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 ages 3 to 7 that includes more than 8,500 learning activities. To access ABCmouse.com and its companion apps' content -- including games, puzzles, read-to-me books, songs, and more -- users pay $7.99/mo. or $79.99/year. Each parent account can track progress for up to three kids. Parents can pay an added $3.95/mo. to access the Assessment Center for more individualized assessment and progress data. There are no ads or external links on the site. Note: Common Sense Media has received many reviews from parents who have reported difficulty cancelling their ABCmouse.com subscription.
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. ABCmouse.com is designed for preschool through kindergarten kids, with a few more advanced activities for kids ready to progress beyond kindergarten work. Kids can choose activities from the main screen, 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.
Is it any good?
This educational site is loaded with activities, is easy to navigate, and is encouraging, but the uneven content and billing issues diminish the overall quality. From the colorful kindergarten classroom homepage and learning zoo to interactive books and songs, there are so many choices here that will engage most pre-K and kindergarten-age kids. There are also two ABCmouse apps -- one with the same content as the website and a educational song and videos app. Both apps are included with subscription, though there are many reviews that indicate the apps don't function well for everyone.
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. But other ABCmouse.com activities and books are thoughtfully crafted, interactive, and aligned with many fundamental pre-k and kindergarten curriculum goals. Parents can customize kids' learning level, time allowed, and more. What complicates the overall quality further is that many parents have reported having trouble unsubscribing from the service, despite multiple attempts which makes it hard to recommend despite some parents' positive experiences. Overall, it may be a fit for some kids, and some of the content is strong, but there are stronger -- and cheaper -- products out there without so many negative reviews around business practices.
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; read Common Sense Media's Setting Computer Time Limits Tips.
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 yours? 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
- Price: $7.95/month; free for teachers
- Pricing structure: Free to Try, Free (The site has a free 30-day trial; subscriptions are $7.95 a month or $79.99 a year.)
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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.