Tuesday, June 23, 2015

SmartKidz Media {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

A fun part of our homeschooling is including movies, music and other media to enhance our studies.  These types of resources are fun for all students, but can be especially helpful for highly auditory and visual learners.  Naturally, I was very interested in reviewing the SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers from SmartKidz Media.

SmartKidz Media Review

SmartKidz Media is a subscription based website that offers educational videos, music, study guides, flash animated e-books and more. It is a family-friendly resource with no advertisements or outside links, which I really appreciate.  It means I can log in and let my children browse without worry.

The website is divided up into two primary categories: Family Media and Reading and Learning Center.  Each of these categories is divided up further into a wide variety of topics.  There are many nature and wildlife videos, science documentaries, health and fitness videos (for adults and children), travel and adventure, classical music, cultural music, jazz and blues, sing along songs for young children, and that's just the tip of the iceberg.

We started by watching some of the science videos.  The kids particularly liked the "My Animal Family" series, which is narrated by a child and illustrates a day-in-the-life of a baby animal through real video footage.  There are also separate video clips of fun facts and sing along songs, for each animal.  There are only a handful of these, and I would love to see more added.

SmartKidz Media review

There are other selections the kids have enjoyed too.  There are fitness videos for adults and kids, and my two little ones enjoy the children's fitness videos.  My two year old thought it was great to "dance" and exercise with her dolls!

The 5 and 2 year old also liked the fun children's music.  I can set this to play in the background while they are playing or cleaning.  There are plenty of traditional and familiar songs, and many that are "new" to the kids as well, which of course is always fun.

SmartKidz Media Review

The 8 year old is anxiously waiting some of the History videos that are still marked as Coming Soon.  I'm also looking forward to including some of the cultural videos and music when we get to that point in our geography studies, as well as the art and classical music when we do our artist and composer studies.

Right now we're just using this for fun, and it's still highly educational, but come this fall when school starts back, I can definitely see us using this even more to supplement our studies.  This the the type of resource that can be used by any homeschooling or unschooling family to compliment any curriculum.

The only "negative" I've really found so far is that some of the covers for the videos were misleading.  For instance, we clicked on the third video (with the picture of the sea turtle) because my 5 year old wanted to watch sea turtles.  Imagine his confusion and disappointment when it was about a bird he's never heard of, the arctic tern.  The sea turtle is listed in the description on part 2 with the picture of the whale.  The whale should be in the first video.  Of course I can read the description for certainty, but for quick picking or young children it would be nice if the pictures were a bit more accurate.

SmartKidz Media Review

You can access SmartKidz Media online through your computer or any mobile device with internet access, but they are currently developing an app for iPads and iPhones for the flash animated e-books.  You can also use media streaming devices.  We typically cast from our browser to the Chromecast so everyone can watch without being crowded around the laptop or a tablet.

Overall, I like the mission of SmartKidz Media.  They aim to provide quality and propriety educational media resources in a safe online environment for families.  It is easily accessible from a variety of devices.  As a homeschooling resource, I think it could use some expanding and fine tuning, but I think the website has great potential.

A subscription to SmartKidz is $10/month, or $99/year.  You can do the 14 day trial to see if it's a good fit for your family first, so I recommend trying it out and exploring the website to see everything they have to offer.  As always, be sure to check out more crew reviews to get other opinions and perspectives, and to see how other crew members utilized the different features of this resource!

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/smartkidzhomeschool
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/smartkidzmedia

SmartKidz Media Review

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