Product Review of National Archives
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) website features legal and historical records, documents, and other materials from the federal government, which learners can use for personal or academic research. Some, such as microfilm holdings, have to be viewed at a physical NARA location; however, kids will get immediate online access to many informational items, ranging from census records to presidential executive orders.
They can learn about specific archive-related topics, such as preservation programs, and find out how to conduct genealogy research by looking up family members’ military service records and other notation. They can also obtain historical documents, like the Constitution, and items that relate to key historical events, such as the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Many pages contain an FAQ list with search tips or other information.
It’s possible for fourth-graders and up to use the site, but older middle and high school learners will probably get the most out of it as they build serious research skills. A section for educators features visuals that can be used to describe key historical events in classroom presentations, such as education-oriented YouTube videos on topics like the Civil Rights movement. Historically based images, videos, and audio files that are tied to Google Maps can be used to give learners a view of the past and present.
The site offers creative classroom activities, such as topic-based ideas to teach the Constitution and document analysis worksheets that educators can use for student group work. Teachers and learners can also download and distribute ebooks on topics like the history of baseball and access online exhibits that provide a detailed look at historical documents and eras. A blog in the Teachers’ Resource section also provides updates on new teaching tools, field trip ideas, and professional development workshops.
The site wasn’t necessarily created with kids in mind; you won’t see bright colors or other elements that make it feel like it was designed for younger users. But its content can be used to help kids learn about history, the U.S. population, government, and genealogy, among other topics, and kids can use the site to conduct research for papers, reports, and other assignments. It’s also exciting for kids to see that this is the way the U.S. catalogs its info, and that they can access really important documents.
NARA’s site isn’t really structured in a way that makes it easy for users to roam for random facts. You have to enter a search term to find information in many sections, so it works best if you know what you’re looking for. However, even if kids aren’t trying to track down a specific document, they’ll still find plenty of interesting reading material, thanks to NARA’s blogs, genealogy research, and other additional resources. Teachers will, too; NARA’s site includes a Teachers’ Resources section with lesson plans and other classroom materials.
Overall User Consensus About the App
Although it doesn’t feel like it was designed specifically for kids (it’s visually pretty dry), this site can be a valuable resource, and kids will have fun conducting personalized searches for family genealogy and other information.
Curriculum and Instruction
Kids can access an incredible wealth of historical, genealogical, and other research information. It would be nice if they could give or get feedback; aside from monitored blog comments, there’s no place to share opinions or ideas.
Helpful resources for educators to use the site effectively. Blogs provide regular updates, and kids can access social media pages for NARA and related organizations. A kid-oriented community would be welcome.