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Noggin Preschool Learning App
Pros: Familiar and pop culture hits can forge the way for an easy connection with students.
Cons: Customization options are extremely limited; no teacher tools.
Bottom Line: This large collection of familiar preschool fare has some jewels, but it may take creativity to make it appropriate for classroom use.
Noggin Preschool Learning App has limited customization options, no teacher controls, and no data tracking, so it works best as a free-play learning station. If teachers want to control what students use, they could download content and then switch to offline mode. However, by doing that, teachers will greatly limit what students can access, because content quickly eats storage space. Teachers could also choose clips or full episodes that target a relevant learning theme and watch together as a whole class. It'll be up to teachers to create follow-up off-screen activities though.
Noggin Preschool Learning App is a large subscription-based collection of clips and episodes from many Nick Jr. TV series, as well as interactive games with characters from the featured shows. Kids can watch and interact with familiar characters from popular hits like Peppa Pig, PAW Patrol, and Dora the Explorer. Games and play-along videos have interactive elements and touch on standard early-learning themes such as literacy, basic math, and puzzles. In addition to short clips, full episodes, and games, it also has early reading content from Bob Books: Kids can choose to read on their own or be read to. Kids can browse content by show, content type, or themed collection such as "creativity," "music," or "ocean." And there's specialty content like a social justice series called Rhyme Through Times, the Alphabeats podcast, a Black History series, a variety show, and content from NASA.
Content is downloadable for offline access, though teachers should be aware that this quickly fills up storage space on a device (teachers can set a storage limit in the settings section). Closed captioning is available within the shows. There's also a section that features Spanish-language content. Before accessing the app, teachers need to sign up with an email address, create a kid profile, and agree to the subscription terms. Because much of the content is streaming video, teachers should make sure they have a strong internet connection for best usage.
Because of its super-familiar shows and characters, Noggin Preschool Learning App has high kid-appeal -- but it may not be quite so appealing to teachers. The quality of this massive collection of preschool content is a mixed bag. Classics like Dora the Explorer and Blue's Clues, as well as relative newcomers like Franklin and Friends, offer high-quality preschool fare. There are also interactive episodes, which allow kids to take a somewhat more active role rather than passively watching. The games touch on typical preschool learning themes but sometimes do so in creative ways. "Packages" that present a handful of activities centered on a focused learning theme, such as syllables, may help teachers focus on a particular skill. And kids who are reluctant to do schoolwork may appreciate being able to play games with a favorite show or character. Social justice content, content from NASA, and a podcast also broaden the scope of educational content.
On the other hand, the major downsides are a confusing presentation and a complete lack of teacher controls or customization options. Noggin Preschool Learning App is huge, with lots of content presented in a crowded menu that could easily overwhelm young kids. Content is mixed together so much that it's hard to find what you want. For example, there's no way to filter for whole episodes versus short clips, so it's impossible to distinguish between a clip that'll take a couple minutes and one that will last half an hour. And teachers have no options for customizing what kids see. One way to get around this is to download selected content onto your device and then turn internet access off. Unfortunately, this solution will quickly eat up a lot of memory and will significantly limit what kids can do with the app.