What is ABCMouse?
I'm sure you've seen the commercials for the website called ABCMouse.com. If you haven't, it's basically an educational website for children that you subscribe to monthly. I know, I know, just like me you're probably thinking, "Why on earth would I pay for something like that? There is so much on the internet for free!" And that's true. I can tell you my son's favorite websites right off the bat, and they're all free:
-DisneyJr.com (although they recently revamped their site and took away all of his favorite games, which I just don't understand)
-sesamestreet.org (their games are GREAT, and pretty much allow him to navigate freely without much support)
But my complaints about those sites are that they have pop-up advertisements, they don't always work (games will crash unexpectedly or freeze), and sometimes he needs help finding the right games or figuring out the directions.
ABCMouse has no pop-up advertisements, and we've yet to have a problem with it not loading, crashing or freezing (it better not if were paying for it!).
So, What Does it Have?
Well, pretty much everything. Your child gets an avatar and can then navigate through a "classroom." Subjects range from math to reading, science to art. They've pretty much got it all.
Educational Advisors. They have a curriculum board of education experts, according to their website, who help plan their games, and incorporate state standards into their lessons.
Diverse Screenshots. They like to keep the kids entertained, so they will occasionally spruce up the screen for the holidays. Here's an example of how they decorated for Halloween in October.
|ABCMouse changes their screens for holidays and to add appeal for children.|
What's Good About It?
Free One Month Trial with Subscription: Need I say more? Try it out free for a month. If you don't like it, be sure to cancel it, otherwise they will keep billing you monthly. There's no strings attached. If you're not sure how to get the free trial, just google search on 'ABCMouse free trial' and a link should come up. Otherwise it usually appears as soon as you load their site for the first time. This link has also been helpful, although it might not work if you have previously had a subscription to ABCMouse.
Differentiation: There is literally so much on this site, and what I like is that they appeal to a large array of learning styles. They have audio pages, games, puzzles, art. They do their best to reach all types of learners.
|From the ABCMouse homepage you can choose what your child should work on.|
Leveled Learning: You choose your child's level (from early pre-K to K), and you can change the levels up or down at any time. When you change levels, you get a whole new set of games/activities.
|I liked that they incorporated some of the Everyday Math techniques - this is a hundred chart in the math section.|
Easy navigation: At first when I looked at it, I thought, "geez, there's too much on here!" But it's not too bad. There's a lot to see but the tabs are easy to locate and navigate through. My 5 year old can play without much supervision, and doesn't need much help following directions or understanding what to do for each activity.
|The lady in the middle is your child's 'teacher' and this page helps you navigate your choices.|
Engaging: The games are brightly colored, fun, entertaining. They hold my son's attention and he doesn't even realize he's learning. He has favorite games that he likes to play and I can change the level of them so he is not always playing using the same skills.
|This little monkey helps identify vowels, consonants and more.|
Incentives: Kids earn "tickets" for every activity they do on ABCMouse. They can save up their tickets to "buy" items (they're not spending real money at any time, no worries there!) for their virtual room, virtual fish tank or virtual hamster cage. My son loves the hamsters. He builds elaborate tunnels for them, which in itself can be educational in an engineering kind of way.
|My son builds elaborate tunnels for his virtual hamster.|
What's Not So Good About It?
It's not free. No, but it's not overly expensive either. At $7.95 per month (their rate as of the publication of this entry), it's way cheaper than tutoring!
Too Much Independence. It's easy to let your child play for hours, but if you don't want them sitting in front of a computer all day, be sure to monitor the time they spend on there and set a limit for how long you want them to play.
Distracting Incentives. I mentioned that my son loves the hamster cage ticket incentive. Sometimes that's all he wants to do on ABCMouse, but that's not really the educational part! So I tell him "You have to play 6 games first before you hit the hamster store."
Forgetting About It. There is a possibility that you will purchase ABCMouse and then not use it too much. If that's the case, then get on there and cancel your payments! ABCMouse will automatically renew each month unless you tell it not to (you can cancel at any time). So be vigilant about how much you use it.
Can My Child Play on a SmartPhone or Tablet?
ABCMouse does have an app that is compatible with most Apple and Android devices. The app is essentially a gateway to gameplay, so you need a strong WiFi connection and the latest updates for your phone or tablet. Check their FAQ page on their website for more information. If you're specifically looking for educational apps for your child, check out my recommendations for some great apps for kids!
What if I Have More Than One Child?
You can register up to three children per account on ABCMouse.
How Do I Cancel ABCMouse?
It is easy to cancel ABCMouse if you decide you no longer want it. Just go to the MyAccount section on the Parents page and there should be an option there to discontinue service. You can also reactivate your account any time.
The Bottom Line - Is it Worth It?
So will your child jump up reading levels and become the super learner they talk about on the TV commercials? I don't know about that, but it's worth a try. If you can get the free trial, why not give it a shot? I especially think it's worth trying if your child is unmotivated to learn (or unwilling to learn!). If there is a particular area that your child needs help with (such as recognizing letter sounds or counting to 100), this website might be able to help. And if not, just be sure to cancel before your free trial is up!
**And as an added note, just before The Jersey Momma's boy entered First Grade, he lost interest in ABCMouse. It is primarily geared towards Preschool and Kindergarten learners, and he had his fill! Although this might not be true for all learners, this was the case with my boy, so we cancelled our subscription.