Sunday, December 29, 2019

January 2020 Infotopia/Kidtopia Newsletter

     Happy New Year from Infotopia, Kidtopia, Infotrek, VirtualLRC, TeacherTopia, and KidtopiaGames.  

     This month's newsletter is online as a PDF at 

This month's issue includes the following:
  • How Can I Improve My Google Searches (Part 2)
  • All About Infotrek for your upper high school and college students
  • Kidtopia:  States of Matter
  • Help Support our FREE Safe Search Engines by shopping at our new website with links to Amazon and Disney--  (It costs you no extra, but rewards us with a small commission.)

Sunday, December 15, 2019

December 2019 Infotopia/Kidtopia Newsletter

     Our December 2019 Infotopia/Kidtopia Newsletter is now online as a PDF.  This month's issue includes the following:
  • All about the Digital Public Library of America which has more than 35,000 free digital images, texts, videos and sounds, and is searchable by topic, by library, by exhibition, by primary source, by keyword, or by subject.  
  • Some great educational games recommended by Infotopia, including "Draw a Stickman" and "EdHeads."
  • Part I of the article, "How Can I Improve My Google Searches," which can be used on Infotopia or Kidtopia to improve your search techniques and improve your results.
  • Lastly, we recommend some educational games for the holidays for students in grades PK-4 from Kidtopia.

     Have a great winter/summer break (depending on your hemisphere), and we look forward to seeing you in 2020!

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

How Can I Improve My Google Searches?

     Most people agree that Google is an amazing search engine.  However, most of us just enter a word or two and look for quick results on the first page.  Most people don’t understand how truly sophisticated a Google Search can be.  By using a few simple techniques in your searches, you can have even better and more significant results from Google. 

     All of the really cool Google search tips and ideas listed below can be used on a Google Custom Search Engine, such as or  In addition to accessing resources that are age-appropriate and pre-approved by teachers and librarians, all of the search techniques below work as well. Make your searches more powerful by trying some of these amazing search tips!

·      Search for an exact word or phrase
One of the easiest ways to improve a Google search is to use quotation marks to search for an exact word or a set of words.  This works well if you are looking for a line from a book or poem, song lyrics, and if you are looking for an exact word or phrase.  Example: “For whom the bell tolls”

·      Exclude a Word or Website
One of the easiest ways for students to make a mistake when searching via Google is to use an ambiguous words or a word with several connotations.  To exclude a word, type the keyword and a space, and then type a minus or dash sign plus the word you want to exclude.  If you want to exclude a website in the results, use the same technique, but use -site: followed by the website to be excluded.  Examples:  mercury -planet or climate

·      Use a Wildcard
If you want to fill in the blank for a quotation or a phrase you are looking for, use an asterisk (*). Be sure to enclose the phrase in quotation marks. This is sometimes called a “wildcard.”  Example:  “A rose by any other*”

·      Use OR
To include several related words in a keyword search, use OR in all capital letters.  Example:  teenager OR adolescent

·      Find Definitions
Just type define: followed by the word for which you are seeking a definition.  The results will be displayed at the top of the page.  Google will offer the definition, the part of speech, the pronunciation of the word, similar and related words, the word’s origins, and translations into many other languages. Example: define:psychology
·      Correct Spelling
Just type spell: followed by the closest spelling that you know for the word.  Google will suggest a word and follow with the all the information given under “Definitions” above. Example: spell:psychologie  (Google will correct the spelling.

·      Use a Unit Convertor
Google will convert area, length, mass, pressure, temperature (Celsius vs. Fahrenheit), time, volume, currency, and more, after you type your entry into the search box.  Example: 40 euros or 32 degrees F

·      Use a Stopwatch or Timer
Just type in stopwatch, and both a stopwatch and timer will appear at the top of the results, ready for you to use.

·      Use a Calculator
Enter a math problem directly into the search box and Google will solve the problem, at the top of the results. 

·      Find the Weather
If you type weather into the search box, a box immediately pops up that shows your local seven day forecast, including temperature, precipitation, wind velocity, etc.  You can also add a different city if you are looking for the weather somewhere else in the world.

·      Do a Site Search
If you want to find an article on climate change on a specific website,  just type in site: followed immediately by the website you want to use.  Then, skip a space and type in the search keywords.   Here’s an example: climate change. You’ll find an article on climate change on the website.  You can try this with almost any website.

·      Find Related Sites
To search for related sites, just type Related: followed by the website for which you are looking for a similar site.  Example: or  

·      Search Social Media
Search social media by typing the social media site followed by a colon and the person or business you are looking for.  Example: facebook:keto or instagram:keto

·      Explore Sports
Simply type in the name of a team or player into the Google Search Box and Google will immediately display all pertinent information: the latest game, scores, news articles, standings, and the names of players.

