It’s not inherently local. But I bet it’s something you DO every day. Google.

You may or may not know that I’m an educational technologist by day, parent blogger by night. I was facilitating a Google workshop this afternoon (run by Dr. Howie DiBlasi at the 2010 ISTE Conference) for some wonderful Philly educators, and realized that you, the not-so-average-wonderful-parent-trying-to-balance-family-and-work-and-life-fabulous-(cool)-progeny reader might benefit from some Google tips and tricks. After all, today’s super parent needs as many magic tricks as you can get.

So here are a few great Google tools for parents:

Google Alerts: Allows you to monitor subjects you’d like to get regular alerts/updates. Safety recalls? Local news? Favorite sports team? Custom news delivered to your inbox. Don’t even have to remember to go to your customized Google homepage.

Google Wonder Wheel: Mommy-brain setting in? Can only come up with one key word and you’re NOT getting the results you want? The Wonder Wheel will literally work wonders. Enter your search term on the main google page. When your results pop up, you’ll see a handy little button on the left hand of the screen that says: “show search tools.” Click on that, and then scroll down to “wonder wheel.” Using a visual word web, it’ll suggest other search terms or related searches. Mommy-brain crisis averted.

Google Custom Search: Create a custom search engine that only searches websites YOU want. When you find a great parent resource site, add it to your custom search engine. Help yourself wade through the the information junk (and yes, there is junk) out there. Have young kids learning the art of searching at home? Then create a custom search tool for them to use with age appropriate, parent-approved websites. Have you already set one up for your home? Love to hear what you included!

Google Reader: Organize your info intake without overwhelming yourself. Google Reader will save you a lot of time searching for blogs and checking your favorite sites everyday. It compiles your most-read and starred items in one simple interface.

Google Product Search: Need something? Anything? Enter what you’re looking for into this beta search engine and the products (along with pictures and vendor info) will display in an easy-to-read interface. Sort by search result relevance, price or rating. No more searching multiple megasites for the best price!

Google Sightseeing: We all know about Google Earth. You probably even have it downloaded on your SmartPhone. But if you’re planning a trip sometime soon, check out Google Sighseeing. Enter your destination into the search field and see what pops up!

Google Sky: Figure out what that constellation is that your 4 year old keeps pointing out during your summer star gazing.

Dig a Hole Through the Earth: Just for fun – – and education. Is your child digging a hole to China in the backyard? Use this handy Google Earth tool to find out where they would end up if they drilled through the Earth’s core from your house! (Digging from Baltimore? You’re going to end up in the Indian Ocean!)


Google Labs: Check out the fun stuff Google Staffers are developing. Explore! Tech playground for all!

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