Thursday, June 25, 2015

SmartKidz Media ~ educational videos, flash animated content, and more

Sometimes it seems my youngest child may be a little bit too fond of "screen-time," and the funny thing is that it doesn't seem to matter *what* screen he's watching/ playing with, he just wants to watch. :/ However, it is also useful to have some media available to help keep him constructively occupied when I need to leave him with one of his siblings (while driving the other to practice or something like that) ~ allowing the older sib to have the quiet they need to get their work done.  A little bit of a balancing act in allowing some, but not too much! It also takes a while to sift through the typical venues to find media fitting that profile, which can be somewhat time-consuming. That being said, I was very interested to check out my latest review, the SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers by SmartKidz Media.

SmartKidz Media offers hundreds of educational videos covering a wide variety of topics~ Animals, Nature, Music, Art, Cooking, Travel/Foreign Countries, History, and more (There are even Pilates videos!)

In the screen shot above, the drop down menu you see is from the World Of Discovery tab, and shows the categories of videos available there, which some of the "covers" shown. My family was most interested in the Nature/Animal videos, and some of the travel and cooking videos, so those are the ones we checked out.

We also took a peek at the Mighty E-Book Collection Tab and the My Animal Family Tab

The Mighty E-Book Collection is a section that my almost 8 year old will be allowed to browse more or less on his own. We enjoyed the animated, narrated ebook of "Mice-tro Mozart, the Opera House Mouse" and there are a number of Aesop's fables to be found here, that I want to check out. I appreciate that this collection has some specific age guidelines.

My Animal Family Tab is a section that offers exactly what I was expecting from SmartKidz Media. Educational videos, clearly narrated and very appropriate for family viewing (The story songs weren't our cup of tea, but they might suit a younger child, or special needs learner).

Some parts/things we liked more than others~

All of the videos we watched were well done from a cinematic point of view~ Note: if you have a slower computer or a slower connection you might find that the streaming doesn't stream very well. We had some trouble with the videos on our laptops (Which are older), but were able to view them easily on an iPad 1 and an iPhone 6, so definitely a hardware issue on our end~ if we had a newer TV or newer Roku, it would have been a piece of cake, as the videos can be accessed from those readily.

The narration of the videos was a little choppy at times, as if the narrator was reading from a script, so inflections were sometimes a little odd, but that's not a major issue. In the "Travel" and cooking videos the narrator was also sometimes the translator, and it occasionally seemed as if perhaps the wrong words were chosen (For an American audience, at least~ there are some differences between British/Aussie English and American English...), which made it a little confusing~ not really a like/dislike issue, just more of a heads-up commentary.

We found that some scenes jumped from one right into another without taking a breath, as it were, which can make it difficult to process what is being seen/heard.

I would like to see age recommendations for *each* video, as well as more "chapters" within those that cover multiple topics (Animals, travel, etc...).

I say this because there are some videos that include content that may not be appropriate for all ages~ it would be nice to be able to skip those sections, and continue through the rest of the video, that is "all-age-appropriate." I appreciated that the cooking videos had "Chapters, and thought something similar could be done with most of the others.

As with all media, different families have different standards, so I would suggest pre-watching most videos if you have a younger/elementary-aged child.  Smartkidz Media offers a 14 day free trial that will let you check the video and reading/learning selections yourself!

There are other tabs that we didn't check out because they didn't fit our family at this time, but might fit yours: Baby Signs, Special Needs, Ready Set Sing, and Living Skills Songs. I glanced at the Quick Find Study Guides, and they appear to be something of an electronic index card box~ with basic helpful information at your fingertips~ Rules, Definitions, and Examples for Language Arts, Math, Social Studies Basic study guides, and Science introductions and definitions.

Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
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