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If your kids watch Disney, Nick Jr. or other kid-oriented tv shows, you have more than likely seen commercials for ABCmouse.com. We’ve been using ABCmouse.com for a couple years now and I want to tell you why I, as a teacher, love it and use it with my own kids.
The Basics of ABCmouse.com
ABCmouse.com is a computer or app based program geared for children ages 2-8. It is a self-guided step-by-step learning program that covers curriculum in language arts, math, science, art, music, and social studies. Children can follow the learning path and make progress toward the next level, or they can explore things on their own, doing activities that follow their own interests. It also uses a ticket economy. As children complete tasks, they earn tickets that they can use to buy things for their virtual classroom. My daughter likes to buy fish for her virtual fishtank with her tickets. The more challenging the activity, the more tickets you get for it. Right now, they offer curriculum for children as young as 2 years old up through 2nd grade.
Is it for kids that are behind?
I think that my impression from the commercials is that it is mainly for children that are struggling with reading. If you have a child struggling with reading, this is a GREAT program as it will take you back to the foundational building blocks. However, it is MUCH MUCH more than that. I did not expect it to be a complete curriculum with a great deal of depth for all early learning stages. I did not expect the variety of activities either. It presents plenty of challenges for my 6-year-old who scored at the top of her kindergarten class this year.
What kinds of activities?
I am very impressed with the variety of activities available. There are videos, games, reading activities, puzzles, coloring, sight word practice, songs, as well as various pets that your child can take care of. There are also printables that go with each lesson that you can use to enhance the learning experience.
Beyond the classroom environment, there is a library, a zoo, a farm, and “my room,” to explore. This is a very clever way of organizing the hundreds of activities. This way, if kids like animals, they can go to the zoo or the farm and do the activities about animals. If they like reading, they can go to the library and find reading activities and books appropriate to their level.
One thing that I love is that children can color pictures (virtually) and then turn that picture into a puzzle or print it out to keep it forever. I do recommend using a stylus if your kids like using this to draw.
What age is it best for?
While they do have activities for ages as young as two, my kids were not that interested at that age. I noticed that both Reagan and Noah got a lot more interested in it around age 4. If you do use it with 2-3 year olds, make sure you have the app version, not just the computer desktop version – my little ones struggled with using the mouse when they were very young. At age 6, Reagan loves it and uses it frequently.
Representation and Diversity
From the avatars for kids and teachers to the characters in games and videos, there is a wide range of representation. Different ethnicities are represented throughout. Characters with disabilities are also represented. Your child’s avatar is very customizable from skin tone to hairstyle to shape of certain features. The one downside is that all the teacher avatars are female.
What do I love?
It’s hard to list all of the reasons I love this program, but I’ll try.
- Game-based learning is effective. I could point you to all of the studies on game-based learning, but unless you’re studying education and cognitive development, I doubt you want to read all of that. (If you do, just leave a comment and I’ll point you to some good research on it. Sorry, I just did a project for my masters on GBL) Let’s just go with the fact that research says that game-based learning is not only engaging and motivating, but will improve learning and retention.
- It grows with your child. I looked at activities from all levels and it really does present a nice steady growth from one level to the next. Since it’s personalized and self-paced, you will definitely find activities that will challenge your child at whatever stage of development.
- The printables are great. If you want to cut back on screen time, but keep them working on certain things, there are printables available for almost any activity.
- The interface corresponds with standardized testing. So this is really from the teacher side of me. When we moved to computer-based assessments for standardized testing in schools, one thing that became immediately apparent was that students needed practice using the computers to complete the tasks they were being asked to do on the assessments. Many of the activities in ABCmouse.com use similar functions and instructions.
- My kids love it. My kids love to use the tablet and play games. I would much rather they get something educational out of that time. They will also never run out of activities.
Is it worth it?
My answer is obviously yes since we have been using it for years now. We used it long before I wrote this review, and we are still paying for it. Even with all of the free educational activities online, this is a better program and I don’t have to worry about what ads are popping up where my kids can see. If you aren’t sure, why not try for free? Does 30 days seem long enough to find out? You can get a FREE 30 day trial by clicking the link below! Seriously! Try it now!
Check out Reagan’s review on YouTube!