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Kids Know It Network
Pros: With tons of content, there's something for everyone, and the site's commitment to remain free offers long-term reassurance.
Cons: It can be a challenge to separate effective, grade-level-appropriate content from fluff, and without capability to create individual student accounts, progress monitoring can be tough.
Bottom Line: Opportunities to personalize learning and differentiate instruction make this an excellent free resource for K-7 teachers, but for effective instruction, teachers will have to dig for the gems and monitor progress carefully.
Think of Kids Know It Network as a trusty source for supplemental classroom resources. From games to videos to music and worksheets, there are tons of choices for teachers to enhance instruction and engage students. Teachers can also add variety to at-home content in a flipped classroom model by incorporating videos, songs, and games into lessons. It'd be helpful to work one-on-one with struggling students, guiding them through spelling lists or informational texts while other students practice skills or learn about new concepts. Monitor student progress with short videos and accompanying quizzes on DNA, hurricanes, or the life of a meteorite, or encourage kids to explore interests and build skills by learning about the featured dinosaur or playing memory-enhancing games.
Struggling with outdated textbooks or a limited instructional budget? Kids Know It Network is a great option since the content is free and may be more current and/or more palatable than what's available on your bookshelf. Be prepared to spend some time digging, though -- there are thousands of worksheets, hundreds of videos, and over a hundred songs available on the main and partner sites.
Editor's Note: Kids Know It Network is no longer available.
Kids Know It Network is a teacher-created website featuring free, cross-curricular elementary content, including videos and games. The network spans every subject and tons of topics, and sprawls across partner websites such as Kids Geography, Kids Astronomy, Kids Numbers, and many more. Via links, teachers can assign or show videos, games, music, and worksheets; alternatively, teachers can let students guide their own learning by choosing their own activities. Everything's free here if you can handle the advertisements, which can be deceptive and might lead students astray; however, teachers can avoid the ads by purchasing a premium account.
There are some drawbacks: There's no way to save content for future use or see how individual students are performing. Also, since many games require Flash Player, students whose devices don't support it will be left out. Finally, although some of the content offers accessibility features such as closed captioning or narration, there are inconsistencies across linked sites, so teachers will need to provide some students with workarounds.
Games, videos, and even worksheets can be engaging, but their learning value suffers when we focus too much on rote memorization and don't adjust to learners' needs and skill levels. Unfortunately, much of the content on Kids Know It Network is like this, particularly the games that offer loose -- even nonexistent -- links between what kids are doing in the game (the mechanics) and the learning goals. Since the content is all free, though, teachers can afford to explore, find something useful, and design scaffolded lessons around the Kids Know It Network resources.
With so much content available, teachers will likely find some that fits their students' needs, but they'll have to be patient in order to find it, and they should take steps to avoid lazy instruction: Simply setting students loose on the site won't work out well. Instead, use the site's rich resources to differentiate instruction, perhaps targeting some students for one-on-one guidance while others work independently or in groups to learn new concepts or practice skills.