Teachers can use BrainPOP to introduce new topics into the classroom. Individual logins are available for teachers and students, or teachers can share the content with the whole class. Teachers can print out materials like quizzes, but students can submit their work for feedback online as well. BrainPOP Educators offers professional development (PD) and training opportunities, lesson ideas, best practices, and other resources to help teachers with integrating BrainPOP into the classroom. BrainPOP offers a separate space for younger students, BrainPOP Jr., and a space for English-language learners, BrainPOP ESL. Unfortunately, these require separate accounts and cost more money.

After watching the video as a class, have students create concept maps that specifically address connections between the keywords and images in the content. Or, have them choose another way to demonstrate understanding, like making a movie or taking the quiz. Depending on the learning goals, teachers can pick and choose specific topics for students to study, or they can let kids explore and follow their interests for some independent study time. 

Editor's note: In the past, Common Sense Education has partnered with BrainPOP. However, Common Sense Education's reviews maintain editorial integrity and independence.

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Moby and Tim "host" animated videos on BrainPOP, a website that teaches students about a wide range of challenging topics such as genetics, geometry, and economics. It's easy to get lost in the mountain of videos, but the site is logically arranged, with most videos sorted by content. Themes range from standard academic fare like math and English to health, hot tech and engineering topics, and social-emotional learning units based on the Collaborative for Academic Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) model. Monthly features, such as a February spotlight on U.S. presidents, keep things relevant. The Tim and Moby videos are the bread and butter of BrainPOP, but each video comes with links to quizzes, deeper reading materials, activities, and sometimes games from BrainPOP GameUp (a featured video game section that forges further connections). Students can also demonstrate learning through concept maps with the Make-A-Map feature, or make videos or other content with Make-A-Movie, or through Creative Coding. Everything kids create is shareable.

MyBrainPOP helps teachers keep track of learning, allowing them to see quiz results, do class-wide analysis, and provide feedback on learning. It also provides access to the Quiz Mixer, a custom assessment creator. BrainPOP Educators is a resource community available for lesson ideas, news, and training.

The videos on BrainPOP are engaging and simplify complex issues in a short amount of time. Students can take quizzes in Classic mode or Review mode, the latter requiring a correct answer to move ahead. The questions are of the standard multiple-choice variety, so there's very little critical thinking taking place. The reading materials section offers a deeper look into what the short intro video covers, though students will more than likely skip that section unless directed there by the teacher.

BrainPOP's clear explanations are straightforward and cover a wide range of sometimes difficult topics, but are often somewhat superficial. To help with that, there's an impressive collection of interactive activities that engage kids in a variety of ways and encourage deeper learning. When available, games such as Sortify and Time Zone X allow students to apply some of the knowledge they learned in the video. The Make-A-Map activity lets students create custom concept maps with keywords, images, and their own writing. And two newer features allow kids to make their own BrainPOP-style movies, or use coding to demonstrate what they've learned. This sort of creation material can be powerful, but students will likely still need guidelines and goals to help them. Teachers will also have to provide the social, collaborative elements that enrich learning. That said, overall, BrainPOP is logical, well thought out, and enriching.

Overall Rating

Engagement

Use of animated characters and a sly sense of humor make for an engaging learning experience. Games and interactives offer kids a chance to get more deeply involved in the subject matter.

Pedagogy

A wide range of videos broken down into content areas and topics touch on all the main areas of a curriculum. While the quizzes touch on surface-level learning, other interactive elements create more meaningful learning experiences.

Support

A help section is readily available, as is a tour of the site. English-language learners can access BrainPOP ELL (not included as part of a BrainPOP account). Teachers have access to BrainPOP Educators for training and resources.


Common Sense reviewer
Mieke VanderBorght Researcher