With the recent stay-at-home orders, finding the balance between screen time and interaction can be tough. Parents are now forced to take on the roll of educator, as well as guardian. Sometimes, we just need a break.
That’s why educational apps can be so helpful. Educational apps and games give you a break and your child a fun learning experience. One of the most popular educational apps on the web is ABCmouse.
Before the quarantine, I allowed my daughter to watch about an hour(ish) of TV a day, based on the AAP’s guidelines. But, with the stay-at-home orders, I’ve definitely stretched this rule. ABCmouse has become not only a source of entertainment for my daughter, but a supplemental tool for our little “preschool-lite” routine.
Whether you’re reading this during the pandemic and looking for a new activity for your kids or you’re simply looking for a good educational app, I’m glad you’re here. This ABCmouse review will share my experience with the app (in the eyes of a toddler mom), what the subscription includes, and whether or not I’d recommend it for your child.
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Pros & Cons: ABCmouse Review At-a-Glance
This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase from one of the links I will make a small commission at no charge to you. Blunders in Babyland does not diagnose, treat, or give out any professional advice for any medical conditions. I was gifted ABCmouse to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own.
- More than 850 lessons for children ages 2-8
- Interface is great on iPad
- No ads or sketchy external links
- Inexpensive price
- Guided or open programs for different tastes, stages, and learning styles
- Up to 3 child profiles per account
- You will never run out of activities
- Interface choppy on Android system
- Lessons can be repetitive (a blessing and a curse)
- Interaction with parent a must with younger children
- Not a free app
What is ABCMouse
ABCmouse is actually part of the parent company, Age of Learning. Age of Learning provides research-based, educator-built learning programs for young children. In addition to being developed by educators, ABCmouse, Adventure Academy, and ReadingIQ have also been critiqued and tested by teachers.
From what I’ve seen, the company seems truly dedicated to helping children develop essential literary and mathematical skills. In fact, Age of Learning provides ABCmouse for free to some schools, educators, and libraries.
New users can sign up for ABCmouse for free for 30 days. After that, the subscription is typically $9.95 a month or $79.95 a year.
Because of the stay-at-home orders, ABCmouse is offering a steep discount on their annual subscription (49% off!).
In a minute, we’ll get into what exactly the app teaches later in the ABCmouse review, but here’s a summary of the topics:
- Reading (Vocabulary, Alphabet, Critical Thinking, Language, Reading Comprehension)
- Math (Numbers, Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication)
- Science (Animals, Geography, etc.)
- Art (Shapes, Colors, Sizes etc.)
- Social Studies
- Health Topics and Gen Ed.
If you can’t already tell, ABCmouse has a lot to offer and it’s completely catered to your child’s level of learning.
How It Works
If you’ve never signed up for ABCmouse before, you can try it out for free here.
Once you sign up, you input your child’s age or educational level (if you have an older child you might take a short assessment. Since my daughter is a toddler, we didn’t have one). If the lessons are too hard or easy, you can easily move up to a different level.
You or your child can also create an avatar. This was actually a fun experience to do with my curious toddler. She loved selecting her clothes (definitely not my choices!) while I selected her physical features. Your child can customize his or her look as they progress through the app and gain tickets.
Let’s briefly talk a little bit more about these tickets. Tickets gives your child extra incentive to play. The activities, lessons, books, and videos your child participates in allows them to rack up tickets. These tickets can buy new clothes, hairstyles, accessories, and even cool stuff for their rooms.
After customizing his avatar, your kid can begin learning. You simply select a program to get started.
ABCmouse Programs: There’s Literally Something for Everyone
ABCmouse provides different ways for your child to learn, or for you to teach. Most start out with the Learning Path, which is the most guided, “fun” way to play. Depending on your child’s age, the type of programs you can go to from here change a little.
Because the Learning Path is the most popular option, let’s start with this one. The Learning Path is like a video game’s level progression. You go through a little map and complete each activity as you move along. Once you complete the activity you gain tickets to buy things with.
There are over 850 lessons in the learning path, practically ensuring that your child never plays the same game twice.
Having said that, you’ll notice that each of the “games” have a common theme. To us, the parent, these games can seem repetitive (especially when you have two or three coloring games in a row), but according to ABCmouse, this repetition is necessary for learning.
If your child is old enough that he can read, you’ll enjoy this program the best as well. It’s pretty self-guided, so you won’t have to direct every lesson.
Learning at Home
Because of my daughter’s age, my teaching style, and our current situation, this is my favorite. Learning at Home provides a daily curriculum for your child. From what I’ve seen so far, these curriculum include videos, books, and games that relate to the daily theme.
If you’re struggling with ensuring that your child is getting enough educational value during the day, this program can ease your worries.
Think of the classroom as the library where you can view all of the activities and lessons ABCmouse has to offer, by category. If you’re homeschooling your kid and looking for supplemental lessons and activities, this is the place to go.
The screen changes a little depending on your child’s educational level, but for us our main categories are Reading, Math, World Around Us, Art, Songs, Library, Puzzles (which include elements from reading and math), and activities.
