Learning government information can be viewed as a daunting task. Most people know government information exists, or can name a government document, but struggle to properly explain or grasp the sheer scope of it. Government information typically gets associated with politics, political science or history. Often viewed as a subject rather than a type of information, government information covers all subjects and is considered a credible and reliable resource. Educators can trust the information presented to be accurate. Government information is also presented in fun engaging ways specifically designed for adults and children. One of the engaging techniques used for children are games.
Many federal agencies create education resources specifically for children and educators. Tracking down all these learning activities can be laborious. Luckily, there are some tricks and resources available to make the process easier. The Indiana State Library’s Indiana Federal Documents blog recently published a Games & Activities page within the Children’s Resources subject guide. Most of the games are targeted for elementary and middle school students and are either standalone games or activities with a accompanying lesson plans. It is important to note that some games require a specific internet browser (e.g., Google Chrome) in order to play. Below are just a few examples of federal agencies creating games designed to engage and educate children.
Recognized by the American Library Association as A Great Website for Kids, Ben’s Guide to the U.S. Government features learning adventures and games create improve student’s understanding of the federal government. The games test students’ knowledge of geography and understanding of the three branches of government. It also has activities designed for various age groups. The website is an excellent resource to begin teaching children about the federal government and civics.
NASA Kid’s Club is a great website that is presented in a fun and engaging layout with games and activities for elementary age kids to learn about NASA and space. The clubhouse has five games that range from easiest, level 1, to hardest, level 5. All the games support national education standards in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, also known as STEM. The Kid’s Club also includes Info for Parents, Teachers and Caregivers that provide an overview of the games along with related resources to explore.
Ready.gov Kids was created to teach children about natural and manmade disasters. Through games and activities, the website helps them learn about how to prepare themselves and their family in case a disaster occurs. The games page tests kids on a wide range of emergencies and explains how to build an emergency kit through Disaster Master and Build a Kit online games. Ready Kids also features a Resource Library filled with helpful activities, resources and tools.
These three examples represent just a sample of games available on federal web sites. The Games & Activities page also includes links to games from the U.S. Mint, CIA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. census and more. All the games are designed to educate children on a particular subject or topic. The page does not represent every game or activity available online. It is not uncommon for webpages or games disappear or get moved to a new site, so keeping a guide current can sometimes be challenging. There are tips one can use to search for a particular game or agency.
Targeted searching can help potentially uncover new resources or activities. USA.gov is an excellent starting point to search for government information. The site allows researchers to search through all available government websites to find information. Keyword searches for “game” or “kids” yield several results from federal – and some state – agencies. One can also use Google to search for a particular government department or agency and include kids in their keyword search to see if a children or education section exists. If those searching tips do not yield a positive outcome, contacting a federal documents librarian can help confirm what is available. Happy playing!
This blog post was written by Indiana State Library federal documents coordinator Brent Abercrombie. For more information, contact the Reference and Government Services at 317-232-3678 or via “Ask-A-Librarian.”