Would you like to take your child for a trip around the world with little or no money? If so, just boot up your computer and let the exploration begin. The Internet has a host of sites, some even childfriendly, that contain information about countries around the globe. So tie up your purse strings and get ready for the ride.
FOR THE LITTLE ONES
Need something entertaining, yet educational? World Surfari
(www.supersurf.com) should fit the bill. Each month, this site highlights a different country by showcasing its history, census data, maps and photographs. In the Fun from Afar section of the site, visitors can participate in various activities that reinforce facts about the featured country. Also, check out the Say Hi! From Your Country! section, which posts messages from kids all over the globe. World Surfari was created by 11-year-old Brian Giacoppo, who knows just how to keep youngsters occupied.
To let your child’s imagination run wild in a site filled with international fantasy and fun, visit Encyclopedia Mythica (www.pantheon.org/mythica). It contains informative and simple descriptions of mythology, folklore and more than 3,000 gods, goddesses, legendary creatures and supernatural beings from all over the world. The site’s image gallery contains vivid photographs and illustrations from eight mythologies, including Chinese, Egyptian, Greek, Japanese, Mayan, Persian and Roman. Should your youngster require additional information, the site enables users to search by name, phrase and single words.
FOR BIGGER KIDS
Older children and their parents can get a wealth of information about various countries from the Web of Culture (www.worldculture.com). This site contains direct links to numerous countries and highlights various aspects of culture, such as religion, language, gestures, food, and money. The Amigos de E-mail section lets your child respond to requests from classes and students seeking e-mail correspondents. In addition, the Question Corner encourages students to inquire about the cultural nuances of a particular nation or ethnic group. All inquiries are answered by the site’s staff.
If your child cares more about information than entertainment, go directly to the Library of Congress: Countries Studies (http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/cshome.html#toc). This site is not about fun and games but contains extensive information on 85 countries. Each country study has a profile, historical summary, environmental analysis, economic update and political overview. The site is an excellent research tool, especially since users have the ability to locate obscure data and generate a list of countries that share similar characteristics.
Some international Web sites pride themselves on being short and sweet, like the World Book of Holiday Traditions (www.mgfx.com/holidays/contents.htm). This site lists each monthly holiday and asks its international users to share how they celebrate these various holidays. The World Flag Database (http://flags.mmcorp.com/ index.asp) is also straightforward. It provides numerous pictures of national flags and contains brief information about each country.
No international adventure is complete unless your child makes a new friend. In Yahooligans!: Around the World: People (www.yahooligans.com/Around(underbar)the(underbar)World/ People), your child can look at the home pages of children from various countries and select a new buddy. Once they’ve made a selection, they can