Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Colonial Williamsburg Kids Zone

Colonial Williamsburg Kids Zone

Fall 2008 Website
Tourism sites with areas for kids abound, but few are as well designed, educational and out-and-out fun as this one. The creators of the Colonial Williamsburg Kids Zone clearly took the time necessary to figure out what would both captivate their young audience and encourage them to participate in the site. Multicultural, modern characters welcome visitors and introduce them to historical figures and areas around Colonial Williamsburg. An interactive "Tour the Town" map (requires Flash player) allows for building-by-building exploration with layers of increasingly detailed information available without being overwhelming.

Other interactive games and activities include a challenging "Drum Corps Tryout" where even the adults playing required assistance from the online helper; "Pardon or Pillory" - a colonial version of hangman; and "Name that Founding Father." Humorous sound effects add to the fun without being offensive. A Parents and Teachers section is packed with valuable information for adults, including electronic field trips, study visits, lesson plans and the option to subscribe to a free e-newsletter and Teacher Gazette.

The site uses sound and text throughout. However, as the text is dominant, the site is best used by children who are able to read. The sound is easily disabled, and any content provided via audio is repeated in text. The design is carefully rendered, quite attractive and usable, and is a strong educational tool. While there are numerous navigational options, helpful pop-up instructions guide you at each step.

Fran Wilde   ©2008 Parents' Choice
Fran Wilde is a writer, 3D simulation and web developer, and educator. She is an Interactive and Immersive Narrative Designer with Rezzable Inc. of London, England, was the Director of Web Services at The Park School in Baltimore, MD, for 10 years, and taught web design and programming at both Loyola College and at the University of Baltimore's Interactive Design and Information Architecture program. Her freelance clients include schools, corporations, and non-profit groups. She edits a group blog about family travel,, just for fun. Fran and her family currently live in Philadelphia, PA.

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