Jun 24, 2015

Schoolhouse Review Crew: SmartKidz Media

I put together a lot of my own curriculum and am often stumped when it comes to adding in educational movies to go along. So I was excited to be asked to review SmartKidz Media. We were given access to SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers and we have spent the last few weeks exploring the site.

SmartKidz Media Review

So the first thing we discovered is that it isn't just educational videos! This site has a little bit of everything, actually. It's a pretty amazing resource.

First, it's divided into two main sections: Family Media and Reading and Learning Center. Family Media is further divided into two sections: World and Discovery and Music and Fine Arts. World and Discovery is where we started. This section is full of nature videos about animals like elephants, whales, the blue wildebeeste and more. There are several animals in each video as they are themed like Nature's Soap Operas or Cutest Baby Animals or Animal Builders.

But it's not just animals. There are also exercise videos: pilates, exercises for kids and for pregnant women and new mommies and people with backaches. There are videos about different cultures, ancient and unusual. There are history videos and science videos called Bizarre Science and How Did They Make That? There are travel videos, food videos and soon there will even be sports videos.

These are all documentary style, about 25 minutes long with good quality photography and sound. We enjoyed watching them very much. I was pleased to see that they are adding new ones all the time. The history ones weren't there when we started our subscription.

So next is the Music and Fine Arts section and I freely admit we spent a lot of time here. I probably spent the most time here. This has collections of Classical, Cultural, Jazz, and Relaxation music. These are in audio form, not video, but I enjoyed it so much. I loved being able to click on Mozart or Beethoven and listen to their "greatest works" for an hour or two. This also makes it so easy for me to have my kids listen to just one composer for a period of time. We can just start it and go about our business with it quietly playing in the background. I just wish there were more selections.

Next, the Reading and Learning Center is divided into eight sections:

Mighty Ebook Collection, about 150 ebooks which are read aloud with the words highlighted as they are read. There are also sound effects and music. There are sing-along books, Bible stories, science books, Mother Goose, Aesop Fables and just cute little picture books. These are perfect for non-readers or early readers or even struggling readers. My youngest two kids enjoyed a few of these books even though they are slightly above the age range of birth to 8. They especially enjoyed the science books.

Baby Signs Program: a couple dozen videos introducing baby signs. And some videos about potty training. We did not use this section very much but we will likely put a little more time in here when the baby that we watch comes back to us in the fall.

My Animal Family: cute little under 15 minute videos about baby animals in their natural habitat. These are narrated by kids and are just fun for little kids to watch. My older kids rolled their eyes quite a bit at these, but my eight-year-old daughter enjoyed them. There are also "story-songs" in this section which is the video and story of the videos set to a catchy song. They are just cute and fun. :)

Quick Find Study Guides: an old educational tool with a new twist. Language Arts, math, science, social studies (U.S. government and history), with accounting and foreign languages coming soon, these are just little snippets of information that your child can look up and read, as needed. Need to read the Preamble or want the definition of a noun or an encyclopedia style entry on rivers? Here ya go. We didn't spend a lot of time here, but I can see where it would be a great place to send my kids to research on certain science or history topics.

Learning Special Needs: language skills, songs, art, science, everyday life topics and much, much more all designed for kids with disabilities/ special needs.

Living Skills Program: This is still under construction, but will be a collection of songs about responsibility.

Ready Set Sing: over 200 fun animated songs for the eight and under set. Another place we didn't spend a lot of time but that I plan to use with the little guy in August.

Fun Zone: games, jokes and puzzles. Abbie had fun with the games and we all enjoyed the jigsaw puzzles because you could adjust the level of difficulty. The boys especially appreciated the corny jokes and silly limericks.

We used SmartKidz Media on my laptop because that is what we have. But, per the site, it can be used on all "popular multimedia devices". If you are curious as to what exactly that means, or have any other questions about SmartKidz Media here is the link to their FAQ page.

The only con to SmartKidz Media for us so far is that it is still a little light on content. But they apparently are working on that by constantly adding new stuff. They have added a ton in the last few weeks.

Pros are:
the quality of the material that is there
the variety of the material
that I can let my kids watch without worrying about inappropriate ads or what else they might accidently click on
that my hunting time for educational extras just got drastically shortened
that the kids enjoy spending time here
that Composer Study just got a little bit easier

All in all, this is a great resource for us and we plan to use it a lot! If you are interested, check out what other Crew have to say by clicking on the banner below, or just activate a free 14 day trial.

SmartKidz Media Review
Crew Disclaimer

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