My children often seem to learn the most from the media we consume. Although I work on adding different sources of input, I like to find media sources that are educational and fun for the children to go with the topics that they are interested in studying. So, when I received the opportunity to do a review for SmartKidz Media, I thought that trying the SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers would be the perfect way to add some educational media into our day.
What We Received
We received a full year subscription to the SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers. This includes a huge variety of subject areas. Many of these areas are video based, but there are also some musical and book/study guide based resources. There are even a few games included. The areas covered in the media library include:
- Animals and Wildlife
- Action Sports
- Documentaries and Culture
- Health and Fitness
- Lifestyles and Cuisine
- Travel and Adventure
- Fine Arts
- Classical Music
- Cultural Music
- Jazz and Blues
- Relaxation Music
- Mighty eBook collection
- Baby Signs
- Easy Learning for Special Needs
- Living Skills Songs
- Ready-Set-Sing Songs
- Fun Zone (with games, jokes and puzzles)
- My Animal Family
- Quick Find Study Guides
That should give you an idea of all the different flavors of media that you can find on this website. All of the material is delivered through streaming video and music, so you will need a good internet connection to be able to operate this website.
How We Used This Product
We started by doing the only thing there was to do. We dove in and figured out what we were most interested in watching and learning about. After all, there was so much to choose from that I knew it would take a while to scope everything out.
Firecracker naturally gravitated towards the animals and wildlife videos. We found ourselves watching wild moments, nature’s miniatures and animal journeys. He loved every minute of it, despite Rose and I having several gross-out moments while watching natures’s miniatures. I’m afraid neither of us qualify as insect lovers.
I’ve also been trying to play more classical music for the children, so while they played, I often would stream from one of the classical music albums that they have in the music and fine arts section of the website. Everything is organized by composer, and you can easily tell which piece of music you’re playing from a specific composer.
Rose and my preschoolers spent most of their time with the mighty ebook collection. There are many different ebooks broken into age groups and types of books. So, while there are song books and story books aimed at the 2-4 year old set, there are also classic stories from Aesop’s fables or Beatrix Potter that the children can watch. These eBooks are read aloud with sound effects and music and each word is highlighted as it is read aloud.
The other section that my children used extensively was the fun zone. They played every single game, read some of the joke eBooks, and even put together a few puzzles while playing there. They were really excited to hear that more games are being added to this area at the end of summer.
My Opinion on This Product
We’ve really enjoyed our time with this product. There are so many ways, as a homeschooler, that I could have utilized this. However, we actually spent most of our time just enjoying the videos and eBooks and leisure watching. There were occasions where we were able to make some educational connections. For example, we learned about limericks in a literature study, and later that day the children heard some limericks from The Book of Nonsense in one of the joke books in the Fun Zone.
I would have liked to use this product more to go along with the children’s interests. However, I couldn’t find any real way to keyword search and pull up videos and ebooks that were related to the topics we were studying. For example, at one point during this review, we were doing a unit study with mice, and it would have been nice to have been able to search for mice and pull up videos that had segments and share those segments with the children.
Still, the science videos are nice, high quality, and many are BBC videos. The children really enjoyed them. The different animals in most of the videos we watched were set off into different segments by animal or topic, and as an educator, I could have easily built a lap book or a series of lesson plans around the various segments in each video. I do know that some of my readers are looking for creation-based materials, and this is not creation based, but the videos are beautifully done and great fun.
I love the mighty ebook collection, Some of the books are high quality. Some are not. My daughter who struggles with reading will sit and watch one after another for fun, and with each book she watches the word is highlighted as it’s read, making it so easy for her to pick up new words and add to her reading vocabulary with repeated watchings. I have seriously been letting her pick what she wants from this section and watch it as many times as she needs/wants to so that she has more time for the words to sink in. This happens to be the little kids’ favorite section too.
I personally am a big fan of the different music collections. You can just turn them on and leave them running in the background while the children play, you work around the house or anytime you want to set the atmosphere. Sometimes I play the music while the children aren’t around just to have some pleasant music playing while I blog or cross-stitch.
There’s a lot here to explore, and they’re adding new content monthly. I’m still looking forward to exploring the aerobics for kids, the cooking videos, the World War II and Cold War videos, and the culture and travel based videos. I also think my children would love the animal family programs and the Ready, Set Sing section of children’s songs. This product is really what you make of it because there’s so many subject areas to explore and so many different ways that you, as a teacher, can make these videos, ebooks, and music products a part of your homeschool. There’s something here for everyone, it’s flexible and the children all enjoy it, so we’re going to be continuing to use and enjoy this great product!