get a basic entry for thunderstorms with 44 results. In the first situation you would need to click “See Also- related subjects” to find the results you might have expected. This is just something to keep in mind when using this resource.