Review by Amanda Finkelberg, Common Sense Education | Updated August 2012

Curiosityville

Highly engaging, age-appropriate site with delightful games

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Teachers say (1 Review)
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Grades
Pre-K-3 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Cute animated characters enliven online games, and online and real-world activities are a hit.

Cons: Some content requires reading ability or adult assistance.

Bottom Line: Curiosityville is a great online learning tool for kids that addresses a range of topics.

A parent/teacher dashboard called the Learning Tree gives feedback on 10 core learning areas, and you can monitor how your kids are using the site and assess their progress. The Tree doesn't provide strategies for learning but does show parents and teachers how much time kids spend on different activities and which core skills they explore. The extensive parent/teacher area also hosts short articles on "the science of learning," which break down how little kids learn and give you ideas on how best to use the site with specific, real-world projects, based on each kid's Learning Tree assessment.

A personalized page for each kid offers suggestions with activities that will help "Build on," "Explore," and "Improve" their skills. Finally, teachers can control a time limit message that lets kids know when they've spent enough time on the site.

 

 

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In Curiosityville's general information and exploration space, cute animated characters host themed areas that focus on different subjects. Pablo the frog is an artist, Ruby the cat is a teacher, Rosie the mouse is a scientist, and Joe the monkey is a musician as well as mayor of Curiosityville. A short animation introduces the area, and a cloud of stars indicates the places kids can click for play. Each area has several Flash-based games that incorporate a wide range of skills. An audio track gives instructions to pre-readers, but younger kids will need help the first few times they play.

Kids can click on their favorite character's Clubs page for fresh monthly content and additional activities. For instance, Olive's Cooking Club has monthly themed recipes that are appropriate for young chefs (and a grownup), such as cranberry sauce or tomato soup. Other clubs such as Rosie's Science Club and Joe's Nature Club provide activities that kids can do in the real world to build on the online experience.

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Curiosityville is a great example of age-appropriate Web content for little kids. The easy-to-use, straightforward design is aimed at the preschool to early elementary set, providing a safe online play space. Each account supports and tracks up to three kids. Adults enter their names and ages, and the games, which incorporate different skill sets, adjust their levels according to age. Some games require an adult's assistance, such as Ruby's story chair, which includes the option for kids to write their own stories.

Kids earn awards for solving different puzzles correctly, giving them a way to keep track of their own progress. The Clubs page offers real-world activities that correspond to the skills kids learn in the games, such as nature hunts, art projects, and even social skills development.

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Overall Rating
5

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

This beautifully designed site with cute animated characters draws kids in and keeps them interacting with interesting games and an array of online and offline activities.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
5

Each activity corresponds to an aspect of early brain development and core skills. Kids have fun while strengthening abilities. Offline activities broaden the teaching element.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
5

A charming introductory animation helps first-time users learn the characters and themes. Gentle hints lend support, and there's no time limit for games. The parents page is comprehensive.


Teacher Reviews

3
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Featured review by
Margaret A P. , Other
Other
The Agnes Irwin School
Rosemont, PA
3
Visual online learning world to prepare young children for school

<p>Curiosityville has a lot of potential to be a great online learning tool for young children and a place for parents and children to interact together and explore using technology as a tool for problem-solving, creation, and discovery. There are four different characters or “friends,” each with his or her own personality, profession, and play space (e.g., an art studio, a classroom). The website has great graphics and is very interactive but it is not as user-friendly as I would have hoped for a site that advertises that children as young as age 3 can use it. The navigation buttons are a bit small and not always clearly visible and the instructions for different activities are not always clear. Ideally, they should be visible in print and read aloud at the start of each activity.</p>

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