The Dog Ate my Homework

In my case, it was actually true once. I scotch-taped up the tattered remains of my worksheets (complete with muddy paw prints) and turned them in with this time-honored excuse – luckily, my teacher was both amused and forgiving, despite the missing sections!

With school back in session, however, my daughter is already brimming with creative excuses to avoid doing her own homework (Sorry kid! We’re not getting a dog and training it to eat your homework!). My own school years are well behind me, so sometimes it’s a struggle to not only get her motivated and excited to learn but to also provide some guidance on how to tackle her research projects. I honestly thought I’d never (really) need sixth grade history again!

Thankfully, the library has tons of resources to help you – whether you’re doing your own research or homework, or helping out your own student. For a full list of Fontana Regional Library’s academic and research resources you can access online from home, visit: https://fontanalib.org/online-resources/databases

Here are a few of my favorite Homework Help resources:

Credo Reference

Good for: general research & finding information

Credo Reference is great, particularly when you have an open-ended research project and aren’t sure what specific subject you want to research. You’ll find topic/subject pages so you can start broad and narrow in on a focus.

Topic pages also include a “Mind Map” – which is fantastic for seeing what other subjects might be related. For example, if I’m looking at the topic page for “Astronauts”, the mind map will suggest ‘Human Space Flight’, ‘Valentina Tereshkova’, and more as related topics. If I click on ‘Valentina Tereshkova’, the mind map expands so I can follow the research trail — I’ll see additional topic suggestions like ‘Sally Ride’, ‘Soviet Space program’, ‘female astronauts’, and more. You can continue following the ‘Mind Map’ until you find a topic you’d like to research!

Once you’ve got your topic, you can peruse lots of great encyclopedia articles, dictionary entries, books, atlases, and more that can help you dig even deeper.

SIRS Discoverer

Good for: guided research

SIRS Discoverer is another great resource for your research projects (there are also resources for teachers and educators!) SIRS Discoverer is designed specifically for elementary and middle grades students, so they can easily use this tool for independent research.

Students can use the search or browse a list of trending and curated topics to find information. What I love most about SIRS Discoverer is the Research Topic Pages – they include a list of “Terms to Know” (along with their definitions), “Critical Thinking Questions” (including various viewpoints on the questions/issues for your topic) , “Visual Literacy” (related cartoons and image) with guided questions, basic facts and much more.

NoveList Plus

Good for: finding great reading material

For English class this year, my daughter has to read and report on a new book every month. Students must bring in a book to read during dedicated reading times and are also expected to read at home. My daughter loves to read, but sometimes finding new books that are interesting and reading-level appropriate can be a challenge. That’s where NoveList Plus steps in!

You can search for books you know you like — from there, you’ll find a list of “Read-alikes” and keywords that describe your favorite books that can help you search for more, reading lists, reviews and so much more.

If you’re not sure where to start, you can use the basic search to filter by age/audience, genre, theme, pace, writing style, storyline, and more! Use NoveList Plus, along with our catalog and eBook resources, to find all the Book Report fodder you’ll need for the school year.


To search nearly all of our online databases and resources at once, you can visit NCLIVE and use the search features to find full-text articles, eBooks, videos, and much more. With the advanced search, you can narrow your results to newspaper articles, books, scholarly/peer-reviewed, etc. It’s a great tool to use when you’re ready to dive more deeply into your research!

And remember, if all else fails – whether you don’t know where to start or can’t find what you need – you can always ask a librarian!

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