Online educational tools are truly useful for children and parents alike. There are plenty of free resources available, but I’ve noticed some downsides about most of them.
Free educational games and web pages are often filled with advertising for random products and services, and this can easily lead to accidental purchases and downloads. And of course, free tools are somewhat limited in what they offer you and your children.
Educational resources that you pay for are often worth every penny. ABCmouse is undoubtedly one of the most well-known options among parents and educators. With this program, you get access to a huge selection of learning tools for your young children.
There’s also no need to worry about risky advertisements. If you’re interested in ABCmouse, read my in-depth review to see if it’s truly worth the money.
What Is ABCmouse?
ABCmouse.com Early Learning Academy is a web-based subscription educational program for young children. The program caters to children ages 3 through 7 or older.
Lessons and activities are categorized into ten age-appropriate levels. The virtual program covers common subjects including reading, math, science, and language arts. To date, ABCmouse features a total of 9,000 unique learning activities.
Age of Learning, Inc. is the company behind ABCmouse. The company spent three years developing the online program. The curriculum was developed by teachers and other educational professionals. Since the 2010 launch, ABCmouse has received many awards. Some examples include:
- 2015 National Parenting Publications Awards Double Gold Winner
- 2015 Tabby Awards Winner and Tabby Awards Users’ Choice Winner
- 2016 ISTE Best of Show Award
Children can use ABCmouse on computers, smartphones, and tablets. The program uses a combination of games, music, digital books, puzzles, printed activities, and other learning styles.
This diversity is designed to keep children of all ages engaged in the learning experience. Parents can change the levels that their children access to suit their educational needs.
Over the years, ABCmouse continues to gain popularity among parents and teachers alike. ABCmouse for Teachers is a version of the program designed for educators to use in classrooms.
There’s a similar version available to public libraries. These versions are used by over 65,000 teachers and ⅓ of public libraries nationwide.
ABCmouse Pros And Cons
It’s no surprise that there are tons of ABCmouse parent reviews online. The program is fairly popular, so finding genuine feedback is easy. I’ve compiled detailed lists of the main ABCmouse pros and cons. The points I’ve listed are frequently mentioned in parenting forums, teacher reviews, press coverage, and other sources.
- You get a free 30-day trial to see if the program is a good fit for you and your children.
- You can enroll up to three children for the price of one child.
- ABCmouse caters to children in the pre-K through 2nd grade age range, so you get a lot of bang for your buck.
- You and your children can access ABCmouse via computers, smartphones, and/or tablets.
- You and your children can all use ABCmouse from different devices at the same time.
- There are no additional add-ons or in-app purchases to worry about – it’s all included in the set fee that you pay.
- You can get heavily discounted rates if you pay annually versus monthly – I’ll explain this later in my review.
- There are zero advertisements on the platform.
- The program has received many rewards from different parenting, education, and technology institutions.
- The platform has over 850 lessons and 9,000 learning activities total.
- Many parent reviews say that ABCmouse taught their pre-K aged children how to read.
- PayPal is one of the billing options offered, so you can feel secure about online payment.
- ABCmouse has an average rating of 4.1 out of 5 stars based on over 4,300 Amazon.com reviews.
- The curriculum covers many subjects such as reading, language, science, math, social studies, and health.
- The digital games and books are interactive and designed to keep children engaged.
- The platform has age-appropriate incentives and affirmations to encourage and motivate children.
- ABCmouse is free for teachers, public libraries, Head Start programs, public housing authorities, and other public organizations.
- Some parent reviews say that they find the ABCmouse interface difficult to navigate.
- Some reviews also note that the ABCmouse app often crashes or freezes on phones and tablets.
- Another issue mentioned in a handful of reviews is that contacting customer service through the parent platform can be confusing.
- Some parents feel that the price per month is too high.
- Your subscription auto-renews unless you cancel it, so you have to stay aware of the renewal date.
- Some Amazon reviews from parents and grandparents mention that very young children didn’t find the app very engaging.
- You have to provide billing information in order to access the free trial.
- A handful of parent reviews say that the platform is repetitive and not diverse enough.
From what I read, the pros seem to outweigh the cons of ABCmouse overall. I noticed that negative reviews about the interface and app are almost exclusively a few years old.
The other main con was that kids under age 4 may not be interested or focused enough for ABCmouse. That may be worth noting if your kids are in that age group.
The positive feedback I found is very consistent throughout all of the resources I used. One of the most prominent points made by parents is that ABCmouse produces genuine results.
The results are reflected in their children’s school performance, reading abilities, and more. The financial value is pretty impressive to me, too. And with so many lessons and activities, parents are able to meet their children’s specific educational needs.
