Hi, I'm Eric Gyllenhaal, Aaron's and Ethan's Daddy. I developed this Website for younger kids to use together with their parents. My target audience for Cicada Hunt! is families who find cicadas -- nymphs, shed skins, or adults -- and then search the Web to learn more about them. I'll know the site is a success if these families leave their computers behind, go back outside, and hunt for more cicadas!
On this page I talk about three topics:
My inspiration for Cicada Hunt! came from several sources:
I learned something new! Last year, for the
first time in my fifty years, I went hunting for live cicada nymphs.
I had been picking up shed skins for most of my life, but I never realized
what great fun it could be to catch live nymphs, until my kids and I started
finding them on the sidewalks near our home.
Surfing with my kids. My kids love surfing the
Web in search of the things they love -- but there aren't many
subject-specific Websites designed especially for young kids. This
site tries to fill that gap, for at least one subject.
Reading with my kids. My kids also love books
-- especially picture books about their passions. However, we couldn't
find many children's books about cicadas.
Meeting other parents. Every once in awhile I
get to talk with other parents who have kids like mine -- but I haven't
found too many in my neighborhood. By using this Website as a lure, I
hope to reach other parents who support their children's passionate
interests in nature. If you are one of those parents, please e-mail me
Thinking about my parents. My Mom died recently, and my Dad died ten years before her. I've been thinking about the things they did to support my childhood passions, and about the ways I've grown to follow in their footsteps. My Dad, for instance, took me on a special trip to see 17-year locusts when I was in my early teens. This site is dedicated to their memories.
I don't know how other parents use the Web with their young children, so I've based Cicada Hunt! on what seems to work for me and my kids. Here are some rules I've been following as I develop this site:
Tell a story. Make it a true story, about a
real person that the target audience can identify with.
Tell it with photos. Use lots of large,
detailed photos, even thought they take time to download. (Make it
like a children's science book!)
Use words to support the photos, and not the other
Write to be read aloud. That's not my natural
style, so I have to work hard to get it right. But I really want
people to read my words aloud, to young children.
Keep sentences short, but don't avoid all sophisticated
words. Passionate kids need a large vocabulary, so they can talk
about their interests.
Keep it simple, but not too simple. Kids with
passionate interests want to know the details, even if they can't always
understand sophisticated ideas.
Don't be afraid to go deep! To my way of
thinking, the Web was designed to satisfy people with deep interests.
But I'm finding that what's deep for a young child is much different than
what's deep for an adult professional -- it's much more about depth of
experience than about depth of professional knowledge.
Connect to the real world. Tell stories that
give kids and parents ideas about things they can do in their homes and
neighborhoods -- and provide background and materials that will give deeper
meaning to the things they may already be doing.
Include activities -- especially things you can print!
My kids love to print things using the computer!
Help young kids surf on their own. Both
my kids want to use the computer on their own. I've been experimenting
with a simple, graphical navigation bar that will help pre-readers and early
readers explore this Website on their own (but with parents reading over
their shoulders and keeping them out of trouble!)
Don't give advice, just share experiences.
Maybe I've read too many books and articles about parenting -- I'm just
burned out on the whole concept of getting and giving advice! I'll
tell you what we did, but I don't know you, your kids, or your
situation. It's up to you decide what, if anything, you will do with
what I tell you.
Learn from experience. I'm stumbling along with
my Canon PowerShot S10 digital camera and Microsoft FrontPage 2000, trying
new things and then trying to learn from my mistakes. Any feedback
from you would help make things better. Again, here's my address:
Currently, I'm a stay-at-home Dad who works part-time as a museum consultant. Here's some more background information:
Copyright 2001 Eric D. Gyllenhaal
Table of Contents
Cicada Hunt! is part of the Salt the Sandbox Web.
For more information visit the Salt the Sandbox home page.
This page was created on February 18, 2001, and it was last updated on October 7, 2001.