Product Review of BrainPOP Jr. Movie of the Week
Every week, BrainPOP Jr. Movie of the Week features a new video exploring a topic in science, health, reading and writing, social studies, math, or arts and technology. The 3- to 5-minute videos feature Brain Pop’s Annie character and her robot friend Moby as the likable hosts who pose questions and then patiently answer them in kid-friendly ways. In watching the videos, kids might expect to learn about classifying animals, the life of Georgia O’Keeffe, reading a calendar, or what to do about bullying. Some of the academic topics align to a variety of Common Core Standards.
Videos introduce concepts, give information, and define new vocabulary words. Each video has two short multiple-choice quizzes (one “easy,” one “hard”), and a related joke and cartoon strip. A scoreboard keeps track of kids’ quiz scores. Subscribers can explore related videos as well as search for any video in the library. Non-subscribers are limited to the once-a-week release plus a few other select videos.
Teachers can use BrainPOP Jr. Movie of the Week to introduce new and interesting topics. For instance, educators can choose a dedicated time every week to show the week’s offering to the class, and then discuss and explore further. To encourage deeper learning, educators can expand on the topic through in class activities, reflective writing, collaborative projects, field trips, games, and the like.
If using BrainPOP Jr. with a subscription, encourage kids explore topics that interest them on their own. Videos include links to related content, making it easy for kids to explore a topic from multiple perspectives. Kids can take the retention quizzes, and educators can record their scores for a general idea of how much of the video kids understand or remember, but the quizzes are short and educators might do better making their own assessments. The associated BrainPOP Jr. website has many resources for educators, including Common Core Standards mapping.
Two major things make BrainPOP Jr. Movie of the Week a great resource: video quality and topic variety. Videos include nice graphics and animations that convey lots of information but are also appealing to kids. The video hosts cover a lot of ground, but are easy to follow and fun to watch; they’ll explain things slowly, deliberately, and at a level that’s appropriate for young elementary school kids. One week kids can watch a video on the branches of government, the next week learn about the musical alphabet, and the next explore ways to manage anger.
Unfortunately, through all of the video watching, the app doesn’t offer or suggest opportunities for meaningful interaction. Retention quizzes test mostly superficial learning, and the videos and supporting material can be formulaic. While the video content is great, it will be largely up to educators to get kids engaged in further exploration of the material.
Overall User Consensus About the App
Likable characters present information on interesting and varied topics. Videos and supporting materials could start to feel repetitive with lots of use.
Curriculum and Instruction
The main characters, Annie and Moby, explain an amazing array of topics. Whether health, tech, social studies, reading and writing, math, science, or the arts, kids can learn a lot from these short videos.
The wide variety of topics will appeal to kids with different interests. While the app doesn’t offer extended learning, its related website does. The scoreboard feature gives kids a sense of their progress throughout.