When I first heard about SmartyCard, the online learn-earn-play educational gaming site for kids, I knew it would be a hit in my house. My son is about to turn 7, so he’s younger than the target age for the site (kids in grade 3-6) but that hasn’t stopped him from logging on and challenging himself with vocabulary, spelling and arithmetic games.
Like most little boys, my son is motivated by rewards. This applies to practically all scenarios and situations. In school he’s rewarded with stickers for good behavior. At home, he receives a weekly allowance when he completes his chores. So why should his online experience be any different? With SmartyCard, he earns points for each interactive educational game or quiz he completes. Then the points can be redeemed for popular real-world and virtual-world rewards (think one-month memberships to Club Penguin). SmartyCard
currently has a catalog of over 200 real and virtual rewards to earn
and purchase, and after a fast start, company data shows nearly 85
percent of the points have been redeemed for virtual-world prizes.
SmartyCard lesson content is homegrown and developed in partnership
with several leading online educational content providers to ensure
that SmartyCard games engage kids in a learning experience that
encourages imaginative thinking outside of the classroom.
Here’s the thing to know: SmartyCards must be purchased by a parent and activated before your child can log—and get credit for—all his earned points. An entry card costs $10. Some might balk at the idea of encouraging consumerism in kids, but here’s why I am a fan: My son learns how to save his points for something he wants. In some ways, the online system works like a virtual piggy bank. And I love the idea that he’s actually learning something online, rather than simply playing karate against another penguin in a virtual dojo.
But don’t take my word for it. Robin Raskin, publisher of popular site Raising Digital Kids,
supports the idea that kids now have a means to earn the virtual-world
subscriptions their parents are already buying for them. “Kids can use SmartyCard to learn how to
purchase their own virtual stuff, and their currency is learning.
Additionally, a virtual reward lets them personalize how they decide to
spend. This makes them better consumers of all media,” said Raskin.
Where do your kids hang out online? Do you have favorite educational Web sites you recommend to other parents?