Government information for kids and teens

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Did you know that agency websites usually have a component designed for kids?

Did you know that agency websites usually have a component designed for kids?

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  • The general sense of librarians is government information is difficult to use and geared toward adults.But the government is also for kids and takes the role of education and civic ownership seriously.Game plan is to: look at some interesting government websites geared for kids (which can be helpful in the classroom or for parents to look at with their kids)Look at a couple of great educator-oriented government websites (with lesson plans and learning objects)Look at tools for older kids and teens—some cream of the crop resources for student projects.Warning: I will show you a ton of sites; slides will be posted; want to give an overview of scope and some new ideas
  • Government mandate (Clinton era) to have government sites targeted to kids to raise student interest in government. Some are fabulous, some are a little odd.Some teach & introduce concepts at a elementary or high-school level, some provide guidance (social, career), some talk about the work of government agencies at a level that kids can is a good starting point website that will point to great kid- and educator-oriented websites.
  • Another great starting point.MontanaKids is the MT portal for child-oriented government information.Very much geared as a kid-friendly site.Library Media Infozone?
  • Kids sites can be really informative.Example: Good science info at a kid’s level.
  • Another example of a good science-oriented site
  • Fantastic astronomy siteLots of thought went into kid-friendly designBreakdown in resources by age/audience (including educators section)
  • Ben’s Guide desperately needs an update (and is getting one).Core, civics information about government structure and processes.
  • Another good “basic Americana” site is the LoC site for kids.A more basic approach than the American Memory collection (which we’ll talk about in a bit & which could be good for teens)
  • Some dead links, but covers a different areaResources for students & educatorsHomework help goes to recommended linksGeneral info about what the BLM does and potential careers with the BLM
  • Some kids sites serve a social purpose.Provide kids with a concept of how to handle emergency/scary situations
  • Another “social” purpose site: government can help teens with career planning
  • Another “purpose” siteMixes basic health information (fitness, nutrition, illness) with self-esteem oriented informationGuidance on emotions, relationships (especially abuse in relationships), bullying, career planning
  • Some kids’ sites are really unexpected.
  • This came up as a suggestion/questionin a session I was teaching. Sure enough, there’s an ATF site for kids.
  • A few more focused on educatorsTerrific curricular materialsDoes not seem to list grade levels for, first site we looked at, also has an educator’s tab for teaching tools and sites with lesson plans
  • Middle school students and teens need government information too.While some of the preceding sites will work for older students (like the NASA site and the Girls’ Health site), many of them are pitched too young to be appealing to tweens and teens.Here are some “grown-up” but accessible government sites that will help students with projects and homework.
  • Talked about this last week—good starting site for many age groups (middle school through lifelong learners and professionals)Recommends robust government sites by topicSearch function searches all federal and state governments for relevant web pages (can also limit to federal or state only)
  • I’ll try to group these sites by class subject or type of info. First: sites for statistics, because many types of student reports could use some data from trusted sites.Good starting point for any statistical workPoints to more detailed dataCurrent version online, easy access to earlier editionsDownloadable data tables
  • The best place to start when looking for Montana-oriented data (especially population or demographic data and economic data).
  • Two sites I use a fair amount for statistics work
  • A couple of subject-specific examples (beyond basic demographic data)Many agencies will have statistics sub-agenciesFedStats will point you to these, but they are somewhat intuitive (Dept. of Energy has an Energy stats branch, Department of Labor collects Labor Statistics, Department of Education has NCES).
  • Several parts of the Dept. of Health and Human Services collects health-oriented data.Officially under the CDC.
  • UVA has a great site for quick and easy access to basic, historic demographics
  • Science websitesGovernment has tons of great science sites that are accessible to the general public (accessible in terms of being written in layperson’s language)Looked at kids-oriented EPA site; “adult” version is also very easy to useDemonstrate “My environment” piece
  • Climate change is a common topic in schools—several government sites with relevant information
  • Good for biology classes
  • Two great sites for overview informationUseful for nurses for overview info they can share with patientsDetailed, but accessibleMedlinePlus especially good for referring to further information (and pointing to credible sources)
  • points to some core initiatives & sites (like gets into labeling
  • History and government projects (some overlap, so I’ll push these together)Probably familiar to many librariansBeautiful site with loads of fascinating contentAll sorts of media, time periods, subjects
  • Nice starting point for students of Montana history (probably familiar)Wiki is a good spot for quick facts
  • Huge series (20+ shelves?). All scanned.Primary source material from the Civil War.Read field reports and reports of generals.
  • Database of recordsHugely usefulEspecially helpful for questions on archaeology & MT history questionsGives a more visual perspective to how Montana used to look
  • The CIA has a fascinating collection of declassified historic documents on its website.Mishmash, but would be interesting to studentsA juicier version of history
  • Begins to bridge History and government classes
  • Another site that is useful for history and government classes
  • Will talk about these more in depth next week.Some are easy to use, some take a little practice, but are worthwhile.
  • Follow the Money: tool for seeing financial contributions in state politics (who is donating campaign money, where campaign funding comes from in state races). Fills a gap that FEC fills for national campaigns.Open Secrets: federal counterpart to Follow the Money; good information on lobbying and influenceVery easy to use; great graphics
  • Open CRS is a non-profit site (not governmental) that gathers CRS reports from multiple sources.Government products, but not readily accessible to the public.Marvelous overviews of hot-button political topics


