Review: Online Learning with Busy Things
As a parent, I’m always keen to find new and fun games that will help my kids learn. We have a handful of puzzle games on our phones/tablets that help with just phonics or spelling, but we’ve recently tried a new fun educational website called Busy Things that includes so much more and keeps our kids… well, busy!
Busy Things is a collection of online games and learning resources designed to help support the learning of kids aged between 3 and 11. The activities are closely linked to the curriculum so they are closely linked to what your children will be learning in nursery and primary school.
Busy Things makes learning FUN. It is full of bright, colourful characters and graphics and boasts hundreds of different activities across the core subjects of maths, literacy and phonics. The site is extremely easy to use and get started – you simply set up a profile for your child, submit their age, and the site does the rest by recommending a list of appropriate activities.
What did our kids think?
Roo (age 5)
Roo has just entered Year 1 and is loving getting stuck into reading and phonics. She loved the maths based games on the site, particularly ‘Number Jump’ which required her to add numbers together to get the right value so the little monster can eat some food. After a few tries, complete with finger counting, she picked it up and knew exactly how to carry on without any help. Next up was ‘Rocker Shocker’ where she needed to balance the right number of monsters on a set of scales. Again, after a few goes and some trial and error she cracked got much quicker.
NJ (age 9)
NJ has always exceeded at school and we have never been concerned about his progress in literacy and maths. What Busy Things can do is supplement his school learning and push him that little bit further – it has a large section designated to Computer Literacy and Coding.
He particularly liked making the ‘Beard Man’ dance and although the tutorial is simple, it gets more complex and required a bit more thought from him. He also liked the problem-solving game ‘Block-a-doodle-doo’ which required him to clear the road of trucks so his car could drive through.
What did I think?
As a busy working parent with three kids, I must admit that I take their progress at school for granted and rely a lot on their mum and the couple of parent’s evenings I have each year. Even when I do ask the kids how their day has gone I get the usual ‘Great!’ or ‘I can’t remember!’ so I can’t really rely on them. So for me, Busy Things helps to plug that gap a little and it is helpful to see the type of things they are involved in at school and how they actually explore and learn.
I’m especially impressed with just how many activities there are. At first, it seemed easy to be overwhelmed by the choice, but Busy Things gives a few options to find what you are looking for – you can search by your child’s profile and what the site recommends, by the curriculum browser where you search by topic, or you can even use the Top 40 popular activities.
We seemed to focus mainly on the maths-based ones – NJ is a ‘Maths Magician’ whereas Roo needs a little more help in this area, but there are so many other topics. There are even some that I think I would learn a thing or two from as well, such as French and Geography, where you have to pick which English cities go where (trust me I would struggle!).
Phone vs PC
Busy Things works on PC, tablet or phone and is responsive enough to adapt based on the device you are using. The PC version gives you the full experience and is the easiest to navigate, but many of the activities still worked on my smartphone.
To be honest, logging in on my phone is going to be much more likely on a day-to-day basis in our house so it’s good that there are still a wide range of fun activities available that the kids can dip in and out of.
I think for us, logging into PC will probably be used more to supplement homework or specific school topics – NJ cover World War 2 last year and there is a whole section dedicated to this area, which would have been perfect for us 6 months ago! Doh!
How do you get Busy Things?
You can find the website here.
To see if it is right for you and your family, you can sign up for a free 7-day trial. After that, you can either pay monthly (£4.49 a month where you can cancel at any time) or pay for an annual subscription for £34.99 per year. School and nursery subscriptions are also available.
There are also a variety of apps that can be downloaded from the various app stores for your phone – there are a mixture of free versions and paid for full versions too.
Disclosure: I was gifted an annual subscription for my children to use in exchange for an honest review of the BusyThings website. All views and content our genuine and my own or the kids’. All images were taken from the website via my own electronic devices for the purpose of this review.