In the past I’ve turned down offers to review educational websites; I just don’t like the idea of helping my 3 or 4 year old develop a computer addiction (like mom, heh). I hear things from other parents, thinking they are praising a particular site, that make me cringe… things like “my 5 year old wants to be on the computer first thing in the morning!”, or “I can’t pry him away from this awesome site – he loves it!”.
This just rubs me the wrong way, and I’m not sure I can even explain why. Call me crazy, but interaction with a real human being and having a 3-dimensional learning experience, are standards for me when it comes to educating very small children. And as for learning computer skills – well, don’t get me started. Even if it is something that will benefit them in the future, technology changes so quickly that whatever skills they learn today may be very well be obsolete by the time they have any real need of them.
Ahem. But I digress.
When Big Universe contacted me my initial reaction was to say no, as I have in the past to other “educational” websites. However, I took a look at the site first and, you know what? It’s not bad. It’s books, and books are good! It’s jam-packed full of books to read together. I can see how it would be a fun way for a beginning reader to practice their reading. But it’s also great for just browsing and reading books together with a smaller child. It’s searchable by age, reading level, publisher (I was happy to see Sylvan Dell and Zoobooks!), and categories. You can choose to read math books, science books, social studies, language arts; there’s fiction, non-fiction, poetry… I could go on and on.
You can even write books to share with others on Big Universe.
I like the set up of the site; I’ve found it easy to maneuver and find what I am looking for. I also really like the layout of the books as we read them – the pictures are crisp, and it’s really as if we are reading the book itself. It’s easy to save books to my virtual bookshelf, and I like this feature since I can browse and scan the books first and then have them easily accessible to read with M later.
Many of the books have “quizzes” to go along with them. These are made up of basic reading comprehension questions and are a help in determining how much M is ready for. He understands much more than I imagined and is easily comprehending books for much older children (just some shameless mama bragging).
Check out Big Universe when you get the chance. It has a lot going for it and is a great (supplemental!) way to get and keep children interested in reading.
I was given a free 6 month membership to biguniverse.com in return for writing a review. This review reflects my honest opinion of the website.
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