  • 1. Government Information for Kids (and Teens)
  • 2.
    Organized by grade levels
    Highlights good government science websites for kids
  • 3. Montana Kids
    Fun facts about Montana
    Good information about agriculture & business in Montana
  • 4. Federal Kid-friendly sites
    Most agencies have a student-oriented site
    Example: EPA Student Center (
  • 5. Ocean Explorer
    Media-rich, includes lesson plans & details of explorations
  • 6. NASA for Students
    Detailed information on space exploration
    Kid-friendly interface, media-rich
    Teaching tools
  • 7. Ben’s Guide
    Working on a redesign
    Classic source for civics information
  • 8. America’s Library
    Library of Congress site with a focus on history and famous Americans
    Games, stories, & media files
  • 9. Smithsonian Kids Zone
    Online exhibits, games, & activities in art, science, & history
  • 10. BLM Learning Landscapes
    Classroom activities, homework helpers, about the BLM
  • 11. Ready Kids
    Kid-oriented information on planning for emergencies
    Making “just-in-case” family plans
    What should go in an emergency kit
    Facts about different kinds of emergencies
  • 12. Bureau of Labor Statistics
    Aimed more at teens: career guidance
    Links to the Occupational Outlook Handbook for more information
  • 13.
    Merges health information with social information
    Self-esteem tools
  • 14. National Security Agency (NSA) Cryptokids:
  • 15. Alcohol, Tobacco, & Firearms (ATF)
  • 16. Federal Resources for Educational Excellence (FREE)
    Provides curricular materials by subject
  • 17. USGS and Education
    Example of robust government site supporting education
    Lesson plans, handouts, posters, images
  • 18. Useful sites for teens & tweens
    Student Project Resources
  • 19.
    Good browse options :
  • 20. Statistical Abstract of the U.S.
  • 21. Montana Census & Economic Information Center
    Fantastic site for quick access to Montana demographic and economic data
  • 22. FedStats
    Census: Subjects A to Z
    Other Starting Points
  • 23. Energy Information Administration (EIA)
    • Current & historical data on energy sources, prices, & consumption:
    • 24. Energy outlooks
    • 25. Information by energy source
    • 26. Renewable & alternative fuel data
    • 27. Household energy use
  • Health Statistics
    • National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS):
    • 28. Core vital statistics (birth, disease incidence, death)
    • 29. Data on health care trends
    • 30. SAMHSA:
    • 31. Data on mental health & substance abuse
    • 32. CDC Data & Statistics:
    • 33. Quick links to core tools like Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System & Health, United States
  • Historical Census Browser
    A University of Virginia project
    State and county data for common topics, 1790-1960
  • 34. Environmental Protection Agency
    EPA website:
    Always a good place to start for environmental topics
    “My Environment” functions are powerful
    Data on air, water, Superfund sites, etc.
  • 35. Climate Science Resources
    National Climatic Data Center (NCDC):
    Free access to detailed climate data for users from .gov, .edu, .k12, .mil, and .us domains
    U.S. Climate Change Science Program:
    Key climate change reports
    EPA :
    Links to policy documents
    Information on climate factors
  • 36. National Park Service
    Nature & Science:
    Terrific site with biological, geological, and general environmental information
    Air & water quality data
    Noise monitoring information
    Wildlife management
  • 37. Consumer-oriented Health Information
    Consumer-oriented side of Medline
    Overview information on conditions
    Medical encyclopedia & dictionary
    Descriptions of drugs, supplements, and herbal remedies
    Health library describing illnesses and treatments
    Drug interaction checker
  • 38. Nutrition & Wellness
    Quick links to dietary guidelines & other nutrition info
    Portal to multi-agency health initiatives
    Tips for nutrition, physical activity, & prevention
    Aggregates best practices info from several agencies
    Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition:
  • 39. American Memory
    Wonderful digital collections of manuscripts, photos, scores, oral histories, music, etc.
  • 40. Montana Historical Society
    A Student Guide to the Study of the State
    Montana History wiki:
  • 41. Making of America
    Making of America:
    The Cornell site has the War of the Rebellion series for the Army and Navy.
  • 42. Bureau of Land Management
    General Land Office records:
    Land Patent search for all available states
    Plat maps for some states (not Montana)
    Montana plat maps:
  • 43. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
    Electronic Reading Room:
    Family Jewels
    Psychological warfare
    Space weapons
    Memos about other countries
  • 44. American Presidency Project
    American Presidency Project:
    Public papers of the Presidents: Washington to Obama
    Speeches: Inaugural addresses, Fireside Chats, debates
  • 45. Senate Library
    Virtual Reference Desk produced by Senate Library
    Interesting facts about Congress & helpful glossary
  • 46. Core sites for Civics/Government Projects
    White House
    GPO Access
    Supreme Court
  • 47. Sites for Government Projects
    Follow the Money
    Open Secrets
  • 48. Congressional Research Service (CRS)
    Open CRS:
    Surprisingly difficult to get CRS reports
    Government-funded “think tank” analysis of policies, issues, trends
  • 49. Jennie Burroughsjennie.burroughs@umontana.edu406-243-4548
    Need a hand?
    Contact me.