I would say this is a more kid-guided program. It’s just a fun, visual way for your kid to play the app. At the map screen, your child can visit his room, the library, the farm, and a host of other locations.
For example, if he goes into the farm, he can click on a certain animal he wants to learn about. Let’s say he clicks on the ducks. The app pulls up all the information it has on ducks. Games, books, activities, and more.
Math Games/Numbers Games
This program is similar to the classroom, except it only focuses on the mathematical lessons and activities of the game.
The name of this option depends on your educational level. Since my daughter is a toddler, this program is called Toddler Time. It’s just a handy menu that allows us to easily navigate through the different activities (songs, puzzles, arts, etc.) I find this option very helpful, because sometimes you’ll notice your toddler likes a particular type of activity (like puzzles, for example), and this is an easy way to navigate to it.
If your child is older, this might read Library, which is how you access your VAST selection of books. And believe me, there are SO MANY BOOKS included with your ABCmouse subscription.
This tool helps you assess your child’s level of learning. For example, the preschool assessment tool tests the skills required for preschool readiness. The goal is to be as hands-off as possible with this program so you can get an accurate assessment.
ABCMouse Functionality: How Well Does the App Work?
You can download ABCmouse on your computer, iOS device, or Android.
The PC seems to have the most seamless experience, but if you’re dealing with a small child, it can be difficult to navigate with a mouse. The Android app is alright, but depending on how small your child is, you may run into issues with the small screen. We also experienced the most glitches on this platform.
Our favorite platform so far is the iPad. The buttons are clear and color-coated, so without even being able to read, my daughter was able to figure out which ones to press quickly.
The interface of the app is great.
The puzzles are incredibly toddler-friendly. Your toddler doesn’t have to move the pieces into the exact spot, rather he can move it in the general direction and it will click into place.
When I experimented with the first grade puzzles, it seemed like more precision was required. In other words, the games get a little more difficult with your child’s age.
Is It Fun?
For my daughter? Yes. For your child? Also, most likely, yes.
Once your child finds a game or segment that he likes, you’re going to have a hard time pulling him away.
That’s where the variety of activities comes in handy. Children have different preferences based on their ages and interests.
My daughter HATED the coloring activities. Seriously, she wanted to stop playing whenever it was time for once. But once it “clicked” for her, she absolutely fell in love. Now she continually asks me to let her “paint.”
If your child doesn’t like one activity, don’t sweat it. He’ll easily find more to play with. And, like my toddler, he may even grow into that activity later.
Keep in mind, if you have a younger child that can’t read yet, you will most likely have to help them navigate through the screens to the next activity until they get the hang of it. And, if you’re looking at ABCmouse for a toddler, parental interaction may be needed to keep them interested.
Is it Actually Educational?
I am not an educator, so I can’t say for sure, but many of the activities we’ve done in the app seem like they would help children retain reading and problem-solving concepts. In the toddler section, the focus is on repetition and recognition. In other grades, the games become more challenging and requires a little more thought.
For example, in the reading comprehension section in grade 1, your child will predict a word in a sentence. This activity promotes reading skills and critical thinking.
Having said all that, if your main goal is to help your child learn, I believe that interaction is the key. Once your child becomes used to the app, I think it’s easy to just breeze through the activities without letting the educational component really “sink in.” When you’re with your kid, pointing out concepts and challenging him, I think he’ll be able to retain the information much better.
Free vs. Paid Educational Apps: Is ABCmouse Worth It?
I am sure you’ve seen free apps all over the play store and itunes. So, why pay for ABCmouse?
I’m going to be honest, I’ve used this app for weeks and I still feel a little under-equipped to write a full review about it. ABCmouse is MASSIVE.
Not only that, but right now it’s only $5 a month. With the amount of high-quality games, books, videos, and lessons, that’s a heck of a deal.
Plus, you don’t have to worry about annoying (sometimes sketchy ads) or external links that can harm your child.
The only time I wouldn’t recommend ABCmouse is if you have an extremely young toddler (less than 24 months). The AAP recommends absolutely no screentime before 18 months. Plus, I doubt your baby would actually learn anything from the app.
If your toddler isn’t used to using iPads or smartphones, you may also have a brief learning period where he or she will need constant supervision.
ABCMouse Review: My Final Thoughts
If you’ve visited my blog before, you might already know that I’m a huge advocate for reading to your children and limiting screen time. But you know what? Screen time happens and when used properly, it can be a great educational tool.
ABCmouse is proof of that!
I think this app gets an A+. The folks at Age of Learning really put a lot of effort into ABCmouse and it shows. Even my daughter, who has the attention span of a goldfish, loves it and seems to be catching on to the concepts very easily.
Some parents complained that the games were boring. I truly think it depends on your child’s interests. At the very least, try it out for the free 30 days and see what you think!
I hope this ABCmouse review was helpful! If you sign up, let me know how you like it. And, of course, if you have any questions about my experience, just let me know below.
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