Young people are spending more and more time on devices. Kids between the ages of eight and 12 spend nearly six hours online daily on average. Although this statistic seems quite high, it is important to consider what children are doing online.
There are many educational websites and online games that teach children about nature, the climate crisis, or how to recycle. Unfortunately, some of these are not all that engaging, judging from my kid’s responses to them. Others teach about the natural world but don’t specifically teach young people about living greener lives.
Let’s explore some of the best green websites for young people.
Super Sorter is an engaging game that takes children to a materials recovery facility to sort mixed recyclables. Plastic bottles, glass containers, and cardboard boxes appear on a conveyor belt where they must be sorted by one of four different technologies. Each sorter specializes in capturing different types of materials so players purchase and place the sorters strategically to have the highest recovery rate.
After watching kids play this game, it does seem to genuinely teach the concept that specific infrastructure is needed to have high recovery rates for single-stream recycling. It is ideal for late elementary age students and older.
PBS Nature Games
The PBS Kids website has a collection of nature games for elementary school-aged kids with a variety of themes. Gamers learn about ecosystems, bird species, constellations, soil health, geography, and more while playing. The object of the games is sometimes being a steward of nature or the environment, like managing renewable energy production, feeding winter birds, and creating wildlife habitat.
Much of the information is offered as a narrative during the game, which some kids might tune out. If nothing else, kids will gain exposure to certain vocabulary that could be helpful later on. These games are ideal for elementary-age children and often don’t require the ability to read.
National Geographic Kids
The National Geographic Kids website has a variety of resources that teach children about different animal species, planets, and special places. Kids can take a pledge to cut back on the use of disposable plastic, learn about amazing animals, or test their knowledge on a given topic with a quiz.
Rich graphics help keep this site interesting to kids, but aside from the videos, many activities require an ability to read. This website is ideal for late-elementary-age students and older. Most early-elementary-age children will need some help from an adult but will likely find the content interesting.
Ranger Rick is an interactive website that teaches children about different animals, provides instruction on craft projects, and has some jokes and games. Like National Geographic Kids, the website has excellent graphics and is well organized for young users.
Although Ranger Rick teaches children about the natural world, the website doesn’t necessarily teach children much about more sustainable lifestyle choices and conservation. One year of full access is $10. Because many activities require an ability to read, most early-elementary-age kids will need some assistance from an adult.
This post was originally published on August 15, 2019.