Wednesday, June 24, 2015

SmartKidz Media Review

The internet can be a valuable resource. We use it daily, whether it's to look up a recipe, catch up with friends, watch a movie, find information, listen to music, play games, or more. And while there is much good associated with it, there is also the potential for much evil. As parents, we strive to shelter our children from that dangerous content while they're young and teach them to abstain from it as they grow older. Our computer stays in the kitchen in our view and the kids are to ask us to help them if they want to search for something.  But what if there was a site where they could watch videos, listen to music, or play a game without inappropriate pop-up ads or links to other websites? And all the videos are child-safe. There is such a site: SmartKidz Media.

We were given a year-long membership to the SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers. Not only can I trust the content to be safe, but also mostly educational. The library is a controlled learning environment filled with a diverse collection of entertaining multimedia content. The exclusive content is continually expanding and cannot be found anywhere else on the internet. 

The library is categorized by type.
  • World of Discovery -- This section contains all the science and history videos. You'll find hours of educational videos from animal babies to action sports, ancient cultures to pilates sessions, World War II to sushi techniques, bizarre science to discovering Egypt.
  • Music & Fine Arts -- This content along with the World of Discovery is a subcategory of the family media section. Here you will find classical, cultural, jazz & blues, and relaxation music.
  • Mighty eBook Collection -- This, and every topic afterwards, is part of the reading and learning center. These flash-animated eBooks entertain while encouraging literacy. The text is highlighted and synchronized with the voice and includes sound effects and music. The books are sorted by age and type. They vary from Bible stories and songs to nursery rhymes, Aesop's Fables to phonics emphasis, and more.
  • Baby Signs Program -- This program is based on over 20 years of research and helps babies to communicate and promotes literacy. There are individual videos about topics including bedtime, mealtime, dictionary words, songs, and even potty training.
  • My Animal Family -- These videos teach family value and respect for animals. They feature baby animals interacting with their families and are narrated in children's voices. You can see a day in the life of a chimpanzee, an elephant, a lion, or learn some fun facts.
  • Quick Find Study Guides -- These guides are filled with educational information containing hundreds of rules, definitions, and examples. Learn language arts with Shakespeare, Math with Newton, science with Einstein, or social studies with Ben Franklin. There are also aids for accounting and foreign languages.
  • Learning Special Needs -- This program is designed for those with disabilities and other special needs. The themed books and lesson materials teach children the life skills they need to grow. It teaches them personal skills, social skills, and coping skills. There are 2 options for each book: hear the book is an auto start to finish book and the interactive book is flash animated and contains clickable text. There are videos including learning about money, hand washing, community helpers, riding a bus, making cookies, holidays, recycling, and much more.  
  • Living Skills Program -- This upcoming section is filled with songs that will teach children the skills they need to live intelligently and responsibly. There will be song sets with lively singalong lyrics for babies all the way through age 10.
  • Ready Set Sing -- These albums contain over 200 favorite songs. There are songs for the little ones like Yankee Doodle, The Bear Went Over the Mountain, Wheels on the Bus, Do Your Ears Hang Low and songs for the older group like When I Was A Child, Leap of Faith, Awake n Laugh, Hush You Muskies
  • Fun Zone -- This section is where you'll find educational games and activities. It contains interactive learning games, jokes & riddles, and puzzles.

Since we have a more laid back schedule for the summer, I've chosen to let the kids choose which sections of the library they use. Of course, they all hang out in the fun zone at first, playing the games and completing the puzzles. Honestly though, there are not too many choices in that section currently and they soon head to the more educational videos. It's been interesting to see which of the videos the kids pick. Zac (5) likes to follow along with the eBooks in both the Mighty eBook Collection and the Learning Special Needs. Alyssa (7) loves to hang out watching the Baby Signs videos to learn to teach her baby brother. Jake (9) has been choosing to watch the historical videos. I personally have used the Music & Fine Arts the most.

I love that I don't have to worry about what content the kids may stumble upon while they're exploring the site. They have the freedom to search over 1,000 choices. Not only are they entertained, but they're learning, as well. Since it can be streamed anywhere at anytime on any device, it is very easy to use. I'm excited to see what new content is coming this summer and will incorporate the resources into our schooling as time goes on.

You can connect with SmartKidz Media on Facebook and Twitter.

If you'd like to see how other families used this resource, please read the reviews on the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.

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