Common Sense Review
Updated September 2012

National Geographic Kids

Stunning photos and in-depth stories of Earth's peoples and wildlife
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Common Sense Rating 5
  • The main page is visually appealing and provides easy navigation to the various sections of the site.
  • Games are educationally relevant and easy for younger kids to play.
  • Video clips cover a wide range of topics and are short enough to be used almost anywhere in instruction.
  • Photo contests encourage young photographers to submit their work.
  • Country fact cards (and animals ones, too) are easy to view, read, and share with others.
Pros
Tapping into an expertise in photography, international coverage, and wildlife reportage, National Geographic Kids provides an amazing array of learning resources.
Cons
Some of the wildlife videos and photos show predators in scenes that could scare very young kids.
Bottom Line
This amazing collection of multimedia resources teaches kids about animals, habitats, countries, and cultures.
Paul Cancellieri
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 5
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 5

Video clips, cartoons, games, and hands-on activities are sure to captivate elementary and middle school-age kids.

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

A vast array of resources provides almost every learning opportunity imaginable, including instructional videos, hands-on experiments, games, and profiles of animals and countries.

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

Content is accessible to younger children through audio and video resources that don't require reading, as well as lots of age-appropriate guidance throughout.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

Beyond the beautiful photos and the fun contests that invite kids to write their own captions or even submit their own photos, the site hosts compact video clips of various animals. This would be a great way to introduce the diversity of life on Earth. Every young student is bound to find a favorite creature among the hundred or so profiled.

For social studies lessons, the site also profiles more than four dozen countries all over the globe. Each country profile is objective and informative, designed to captivate kids with images and video. As with the animal profiles, kids can send e-cards full of country information via email. In addition, students and teachers can print out or email the country or animal "profile cards" for use in class.

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What's It Like?

By building on National Geographic's reputation for breathtaking photography and in-depth reportage about the world's cultures and exotic wildlife, this kids' site provides an overwhelming amount of high-quality visual learning tools. Profiles of animals and countries include videos, photos, maps, sounds, and brief fact sheets. The reading level is appropriate for kids as young as second grade and might even provide some motivation for reading instruction in-class. National Geographic has created the perfect one-stop shop for elementary and middle school kids interested in animals or peoples of the world.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Teachers of younger kids will find this easy-to-use educational tool a great way to increase engagement and add extension activities for science and social studies lessons. Interactive games and video clips are arranged by topic. Videos are brief (one to five minutes) and include excerpts from National Geographic's nature films and exploration shows. Kids also can explore sections focused on animals and people, each of which uses printable or downloadable "profile cards" with videos, sounds, and images to teach kids about various creatures and places.

Along with the more educational material, National Geographic Kids also has a Fun Stuff section and an online role-playing game called "Animal Jam," similar in many ways to Disney's Club Penguin. Both of these are really more for fun, but teachers may find some learning value there. "Animal Jam" lets kids play the part of a young animal investigating its world and making friends along the way. If the game put more emphasis on learning about the planet and a little less on socializing, it would have more potential as a classroom tool.

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Lesson Plans