But you can certainly form your own opinion with ease. The free 30-day trial allows you to get a real feel for ABCmouse. I’m pretty confident you’ll have a positive experience, but the trial is totally risk-free.
It’s worth trying out if the pros listed above stand out to you. Read on to learn more about the features that ABCmouse offers.
ABCmouse Main Features
At a glance and with further research, it’s clear to me that ABCmouse has several dozen unique features. The abundance of information is a bit overwhelming, so I broke down the main features here. They are compiled into categories that describe the highlights and benefits of each feature.
Step-by-Step Learning Path
The Step-by-Step Learning Path is the structured curriculum that ABCmouse offers. Children start at the level that’s best for their needs. Once they finish the lessons and activities, they move on to the next level. This structured system seems ideal if you prefer guided learning. Many homeschooling parents and parents preparing their children for entering school positively review this structure.
Independent Learning / Free Play
Independent Learning, also called Free Play, is a more flexible option offered by ABCmouse. This option lets your children explore all of the different website features instead of just following a set path.
For example, they can access different levels of digital books and similar materials. Independent Learning is noted as a great choice for supplemental learning in parent reviews.
ABCmouse uses Leveled Learning, and there are ten different education levels. You can start your children at the levels that best suit them. There are two levels for each age range. The platform materials are structured like this:
- Levels 1 and 2 – Preschool (ages 3+)
- Levels 3 and 4 – Pre-Kindergarten (ages 4+)
- Levels 5 and 6 – Kindergarten (ages 5+)
- Levels 7 and 8 – 1st Grade (ages 6+)
- Levels 9 and 10 – 2nd Grade (ages 7+)
In total, there are 850 lessons across all ten levels. They add up to a whopping total of 9,000 activities. This means that your children can access a broad variety of learning methods, styles, and materials.
You can change your child’s level in the parent’s section when you feel the need to. I’ll provide more info about the parent’s section later on.
Tickets And Rewards Systems
The ABCmouse platform uses what they call the Tickets And Rewards System. This is a motivational feature that is designed to inspire children to continue learning and improving.
When your children earn virtual tickets, they can ‘buy’ virtual items on the site. For example, they can buy a new pet fish for their classroom aquarium. Several parent reviews noted that this really gives children incentive to learn more.
ABCmouse divides up lessons and activities based on different curriculum subjects. Below you’ll find each curriculum subject and some info about what activities are involved. The exact activities are based on the level your child is at. This list covers activities and lessons at various levels ABCmouse levels.
Reading And Language Arts Curriculum
- Learning the names and sounds of letters.
- Learning uppercase and lowercase letters.
- Learning rhyming words.
- Learning word families.
- Learning sentence and paragraph structure.
- Learning how to use punctuation.
- Access to over 450 unique books and other reading materials.
- Learning and counting numbers 1 through 20.
- Learning shapes and patterns.
- Learning how to do addition and subtraction.
- Learning how to measure length, time, and money.
- Learning the names and features of 2D and 3D shapes.
- Learning the base ten system and place value.
- Access to math-related games, activities, and other learning materials.
Science And Social Studies Curriculum
- Learning about plants and animals.
- Learning about health and the human body.
- Learning about weather, seasons, environments, and climates.
- Learning the solar system.
- Learning the regions of the United States.
- Learning about the different types of matter.
Arts And Colors Curriculum
- Learning the names and shades of different colors.
- Learning about primary and secondary colors.
- Access to art-related games, books, paint by number activities, paint by letter activities, and puzzles.
ABCmouse uses different age-appropriate learning formats. The diversity is designed to keep children interested in the learning process. Each level uses a combination of learning formats for lessons. These are the formats your child will have access to:
- Hundreds of animated videos covering specific topics.
- Hundreds of interactive games with helpful voice instructions.
- 450 digital nonfiction books and stories that are unique to ABCmouse.
- Hundreds of digital jigsaw and cut out puzzles.
- Original songs about numbers, letters, and other curriculum topics.
- Digital coloring pages.
- Digital paint by number or letter pages.
- Printables that include letter tracing, number tracing, coloring pages, dot to dot pages, mazes, and more.
Most of these learning formats are available for every curriculum subject. They can be accessed through the website as well as the smartphone/tablet application.
Each of your children gets to build their own custom avatar. I’ve noticed that there’s a pretty broad selection of traits and features to choose from. From hair color to fun t-shirt designs, your child’s avatar is completely unique to them. Children can also use their virtual tickets to shop for special add-ons for their avatar.
