Common Sense Review
Updated February 2012

The Electric Company

Friendly edu-site's cool word games could use a few more challenges
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Common Sense Rating 3
Teacher Rating (1 Teacher Review) 4
  • The Electric Company website has videos and games that reinforce language skills featured on the show.
  • Kids can play games as an Electric Company character.
  • Kids can view other user profiles.
  • Games help teach kids about word sounds and components, new terms, and other language elements.
  • Teachers can access lesson plan activities and other ideas on a companion site.
Pros
Cute, simple games can help kids practice skills, and kids don't have to register to play them.
Cons
Games don't always feature many challenging levels, and kids can't contact each other through the site.
Bottom Line
Kids should enjoy -- and learn from -- the site's educational games; making them more complex and varied would help kids learn even more.
Erin Brereton
Common Sense Reviewer
Common Sense Rating 3
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 4

Kids will enjoy choosing a show character to represent them as they play interactive games. Zany sounds, narration, and other elements make activities interesting. Kids can also register to save videos and other items.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 4

Kids will identify sounds in words and understand how words and sentences are formed as they play games. Video mash-up and other activities encourage creativity.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 3

Teachers can access more than 35 lesson plan and activity ideas, listed by grade level and skill. The show sometimes also hosts community outreach events, which are listed on the site. Activities based on various episodes are also available.

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
How Can Teachers Use It?

The site provides lesson plans, activities, and other resources for teachers. You can explain and demonstrate different language elements with the available exercises, including hard and soft c sounds; vowel combinations; and how consonants fit into words. Each activity is labeled with the grade levels that might benefit from its content and clearly identifies what skills kids will learn. Activities can be assigned to students to access on the site outside of class, or they can be shared with the class together on a whiteboard, giving students the opportunity to submit answers. 

Teachers will most likely need to register for the site; you can view three items in the educator section and are then asked to create an account if you'd like to see more. However, registration is fairly simple; you just need to enter your first and last name, email, school zip code, and a password.

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What's It Like?

Similar to the TV show that premiered more than 30 years ago, the Electric Company website features information designed to help kids learn to read. They can play more than 15 games; watch short video clips; and see full show episodes, which will help them learn simple reading skills such as identifying letter sounds and spelling. The activities feature familiar Electric Company characters, and some also cover math concepts like counting.

Kids choose a character and an opponent, which helps personalize the experience. A narrator offers instructions and walks you through each step of the game as you play. Kids will learn how to convert sounds into spoken and written words and discover new vocabulary words and strategies to understand phrases and sentences. They can also practice identifying number sequences and larger and smaller digits.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Goofy graphics should maintain kids' interest; toppings ranging from onions to a sock shoot down with a loud gushing noise in the number-based "Sandwich Stacker" game, and the "Word Transformer" game rules are explained in a song. A few items like downloadable screensavers don't provide much educational value, but most activities support key language and math skills. In one game, kids fill in missing sentence words to prevent a jelly bean factory explosion; in another, they identify elements to create a news story.

Kids aren't rushed, and the narrator sometimes provides clues before letting them try again if they answer incorrectly. However, the games could use more challenges; several don't seem to provide many levels for kids to advance to.

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See how teachers are using The Electric Company