Surfing the Net with Kids: Online Encyclopedias

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Surfing the Net with Kids: Online Encyclopedias

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Surfing the Net with Kids


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September 5, 2001

Dear Reader,

This summer I started offering my weekly topics in printable
PDF format, ideal for Internet enrichment in the classroom.
You can purchase today’s topic and other recent ones
for just $1.00 at:
Online Encyclopedias

Today’s newsletter is made possible by:

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Online Encyclopedias

Purchase a printable handout for just $1.00

Although the Internet could be viewed as one giant encyclopedia, there is one very important difference: the bulk of the Internet is written by sources with dubious credentials. When you need background information for a school paper or a research project, you not only need it quickly, you need to trust your sources. Here are my recommendations for trustworthy (and free) online encyclopedias.


Although only paying subscribers can access the full text of the hard copy Encyclopedia Britannica, visitors will still find plenty to enjoy at the free You can access the collection of condensed articles by keyword search, by browsing alphabetically, or by subject. History buffs will enjoy Britannica’s Heritage, a look at how our knowledge has evolved over the last two centuries. For example, a 1768 Britannica map of the Americas showed California as an island. And no, this wasn’t a projection of what might happen in a major earthquake.

Encarta Encyclopedia


Encarta offers 17,000 articles from their CD-ROM encyclopedia, hundreds of related multimedia clips, a talking dictionary, a world atlas, and Schoolhouse (a resource for educators.) Just for the fun of it, return to the Encarta homepage for articles on topics as varied as sharks, heatstroke, whirling dervishes and surprising facts about swimming. My favorite clicks are Quizzes (“Space: How Out of It Are You?”) and Lists (“10 Creatures You Didn’t Know Were Poisonous.”)

Encyclopedia Smithsonian


Although not strictly a general purpose encyclopedia, the Encyclopedia Smithsonian “features answers to frequently asked questions about the Smithsonian and links to Smithsonian resources on subjects from Art to Zoology.” Since there is no search function, the only way to navigate is through the rather eclectic A to Z topic listing. Using your browser Find function to search for specific words (Control-F in both Internet Explorer and Netscape) might be useful on this long index page. Although the interface is chunky, the content is first rate, so don’t let it stop you from exploring what the Smithsonian has to offer.

*** is composed of 50,000 articles from the Columbia Encyclopedia. Each entry is short but includes hyperlinked references to other encyclopedia articles, as well as links to periodicals and images in the fee-based Electric Library. A single click of the “Search Encarta” button (on the right-hand side) performs a related search at, making a good place to start your research.

Information Please


It’s an almanac. It’s a dictionary. It’s an encyclopedia. It’s Information Please: one-stop shopping for all your information needs. This site integrates the various Information Please Almanacs (sports, entertainment and general knowledge) with Random House Webster’s College Dictionary and the Columbia Encyclopedia. It can be navigated by the integrated search function, or you can browse the almanacs by navigating topics. Be sure to test out the fun and useful HotWords. Highlight any word on any Infoplease page, and then click the Hotwords button for a definition and links to related encyclopedia articles.

Surfing the Calendar

Labor Day
Sep 3, 2001
International Literacy Day
Sep 8, 2001
Roald Dahl’s Birthday
Sep 13, 1916
Pilgrims left Plymouth
England on the Mayflower

Sep 16, 1620

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Children's Illustrated Encyclopedia


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Copyright © 2001 Barbara J. Feldman

Surfing the Net with Kids

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