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At school, as part of their English class, students sometimes have to plan, research and prepare projects. These projects are great ways to find out about the world while practising English. They also help children develop research skills. How can you help your children with their project work?

Web quests

Web quests are online projects that help children to practise their research skills. In a web quest you use the Internet to find the answers to questions connected to a topic. It can be a lot of fun.

When you do a web quest, it is a good to try it out yourself first – if you have time. That way you can see how easy or difficult it is. You can give some advice to your child about the best way to do the web quest activities.

Here are some web quests for you to try with your children.
Web Quest 1: The Olympics (PDF, 52KB)
Web Quest 2: The Science Museum (PDF, 138KB)
Web Quest 3: Around the UK (PDF, 395KB)
Web Quest 4: The Aztecs (PDF, 84KB)
Web Quests 1-4 Answers (PDF, 47KB)
This video explains how to do web quests with your child.



Starting a web quest with your child

Do not go online straight away. First look at the web quest materials and read through the instructions. Talk about the topic with your child. Ask them to try to guess some of the answers. Discuss where to look for the information and how to search for it.

Skimming and scanning skills

There are two reading skills that are useful for your children to practise in order to help them research material – they are called skimming and scanning.

Imagine your child wants to find out about the Science Museum in London. If you search for 'science museum' you find many websites – but which is the one you need? You need to skim the website page you are directed to, to see if it is useful or not.

When you have the right website, your child can then scan it for specific facts or information.

Where exactly is the Science Museum?
When is it open?
How much does it cost to get in?

Useful websites

Here are some useful general information websites. They are fun to browse with safe and appropriate content. They are also good places to begin web searches.

Wikipedia http://www.wikipedia.org/
Simple English Wikipedia http://simple.wikipedia.org
Encyclopaedia Britannica http://www.britannica.com/
BBC Learning http://www.bbc.co.uk/learning/
British Council – Learn English http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/

Other simple projects

There are different ways to do a project. Children can do simple projects at home. They can collect information about an interesting topic, for example food, music or sport. It can be from magazines, places they have visited, the internet, or by asking other people. They can use all the information they find to make an interesting poster, book or display. This is something you can do at home.

Planning

Projects need ideas. And projects need planning. Talk to your child about different ways of getting ideas and displaying information. Here are some ways they can plan their work before and during their research.

Spidergrams

Water Spots spidergramA spidergram is a good way to think of examples connected to a topic – and to write those ideas down on paper quickly.

Write the topic in a circle in the middle of the page. This is the 'body' of the spider.

Draw lines out from the centre. Write an example on each line. These are the 'legs' of the spider.

Mind maps

Chocolate spidergramA mind map is a good way to order and organise ideas. With a mind map, you can plan in detail and see the 'big picture' at the same time.

The topic is in the middle of the page. It is connected to sub-categories. Each subcategory contains different examples.

Mind maps work best if they are colourful.

Researching online

Finding the right information on the Internet is not always easy. There are millions of websites to choose from! Before your child starts looking, talk about what she needs. It is important to learn how to use the right search words.

What kind of information do you need?
Where can you find it?
What are the best search words to use?