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So, since Leo was, like, 2, we’ve been watching BrainPop. BrainPop is basically a huge pile of approx. 5 minute videos on … well … pretty nearly anything you can think of. There’s a Junior version that’s more appropriate for younger children. Leo was on BrainPop Junior from about 2-4, and we leveled up to the “normal” version of BrainPop about when he turned 4, or maybe a little later.

The intelligence, humor, and production values of both the Junior and “normal” versions of BrainPop are terrific. In hundreds of hours of watching with Leo (or at least listening while he’s watching), I think that I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve heard something to complain about. And I’ve complained, and they’ve replied, bless their support staff’s heart(s). Dunno if they’re actually changed anything as a result, but at least there’s someone there listening!

Not only are there literally hundreds of videos on everything you can think of in science, math, history and on on and one, but it’s like, $5/month, or something easy like that.

Definitely Skip one latte a month to buy your kids an education!

So, the BrainPop video apps are terrific. And it’d be cheap at 3x the price! What’s to complain about? Not much, but I can think of one nit: Parental choice. I’d really like to be able to selectively lock out some videos using a parental control panel. Leo’s only 5; he doesn’t need to know about HIV and smoking and drugs, and a bunch of other stuff that … well, I’d rather teach him myself, or at least let him into these when I think he’s old enough for them. It’s not that I’m a prude; sure, he should know about slavery, and all the rest eventually, and the BrainPop videos on these are just as terrific as the  rest, but we’ve run into situations where I’ve had to explain some of the background to him in a rather circuitous way, and strongly discourage him from asking his friends whether, for example, they want to play “slave” in kindergarten! So, there could be a little more parental control, but this is definitely not a show-stopper; we let him loose on it all the time, and haven’t regretted it yet.

In addition to the app-based videos, the BrainPop website also has a huge collection of educational games. Unfortunately, most of them are written in flash, and even if the did work well (which they don’t on macs at all!), they’re mostly rather clunky, old-style games. These are a nice try, but not nearly as much fun, nor as educational as the amusing banter between the human boy and his robot friend over quantum mechanics, and whatnot!