·      Get Stock Quotes
Just type the symbol of a stock, or type stock quote and the name of the stock and you’ll get a graph of the stock prices, with detailed financial information.  You can also click on “Follow” to keep track of changes for particular stocks. Example: aapl or amz

·      Find Nutritional Information
Just type nutrition: followed by the name of the food for which you are searching. A large chart will pop up with the full nutritional information, such as total calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium, potassium, protein, vitamin information, etc. Example: nutrition:potato

·      Search for a Hashtag
Just type in a hashtag (#) and a word and you will see articles about that topic as well as Twitter links to that topic.  Try it with #winter.

·      Use Google Tabs
Whenever you perform a Google search, you will notice that a set of tabs is displayed at the top of the page.  These tabs might include images, videos, news, books, maps, shopping, or others.  If you are only searching for an image, just click on the image tab and only images will be displayed.  Tabs are an excellent way to improve your search results.

·      Search by File Type
Many Google users are not aware of this search technique.  It can be a very useful search, especially for teachers.  If you are looking for a presentation (PPT) or a document (PDF) for a certain topic, just type the keyword and a space followed by filetype:PDF or filetype:PPT.  Examples:  biomes filetype:PDF or biomes filetype:PPT.    Google will locate all the PDFs and PPTs on your chosen topic.

Other Really Cool Google Ideas

·      Use Drag and Drop Features in Google Image Search
Are you trying to identify a certain image or photograph by location or by name?  A unique feature of Google Search allows you to drag and drop the image into a Google Image Search box.  Just type in Google Images in the Google search box, click on the link, and then drag and drop the image into the Google Images search box.  Google will display and identify the image or identify similar images.

·      Translate with Google
If you type Google Translate into the search box, a free Google Translator will appear, allowing you to translate words and phrases from one language to another, with several hundred languages available.  Google Translate is also available as an app for your smart device.

·      Explore Travel Information
Type Google Flights into a Google search box and click on the link to Google Flights.  Then type the names of two airports (or their airport codes) and the dates into the search boxes.  Google will then display all the flights and the pricing available, from multiple airlines. Often, there is a link to the airlines’ websites for booking the flight directly.

·      Create a Google Alert
Are you watching for news on a certain topic?  You can set a Google Alert to send pertinent notifications to you.  An example might be to keep informed about a certain diet or a certain politician.  Type in in the Google search box. Click on the link to Google Alerts and enter the search term you for which are seeking alerts.  You can select how often you want your alerts to be sent to you, as well as the language, region, and the email to receive the alerts.

·      Employ Google Advanced Image Search
This an amazing feature offered by Google if you looking for a specific image to be used in a presentation or web page.  First, type in Google Advanced Image Search in the search box and click on the result. You can then search for an image by keyword or phrase, image size, aspect ratio, color, type of image, region, file type, and usage rights.  The usage rights will tell you if the image is free to use, share, or modify, even for commercial purposes. 

Share your comments:

·      What is your favorite Google search tip in this article? 

·      Which Google Search tip was the most surprising to you?

·      Share a unique Google Search tip that you have discovered.

·      Why is it advantageous for students to use a Google custom search engine such as Infotopia or Kidtopia rather than the full version of Google?

Sunday, November 17, 2019

November 2019 Newsletter

Our new Infotopia/Kidtopia newsletter is now online. This month features resources on the following:

  • Animal images recommended by Kidtopia 
  • Primary sources and much more about Thanksgiving
  • A recommended website for teachers, featuring new ideas in teaching and learning, critical thinking, project-based learning, technology integration, and more
  • How to find library books around the world from WorldCat
  • The advantages of for high school and college students

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

October 2019 Infotopia/Kidtopia Newsletter

Hello educators! 
Our October 2019 Infotopia/Kidtopia Newsletter is now online as a PDF. You can find it at: 

This month's issue includes the following:
Recommended health/medical resources on Infotopia
Some of our favorite technology/library blogs for teachers and librarians
Pet resources from Kidtopia
A great new app for traveling  (
All about the photos on Infotopia
Please feel free to share our newsletters with your colleagues.  
Also, just email us if you have a topic you'd like us to research.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

September 2019 Infotopia/Kidtopia Newsletter

     Our September 2019 Infotopia/Kidtopia Newsletter is now online as a PDF.
This month's issue includes the following:
  • Resources for geography and travel, including map comparisons, panoramas of various locations, how to compare and contrast country demographics, and great travel/geography photos.
  • How to easily find great public domain or fair use images for blogs, presentations or websites.
  • Resources for using international newspapers for history, geography, English, foreign language classes, and civics.
  • How to easily find information on our websites, and grade recommendations for each.
For those of you going back to school, have a great year!  (I still miss that wonderful first day of school as a teacher and librarian!)

