Monday, June 22, 2015

REVIEW: SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers by SmartKidz Media

The kids and I were lucky enough to get to review SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers by SmartKidz Media.

 

WHAT IS IT?:

SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers is an online streaming media site designed especially for homeschoolers.  That means there are no useless filler shows, but lots of wholesome, quality educational programming instead. 

Not only are their interesting documentaries about nature, animals, science, culture, exercise, travel, fine arts, and cooking, but there is also a variety of music, such as classical, jazz and blues, relaxation, and cultural. 

As if that weren’t enough content,  there are also a number of other key features:

  • Mighty Ebook Collection: contains animated storybooks and short videos about topics like holidays, bible stories, classic sing-alongs, reading readiness, Aesop’s fables, and Mother Goose rhymes.
  • Baby Signs Program:   teaches baby signs and potty training for early learners.
  • Quick-Find Study Guides:  contains study guides on topics like language arts, math, science, social studies, and coming soon will be accounting and foreign language.
  • My Animal Family:  includes video storybooks, fun facts, and story songs all about animals.
  • Early Learning for Special Needs:  includes resources for everyday life, going places, holidays and celebrations, sequencing, arts & science, sing-along story songs, and basic language skills.
  • Living Skills Program – coming soon!
  • Ready-Set-Sing Songs:  includes kids’ karaoke music and sing-along songs for kids ages 2-8.
  • Fun Zone – educational games, jokes/limericks/riddles, and puzzles.

Categories Snapshot

Does that sound like enough to keep your kids entertained and learning in a fun way?  You can get all this plus coming features like soon-to-be-added videos on history and extreme sports by subscribing to this streaming service for just $99/year or $10/monthly.  You can even sign up for a 14-day free trial to try it out for yourself!

 

OUR EXPERIENCE:

There’s really so much to say about this streaming service!  You can use it on any device with a browser since all you need to be able to do is to pull up the website.  The exception is for the games, which may use Adobe Flash, which precludes using those on an Apple device.  The kids don’t always want to watch programming on their tablet or computer, so we loved that we could stream the videos using the browser in our Wii U and watch the documentaries on the big tv in the living room.

I have to admit that I’ve been just as interested in the programming as the kids, and my 15-year old son and I have watcheCinco de Mayo Ebook Snapshotd quite a few of the  documentaries together.  We both enjoy that kind of show, and the selections have been really good.  Back in early May, I was using this program through the free trial, and I noticed there was an animated e-book on Cinco de Mayo that I watched in preparation for the holiday, and I have to admit that even I learned some things I didn’t know!  For instance, I always thought, as many people do, that it was the Mexican Independence Day, but that’s simply not the case!  It’s just a common misconception.  In actuality, Cinco de Mayo commemorates a specific battle.  That was pretty cool to learn something like that, even at my age!

My youngest son really enjoys science videos, and there are even some “how it’s made” types of shows on there.  My daughter loves animal videos, and she particularly enjoyed the ones on animal babies.  We’ve even used this streaming service for entertainment for friends.  My kids often have the neighbor’s girls over in the afternoons and on weekends, and the girls have come over and watched many of the nature documentaries with my kids.

We also used the streaming cultural music to listen to the music of different countries that we studied recently, and we scoped out possibilities for our upcoming country-themed birthday party this summer.  I personally particularly enjoyed the classical music and classic jazz/blues tunes from Doris Day to brighten my morning while we did our schoolwork!

Tigers Snapshot I love the portability of this service.  One day, I was teaching science to my youngest son, Holden, using an Usborne book on animals.  He was learning about tigers that day, and I remembered that there was something about tigers in one of the animal videos on SmartKidz.  So I pulled up the video right there on my iPad and let Holden watch the parts that pertained to Siberian tigers in the video, and it was easy to use the preview on the scrolling button to skip to the parts I wanted him to see at that moment.  He loved that!  And of course, he wanted to watch the whole thing, which he did the next day when we were off school.  He loves digital elements like that, particularly for science, and it was such a great way to supplement our studies right there on the spot!

In fact, I think if I could make one suggestion to the vendor, it would be to provide a topical index of sorts on their website, allowing homeschoolers to quickly locate the resources for any particular topic.  That would be amazing!  It would definitely make it even more of a tool for homeschool educators.  So many of the videos cover multiple topics, so that could really be useful.

The vendor also let us know that the upcoming history and extreme sports videos will be added early this summer, so I’m really looking forward to that!  In fact, they’ve already started.  Over the last week or so, they’ve added a 6-part series of videos on World War II, as well as a 6-part series on the Cold War.  Holden really wants to see the extreme sports, and the additional history content will be great for supplementing our school lessons.  The vendor said they are continually adding new content, which keeps things new and fresh.

If you’re looking for a one-stop shop for fun supplemental media for your homeschool, you can’t go wrong with SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers.  Take a look at what other Crew members have to say about this product by clicking the banner below.