Review by Patricia Monticello Kievlan, Common Sense Education | Updated January 2017

AMAZE

Quirky, funny videos give thoughtful answers to kids' sex-ed questions

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Character & SEL

Subjects
  • Health & Wellness
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
5-8
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Pros: A fun visual style, solid information, and easy-to-understand info make tough questions a lot easier to ask.

Cons: The irreverent tone and frank content may challenge parents' and teachers' expectations on what's appropriate in this context.

Bottom Line: An appealingly down-to-earth way to help kids face tough questions about navigating the challenges of puberty.

While Amaze does an admirable job of making sensitive subjects accessible, it's worth talking to your school administration about the best way to handle using the site, if you choose to use it at school. The frank language and inclusive, welcoming tone may not resonate well in every setting. That being said, there's a great range of videos here that could easily add to your existing sex-ed curriculum: Browse the videos by subject area and pick the ones that add the most helpful insights. 

Also, beware accessing the site's YouTube channel from YouTube -- the related videos that come up (especially for the titles that deal with sexual and adult content) are very likely inappropriate for kids. 

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Amaze is a website designed to help kids learn about sexual education, their changing bodies, and positive relationships. Created by three health and sexual information advocacy groups, the site serves as an online education resource for kids age 10 to 14. Short videos, which are released first on the site's YouTube channel, then hosted on Amaze, focus on topics ranging from puberty for boys to STDs and HIV. Category listings have been included for pregnancy and personal safety, although there currently aren't videos on those subjects on the site.

Sexual topics are covered in an informative way, without sensationalizing content. Registration isn't required to use this video-centric site, though adults can register to receive email updates and newsletters. Teachers can find lesson plans for each video, and all adults can use the site to access discussion questions they can use in conversations with kids after watching the videos. 

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The experts who developed this content seem to have made cautious, deliberate choices in their language: Even though the tone feels breezy and casual, the content on Amaze is serious and always thoughtfully handled. Striking that same tone as a health teacher or counselor or classroom teacher can be tricky, and it may help to talk with your fellow teachers and your principal about the best way to use these funny and heartfelt videos in the context of your school's existing sex-ed curriculum. 

Overall, these videos stand out for their high quality and excellent tone. There's a range of visual styles on display here, from a quirky cartoon narrator to a stop-motion video where two Yetis bonk each other with fish (it makes sense in context -- really!). While the messages are gravely serious -- especially in the videos about consent and navigating sadness and depression -- the tone stays buoyant, friendly, and encouraging. The underlying message here is that you and your body are amazing just the way they are. Those words get repeated several times in several videos, but they never seem repetitive or insincere. These videos do an excellent job of taking the scary out of sex ed, and they're a worthy tool for helping adolescents navigate the tough waters of middle school and junior high. 

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Overall Rating
4

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
5

Some of the video content might make kids (and grown-ups) blush, but they offer straightforward, plainspoken answers to critical questions for tweens and teens.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
4

The tone feels breezy, but the message is serious and meets kids nicely where they are. That positive message plus accurate, actionable information make this a stellar resource.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
3

There's not much to guide students' purposeful movement through the videos, but the teacher and parent sections offer some helpful discussion questions, recommended books to read, and links to other reputable websites.


Common Sense Reviewer
Patricia Monticello Kievlan Foundation/nonprofit member

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