Review by Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Education | Updated July 2012

Mr. Nussbaum! Learning + Fun

Solid collection of learning activities on a wide variety of topics

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

  • 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.
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Teachers say (5 Reviews)

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Pros: Extensive site offers a wealth of information on a wide variety of topics.

Cons: Ads can be distracting. Games and activities have little constructive help or feedback.

Bottom Line: Games and activities are fine for reinforcement and practice but don't offer built-in feedback or progress tracking.

As a math and language arts site, Mr. Nussbaum is best used as guided practice and drills to supplement concepts covered in the classroom. Teachers can assign activities in the computer lab or as homework, or use some the of the games on an interactive whiteboard for group demonstrations. Kids can print out their certificates to show how well they did in each game. The history, geography, and science sections can be used a bit more freely, as they're rich with informational text and comprehension quizzes. Teachers can direct their students, for example, to the history section to research the causes of the Revolutionary War. When kids are done reading, they can play some games and take quizzes to show what they've learned. Teachers can also take advantage of the many printable activity sheets and some lesson plan suggestions to bring learning offline. The premium version allows teachers many ways to customize their students' experiences with the site, and to set up challenge competitions among students.

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Mr. Nussbaum offers a wide-ranging collection of activities that shine most for mid to late elementary-aged kids who can take full advantage of all the reading material. Activities are organized by age group, learning topic (math, science, language arts, history, geography, and science), or activity type (games, drills, printables, videos). The math section is the most comprehensive: Topics range from geometry and fractions to telling time and dealing with money. Language arts is next with activities mostly relating to reading comprehension and editing (using correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation). Using Mr. Nussbaum is free, but paying for the premium version, Mr. Nussbaum Premium, gives you an ad-free experience and more tracking, customizable options, quizzes, and opportunities to set up competitions among students.

There's no shortage of activities or learning topics on Mr. Nussbaum, and that's one of its most valuable assets. Kids will find nice coverage of less commonly represented topics, such as historical events (kids can read about women during the Civil War and complete some reading comprehension activities) or multimedia animal units (kids can read basic facts about the mountain lion, explore an interactive map to learn about its habitat, and watch a video to see it in action).

Though many games include instructional videos, the games tend to be very simple and lack fancy features, including in-game help (hints and feedback are mostly limited to notification of wrong answers). Kids get positive feedback by earning certificates for completing games, but they don't have a way to track progress over time, and though some games have basic leveling, they don't adapt based on previous performance. Also, flashing ads and a busy layout can be distracting to kids left to explore the site freely. Overall, Mr. Nussbaum is a nice collection of interactive activities that, with good guidance, can be a fun way to learn about and reinforce a wide variety of topics.

Overall Rating

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

With so many entertaining and interactive elements, kids are bound to find something engaging. However, the layout is a bit busy and ads are a big distraction.

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

There are lots of games and opportunities for drill practice, and many have solid potential for reinforcing learning. However, kids don't take much of an active role in shaping their experiences or learning from their mistakes.

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 wealth of content ensures there is something for everyone. Many games have instructional videos, but once in the game, there's little help. Tracking progress through the site is limited to certificates for completing each game.

Teacher Reviews

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Featured review by
Mary F. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Stevenson Elementary School
Chicago, United States
My students love this website!! It is fantastic. Great tool for practicing for standardized tests
I think that this website is very useful in a computer lab environment. Teachers and students can choose lessons that will help them master a specific skill or content. The only thing that I don't like is the huge amount of advertising, but I understand the reason for it!
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