Stories Without End

February 15th, 2006 by ClickSchooling Leave a reply »

Recommended Website:

Today’s recommendation has a story behind it. :)

Back in November, 2005 I received a press release from the owner of today’s website inviting me to preview a new, commercial, educational website for children ages 4-9. What struck me about it was that the creator, Rich Gittens, designed the website mindful that cognitive stimulation physically creates and strengthens brain synapses believed to underlie the process by which learning occurs.

Gittens website includes photographs of actual fMRI brain scans depicting the brains of children undergoing various forms of cognitive stimulation (passively viewing words, reading, being read to, etc.). The photographs show the level of brain activity experienced by the child in each instance. When a child engages in all four forms of the stimuli via the activities offered at the StoriesWithoutEnd web site, much more of the brain is active, thereby creating and strengthening synapses. That is why offers incomplete stories — a new one every week — that parents read with their children. The children use their creative imaginations to complete the stories.

I visited the website and found the information on brain function and neurotransmitters fascinating. The free, sample story about Bully Badger encourages parents and children to read the story together online, and then use the power of imagination and creative process to develop fun story endings.

In reviewing the site and providing feedback to Mr. Gittens, I made some suggestions for additions to the site that I thought would help parents and kids get more educational mileage from the stories including a narration component, an online dictionary, printable coloring pages, and some fun, interactive puzzles or word games using the vocabulary in the stories. I submitted my recommendations. To my utter astonishment, a few weeks later I received another note from Mr. Gittens that said, “Your suggestions were excellent and as you will see we have implemented a number of them.” (!)

Not only that, but added a “Best Endings Competition” that will be held every three months to find the most creative ending to a particular story. Three winners will be chosen and U.S. Savings Bonds will be awarded. Winning stories will be professionally illustrated, printed and bound, and the child’s name will appear on the cover as the author. Also, the child’s name and picture will appear on the Web site and each winning family will receive five completed books.

Access to the stories and activities at the site is available via subscription at a cost of $9.95 per month.

HOWEVER, you can access the FREE sample story and activities from the “Parent’s Page” at the website. Don’t miss the information on synapses, neurotransmitters, and brain function by clicking on the word “synapses” on the home page. You can also click on “brain scans” to see functional magnetic resonance imaging scans of children’s brains in action. That part of today’s site is all free and fascinating.

By the way, Mr. Gittens included a comment I made in my review of his website on the StoriesWithoutEnd site. Just in case you wonder — I do not receive any remuneration for my reviews, and am not affiliated with StoriesWithoutEnd in any way. I will say this, Mr. Gittens is certainly open to receiving comments about the site. If you visit, and like it or have suggestions for improvement, I think he’d like to hear from you. :)


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