Monday, May 31, 2010

Your Kids Will Beg to Play BrainPop!

By Jenny Williams

To me, learning is almost always fun. I never want to stop learning, and am always seeking out new things to try and new bits of information to know. I remember this not quite being the case when I was a child, however, and the same is true for most kids. School wasn’t always fun, even when the teacher tried to make it so. Some subjects can be dry, but a fun experience with a dry subject can keep you motivated to learn.

Regardless of whether you homeschool, like we do, or send your child to a public, private or charter school, there is always room for additional fun learning opportunities. Nature walks, museum trips, hands-on activities and countless other options are available to you. There are also many sites on the internet you can use in your child’s education, or they can supplement what the kids get at school. Some of these sites are excellent, but some are not so excellent. It’s often hard to tell the difference.

One site that I discovered many months ago is BrainPop. The main site is geared toward grades 3 and up, but it is part of a family of sites which also includes BrainPop Jr, for grades K-3, and BrainPop Español, seemingly for all ages. Separately, there is also BrainPop UK for grades 3-9, for those across the pond. While all these are pay sites, they all have some videos you can watch for free, and there are different levels of subscriptions. I’ve discovered that they are well worth the subscription price, however. They are full of information and my kids have really enjoyed them. While none of these sites is a comprehensive curriculum for school, they supplement and add on to schooling very well. Subjects range from reading and math to holidays and civic responsibility. The folks at BrainPop are always putting up new videos, sometimes at the same time as national holidays or special months, so even if you’ve subscribed in the past, there will always be something new.

BrainPop Jr

Since my kids are included in the BrainPop Jr age group, we have spent most of our time there. They currently have about 120 videos which are divided up into six categories: science, writing, social studies, health, reading and math. Each video page consists of a video with Moby, a beeping robot, and Annie, a very sweet girl. Annie’s voice is very gentle, and she comes off as both knowledgeable and friendly. After you’ve watched the video on either regular mode or full-screen, there is a huge number of other things to do.

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