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Sparktop

Name:Sparktop

Brief Description of the Site:
This very funny site has the combined look and sound of the old penny arcades combined and video games. The colorful cartoon like animation offers something for kids and adults. Home, Explore, Create and Connect are the main categories, but those don't really tell you what to expect from this clever, funny and whacky site. Sign in as a guest or register. The site is the brainchild of the Schwab Foundation (yes, of Charles Schwab investor fame) in support of children with learning differences. Both Charles Schwab and his son struggled with reading because of dyslexia, which led him to support this creation of the site. Through an audio clip, Schwas explains the site's purpose: to showcase successful role models with LD and offer a site for children with those learning differences a virtual place to share ideas through message boards and games. There's a site map for the kids, and another one for adults, with different sections addressed to parents and teachers. This multipurpose site entertains and educates with games, activities, message boards, stories, and more.

How to use the site:
Each category has audio for those who may note be able to read it. While waiting for sections to load, games can be played. SparkTop.com tries to address some of the tougher questions children with LD ask in the Explore section, under BrainPop, such as Getting Help, Dyslexia, ADHD, and Bullying. Animated movie clips in quiz game format present solutions or discussion of some of the issues LD children face. The Create Section has a brainstorm gallery full of activities supported by sound that include writing, mixing audio, working with photos and a paint feature. Adults may have more trouble than children figuring out how to use this truly creative multimedia site which can easily become a favorite for children to visit regularly. The educational features offer suggestions for time management and organization strategies. There's even cross platform Tech Help for Macintosh and PC users. Theme of the week recordings, features offering the option to record (a popup seeking permission appears) and what seems to be a spin-off of old style radio shows add to a very interesting and even harder to describe web site. What is clear is that the site is worthwhile and has a positive message for all children. Bookmark this site and visit frequently.

Submitted by:
Joel Pineda
P.S. 56 Q in NYC