Review by Jason Shiroff, Common Sense Education | Updated April 2016

BrainPOP

Clever animated hosts Tim and Moby masterfully tackle complex topics

Subjects & skills
Subjects
  • Arts
  • English Language Arts
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social Studies

Skills
  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
4–8
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (137 Reviews)
Privacy rating (How we rate)

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5 images

Pros: Videos and interactives are engaging and make tough subjects easy to understand.

Cons: Teachers will need to provide deeper learning opportunities to supplement the site's simplistic explanations.

Bottom Line: Cartoon videos in this extensive collection break down ideas in clever and thoughtful ways.

Teachers can use BrainPOP to introduce new topics into the classroom. After watching the video as a class, have students create concept maps that specifically address connections between the keywords and images in the content. Individual log-ins are available for teachers and students, or the content can be shared with the whole class. You can print out materials such as quizzes, but students can submit their work for feedback online as well. BrainPOP Educators offers PD and training opportunities, lesson ideas, best practices, and other resources to help you with integration 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.

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. 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 make concept maps with the Make-A-Map feature, which can then be shared with teachers.

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 surprisingly effective and 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 is very little critical thinking taking place. Students will more than likely skip the reading materials unless directed there by the teacher.

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. This sort of creation material can be powerful, but students will need guidelines and goals to make sense of their meaning. Overall, BrainPOP is logical, well-thought-out, and enriching.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
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 Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

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

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

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


Common Sense Reviewer
Jason Shiroff Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

(See all 137 reviews) (137 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Danielle I. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
KISS: Keep it simple STUDENT
It provides simple, short videos that can be used to introduce a new concept at the beginning of a unit Or give a little background information to establish a context for a discussion. There are videos/lessons for different content areas as well as academic levels. Sometimes it seems a little juvenile (I teach in a Middle School) but the kids think Tim and Moby, the narrators/teachers/guides, are funny. It is accessible for all and provides basic entry points.
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Data Safety
How safe is this product?
Users can interact with trusted users and/or students.
Users cannot interact with untrusted users, including strangers and/or adults.
Profile information is not shared for social interactions.
Data Rights
What rights do I have to the data?
Unclear whether opt-in consent is requested from users at the time personal information is collected.
Users can control their information through privacy settings.
Users can create or upload content.
Ads & Tracking
Are there advertisements or tracking?
Data are not shared for third-party advertising and/or marketing.
Unclear whether this product displays traditional or contextual advertisements.
Behavioral or targeted advertising is not displayed.
Continue reading about this tool's privacy practices, including data collection, sharing, and security.