Thursday, June 6, 2019

June, July and August 2019 Infotopia/Kidtopia Newsletter

Our newest 2019 Infotopia/Kidtopia newsletter for June, July, and August is now online at: 
This newsletter includes the following:
·      Interesting Websites for Teachers, which includes:
o   The Digital Public Library of America
o   Three great Periodic Table Websites
o   A Battleship Game using the Periodic Table
o   Teaching Ideas in Art, History, Language, Math, Science, and PreSchool
o   An online Speech Bank
o   Khan Academy
·      Flags and Countries of the World resources
·      How to practice math skills for elementary students
·      Ten ways to use Google Earth in Your Classroom
·      NASA’s free Image and Video Library

As always, all of our newsletters can be found at:           

See you in September! 

Thursday, May 16, 2019

May 2019 Infotopia/Kidtopia Newsletter

Our May 2019 Newsletter is online with the following recommended resources:
  • More recommendations from the American Association of School Librarians’ Best Websites for Teaching and Learning for 2018
  • 60 Ideas for Using Google MyMaps
  • Ideas to get your elementary students interested in drawing or painting and creating their own comics
  • PowerSearching with Google
  • Hot Topics for 2020

Sunday, March 31, 2019

April 2019 Infotopia/Kidtopia Newsletter

This month's issue includes the following:

  • The website,We Are Teachers says they have a mission to inspire teachers and help them succeed by sharing practical classroom ideas, the best freebies, and teacher-to-teacher advice and humor.
  • Need cash?  Check out an interesting article from We Are Teachers to discover 50 ways to earn cash after school or during the summer.   

Saturday, March 2, 2019

March 2019 Infotopia/Kidtopia Newsletter

     Our March 2019 Infotopia/Kidtopia Newsletter is now online as a PDF.  This month's issue includes the following:

  • All about biomes of the world
  • An update about
  • Resources on geography and travel, with information about countries, states, provinces, maps, flags, demographics, and more.
  • English Language Arts resources for all, including language arts, grammar, English and British literature, poetry, and finally, English for Speakers of Other Languages.
  • Our newly updated Kidtopia Games website.

     If you open our newsletters in Adobe, all the hyperlinks will take you to the recommended websites.  Otherwise, you can copy and paste the recommended websites into your browsers.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

February 2019 Infotopia/Kidtopia Newsletter

     Our February 2019 Infotopia/Kidtopia newsletter is now online as a PDF.  

     This month's issue includes the following:
  • How to Spot Fake News with an downloadable infographic from the International Federation of Library Associations
  • Discover a great web site for Chemistry, AP Chemistry and Biology from  It includes free downloadable powerpoints.
  • Learn all about the Virtual LRC, a search engine that has been in service (from us) since 1998. (
  • Eight amazing free websites for Teaching and Learning Math
  • The States of Matter for elementary students (from Kidtopia). (


Friday, January 4, 2019

January 2018 Kidtopia/Infotopia Newsletter

Happy New Year!

Our January 2019 Infotopia/Kidtopia Newsletter is now online as a PDF. 

This month’s issue includes the following:
·      Discover the artifacts from British Museum via an interactive timeline of history, searchable by region and subject.
·      Check out a great web resource on art and culture from Google, including zany buildings, featured themes and stories such as Vermeer and Van Gogh, Harry Potter: A History of Magic and more.
·      Discover Colonial America resources from nine different sources.
·      Watch videos from YouTube or Vimeo about how to use Infotopia or Kidtopia
·      Explore amazing online resources from your local public library, such as free tutoring, typing programs, language learning , free online courses and TEDTalks.
·      Learn about motion and force, using resources from Kidtopia.

Thanks for sharing Kidtopia and Infotopia with your colleagues. We love to hear from you!  Just send us an email at

December 2018 Kidtopia/Infotopia Newsletter

Our December 2018 Kidtopia/Infotopia Newsletter is online as a PDF.

The December newsletter links to resources on the following:
  • Natural Disasters
  • Online dictionaries thesauri, and more! 
  • Art and artists
  • Quotations
  • Science projects

November 2018 Newsletter

Our November newsletter is online as a PDF at:

  • This month's newsletter includes information about Khan Academy, an amazing resource that offers free courses in topics ranging from science to arts and the humanities.
  • Check out the resources for biographies of mathematicians and the history of mathematics.
  • Find primary sources, including famous speeches, important historical documents and more.
  • Discover Kidtopia's resources on stories for children.
  • Find out what happened in November and December in the past.