Review by Dana Villamagna, Common Sense Education | Updated July 2017

ABCMouse.com

Cartoon classroom has wide variety of point-and-click learning

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Teachers say (12 Reviews)
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Pre-K-1 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Learning content ranges in presentation ands covers a wide variety of topics.

Cons: The virtual classroom has a lot going on and varies in pedagogical quality.

Bottom Line: With plenty of supervision to help kids stay on track, this free tool for teachers can be a great classroom supplement.

ABCMouse.com is a fun and comprehensive resource for learning and reinforcing important early learning themes. Teachers might want to let kids use the default learning paths that match with the student's age. However, if teachers want to customize learning paths for individual students, activities can be better targeted. For instance, if teachers have just covered a particular science topic, they can assign review activities to the whole class. Or, if a student is falling behind in reading, teachers can assign them reading activities for extra help.

A simple tracking system gives teachers a general idea of the activities their students have completed, though not how well they're understanding the material. Teachers can use ABCMouse.com in the computer lab, at rotating stations, or with the whole class, although not all activities will lend themselves well to use on a projector or an interactive whiteboard. There are also plenty of printables to help bridge online lessons with offscreen classroom activities.

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ABCMouse.com offers pre–K through first-grade curriculum (second-grade topics are currently in development) touching on a variety of topics, many of which correlate to the Common Core State Standards. Kids visit a virtual classroom where they can play games, learn or review material, visit the zoo or a farm, or tend to a pet hamster or a fish. When kids complete activities, they earn tickets they can use to buy items in a virtual store.

Kids follow a learning path that gets progressively more challenging as they use the site. Their level is set based on starting age, and they can either follow a customized learning path or choose activities at random. Teachers can also choose and assign particular activities for each kid. Content focuses on reading and writing, math, art and music, music and songs, social studies, and science and health. Content is presented through art, books, songs, puzzles, games, and printables. Teachers can track kids' progress through the learning path as well as conduct other assessments. With a free teacher subscription, all content is available on the web and in an app.

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ABCMouse.com is chock-full of age-appropriate content that comes in an engaging format. Activities cover an impressive variety of topics from multiple perspectives. This not only allows for repetition without being tedious, but it also reaches lots of kids with differing interests and learning strengths. The option to customize a learning plan is a good way to target specific areas of need for particular kids.

However, though the content is presented clearly and is well organized, ABCMouse.com has a lot going on. This could make it easy for kids to get confused and overwhelmed. Kids will likely need help and some time to learn how to navigate; supervision to ensure that they're on track might be necessary. It would also be nice to see the activities adapt according to a kid's actual performance, rather than progress based only on completion. Also, some may not like the extrinsic reward system that lets kids buy virtual items with tickets after completing activities. Not only is the ticket dispenser at the end of each activity distracting, learning is a reward in and of itself, especially for kids this young.

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Overall Rating
3

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
4

The colorful but busy kindergarten-classroom home page, learning zoo, and interactive books and songs will appeal and maybe overwhelm young users. Most kids will be able to find something new here every time they visit.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
3

Kids make their way through preset, customized, or free-choice learning paths. Whether doing puzzles, playing games, or listening to songs, learning goals are clear if a bit traditional.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
4

Kids will likely need help navigating the site, which includes video clips to help teachers orient themselves. The activities could give more assistance for kids who are having trouble. Printables offer offline extensions.


Common Sense Reviewer
Dana Villamagna Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

5
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Featured review by
Steve B. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Henry Highland Garnet/PS 175M
Manhattan, NY
4
An exploratory platform for students to practice literacy skills

The plethora of engaging environments and interactive spaces gives the students plenty to explore and makes it fun for them to revisit across instructional days. Students also are able to keep track of their activity, allowing a first foray into the development of a personal database in the early elementary grades. The personalized avatars are also a nice touch to give another shade of ownership to the experience.

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