Interactive Zoo, Aquarium, and Farm
ABCmouse has three separate ways for children to interact with virtual animals. The interactive zoo, aquarium, and farm combine laid-back fun with educational lessons. Here are some features you’ll find in these interactive areas:
- Virtual farm animals and interesting facts about them.
- Age-appropriate farm-related activities for your children to enjoy.
- An aquarium with exotic fish and aquarium accessories.
- Fun facts and information related to fish and other types of aquarium life.
- A colorful zoo filled with virtual elephants, giraffes, lions, and other animals.
- Fun facts about each of the animals in the zoo.
- Zoo-related puzzles, games, books, and art activities.
The zoo and farm give your children a break from the main virtual classroom setting. The aquarium is based in your child’s classroom. These are all designed to be fun activities while still incorporating specific lessons. This design may help keep your child interested without too much repetition.
ABCmouse Parents Section Features
The parent section of ABCmouse allows you to monitor and customize how your children use the program. I was pleased to find that parents and guardians can easily access information, settings, and more. These are some of the main features of the parent section:
- You can set a curfew for the ABCmouse app.
- You can set a time limit for app usage.
- You can view a user-friendly progress tracker for each of your children.
- You can change the learning levels to meet the needs of your children.
- You can rewatch the ABCmouse introductory video in this section.
- You can watch additional how-to videos to learn more about how to use the platform.
- You can select which holidays your family celebrates, and the ABCmouse digital classroom is automatically decorated based on your selections.
- You can access a lesson builder.
- You can access an activity blocker.
- You can read a curriculum overview for each of your children.
- You can access a gift giving option and a referral link to share ABCmouse with other parents, grandparents, and so on.
- You can cancel or adjust your subscription and payment information.
The feedback I read about the parent section is pretty positive overall. You have plenty of control over what your child can access. You’re also kept up to date on their progress.
From what I see, this is ideal for customizing the learning experience of every child. Additionally, you can access the parent section even when your children are using ABCmouse on other devices.
How Much Does ABCmouse Cost?
Everyone who uses ABCmouse is offered a free one month trial. After that, the cost is based on the subscription type that you choose. You can pay per month or choose an annual plan. These are the current rates listed on their website:
- $9.95 per month – This option works out to $119.40 per year.
- $79 per year – This option work works out to about $6.58 per month.
- $99 for two years – This option works out to about $4.13 per month.
No matter what option you choose, up to three children can use one account. This makes the monthly or yearly value even better if you have more than one child.
ABCmouse frequently has limited time deals for additional discounts, too. For example, there’s a special offer for 49% off annual memberships as of May 2018.
ABCmouse Payment And Billing Info
ABCmouse accepts a pretty broad selection of payment methods. You can choose to pay via:
- American Express
- Discover Card
You’re required to submit your billing information when you sign up for the free one month trial. After this, your membership renews automatically based on the $9.95 per month option.
ABCmouse will charge the payment method you submit. You can change your subscription type or cancel your subscription in the parent section of the platform.
Verdict: Is ABCmouse Worth The Money?
Based on my research and reading parent reviews, it was easy for me to make my conclusion. ABCmouse truly seems like a great resource for parents and children. These are the main selling points for me:
- ABCmouse is comprehensive and offers a ton of different learning options. While there are free educational tools online, they typically don’t have such a broad spectrum of features and materials.
- ABCmouse has proven results. If you’re like me, you like seeing the honest facts before you buy something. I mentioned that ABCmouse is an award-winning program, but it’s also been researched and proven effective.This two-year study overview shows that the program really does help children learn and become more prepared for school.
- The free trial gives you time to see if it’s right for you. You get an entire month to see how you and your children like ABCmouse. There’s no risk when you use the free trial, and you can cancel your subscription whenever you want. As a parent, free trials like this really help me decide if something is worth investing in.
- There’s no need to worry about pop-up ads, viruses, and so on. These nuisances are all pretty big concerns for most parents – myself included. But with ABCmouse, there’s no additional purchases or risky links that children can access. You can feel confident about the platform’s safety no matter how old your children may be.
- Over 65,000 teachers use a version of ABCmouse in their own classrooms. To me, this is one of the biggest signs that the program is worth it. If thousands of experienced educators approve of it, the ABCmouse must surely offer some real benefits.
To sum it up, there’s really no reason not to use the free one-month trial. If you don’t like it, you haven’t lost money. And if you really enjoy it, you can pick an annual plan to get a heavily discounted rate.
More Tips For Parents
Frugal For Less is always on the lookout for ideas, reviews, and tips for parents. Below you’ll find some great examples that I personally enjoy and recommend. From saving money to having fun, there’s plenty of free and helpful information in our posts.