ABCmouse.com offers an amazing amount of educational learning and entertainment for young children for only $9.95 a month. The site is child-safe with no ads. While children up to about age seven might enjoy the site, it is best for children, as young as ages two or three up through kindergarten.
The website can be accessed from a computer, tablet, or smartphone. There are more than 650 lessons and more than 7000 activities covering early learning skills, reading, language arts, math, science, social studies, music, and art.
Parents can set up an account for each child which has a step-by-step learning path so that children progress through lessons in an orderly fashion without parents having to select for them. The learning path takes children through more than 450 lessons moving through “toddler time” plus eight levels. (Obviously, an older child will have fewer lessons to cover than a younger child.) Lessons are presented using online books for children to read or work through along with puzzles, games, art activities, and songs. There are also some printable activity sheets to provide actual drawing and writing experience. A ticket and reward system helps to motivate learners.
The system includes a library of hundreds of fiction and non-fiction books. Many of the books are intended to provide the primary teaching content in academic subject areas. However, classic fables and fairy tales are included along with other fiction books written for ABCmouse.com.
The reading component of the program introduces letters and sounds, upper- and lower-case letters, phonics, sight words, and blending. It includes phonics songs and phonetic readers for practice. Reading instruction might be sufficient for some children, but others might need more individualized or extensive help with reading skills.
The math component teaches children to recognize and count numbers up to 100. Children learn other concepts such as one-to-one correspondence, “more than” and “less than,” shape identification, time telling, and patterns. Addition and subtraction concepts are introduced but children are not taught math facts. However, they do learn to count by twos and threes.
Science and social studies are presented at an introductory level. Children learn about topics such as families, the human body, health, transportation, plants, animals, the seasons, the moon, the earth, the solar system, and the states of the U.S.
Art activities are less art and more computer manipulation. They include some unsophisticated drawing and painting tools that children can use. Paint by number and dot-to-dot activities are also included under art. Online coloring pages offer three options: automatic color fill, color-within the lines (controlled by the program), and free coloring (not controlled by the program).
Original, lively songs using a fairly broad range of musical styles are used as learning tools. A few classic songs like “Old McDonald” are included.
Games are probably the most popular element of the system for most children. Cut-out and jigsaw puzzles are incorporated into many of the lessons, and many children will consider these to be games. However, the program includes some more-sophisticated interactive games that are built into the lesson path to reinforce what has been taught. Games are relatively simple but are likely to be fun and easy for young learners.
Printable pages are included in the lesson path, but these pages include many that children might want to do just for fun such as tracing, coloring, dot-to-dots, paint-by-numbers, and mazes. Parents can print these as they wish.
ABCmouse.com is a very attractive site. Artwork and content are well developed for early learning purposes. Even though some activities have minimal educational benefit, the system includes significant educational content and most activities teach and reinforce academic goals. Because of the cartoon characters, colorful screens, music, and variety of activities, children are likely to want to spend hours on this site, so much so that parents might need to limit access—and there is a timer on the site if you want to use it for this very purpose.