Monday, June 22, 2015

SmartKidz Media Review

SmartKidz Media Review
     A few weeks ago I was given the chance to do a review for SmartKidz Media. I integrate media clips and electronic learning options into our homeschool on a regular basis, so I knew the  SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers would be a huge hit with our family. And boy was I right! We have enjoyed our time with SmartKidz Media so much, it has become both an educational AND an entertainment staple in our home! For this review, we received membership access for 1 year. 

     SmartKidz Media is an online streaming library of sorts. You will find a HUGE (and I mean HUUUUUGE) assortment of videos and documentaries, Mighty eBooks, music of all kinds, games, etc. They are adding to the choices regularly, so there seems to always be something new. Just recently we discovered history videos had been added, and more are scheduled to be added soon! You can stream via your PC, Wii or other game console that allows for web browsing, tablets, Roku, Mac, phones, etc. You WILL need a high speed internet connection. 


                                    

There are so many topics and choices offered by SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers, that I can't even begin to list them all here on my blog. Here is a screen snip of the menu to show you the assorted MAIN topics. Now, within these main topics are subtopics, and within the subtopics are a variety of choices.



Here is what the drop down menu looks like. As you can see, this is the drop down for "World of Discovery." There is a very long list of choices here. For this review, I chose to picture "Science" as it has been one of Mr. B's favorites. 





So once we select "Science" we have a selection to choose from under that subtopic. "Bizarre Science" was a lot of fun, "how did they make that" is really interesting and shows a great deal of engineering. Right now, we are watching "Our World" as I type up this review. It is all about the Planet Earth. For example, it shows what NYC would  have looked like during the Ice Age, then it goes on to say the temps would have only been about four degrees lower worldwide than they are currently! 


SmartKidz Media also has a section dedicated to special needs learning. 


Here is a sampling that shows a few of the interactive books available for Special Needs learners. The books are interactive, and a lot of fun. Plus they teach real life skills that are important in the special needs world. 

 





Here are more interactive books. These books are really great because they are multi-sensory. The books are read aloud to you/your student, words are highlighted, there is a picture/video clip, etc. They are really good for teaching daily skills lessons, and to use as social stories. 


The story songs are a lot of fun, and another great way to tackle skills. 


And here are just a few more choices to choose from under the Special Needs tab. 


Sequencing-Interactive: This was one of my favorite sections. I remember when Mr. B was younger, I used a computer program to make a breakdown of how to do specific tasks such as brushing his teeth. I would print out a picture each step of the way, and we'd go over those steps until he understood what to do on his own. These sequencing interactives take all of that work out of the equation! You can just click on the one you want, and BAM! It's done for you! Your child/student can watch as often as he/she needs. I've posted a couple of screen snips of "The Pizza Book" interactive book to show you just how great these are for special needs. 





They break down each task into individual parts, and say WHY each part needs to be performed. Plus it ties in to any type of PECS system you pay use. See the little PECS like picture on the right side?! AWESOME!


Pretty soon they are going to be adding even more songs to target the special needs population. 


I can't wait!!!!

Technical issues:
If your internet is slower, you may need to allow the videos to "buffer" a bit before proceeding. Also, I almost exclusively used this on our Wii U. I found I had to tap on the pause area, then tap play. Other than that, it worked great on the Wii U!


Does SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers pass my 4 Ingredient Test?

1.) Customization: Is it easily adaptable? Can we customize it to fit “us?” Can we modify or set our own schedule? Can we take breaks, jump ahead, or flat out skip?

Yes! This is a media library, so you can use what you need, when you need it, and as often as you need it! You can "rewind" and "fast forward." You can easily integrate these videos and eBooks into your lesson plans, or discover a new topic of interest and create a lapbook or lesson plan around that. It's really great!

2.) Value: Is it long lasting? Will it cover multiple grade ranges? Are you locked in to one specific grade level? Are there hidden fees?

It covers so much, and on multiple age/grade levels.   As you can see, you can tackle everything from Early Learning to Special Needs, even whole family entertainment and education. I even saw yoga! There are NO hidden fees. You can either be billed monthly, or receive a discount if you choose to pay for 1 year all at once. You can do monthly, currently at $10.00/month, or yearly at $99.00. They also offer a free, 14 day trial that you can utilize to try it for yourself.

3.) Attention span: Is it boring? Is it engaging? Is it varied enough for ADHD? Does it last too long? 

It is definitely NOT boring! There is so much variety, you're bound to find something for everyone! Some videos are longer than others, but many are rather short segments broken into parts (some as short as 10-15 mins, some 30 or 40mins...) Plus, you can pause as needed for breaks if you want or need.


4.) Does it tie into other things we already have.

 
Oh my Heavens YES! SmartKidz Media has something for every topic! Science, History, etc. It's really great! Today alone we have watched programs that have covered earth science, history, dinosaurs, etc. We received a full year's access, and it will take longer than that to experience everything SmartKidz Media has to offer!
Overall:

Overall, SmartKidz Media has been a great fit for our family. I am thoroughly impressed with the Special Needs focus, and Mr. B is loving all things science and history found here. I always suggest previewing things before allowing your children to watch, just to make sure they fit your system of beliefs, or so that you don't find yourself with unexpected questions. I haven't personally found anything I wouldn't allow Mr. B to watch, but again....everyone has different opinions on that sort of thing. So any time it involves watching videos, I will always suggest you preview first. Overall, we really, REALLY appreciate and enjoy SmartKidz Media! 
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