Scholastic Family Playground
By Dana Anderson,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Familiar characters, but light on content and too many ads.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this website.
This site stresses parents and kids should "play together online with your child's favorite Scholastic characters." Scholastic fare is generally positive and educational.
Products & Purchases
A lot of ads here. Some are marked as such ("Parent Ad") for products and services including Sea World, Kumon Learning Centers, and Subway. Others are more intertwined with the fact that Scholastic sells book (such as preview videos for new books) and also that some of the book characters now have television shows (A message at the end of a game: "Watch Magic School Bus ... on Fox Kids, Monday through Friday at 3 p.m.").
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this game and promotional site for kids ages 3 to 7 is part of the group of websites by Scholastic, the world's largest distributor of children's books. Many kids will recognize popular book and television characters here like Clifford the Big Red Dog, Maya and Miguel, and Word Girl, and enjoy playing their games. There are some verbal cues here, but definitely not throughout all of the site. Parents will have to read some instructions to young children who can't yet read. The site moves players in and out of other Scholastic websites without warning, especially in the games section, so kids may find themselves on the "Teachers" site or the "Little Scholastic Lap Time" site without knowing that they're leaving Family Playground.
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Is It Any Good?
It's nice to see a website stress the importance of parents playing online with young children. That said, the many ads geared toward parents (and the less obvious ways kids are also pitched to on this site) are somewhat intrusive and overwhelming. And while there are many games and printables for kids to play with online and off-line here, the stories and videos sections need more content. The site feels sort of like a PBSKids.org, but not nearly up to that level of quality and quantity of things to do.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how even young kids can learn to decipher when they're being sold something. For example, some of the videos on the site are trailers for new books. Can your child identify which videos are ads? Read Common Sense Media's Parent Advice: Selling to Kids Tips.
Ask your child what's different about seeing some of these well-known characters, like Clifford or the Magic School Bus's Ms. Frizzle, in a book vs. on a television show or a website.
This site stresses parent involvement, and parents will need to read a lot of the instructions here to young kids who cannot yet read. So ask your child how he or she likes it when you play along vs. when they play alone on kids' websites that have complete voice-over instructions. Is it more fun with Mom or Dad playing along?
- Genre: Educational
- Pricing structure: Free
- Last updated: April 8, 2016
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