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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that ABCmouse.com is an educational website for kids age 3 to 8 that includes more than 9,000 learning activities. To access ABCmouse.com and its companion apps' content -- including games, puzzles, read-to-me books, songs, and more -- users pay $9.95 per month or $79.99 per year. Each parent account can track progress for up to three kids. Parents can pay an additional fee to access the Assessment Center for more individualized assessment and progress data. Parents and kids can set the language to Spanish to navigate a limited part of the site in Spanish. There are no ads or external links on the kid's side of the site. Note: Common Sense Media has received many reviews from parents who have reported difficulty canceling their ABCmouse.com subscription, though those issues seem to be more infrequent as of 2018.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
To use ABCMOUSE.COM, parents set up an account for themselves and up to three kids. Parents must enter credit card information to access the free trial. Through 10 levels of activities, ABCmouse.com is designed for preschool through second-grade kids. Kids can choose activities from the main screen or the classroom, or they can make their way through "learning paths" of varying difficulty. Kids get tickets for completing activities that can be used to "buy" items for their avatar, their room, a fish tank, or a hamster track. A combination of verbal instructions, images, and text guides kids through the site. Content can be accessed on the web or via the companion app.
Is it any good?
This educational site/app combination is loaded with activities and is encouraging, but the uneven content, busy presentation, and reward systems that take kids out of the learning activities diminish the overall quality. From the colorful kindergarten classroom home page and learning zoo to interactive books and songs, there are so many choices here that will engage most pre-K and early elementary-age kids. There are also multiple ABCmouse apps that offer additional ways to interact with specific parts of the curriculum and are included with subscription.
Unfortunately, one of the most positive points of the site -- there are no ads directed at kids -- is somewhat dampened by the fact that learning is rewarded by shopping. Also, there's so much content that it may be overwhelming for some kids to choose from the variety of options, especially since simpler is better for little ones. Kids who need more direction can follow the "learning path," which guides them step-by-step to activities of increasing difficulty. Not all content is top-quality: Some is basic point-and-click, then kids simply listen to the audio response, and the overall look and feel of much of the content is outdated. But other ABCmouse.com activities and books, including titles from National Geographic Kids, are thoughtfully crafted, interactive, and aligned with many fundamental pre-K, first-, and second-grade curriculum goals. Parents can customize kids' learning level, time allowed, and more. They can also choose to navigate in English or Spanish, but the Spanish option seems to be limited only to the home screen and the parents' section. Pre-2018 many parents reported having trouble unsubscribing from the service, despite multiple attempts, though the company has taken steps to simplify the process. Overall, it may be a great fit for some kids, and some of the content is strong, but it may not live up to the promise for all parents.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why it's important to learn to read, to learn other school subjects, and to learn to use a computer safely and responsibly. Decide together if ABCmouse.com is the right tool for your kid.
Discuss appropriate computer time limits with your child. Now is the time to set healthy habits; explore Common Sense Media's tips on screen time.
What is your family's view on spending "virtual money" on a site like this? It can be difficult for a young child to understand that this isn't the same as buying something real from an online merchant. Does your child understand the difference? Read Common Sense Media's Learning the Value of a Virtual Dollar.
- Subjects: Language & Reading: following directions, letter or word recognition, naming, phonics, reading, reading comprehension, speaking, vocabulary
Math: addition, counting, measurement, numbers, patterns, sequences, shapes, subtraction
Science: animals, ecosystems, life cycle, plants, weather
Social Studies: geography
Arts: drawing, music, rhythm
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: memorization, solving puzzles
Self-Direction: academic development, work to achieve goals
- Genre: Educational
- Topics: Numbers and Letters
- Pricing structure: Free to try, Paid, Free (The site has a free 30-day trial; subscriptions are $9.95 a month or $79.99 a year with optional add-ons)
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.